Outdoor Japan TRAVELER - Issue 43 - Spring 2012
Outdoor Japan Traveler is the magazine for people who love travel, the outdoors and adventure in Japan. Every season is a new adventure. Spring 2012.
SPRIN G ISSUE 2012 43 Deep Turns In TOHOKu Spring Travel: A Blue Shade of Pink Oshima Trail Running Exploring Lush Kosrae Japan Journals + Spring Activity Guide ACTION ADVENTURE OUTDOORS TRAVEL I N S I D E O J T R AV E L E R FEATURES Deep Turns in Tohoku Photo by Paul Vanderheiden On the cover: 10 18 26 36 48 50 6 25 34 Inside Out Oshima Trail Running By Pauline Kitamura OUTDOOR JAPAN TRAVELER Published Seasonally Publisher Outdoor Japan Inc. Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson Editor William Ross Business Development Director Luke McDonald Art Director Yuki Masuko Contributing Editors Wayne Graczyk, Eri Nishikawa, Takashi Osanai Administration & Distribution Rika Yamada Illustration Eureka! Translation Makiko Brunetti, Kanae Kato, Kumiko Kurosaki, Junco Mitsui Contact Information: Outdoor Japan Inc. J-HANK Chigasaki B / 4-10 Heiwa-cho, Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa 253-0024 253-0024 4-10 By Lee Dobson A Blue Shade of Pink Exploring Lush Kosrae Story & photos by Tim Rock Deep Turns By Gardner Robinson Smiling Japan With Jup Brown Japan Journals With Nick Hyne J HANK B Tel: (0467) 81-3212 Fax: (0467) 81-3213 Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Subscriptions: firstname.lastname@example.org Comments: email@example.com OJ Creative: firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook/japantraveler www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan By Craig Yamashita 44 45 46 Cycling Japan By Takashi Niwa Spring has sprung! Pedaling Across the Chubu Region: Toyoma Bay to Ise Bay High Tide By Mitsuharu Kume The Local Brew By Bryan Harrell Ossan Power Brimmer Brewing Japan Angler By Abdel Ibrahim Good Eatin' The Naked Stranger By The Naked Stranger Episode 9: A winter ode to l'eau chaude �2012 OUTDOOR JAPAN INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED. VIEWS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF OUTDOOR JAPAN. 4 From the Editor Contributors, Columnists & Cohorts 8 Race and Events Spotlights Every Season a New Adventure 60 OJ Classifieds 56 Spring Activity Guide Lifestyle Directory Make deep turns. Ride your bike.Take a bath. Ride a wave. Hit the slopes. Climb something. Explore. SPRING 2 0 1 2 3 FROM THE EDITOR Gardner Robinson, Editor-in-Chief Contributors, Columnists and Cohorts W hen the cherry blossoms bloom in Tokyo it feels like the entire city comes out of their collective shells, breathing new life into the city. Stroll through any park during peak weekends and the energy is palpable; you can't help but get excited about spring and the start of the green season. Spring creeps up through southern Japan and slowly makes its way north, so if you missed your chance at hanami here in the Kanto area you can chase the blossoms north to beautiful countryside places like Hirosaki Castle in Aomori (P. 18). It's now been a year since the events of March 11, 2011. There are positive signs for tourism in Japan, the JNTO announced February inbound numbers are up 12.9% from 2011. People are doing their best to move forward and Outdoor Japan had the opportunity to help produce a documentary focused on the lives of people in Tohoku and their courage in the face of such an unimaginable disaster. Our program, "Deep Turns" airs on April 27 on NHK World and JIBTV as part of the "FORWARD" documentary series. The story, about a mountain, the healing and destructive powers of nature and a foreign resident who formed a deep connection with the mountain and the people there, is featured in this issue (P. 36). Jup Brown has lived off and on in Fukushima for years and knows firsthand how the people in the area have suffered following last year's earthquake. Many are still picking up the pieces of lives shattered by the aftermath. Although he describes himself as, "just your average Kiwi," there is nothing ordinary about this guy. Jup is running the length of Japan, averaging 50 kilometers a day, to raise awareness and donations for people who still need our support (P. 48). And if you are still looking for Golden Week ideas, this epic winter, documented in our Japan Journals piece (P. 50), has provided some great spring skiing possibilities. There is plenty of snow left and many resorts are open through Golden Week. The big melt is