We stayed the week before Christmas at Aqua Alpine in Hakuba in the Hakuba Gorya village area, in the Nagano region of Japan. This was like arriving at a friend-you didnt-know-you-had's place, the staff at the hotel picked us up, organised our lift tickets, ski gear, ski lessons, schlepped our luggage into our snug log cabin and evidently, did an almighty Snow Dance so we had plenty of soft powder snow to land in when gravity overtook us on the slopes. People would materialise to shuttle us to and from the snow. One of the staff kindly took my gung-ho 16year old powder hound skiing, and helped dig him out of waist-high powder after an adventurous short-cut. The cottage caretaker took us to an Onsen and then out to a local restaurant. All effortlessly hospitable, and relaxed. I'm nearly dubious about blogging this as I am planning to go back next year, so maybe I should take that all back and say, Oh, it was Ok, sitting in front of the open fire, watching the snow slide off the roof, sketching the fir trees while the night fell like myself on a dodgy turn, but don't try to book, I believe it's full for the next two northern winters.