By Greg Beck
If you’ve heard of DSK, you already know we are the fun-loving rag-tag bunch of snow boarders, ranging from the founders, 10-year-veterans Kazu and Orashi, to the first time nOObs about to get pwned on the mountain! But don’t think you’ve got it all figured out, because I am only scratching at the surface.
First off, DSK does not stand for anything in English. DSK means dousukebe or “absolute pervs” in Japanese. The name comes from Kazu, who started the group a couple years ago, and the full name is actually DSK Snow Party (“party” meaning both “Let’s party” and “group”). He and his friends, several of whom buy season passes for snowboarding and go every day they don’t work, started hanging out with JETs. Several of them started tagging along and voila!, DSK was born. Since then our numbers have grown, and thanks to Kazu’s contacts, we have our own T-shirts and DSK emblem in various sizes to plaster on your car, cell phone and snow board. Kazu is also just about the kindest person I’ve ever met and regularly helps anyone who shows even the slightest interest with buying, renting, or borrowing gear.
So where does all this snowboarding take place? A little place called Mizuho Highlands. Mizuho is just across the Shimane prefecture border on the road to Hamada. The drive takes just over an each way, leaving from Hiroshima City. Usually we leave for Mizuho mid-morning and take whoever asks to go until the van fills up. We grab bentos on the way there, eat lunch in the parking lot, get lift tickets, and board for about four hours. We get home in time for dinner and everyone splits the price of transportation. This is the normal pattern, although sometimes there are other trips, and the occasional night session.
Getting back to what Mizuho Highland is like, the area is divided into two sides: “Valley Side” and “Mountain Side,” with a total of 14 runs. There are five “black” runs for the advanced, four intermediate runs, and five beginner runs, including a trick course (with half pipe) and a brand new run just opening this year. There are six lifts total. The longest is actually a four-person gondola from the Mountain Side entrance that takes you to the top of the longest run, Chestnut – a beginner to intermediate level course that stretches 2,600 meters long. Endurance boarders can take one more lift from the top of Chestnut and mix and match the four remaining runs to make a non-stop run of 3.5 to 4 kilometers in length!
If you’re a first timer, don’t feel overwhelmed. DSK is all about good times and improving your skillz. If snowboarding is not your thing and you want to bring or rent skiis on the way up, DSK is an equal opportunity group. Every trip is different, but usually there is a good mix of Japanese and foreigners, guys and gals, and like all sports groups, DSK is a great chance to meet people because of similar interests, not just because you speak English. That said, these trips also present a great opportunity to sharpen your Japanese while having fun.
For more details you can look us up on our Facebook group by searching for “DSK Snow Party,” or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just for kicks, here is the English version of the Web site for Mizuho Highlands: http://www.mizuhohighland.com/english/
If you want to check out other places to snowboard in the area, there are many places you can bus or drive to in the Geihoku region of Hiroshima Prefecture (which I have never been to), and the largest mountain in the Chugoku region, Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture. If you do drive, make sure you have the appropriate tires and be warm, and be safe!
See you on the slopes!
Ski the Web
Looking for information on ski and snowboard resorts in Hiroshima prefecture? Check out the Snow Japan Web site. The site provides a listing of all the area resorts here and throughout Japan, with maps, weekly weather forecasts and info on hours, prices and slopes.