Pieces of Chad,  Travel

Japan Trip 2024

I’m overdue with this update. I just kept putting off getting all the photos together for this post. I can be such a procrastinator. Last month, I flew back to Japan for my annual trip to Hakuba Gay Ski Week. It’s been my third year attending, and every time I go, my love for the beautiful country of Japan grows even stronger.

This year was a little different, as my partner Cristóbal also came along, which had its perks. Having previously lived in Japan and being able to talk Japanese fluently made navigating Tokyo for the first couple of days of the trip a breeze.

While we were only in Tokyo for a few days, Cristóbal ensured we made the best use of our time there. As a result, I got to experience a different type of Tokyo than what I had grown accustomed to. 

Some of the highlights were trying the different street foods, checking out the Sumida Aquarium and a few of the temples scattered throughout Tokyo, having a sensory overload at TeamLab Borderless, shopping in Shimokitazawa, eating grasshoppers at Hanbey Izakaya, and hitting up Shinjuku for Karaoke at Tokyo Blue with some friends from Australia.

Call me a cliche romantic or just a big softy, but braving the rain on a mission to take a picture on the stairs leading to the Suga Shrine would have to have been one of the extraordinary moments of our time in Tokyo.

Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is a special film to us. If you’ve seen it there is not much else to say about this spot. The photos say it all.

After a few days in Tokyo, we took the Shinkansen to Nagano, where we took a coach to Hakuba, our final destination for the rest of our trip. It goes without saying that after attending Hakuba Gay Ski Week for three years, Hakuba, particularly Penke Lodge, has become a home away from home.

This year, we were fortunate to experience several cases of heavy snowfall, which made me feel like I had gone through the wardrobe and ended up in Narnia. It was truly magical.

Hakuba Gay Ski Week allowed me to catch up with familiar faces while meeting new ones. It was an action-packed nine days of hitting the slopes and my clumsy ass attempting to ski and snowboard, partying and occasionally drinking one too many Chu hais, and also exploring the beautiful sights this part of Japan has to offer. It is a special place that I hold dear to my heart.

In a typical case of Murphy’s Law, we were stranded in Shanghai for 24 hours, which allowed us to explore the city. 24 hours is obviously not even enough to touch the tip of the iceberg of what Shanghai has to offer and is definitely on our list to revisit.

It’s been nearly a month since I returned to Australia, and I’m already planning next year’s visit.

Check out all the photos of the trip below.