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Japan takes a lot of pride in its four distinct seasons, and everyone seems to enjoy all the changes that each new time of year brings. With winter, you’ll see people setting up their kotatsu tables at home to keep warm, convenience stores starting to sell delicious hot bowls of oden, and what seems to be just about everyone in the country gearing up to hit the slopes. With mountainous regions throughout Japan, and travel companies offering super cheap ski-tour packages, it’s hard to ignore the call to pack up your board or skis and head for the powdery slopes.

A fun weekend at the Kagura Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture is probably what 45-year-old Koju Neriko, his wife, and their friend had in mind when they set out with their snowboards last Friday, only to become terribly lost on the blustering mountain for two days.

The threesome was rescued safely from the mountain on the morning of January 4, after having gone missing two days earlier. It was later learned that the group became lost when they decided to take their adventure off the designated course. Unable to find their way back, they survived on the snacks they were each carrying and stuck out the night in snow caves they dug to keep sheltered from the cold, while trying to keep from falling asleep. Probably a bit more of an adventure than they were expecting.

In his tearful recount of the incident, Mr. Neruko admits that deciding to go off-course was not the best decision on his part.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 6.45.17 PMItai News

“I’ve seen on TV before how dangerous the mountains can be in the winter, but I’ve finally come to find out for myself just how treacherous they can really be,” he told reporters during an emotional press conference. “Since I’ve made it back alive, I want to warn my friends and others about it,” he added, tears streaming down his face.

Police reports warn that every year there are incidents of people going missing after straying from the designated course in pursuit of wilder terrain and untouched snow. While not a very smart move to go off the trail in the first place, it’s a good thing that the three had enough survival smarts to keep themselves alive until they were rescued. Lesson learned, and all’s well that ends well, right?

But net users have one question that has still gone unanswered: What on earth is that on Neruko’s head?

“Is that a hat? Or hair?”

“Is that his hair or a wig? He could probably keep warm if he burned it. LOL”

“His head looks warm.”

“…Is he wearing a turban? lol”

Jokes aside, to all of you planning to hit the slopes this winter remember to play it safe, and no matter how much of a pro you may be, be sure to remember Mr. Neriko’s hard-learned lesson and stick to the designated course! Mother Nature isn’t always so forgiving. (And your head probably won’t stay anywhere near as warm as his.)

Source: Itai News, tv asahi
Screenshots via Itai News