feeding rivers that will whet your appetite for white water action or relaxing paddles in placid lakes. If you are ready for some island fun, jump a ferry and wake up in another world. Tokyo's islands offer everything from scuba diving, surfing and some amazing trail running (P. 10). Now get out there and enjoy the season! Pauline Kitamura Tim Rock Lee Dobson Bill Ross Takashi Niwa Abdel Ibrahim P36 Jup Brown " " Jup 150km P48 Japan Journals P50 P10 P18 Bryan Harrell Craig Yamashita 2011311 JNTO 12.9 427 JIBTV The Naked Stranger Mitsuharu Kume " FORWARD" Deep Turns" " email@example.com 4 SPRING 2 0 1 2 By Craig Yamashita Illustration by Eureka! Translation by Aya Aoki Spring has sprung! For centuries, the changing of the seasons have been celebrated heartily in Japan, and none more so than the arrival of spring. Even today, spring ushers in the new school year and the fiscal year. However, this spring, keep a lookout for these lesser known harbingers of spring. Kanpai! In April, the ubiquitous salaryman's dark winter coat transforms into beige hued plumage. The reasons for this change is unknown, but one theory holds that it evolved to help the salaryman better blend in with the drab environment of the business districts the neutral-colored throngs inhabit, serving as camoflauge to prevent being spotted by superiors. Hayfever Matsuri - Traditional lore tells of the pollen allergic oni , or demon, terrorizing children by sneezing all over them. Local children pelt the oni with tissues to protect themselves from hay fever. Festive nose-shaped cakes dusted with sugar "pollen", and rice cakes that symbolize red, watery eyeballs are some of the treats you can enjoy. : "" After spending the long, dark winter months playing games on the internet and subsisting on delivery bento, the otaku begins to emerge from their caves to forage for new Spring items in fast food restaurants. The best place for otaku viewing is Akihabara, as the streets are awash with otaku searching for food and potential mates. GET 1.1 3 1.3 2 1.2 "" 60 4 1.4 -- 3 �1,995 www.surfersjournal.jp 6 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SPRING 2 0 1 2 7 2 20 1 NG 3 PRI UE 4 S S IS EVENT SPOTLIGHTS SpRiNG ADvENTuRE RACiNG RACES & EVENTS What Japan lacks in sheer size, it more than makes up for in diversity as the country, surrounded by ocean, has countless rivers and mountains that provide an amazing backdrop for multi-sport activities such as adventure racing and triathlons. Plan a trip around an event this year for a challenge, plenty of action and an unforgettable adventure. Extremo Adventure Race Series 2012 www.a-extremo.com/extreme/eventeng.html This well-known one-day race series is perfect for beginners as well as for those looking for a good dose of excitement in Japan's backcountry. Disciplines include trekking, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing, kayaking and orienteering as well as team challenges. One great thing about these races is the entry deadline is just ten days before the race � unheard of in Japan! Apr. 15: Race #1: Nakagawa Race at Nasu-karasuyama (Tochigi) May 12: Race #2 Okutama Race at Okutama Town (Tokyo) June 23: Race #3: Oze-hinoemata Race at Hinoemata (Fukushima) Sept. 8: Race #4: Okuoi Race at Kawana Honmachi (Shizuoka) Sea to Summit 2012 www.montbell.com Montbell is Japan's top homegrown outdoor gear company and, apart from making great gear, they also put on some great multisport races where competitors start with their feet dipped in the ocean and finish enjoying a great view from atop a mountain. The events often include sea kayaking, cycling and hiking and welcome competitors with all levels of fitness who want to spend a great day outdoors. May 26-27: /Daisen Sea to Summit 2012 (Tottori) June 16-17: /Asahidake Sea to Summit 2012 (Hokkaido) Sept. 8-9: /Chokai-san Sea to Summit 2012 (Akita & Yamagata) Sept. 29-30: /Takatsugawa Sea to Summit 2012 (Shimane) Nov. 23-24: /Okukawachi Sea to Summit 2012 (Osaka) SpRiNG SKiiNG! Japan Ski Resort Guide www.outdoorjapan.com/snow Once the sakura bloom in the city, it may feel like the snow season is over but, this year especially, it's not by a long shot. Many ski resorts are open until after Golden Week and, if you haven't enjoyed the joy of skiing under spring blue skies, then joining your friends for postski BBQ, you don't know what you are missing. In fact, some resorts such as Yamagata's Gassan or Niigata's Okutadami Maruyama don't even open until March or April, so you can ski almost until summer. High elevation places such as Hakuba in Nagano are a great place for spring snowshoeing. Get some exercise, enjoy a picnic and watch and listen to the mountains begin to come alive as the scenery begins to change from white to green. 