Saturday, August 29, 2015

Memories of Japan

I ran into an article about excess housing in Japan due to a shrinking population. The article focused on Yokosuka where they are almost giving away houses that have been abandoned. Yokosuka was our Home and R&R port in Japan with a large Naval base. Yokosuka back in the early 1960's reminded me of Patzcuaro with curving, narrow streets of cobblestone and that very Japanese wood construction style with tiles roofs. We would go into town late in the day, drink too many beers and on the way back stop off at a Kobe Beef steak house or a smaller place for a huge plate of fried rice with two fried eggs over the top.

R&R means Rest and Recreation which means we can take leave and get off the ship for up to a week so here is the mystery. I have no idea how we found this ski resort in the mountains or how we figured out how to get there. Possibly there was a travel agent on the base that helped us with everything. I wanted to ski but nobody else knew how but a good friend wanted to get away. We hopped a train to Tokyo to stay one night before catching another train into the mountains the next morning. We were in civilian clothes but were obvious military and were not exactly welcome at the first big hotel. Time to stop at a bar and he had a couple rooms upstairs. Even Tokyo didn't seem huge back then.

Off to the train station in the morning and we're on our way. We would stop at every little town along the way and you could open your window and buy tangerines or a TV type dinner in a bamboo box from the vendors on the platform. At the base of the mountains they attached another engine and they both bellowed black smoke to the top where we got off.

Only one engine here but similar


The Akakura Kanko Hotel is is the most famous of all Myoko Kogen hotels and is regarded as a Japan ski industry icon. The hotel was built in 1937 and still retains its sense of history. This classic European style hotel, the first of it’s kind in Japan, is perched 1000 metres high on the slopes of Shin-Akakura (Akakan) ski area where one can ski in and ski out. Next door to Akakura Kanko Ski Resort, Akakura Kanko Hotel boasts a golf course, a tennis court and a spa centre. It features a top-floor terrace with panoramic views, 3 restaurants and hot spring baths. 

Did we have reservations, I have no idea? They sent a small bus down to the train station and before long we were checked in. It really was a European style hotel with high ceilings, lots of woodwork, huge lobby and dining room and a nice billiard room we found the first night. Don't remember if meals were included but they sat us at a long table with much English China and about 10 English speaking Europeans. We weren't that interesting to them as we were military and only about 19 years old. Maybe a choice of food but probably ate what we were served.


It was like everyone went to bed not long after dinner and when that happens they stop selling liquor. We continued playing billiards until one of the guys that worked in the kitchen came out, offered us some more beer and some billiard lessons. The 3 of us were the only sign of life until around 11 PM.

The next morning it was off to the equipment rental shop and size was an issue. I ended up with tight fitting boots and short ski's were not in fashion back then. I was used to longer ski's. Combine with snowing all day and over a foot of powder ..... I cut the day short

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The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

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