Japan…..Not much needs to be said about this place if you are into skiing or riding (or snorkeling) in deep powder. This place is the holy grail! Following in the footsteps of Alaska, Japan is a must for backcountry/powder seekers.
After our expedition to China, Mollie and I left dry, polluted air behind and headed to the main Island of Honshu for a search of the famed “Japow.” We rented a car and booked it out of Tokyo just in time to hit rush hour. In an effort to save pennies, we opted to take the non toll roads. Did I forget to mention that it was rush hour in Tokyo – the world’s largest city? Yeah…. well after 4 hours of only making it a few miles away from the city center we made the obvious decision to work our way to the expensive toll roads that lead all over the country and gave us the freedom to actually make progress on our journey up into the mountains.
Our destination for the first part of the trip was Hakuba and the regions that surround the Japanese Alps. Eventually, we would find ourselves searching for more of an authentic Japanese scene and a less western experience by heading over to the Myoko region.
Both regions were without a doubt incredible. The Japow factory was full tilt and heaps of powder were falling everyday. We could anticipate waking up to a few feet of incredible light powder each morning. In the village of Hakuba we eventually met up with friend/vagabond Zach Paley who winters in the region and then chases his stoke above the arctic circle of Norway in the spring-summer months. Zach is one of the finest skiers out there, let alone one of the most down-to-earth and humble we’ve met. Sponsors take note. Zach had the patience to show Mollie and I around to some of his favorite stashes.
In Myoko, I was blown away at the caliber of Japanese snowboarders. Japan produces some sick snowboarders and out there you see guys testing all sorts of new shapes of boards. The surf the snow vibe is strong there and swallow tail rides are the name of the game. There was so much stoke among the local Japanese riders and provided one of the coolest snowboarding scenes I have experienced.
Japan is the place to go! It’s a place to seek out and experience culture, epic powder, and should be on everyone’s bucket list.