In the Snow Country

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and sometimes it’s fine just where you are. More than fine in fact.

I’m currently wintering in snowy Hakuba, Japan, a ski resort village chock full of Aussies. While that in itself is not the best thing for trying to immerse oneself in Japanese culture, it does provide me with a way to make a living and thus able to spend the season honing my snowboarding skills.

When I originally found out that I would be able to extend my visa and thus have plenty of time to spend 3 months of it in a resort town I was excited by the opportunities. I wanted to head to Hakuba as it was a place my friends had been to before and loved. As luck would have it a friend I had met earlier in the year in Nara had an acquaintance who was a manager of one of the hotels in town and there appeared to be work available. It’s good to have connections.

After multiple attempts to get details and confirmation of the job, however, the hotel manager seemed too busy to talk to me and that prospect fell through. I may have missed some vital communication due to the language barrier but I felt like I was being strung along a bit. I decided not to wait any longer hanging my hopes on that job and went back to the internet to attempt to find a job on the ski slopes. That proved to be quite troublesome as all the resort jobs were listed in Japanese and the task of translation was more than a little daunting.

In the end I found an older job advertisement for work in a ski rental shop. I filled out the forms and fired off my resume with photo in hope they were still hiring. One phone interview later I was offered a job and my winter prospects had gone from uncertain to great. I had originally come to Japan to experience its four seasons and what better way to appreciate the winter than in the snow country.

I feel truly fortunate that I’m working in the rental shop. Not only do I get the chance to learn about all the different nuances of ski and snowboarding gear, I pretty much get to take that gear out and try it out on the mountain, every day if I really want to. When I ride the chairlifts and see the workers sitting in their little operator huts or standing in the wind and snow keeping the snow clear of the chairs, I think to myself how lucky I am to be able to work in a nice and warm shop only 5 minutes walk to the chair lift. Life is good.

During the season I got a chance to assist a hotel that was short-staffed for one day. My job involved cleaning the small bathrooms each room had on one of the floors. While it was a new experience for me and even a little enlightening, it certainly wasn’t as fun or as profitable ideas-wise for me as my ski rental job. Had I gotten that first hotel job I would have never have learned all that I have about snowboarding and skis. Hotel work is hard and a little boring I think. Whew, dodged a bullet there.

When things fall through in the first place sometimes they really can end up working out for the better. You just gotta keep riding it out till the end.

Living the dream.

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