My new camera for snowboard sessions

dmx-ca9I bought last week the new Sanyo Xacti DMX-CA9 which is one of the first waterproof HD video camera on the market. Got it as soon as it came out to capture the last snowboard sessions of the season.

The form factor is not bad. The grip could be better as with the screen opened, the handle part becomes pretty thin with sharp edges. A finger shaped handle would be nice, it would probably make the unit butt ugly but who cares? It’s a sports camera. When the screen is closed, the grip is perfect, but you cannot shoot with the screen closed.

Menu is horrible, looks cheap and aliased like it was adapted to a better resolution screen without creating higher resolution icons. Navigation in the menu with the buttons is a pain because of the waterproofing which makes those buttons less responsive (but I guess it can’t really be helped).

So yeah, for my hands and eyes used to the beauty and luxury of Nikon DSLRs and Ricoh GR Digital, the camera has a slight after-taste of cheap consumer electronics. But then, it enables me to take videos like this without any fear of falling down and ending up with a wet bricked camera:

So all in all, I’m pretty happy with my new toy. I’m going back for one last snowboard trip next monday and I will probably spend the whole day (or as long as the battery holds) taping jumps and tricks at the snowpark.

80cm of fresh snow

I was in Kagura Saturday for a my second day snowboard of the season. We left at 5:30AM to get there by 7AM, get dressed and catch the first ropeway car up the mountain. I was snowing big flakes the whole day, no wind. Deep powder everywhere, leg-deep out in the forest where we spent the whole day, almost Hokkaido-good.

The station reported 80cm of fresh snowfall over the weekend. It really looks like the start of a great season!

Surf or Study

Sunday December 2nd is for many of us in Japan the dreaded day of 日本語能力試験 – also known as JLPT or Japanese Language Proficiency Test. But this weekend is also the start of what looks like the best ski season I’ve seen since I’ve come to Japan.

Kagura ski resort or Kanji?

Trying out my new snowboard gear on 130cm of snow in Kagura or studying for the 2級. It’s a tough call…

S-Air summer ski jump

What to do when you really want to snowboard in summer and you like stupid crazy activities? You find a place where they built a big-air jump on a hill with a pool under it.

me, ready to jump

The place is called S-Air and is located in 所沢 in southern Saitama. You can get there from Tokyo in around 45min by train and the full day pass + rental of everything will cost you 8,300¥ (or 7,000¥ for 2 1/2 hours).

This was really really scary and even though I probably never cleared 3m, it felt really high. I had never taken a real jump on a snowboard before, and I will probably never do it on snow now that I know how it feels: I had so many potentially-fatal-crashes in that pool, I’m scared for life now…

Preparing for snowboard season

Last week I took a day off work to go apply for my visa renewal in Shinagawa (hoping for 3 years this time). I love spending, every year, 2 1/2 hours listening to kids shout and cry, waiting for my number to come up, and 5 minutes of effective work with the immigration officer.

After that was done, I headed out to Jimbocho / Ochanomizu to meet my friend Germain who was going to help me out buying my first snowboard and related accessories. There is a street there that is lined with snowboard, ski and surf shops. I love this place…

View Larger Map

Here’s what I ended up buying:

my new gear for this season

  • Snowboard from K2
  • Flow bindings
  • Boots from Burton
  • Big snowboard bag with wheels for taking the plane to Hokkaido

All of that from last year’s collection and between 50% and 65% off. ¥75.000 well spent, now I’ll probably be on the slopes every weekend this season to make it worth my while…