First Taste of Snow on Our New Year’s Trip
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Snow Bunny -- Omaki Onsen Spa Garden Waen -- Tonami, Toyama, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/500 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Snow Bunny

So, after a fairly relaxing four-hour drive (three hours plus stops) in beautiful weather, we arrived at the lavishly-named Omaki Onsen Spa Garden “Waen” (おまき温 泉スパガーデン和園). I actually never bothered to parse that full name until now... here's what it means: “Omaki” is the name of the area with a few natural hot springs (onsen). “Spa Garden” is their description to try to sell you on it being a nice place. All those are adjectives to the real name, “Waen”, whose characters in this case mean “Peaceful Garden”.

Anyway, the attraction for us was that it was in an area likely to have snow for Anthony to play in (it did), and offered a “lodge” type accommodation....

Lodge Duplex we had the half on the right -- Omaki Onsen Spa Garden Waen -- Tonami, Toyama, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Lodge Duplex
we had the half on the right

There's another lodge duplex to the right, and restaurant/hotel/spa buildings to the left, so the setting is not rustic or anything, but the view is nice. The previous two shots were taken from about the same location, facing opposite directions. The lodge faces the small Omaki Dam, half a mile away....

View of Omaki Dam , and Beyond -- Omaki Onsen Spa Garden Waen -- Tonami, Toyama, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60 mm — 1/125 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
View of Omaki Dam, and Beyond

Of course, Anthony doesn't care about the view or the lodge... just play, so he dove right in... literally...

First Forage into the Snow -- Omaki Onsen Spa Garden Waen -- Tonami, Toyama, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
First Forage into the Snow
Falling, Mid- Fruumph -- Omaki Onsen Spa Garden Waen -- Tonami, Toyama, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 29 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Falling, Mid-Fruumph
Omaki Onsen Spa Garden Waen -- Tonami, Toyama, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/1250 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

The snow was maybe eight inches deep, but was heavy and icy. He was thrilled because he didn't know any better, but it was snow that had been sitting out in slightly-above-freezing days for some while, so it was quick to become slushy.

At one point he wanted me to throw snowballs at him... he was quite some distance away, so I lobbed one gently in a high arc, and he deftly stepped out of the way while screaming in excitement, thrilled with the close call. (He really enjoys it when things get a little out of his control... such as the “Equal Parts Fun and Terror” mentioned in my post about sledding on a warm summer day a couple of years ago).

So, I lob another at him, but instead of stepping aside, this time he puts out his hand to block the snowball. Clearly this child has had little experience in the snow, because blocking a snowball with your hand is a little like cleaning up spilled baking flour with a hair dryer. But even in this he failed, and the snowball proceeded on an undisturbed path directly into his face.

Now, I'll remind you at this point of two things: the snow was wet and heavy (and thus so was the snowball), and he was screaming in glee.... right up to the moment when the snowball impacted his face in his mouth (hey, I'm a good aim), cutting the scream off mid glee.

This silence lasted the few moments it took him to process what had happened, until he understood that his mouth was completely filled with snow and ice, and in a scene that somehow reminds me of something in Ghostbusters 2, he started to slowly disgorge the snow and replace it with a decidedly non-gleeful kind of scream.

And so ended our snow play....

... for about two minutes, then right back at it, except I started aiming for his knees.

Attentive readers will be feeling a sense of déjà vu. Several years ago the same thing happened to Fumie. Like I said, I have good aim.

Continued here...


All 6 comments so far, oldest first...

If someone’s looking for better sattelite photos of this region have a look at Big Maps.

I always enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing all these photographs and the stories behind. Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!

Thomas from Germany

Holy cow, that’s great! I had no idea that there was a path between the lodges and the ravine. The photo does look to be quite old, though, as it appears that the big bridge next to the old small bridge is just under construction. It didn’t look particularly new. And sadly the high-res photos get cut off just half a mile to the south-east… we did some exploring in the mountains and I would have liked to check it out. Still, it’s great to see the lodge, so thanks so much for the link. —Jeffrey

— comment by Thomas on January 13th, 2010 at 1:19am JST (7 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Loved the descriptions of the snowball throw. Would have loved to see a video. All that baseball-snowball-football- apple-tossing with your brothers while growing up must have perfected your aim.
Must confess that when I saw the first photo, my first thought was “That’s Anthony”. Then looking closer at the face, I thought, “No, it’s Fumie.” Then I really wasn’t sure, until I read your post further. Of course, Fumie, having been your target victim once, wouldn’t have invited another beaning.

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on January 13th, 2010 at 1:44am JST (7 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I know it has to be safe, but in the photos of Anthony playing, it sure looks like one slip will send him sliding inexorably down down down – and into the water near the dam.

What is it with you overprotective parents that feel the need to control everything. He was at least two feet from the edge. Geez. —Jeffrey

— comment by Marcina, USA on January 13th, 2010 at 6:05am JST (7 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Looks like FUN! I’ve never touch snow, let alone play it! Always wanted to try.

Thanks for all the beautiful photos and experiences, at least I get to see and read it.

あけましておめでとう!

Kat from Malaysia.

— comment by Kat on January 13th, 2010 at 2:09pm JST (7 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

That looks like fun. Living in Amami though, we don’t have a lick of snow weather gear. We’d have to buy quite a bit of gear to do a trip like this. Can’t wait to see more.
Earnie

— comment by Earnest Barr on January 13th, 2010 at 5:06pm JST (7 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I have to confess my disappointment that no one seemed to get the immense wit evident in the post title.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on January 17th, 2010 at 10:58pm JST (7 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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