Winter Fun!! …photos from February in Nagano

Iiyama snow festival (Feb 8-9)…

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Sledding (always!)…


Igloo festival (late January through end of Feb)




(did you notice her outfits change?? We went twice! We had to go back to see the completed shinkansen igloo!)

And finally the storms! (Feb 8-9 and Feb 14-17)




Snow-locked Mada-pow: Winter Wonderland for locals only…

This weekend was set to be our biggest weekend since opening Crawfish Madarao. We had 6 reservations over the faux four-day weekend (Monday is an unofficial holiday or “sick day”- don’t tell your boss!) 

Jake and I began the weekend pumped for new visitors and a full-house in our humble mountain getaway. The forecast looked great for winter fun, the snow festival is on, and our pipes and water all running fine. THEN… The biggest snow storm in 45 years dumped on central and northern Honshu from East to West. Having lived in snow country for most of this season, we thought nothing of it, but our guests have to get out of the cities where snow is a rare occurrence. Some people got out, but no one got here. Alas our 6 reservations dropped to 1 and we’re in the red again. 

We knew it was a risk to open a B&B where more than half the year is “off-season” and the summer season requires a lot of advertising, but we didn’t consider that PERFECT winter weather, PERFECT MADA-POW is also disastrous weather. 

The snow festival is very local but super fun, I hope we can share with more people next year. 

The Igloo fest is ongoing for the rest of February.

Looking for the silver lining, without guests, we can go enjoy the festivals again today and report back to you for next year or later this month. With an extra 50cm on the ground at the bottom of the mountain and a little sunshine today, I am sure the sculptures will look amazing this afternoon. Off to see the life-size shinkansen at the Igloo festival and get Fio in the sled again.

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More photos to follow!!

Crawfish Madarao guestrooms – Room 201 renovations in pictures

This was the least demanding room. He already was spacious including a unit bath (bathtub and sink in a room designed to be cleaned easily) and a balcony. The room itself is on the highest Southeast corner of the house so it has breathtaking views year-round. All the room have great views, but in summer peak when the foliage is thick, this is the best!



And now for the room transition…

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What a difference. I am amazed at everything that Jake can do, even on the “easy” rooms.

Crawfish Madarao guestroom – room 202 renovation in pictures

So proud of my husband for all the hard work he’s put in. This is one of the biggest changes as Jake had to re-set all the flooring as well as the “typical” stuff like installing toilet, shower, jacuzzi and knocking down walls. One of my favorites, room 203…

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…and looking at the other corner…

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Now accepting reservations for all rooms at Crawfish Madarao.

We hope to see you soon!

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Madarao Moutain Resort open!

…and Crawfish Madarao Lodge, too!!


How beautiful is this place?! Today Jake and I took a break to check out the activities and check with the main hotel and ski resort about discounts and other information for our guests. It was a beautiful day with lots of fresh snow and about half of the lifts running.

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It was my first time to really see the mountain and understand the design. I think it is an excellent set-up for families and groups with all ski levels. At the main hotel (Madarao Kogen Hotel), there is childcare available and a free kids park which includes a gentle slope for sledding/tubing and a guard watching so that too many people don’t go at once. There is also an area that’s flatter for making snowmen and probably forts when there is more snow. From there, “big kids” can also ski/board down to the first lift. If you are a beginner like me, you will only use this lift and go up and down the modest hill all day (the hill is behind Jake and Fio in the photo above). The serious stuff starts from the bottom of that bunny hill (where Jake is gazing!). Today the higher lifts weren’t open, but apparently you can see the ocean from the peak!! There is also a tree course and a few other ungroomed courses for powder junkies. There is a half pipe for boarders that should be open this weekend as well. There are 25 courses in all and 17 lifts. An all day lift pass is only 4200 and kids under 11 can ride all the lifts for FREE! We asked about discounts and found that you can buy a meal and lift pass in advance by registering online. This is 4300 and includes 1000 yen cert for the restaurant (good soba! and beer is also available), so it’s like 900 yen off. You’ll have to “sign up” at the Madarao ski website by clicking the pink button on this page and sending an empty email (Japanese only). If you stay with us at Crawfish, we’ll help you sign up! 🙂

We are CRAZY busy putting on the final touches to be ready for open tomorrow. Everything is 90% for three rooms, but those last details seem like so much. All the big stuff is done though: heat and hot water, beds, toilets, jacuzzis, carpets and drapes. I am cleaning and doing laundry all day with the babe on my back, but it was nice to take a break at the mountain and see other people enjoying the beautiful surroundings today. We just put up the Crawfish sign out front and still have a lot of shoveling to do (the snow got too high for the snow blower, so we need to shovel once before we can really use it!).

