Airmen hit the slopes with outdoor rec

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cody H. Ramirez
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Taking care of Yokota Airmen is a wing priority -- and something the 374th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation office does well.

Outdoor recreation offers trips as a convenient way for service members stationed here to leave base and experience Japanese culture. Outdoor recreation hosts both day and overnight trips available to all base service members and their families. They even offer single Airmen 12 free seats available per trip on a first-come-first-serve basis as a part of the Single Airmen Program.

Tours are available on designated Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and range from whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, fishing, snowboarding and more.

Takashi Yoshii, 374th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation tour programmer and guide, said the trips allow service members to understand what is around them and said, "getting to know the country where you live and learning the local culture helps make life more enjoyable."

Trips are offered year round, but from December to March, only snowboard and ski trips are available, according to Yoshii.

The most recent trip involved hitting the slopes of Hakuba Valley located within the Japanese Alps. The Hakuba region hosts an array of ski resorts with more than 200 runs ranging from the "bunny slopes" for beginners to more advanced terrain for expert skiers and snowboarders.

For beginners skiing or snowboarding in the Hakuba Valley, a place that receives more than 14 meters of snowfall each winter, it is important to be prepared. The trip included an optional lesson for both skiers and snowboarders to familiarize themselves with the sport and local terrain to prevent possible mishaps.

Yoshii, a snowboarder with more than 17 years of experience, taught the class and said, "I love the sport and I love teaching, so these trips allow me to share that with others.

"At the beginning of the lesson everyone is worried, but by the end of the day I see smiles and people will tell me that they enjoyed the day," he added. "Hearing that makes me feel great and makes me want to continue teaching."

Jessica Diegert, spouse of Staff Sgt. Matt Diegert, who participated in the beginner snowboard course said, "I really liked the course because it refreshed my memory."

Diegert, who has been on multiple trips including three to Mt. Fuji alone, said she would recommend outdoor recreation trips to others on base.

"It may not be for everyone, but I would say at least give it a chance," she added. "We wouldn't come out here by ourselves, so the tours give us a chance to visit the local spots."

For more specifics on outdoor recreation trips, call the office at 225-4552.