Hokkaido’s Forgotten Winter

I never thought that a Japanese winter could be all ours. Gathered around a bonfire the night before my wedding, the idea seemed far-fetched, at best.

I had been based in Japan for a few years, ski guiding in the bountiful mountains of Hokkaido, far from my home mountains in New Zealand. Yukka had been an integral part of that journey, my dream girl who was about to become my wife. About 50 friends and family had flown in for our spring wedding, a massive showing considering the worldwide pandemic-induced travel restrictions. 

Our ceremony would take place at a local shrine, and I’d even signed on to say my vows in Japanese. It was all a little nerve-wracking, but the traditional sake would take some of the edge off. After our ceremony, we would change into vibrant kimonos and be introduced in front of a big hall filled with familiar faces… 

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