Asiafest 2020

February 21 - March 4, 2020

Your Excellency, Honorable Officers, and Distinguished Members,
I am most Pleased to report the Results of another successful Expedition by the brave and stalwart Members of the mighty Harford Ski Club.  Our Asian Adventure took us to Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, a place of great beauty, steeped in ancient history.  Our small Band consisted of Lord Ernst and Lady Lisa, Sir John, Sir Robert, Mistress Kim, and Maid Marion Linda of the Richmond Ski Club.  We were joined in our Endeavor by three intrepid Members of the Fredericksburg Ski Club: Sir Steven the Younger, Sir Jim, and Sir Dave.  Our Company travelled with a larger Caravan from the Blue Ridge Ski Council, providing Strength in Numbers.
As this foreign Land was unfamiliar to us, an Advance Party consisting of Maid Marion Linda and Sir Steven the Younger went before the main Host, embarking upon a mighty ANA Airship on the 16th of February, in the Year 2020, at the Port of Dulles.  After a long Journey, they arrived safely at the Port ofNarita on the 17th of February, where after treating with the local Authorities, they proceeded upon another Airship to Sapporo.  Local Guides provided the Party with Transport to their Lodgings at the Hilton Niseko Village, but not without Difficulties and Delays occasioned by a Wagon Accident along the Path.
Undaunted, our intrepid Pair arose the next Day to begin their Assault upon the Slopes of Niseko United.  For four Days they repeatedly conquered the four interconnected Mountains of that Land.  Sir Steven the Younger reports that icy Conditions prevailed on the first Day, much to Maid Marion Linda’s Dismay, but subsequent Snowfall resulted in “Epic” Ski Conditions for the final two Days.  Their preliminary Expedition complete, our Scouts again boarded Wagons for the Transit to Sapporo, once again encountering Delays and Difficulties, which were exacerbated by poor Planning on the part of the Local Guides.  Upon their Arrival in Sapporo, they rushed to board another mighty ANA Airship, which brought them to join the Main Party in Narita.

The Main Party departed from the Port of Dulles on the 21st of February and arrived in Good Order at the Port of Narita on the 22nd of February after a long but not altogether unpleasant Journey aboard a worthyANA Airship.  We then embarked on an overland Journey to Hakuba Valley by Caravan, arriving late in the Evening.  Our Lodgings at the HakubaTokyu Hotel were more than Sufficient, and the weary Company fell to Slumber soon after our Arrival.

The Morn dawned blue and bright, and we began our Assault upon the Peaks of Hakuba Valley.  Ten mighty Mountains beckoned.  After securing our Equipments from the honorable Folks at Rhythm Sports, we set out to conquer the nearest Heights, known as Happo One.  We discovered that a very large Host of Japanese seemed intent on celebrating their Emperor’s Birthday Weekend by similarly ascending and descending Happo One. The unprecedented number of Skiers crowding the Slopes truly astounded us.  Unfortunately, a dastardly Snow Snake also lurked among the Crowd and struck down Lady Lisa with a most foul sneak Attack.  Fortunately this fine Lady was not seriously injured, though forced to retire from our Assault on the Mountains.  Lord Ernst and Lady Lisa spent the Remainder of the Week exploring the local Habitat, especially the Area’s finest Eateries and Watering Holes.

Meanwhile the remaining Members of our Company pressed home the Attack on the Mountains, including Hakuba 47, Goryu, Iwatake, Cortina, and Tsugaike.  The massive Crowds persisted though the following Day, then all but disappeared.  The Weather deteriorated throughout the Week, resulting in poor Visibility and dangerous conditions.  At Times it felt as though we were proceeding by Touch.  But both the Weather and the Snow Conditions improved on the last Day, and we enjoyed the heretofore elusive “JaPOW” at Tsugaike.
On the 28th of February, we bid a fond Adieu to Hakuba Valley and boarded one of famous Bullet Trains from Nagano to Tokyo.  The Trains are a modern Marvel, travelling in excess of two hundred miles per hour.  Upon our arrival in Tokyo, we were whisked to our new Lodgings at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel, a fine Establishment.  After settling in, we set about exploring the nearby precincts of this exotic City and discovered a fine dining Establishment along the Shore.

On the Morn, we once again boarded a luxurious Wagon for a Tour of the City, which included the outer Precincts of the Imperial Palace, the Senso-ji Temple, and the Taito Market.  From there, we made our way to the Pinnacle of the Tokyo Sky Tree, a truly impressive Structure billed as the second tallest Building in the World.  Our timing was indeed fortunate, as the Sky Tree was closed indefinitely on the 29th of February due to the expanding Covid-19 Epidemic. Undaunted, we braved the subterranean rail conveyances and continued our Exploration of this unique City, to include Asahi Beer Hall, the Ginza Shopping District and the Shibuya Scramble.  Words fail in any Attempt to describe the Mass of Humanity observed at the Scramble, said to be the largest Human Crossing Point on the Earth.
We continued our Explorations of Tokyo the following Day, beginning with the famous Meiji Shrine, followed by a walking Tour of the Minato-Minamiaoyama District, home to many Architectural Oddities, and Takeshita Street, a Fashion Haven for the Youth of Japan.
On the 2nd of March, we left our Lodgings in Tokyo, bound for the ancient Japanese Capital City of Kyoto.  Not knowing what dangers might lurk in that Quarter, Sir Steven the Younger bravely went ahead of the Main Party, arriving some Minutes before, and locating our Guide so as to ensure a smooth Arrival.  Once the Main Party arrived, we boarded yet another luxurious Wagon for a Tour of the City.  The Kiyomizu Temple, the Golden Palace, and the Geisha District fascinated our Company.  Excellent Lodgings were provided for us at the Miyako Hotel during our Sojourn in Kyoto.

The following Day we continued our Exploration, visiting the beautiful Nijo-jo Castle, although the interior Palaces were closed due to Renovations and the most foul Virus.  Unfortunately our Attempt to visit the famous Temple of One Thousand Buddha’s ran into Difficulty.  Sir Robert proceeded to the Temple by a more expeditious Route and gained Admittance, but the rest of our Company arrived exactly one Minute too Late.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed a fine Evening of Drinking and Dining.
On the 4th of March, we began the long and difficult journey back to our Home.  We travelled by elegant Wagon from Kyoto to Osaka, where we boarded a mighty ANA Airship for a short Trip to the Port of Narita, where we transferred to another worthy Airship for the Journey back to the Port of Dulles, whence we arrived in fine Shape some few Minutes before we departed Narita, (owing to the Speed of our Conveyance relative to the Rotation of the Earth).
A few final Notes of Importane: First, I would be Remiss if I did not pay Tribute to the Fortitude of Lady Lisa, who fully participated in our Explorations of Tokyo and Kyoto, despite her Injury.  Second, I must thank the Members of our Sister Clubs, Richmond and Fredericksburg for their Participation in our Company. And third, the Organizers from the Blue Ridge Ski Council are to be commended for putting together a most excellent Itinerary.
Your most humble Servant,
Sir Steven of Bel Air
Trip Leader, Asiafest 2020