J-pop croons over the drone of the single chairlift. Monday night after work, we stop at 7-Eleven and buy salmon rice balls and bottles of green tea. A fast dinner we could swallow in the ten-minute drive to the ski hill. This is Sochidake. This is Hokkaido in March.
Far are the trappings of New England ski weekends: clam chowder in bread bowls and motels that dangle over their fireplaces moose antlers or stock paintings of the hunt. Ski tickets that cost ninety dollars and three-hour car rides at 5 AM. Waiting in line to race down icy slopes. In Hokkaido, we drive twenty minutes. In Hokkaido we share powder with few others. In Hokkaido we eat ramen in ski lodges at rickety tables and at night we eat curry after bathing in hot springs.
Somebody falls halfway down the slope. High school students race down the right side of the hill, in practice before the season ends. In August, we will return to homes faraway in Christchurch, Singapore, and Rhode Island. Lights of our city glimmer improbably beyond the mountain as if in a heat wave.
Michael Colbert has written his own travel blog, Misadventures with Michael, for over three years. In addition to travel, photography, and writing, Michael also loves horror films (his favorites are Candyman and Rosemary’s Baby), and he’s a coffee addict (his favorites are Costa Rican and Ethiopian). Currently, he is teaching English at a high school in Japan. His work has appeared in The Worcester Journal, Germinal Magazine, and Orion Magazine.