With this column, the document has reached 100 pages. I’m guessing that the final release will probably end up around 145? (Book 1 was 126)
#82: “The Value in Luxury and Waste”
Published in 2017/04/20 issue
I first took up snowboarding around 20 years ago. There was a big gap at one point because of work-related circumstances, so excluding that, I’ve snowboarded for 12-13 years. Once again, the snowboarding season is coming to an end. It’s one of my few hobbies, so I always feel sad during this time of year. Of course, there are still operational mountains until the end of May, so it’s not like the season is over—but this year we have to complete work on Stormblood, so I doubt that even a day trip would be possible in May…
Apparently, society thinks of snowboarding as a hobby that takes money and time. And certainly, if you prepare your own sportswear and board, it costs around ¥100,000 (approx. US $900) and you can only go during a limited time of the year. Plus, you have to travel far away, so add travel time and costs to that. Regardless of what the snowboarders themselves think, it does sound like a luxurious hobby to the general public.
The required initial investment for snowboarding feels expensive because you don’t know how many times you’re going to use the equipment, and a monthly subscription for an online game feels expensive for the same reason. It feels like you have to pay in advance even though you don’t know how much you’re going to be playing over the next month. These prices are fixed, so if you buy snowboarding gear and go snowboarding ten times, each time costs 1/10 of the initial investment. If you play an online game for 50 hours, each hour costs 1/50 of the subscription.
When you calculate it this way, people realize that it’s actually a lot cheaper than they thought. However, I do think it’s true that it’s hard to realize that until you actually do it.
No matter how busy I am, I’ll always manage to hit the slopes 10-20 times a year. I also buy new sportswear every 3-4 years or so. Snowboarding fashion trends change faster than skiing ones, so new gear comes out more frequently. If you’re not concerned about that, modern sportswear is easily functional and resilient enough to last 10 years.
Even if the initial sportswear expenses are ¥50,000 (US $450), they can last you 50 trips, so each time only costs ¥1,000 (US $9). Now it sounds cheap, right? FFXIV costs ¥1,480 per month, and if you play for 2.5 hours 2-3 times a week, then your monthly total is 30 hours. That’s ¥49.33 per hour. If you play a bit more on the weekends and bring your monthly time to 50 hours, then that’s about ¥30 per hour.
When I go snowboarding, it’s usually on a strict day trip schedule. The main reason is because I don’t have time, but it’s also to make me conscious of the fact that I can go even if I only have time for a day trip. Even though it’s a hobby, sometimes I won’t want to do it out of tiredness or laziness, so it’s easy to unintentionally skip going unless I’m consciously thinking, “I can just go for a day.”
For a day trip, I get out of bed at 5 a.m. After I get back, I dry out my sportswear and gear, preparing so that I can go again whenever I feel like it. All I’d have to do is wake up, get dressed, wash my face, and head out. I enjoy driving, so I always go to the slopes by car. Since I have two cars, one of them is equipped with stud-less tires and a snowboard rack. As long as it has fuel, I can dash there immediately.
Writing out all of my preparations makes it sound like a hassle, but the car preparations only have to be done once before the season begins and once after it’s over. Gasoline and tire costs add to the expenses, but the tires get more cost-effective the more times I go, and gasoline is just like any other travel expense. Then again, my car has terrible fuel economy, so even on long-distance trips I can only go 7.5 km per litre…
Most of the time, I go snowboarding alone. Even when I don’t, there’ll only be 1-2 other people with me. That’s the one instance of poor cost-effectiveness, since I can’t split the travel costs most of the time. However, if I consider driving to be one of my hobbies too, then I can divide the costs with that. And since I own the car, I don’t have to worry about depreciation when I’m not using it.
For the past few years, I’ve been practicing a form of turning called carving. A lot of people will imagine tricks like jumps and spins when you bring up the topic of snowboarding, but all I do is focus on improving the accuracy of my turns. Carving is a way of turning using the edges on both sides of the board. Snowboards are broad, but for carving, you only use the edge of the board, not the sole. It’s really hard to sustain and easily broken by shifting your body weight or posture improperly.
When I step out onto the slope at 9:30 in the morning, get on the lift, reach the mountain’s summit, and look down at the still-empty course, all of my worries are instantly dispelled. I focus on my carving turns, get on the lift again, do my turns again, and repeat. I spend the entire day, excluding lunch, silently going down the slope until it closes at 4:30 p.m. All I think about as I’m gliding down the slope is whether or not I’m riding on the edge of the board. When the edge carves deep into the snow, engraving a line in the slope, the sensation travels from my feet to my whole body. I get goosebumps from how good it feels.
I often feel the same way about games. Of course, everyone has different playstyles, so it’s not about whether the game is good or bad. Instead, there’s also that feeling of enjoyment or satisfaction that you get when you accomplish something in the game. You set a goal for yourself, practice it over and over, find where you need to improve, and make corrections. When you get better, the areas of improvement get harder to achieve, but that in itself is what makes it challenging and motivates you to continue.
The reason why I’m writing about this is because a certain staff member said to me that snowboarding is a luxurious hobby. I responded by saying, “It may seem luxurious to you, but it isn’t to me,” and I think it got interpreted in a financial way. That’s not the case at all—what I wanted to say with this column is that it’s not expensive when you divide the costs by the amount of time you’re enjoying yourself. You also gain a lot from the experience. When people say that playing games is a waste of time, I want to respond with, “It may seem like a waste of time to you, but it isn’t a waste to me.” “Leave me alone” also works.
This year, I finally took private lessons from a pro snowboarder for the first time. It cost ¥12,000, but it gave me an extremely clear picture of what I needed to improve on, which had been hazy up until now. I was glad to find out that I still had much more room for improvement. So, I’m really sad now that the snowboarding season is about to end. I hope next winter comes sooner…