• Anne-flore: The Search For Veggie Tempura

Anne-Flore is a pro-snowboarder from France who describes herself as provocative and passionate. "I live through love, spontaneity and happiness..I am a heart core snowboarder. I smile and I bite, I crash and try harder". Anne-Flore shares her stories from a recent trip to Japan...

I jumped on the plane with no idea of what to expect of the snow conditions in Japan this year or where I was going exactly and whom with… all I knew was that it was dumping more snow then ever in Europe and that I was truly looking forward to eating veggie tempura!!
My Japanese confusion begun as soon as the plane landed in Japan, I found my friend Matthieu Georges and we jumped in a bus and headed to another terminal as advised by the lady at the information counter. Arriving at the other terminal the information counter there then sends us back to the first terminal. Once there again, the very shy, very cute, very kind, very quiet, very Japanese hostess tells us that snowboard bags are forbidden on the plane, and that we would need to go to a different airport on the other side of Tokyo which was about an hour away, and catch a bigger plane to Sapporo.

Once in Sapporo’s airport I met my English riding mates for this trip, Scott McMorris, Colum Mytton, Josh Wolf and Whiteline's Editor Ed Blomfield. We arrived in Grand Heraffu at night - there wasn't much snow but we were staying in a really cool place with an amazing view on a beautiful Volcano.

Niseko is a volcano itself! The mountain is opened by day until 4pm and by night from 5pm to 8.30pm. Most of the slopes are very well lit and it's really cool to go night shredding there! The lifts don't go all the way up the top as they do in Europe and you'll hear all kinds of noises as soon as you sit on the chairlift!

After a day mucking around and searching for ‘shootable’ spots, it started snowing….I mean, it started DUMPING and we couldn't see the sky again as it kept dumping snow flakes of the size of 50 cent coins throughout the whole trip.

We had an amazing time shredding the lightest pow in the world through majestic trees.
We also had an incredible deep pow night shred! I felt like I was apart of a video game! It was well lit even on most off slopes runs, but my brain could analyse only one image at a time, it really felt surreal!

By this stage I still hadn't had a chance to taste any veggie tempura! We packed our board bags and took an 8 hour train ride through the country to the south island… of course, me being a girl I had over packed which didn’t make any of the 6 train changes any easier for me. We arrived in the Nagano area at night and we would not see the sunshine there either, unfortunately the rain had replaced the snow.

After a good shredding day, I got to experience the Japanese naked bath called the Onsen. I was on a trip with guys and the bathes separated genders so I went alone not really knowing what to expect or how it worked. I must have looked a bit confused too because two older ladies came up to me and ripped my towel off. So there I was entering a steamed room full of Japanese girls, all naked of course. It was funny to be in the middle, so much taller, the kids would stare at me and the older ones would show me around, there was about 5 or 6 different kinds of hot tubs and one outside, overlooking the slopes where everyone was skiing.

I still hadn't found any veggie tempura when we took off for a night in Tokyo. We spent the night singing karaoke of course. We were staying in a capsule hotel and I was stoked to find my funky bunk bed at the end of that long night. The English guys left early in the morning and Matt and I spent the day shopping and walking around town. I had a lot of fun on that trip. That powder was so amazing and the guys were really fun to hang out with.

Thanks to Matt and Ed who let me tag along…Thanks to Ben Thorpe from www.japanskiexperience.com and Jessica Geldart from the local tourist board in Niseko.
And thanks to Andy and Sarah from www.snowseasonjapan.com for all their help in Hakuba and Myoko, they'll hook you up with Japanese language courses to get closer to the culture if you want to go there.