Noriculi Noricula


   On Sunday 21 February, I visited Hakuba Norikura Onsen Ski Resort. I gave a nickname Noriculi Noricula to this ski resort (after the famous old Italian song, Funiculi Funicula, obviously), as its nearby rival has an Italian name Cortina.  Noricula is an old ski resort adjacent to Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort in Nagano. Noricula is much less crowded and larger than Cortina, which has the steepest slopes in the Hakuba valley and a modern hotel with posh cafe, restaurants, and modern-style onsen spa.  You can purchase a combined lift pass for both Noricula and Cortina, but the border of these ski resorts are a series of pistes with steep slopes, suitable for advanced skiers/boarders (not recommended for beginners). 

  This time I visited Hakuba alone just to practice basic skiing techniques, and stayed at Super Morio san's guesthouse for two nights. 

  Super Morio san got a severe injury with his right leg, buy accidentally putting the leg into the snowblower only 5 hours before he came to JR Hakuba station to pick me up by car. 

  He had to cancel his ski performance with a fire touch at the Firework and Night Ski Show at the nearby Hakuba Tsugaike Ski Resort. Oh, the leg looks so painful.  

  I skied alone in Noricula, which is located only 10 minute walk from Super Morio san's guesthouse. But I have got some valuable advice on my skiing from pro-skiers from the US. Though not crowded as Cortina, Noricula also has many foreign visitors, including pro-skiiers. 

  Early lunch at cafeteria. Source-katsu-don (photo below) is the most popular menu in this ski resort (also available in other cafeteria/restaurants in Noricula). 

  Now I am heading for the long long piste with the most gentle slope within Noricula. Recommended for beginners and also for intermediate skiers/boarders who practice difficult techniques. 

  Beyond this point, there were lots of powders over the vast areas, but I did not enter the off-piste areas. 

  Now, look how gentle the piste slope is (photo below). With powdery snow and few people (often, there were no one else here), I did not have to worry about speed limits, falling/collisions, and trying difficult movements. 

  Soaked in onsen spa on the way back to the guest house. Over the weekend, better to enter before 4:00 pm, as it gets crowded after 4:00-4:30 pm. 

  Met the same guy (social drinker) who was trying many tequila shots at Super Morio san's bar a couple of weeks ago. 

  Next day. Waiting for the bus and having lunch at a cafe near JR Hakuba Station. The latte is so watery and thin, and they only had pre-made panini sandwiches, cookies, and brownies to eat. Foods are expensive, not so tasty, so I would go somewhere else next time. But the problem is, there aren't many cafe/restaurants available around the station, so many first-timer tourists and skiers/boarders (I was the second timer) end up with visiting these cafe/restaurants. The best cafe and restaurants are located away from JR Hakuba Station (Echoland, etc.).  I heard that this particular cafe was run by an old Australian guy (many restaurants and cafe in Hakuba are owned/run by Aussie and American, targeting skiers/boarders from these countries). 

  I saw a lot of these signs in Hakuba/Nagano. 

  At the first bus stop (Service Area of Chuo Highway), I bought a slice of pizza and can of coffee, both of which tasted better than the one I had at the cafe near JR Hakuba Station.  

  Good thing about this pizza is not only the taste, but also its ingredients. Unlike many convini and cafes including Starbucks, the products from these bakery do not use unhealthy trans-fats. Indeed, on the label of the vinyl bag, it says "Please make sure to consume it today". The longer it lasts, the more likely it uses trans-fats. Recent studies link trans-fats to not only cardiovascular diseases and obesity, but also to mood swing, depression, anger/irritation, and lack of focus/motivations. 

  No Trans-Fat, Please.