The ultimate gap year

16th December 2015
Candid view

I am currently laying in my bed in Hakuba in Japan reflecting on the last 2 weeks I have spent with my new friends from the EA course and in my new Evergreen family. Coming to Japan to become a ski instructor was a big step and a huge change of scenery for me as I came from beautifully sunny Perth in Western Australia.

I’m doing this course as I have finished my university degree and cannot find a job in my field at this hard time of employment back home. So I figured why not do something out of the ordinary and get a season lift pass by becoming a ski instructor. My previous skiing experience has been less than a lot of the people on the course but that should not dampen your spirits should you be worrying about that. My total skiing time in my life before this would be no more than 5 weeks, 2 of which were spent in ski school as a little joey. The best thing about the EA course is that you get to find your feet on skis for over a week (depending on snow) before you do the level 1 certification course with APSI.

Zac Japan blog 2

EA make it easy to book everything about your adventure. Obtaining a visa was very easy through the Japanese consulate in Perth. Just make sure you go in prepared and then you won’t have any problems. The process takes about 2 weeks so do not leave it until the last minute. However once you obtain that visa its time to start packing. Packing is pretty easy because you just have to make sure everything you pack will keep you warm. It gets cold here. Very cold.

Leaving day comes around, you say your goodbyes, do your necessary travel and then EA takes over. They organise someone to be there in Tokyo so everything is an absolute breeze! From the airport you go to the hotel and head out for dinner for your first Japanese experience. My first dinner with my new friends was at this place in the photo below and it was an amazing place to start, as the waiter knew about 3 words of English.

The second day in Tokyo comprised of a very nice touristy walk through the Meiji Jingu temple, Shibuya crossing and the Emperors palace gardens finishing off with a little ski and snowboard shopping rendezvous where all the snow shops are just in case anyone needed any equipment. The last night of our Tokyo orientation was capped off very nicely with an all you can eat and drink Japanese siesta where many of us got to try sake for the first time. Warning to all first timers, sake is an absolute weapon, many people learned the hard way. The ones that didn’t made it to our first time at a proper karaoke bar, which is a seriously fun night out. The day and night was the perfect way to get to meet your new friends heading to the same resort as you.

It’s fair to say the bus ride to Hakuba the next day was a struggle but it was worth it nonetheless.

Here in Hakuba we are able to learn more about the Japanese culture and more importantly skiing. We started learning about skiing almost straight away with instructors from Evergreen preparing us to take our level one course with APSI. Unfortunately the first few days took place inside, as there was no snow. Thankfully the rumours are true, when it snows in Japan…it snows! We had about 50cm of snow overnight and we were on skis the next afternoon! Since the first snowfall we have had lots of sunshine, a little bit of rain and a storm. The storm closed the lifts for the day but it did bring a day and a half of snow with it so our new snow playground went from 1 run to 3 runs!

Off the snow we have had lots of time to get to know each other, all the new Evergreen staff coming into the lodge and more importantly the town. We have quickly become lovers of Japanese food, Asahi and Onsens (hot springs). The onsen is an amazing way to finish a full day of skiing and should be a bucket list activity to all keen travellers and skiers.

All that I have left to do now is finish my APSI level 1 ski instructor course and with it all going to plan, slot straight into teaching little kiddies to find their little feet on skis and snowplough. I am still absolutely chomping at the bit about the season ahead and cannot wait for some proper snow to fall (3 metres in a few days snowfall). This will give me the opportunity to learn how to shred powder properly to make the most out of my Japanese skiing adventure.

Zac Japan blog 3