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We have rooms open from this weekend onward. Only one Jacuzzi room left on the 2nd and 3rd! If you are free at the beginning of the year and want a last-minute getaway, try Crawfish Madarao! You will NOT be disappointed!

For reservations email myself or my husband. or

And check out the Crawfish Madarao English website for some more detail on pricing and services.

Also on FACEBOOK! 

The view

The view

This is the 2nd floor balcony from a guest room (and my first time getting the panorama setting right) …the satellite is just for show now.

Something’s different here…

Jake is in high gear trying to get everything ready for the ski season.

This is the upstairs room that needs the least work : Jacuzzi and toilet install ONLY 😉

Here’s the toilet room before and after…


Sometimes Fio and I pitch in!

201 - Fio helped!

Below is one of the downstairs rooms where the wall had to be knocked out to expand the room and all the floorboards had to be re-set straight. This was a BIG project, but the flooring is done and Jake gave the walls a new look with paneling, too!

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American feeling

Driving a large van in a city with limited public transport, listening to country music (thanks to iTunes radio), and drinking Starbucks coffee from a drive-thru window. I felt so at home, I almost drove on the right side of the road as I turned onto the highway ramp. I am getting used to Nagano.

Working or workin’ it?!

We rock the pair look as we transform this humble mountain abode into Crawfish Madarao!

New roof and stucco paint job complete!


FYI, the process (aka “the work”)…


missed a spot!


lookin’ good!




Happy Birthday to us!

That’s all my husband put on his Facebook status with this photo. Our first child was born on August 22nd, 2013 at 6:40am and with her, my lifestyle, my mentality and my whole surrounding will change, again.


I live fast, I think fast and I never really stop. When consider my life so far and who I’ve been it seems that I’ve already lived several lives or at least several childhoods and several teens, and several college years, etc. I’ve been the shy, reserved one; the loud, outspoken one; the strange, perverse one; the Jesus freak; the stoner; the wild child; the free-spirt; super green; super cynic; vegetarian; cut-throat. One consistency is that I always wrote. At one point I had 7 journals all for different topics and audiences. I have one journal for my daughter, that is un-edited and un-censored just so I won’t become that “Mom” and I remember what being 16 was for me. It’s my longest journal since I wrote in it for 16 years. So when I took a job in Japan and came to the land of the rising sun, for the third time, I started a blog for family and friends. I wanted to have that connection so that people could keep up without needing to actually keep up. Since I had no idea if I would ever return, I thought that would be the easier way to let go. I named it mpls_tokyo for my home city and my new city. It still exists on livejournal ( and I considered continuing it instead of starting this new one, but the gap of 3 years is intimidating and I don’t want be begin that way. I did like the title though.

When my husband started a live music bar in Tokyo he asked me to write an English blog. I didn’t keep it up. Somehow it wasn’t inspiring to me and I was also working 7 days a week at the bar and keeping my day job; IT recruitment and contract services for International ERP projects and companies with ERP and Cloud needs (i.e. every company).  I thought about reviving that blog since my husband has a new business under the same name, but I didn’t want to commit to a topic yet and writing a blog under that business seemed unfair to the rest of my life and work.

When we got pregnant, I decided that I need to really step back from work. I am a workaholic. I give everything 110% and I usually take on several things. I don’t want my child to be another one of those things. I can ease into juggling her, I don’t want to throw her into what I’ve already committed. So I told my company I would take 6 months off after birth. However, as a busy bee and work-aholic, of course, I immediately started thinking of projects to fill the time: blogging. So with the birth of my daughter and a major shift from work-aholic to super mom. From late night drinking and entertaining to late night feeding. From advising companies on hiring and managing major IT projects to advising on (well prego and mommy stuff is messy, so I won’t say). As I start a long maternity leave and begin a very different lifestyle and mindset, I will also start a new blog. OH, and I forgot to mention, my husband who has lived in Tokyo his entire life running small shops and bars, decided to sell his successful live music bar in Tokyo and buy a fixer-upper on the top of a mountain to try his hand at running a lodge in a ski resort. So we are completely changing our lives with a child, why not change EVERYTHING?!

So I left Minneapolis, my first love and moved to Tokyo, a neurotic metropolis that I learned to love and now I commute between Tokyo and Madarao and Madarao is my main home for the winter and the majority of my maternity leave. From Minneapolis to Tokyo, Tokyo to Madarao and back. Happy Birthday to my new life, my new mindset, my new child, my husband’s new business and my new blog!

Minneapolis –> Tokyo <–Madarao