8 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SPRING 2 0 1 2 9 ng oon ni M un he R t on hima Os in By ne K Pauli itamu ra Tokyo? oon? m o in on the volcan o run a live n et feel lik zing a trail o ld it at wou ettle for bla Wh s ld you Wou OKADA PORT HINODEHAMA BEACH THE SEASIDE NATURE TRAIL P.29 GOJINKA ONSEN MOTOMACHI HAMA-NO-YU OUTDOOR HOT SPRINGS MOTOMACHI PORT MIHARAYAMA TRAIL HEAD OSHIMA NATURAL PARK THE TEXAS TRAIL P.28 OSHIMA HOT SPRING HOTEL OSHIMA ONSEN TRAIL HEAD MT. MIHARAYAMA P.26 P.27 THE OHACHI MEGURI TRAIL MT. KUSHIGATA THE OMOTE SABAKU TRAIL MIHARA CRATER HABU PORT 10 SPRING 2 0 1 2 O n a clear day, if you are standing on the beach of Sagami Bay, an island rises out in the distance. On a hazy day it is barely visible, yet getting there is a mere one-hour-and-40-minute boat ride. The volcanic island of Oshima is 120 kilometers south of Tokyo. The island is filled with wondrous scenery and astounding trails that will undoubtedly awe and impress even well traveled trail runners. In order to get a feel for the place, first look at the huge, stark black volcano in the center of the island. The volcanic mountain is called Mihara-yama (764m) or Mt. Mihara, and is the largest on Oshima. It majestically overlooks everything and everyone on the island, like a towering god. Usually, this serene mountain sleeps peacefully. However, every 35 years or so, it awakens to transform into a ferocious rumbling, red-hot lavaspitting ogre. The most recent eruption was in 1986, and it was big enough that the entire island was completely evacuated. This volcano, one of the most active in the world, is both the creator and destroyer of the distinctive land features and unique trails that crisscross Oshima. So where should you start exploring? While it's possible to begin your hike or run from the very bottom of the mountain, most people who visit the island make their way up by bus or taxi to one of two trail heads located near the top of the mountain � the Mihara-Sancho Trail Head and the Mihara-yama Hot Springs Trail Head. From here you can climb to the top of Mihara-yama. The summit is essentially a central hub from which trails radiate out in all directions toward the ocean. There are many fantastic trails you can explore, but the four introduced here--the Ohachi Meguri, the Omote Sabaku Desert course, the Texas Hiking course, and the beautiful Seaside Nature Trail--are particularly impressive with diverse scenery ranging from black volcanic pyroclastic rock to lush green forests. 4 140 120km 764 35 1986 SPRING 2 0 1 2 11 CRATER TRAILS il i Meguri 2Tr3ahours / 6 km23) The Ohach s, (approximatel y 6 kilometer O ne of the most popular trails on Oshima is the Ohachi Meguri � a short but impressive trail taking you right around the top of Miharayama. The easiest way to get there is from the Mihara-yama Trail Head (you can take a bus or taxi up to the trail head). Here you'll find a cozy tea house (Gojinka Chaya) with superb views of the volcano as well as several gift shops for the tourists who, by the way, come by the busloads. There are washrooms, a rest area with benches, and even a police station here. From the lookout area, you'll see a single asphalt road cutting across the barren landscape. The route is simple. Just walk down the hill and take the long, straight road across a lava field. Once you reach the foot of the mountain, the road winds its way up toward the summit. It's short but steep, so trod slowly, making sure to look back from time to time to check out the incredible vistas below. Once you reach the top, in the middle of a cluster of jagged lava formations, you'll see a Japanese torii � the gateway to the sacred Mihara Shrine. Take the stairs down to the shrine and look around. During the last eruption, molten lava oozed its way down the mountain, destroying everything in sight. Legend has it though, that when the lava reached this shrine, it miraculously 360 parted and flowed around it, thus leaving the shrine intact. Needless to say, this Mihara Shrine is considered an object of worship by the people of Oshima. From the main trail, make sure you also take the short "detour" route up toward the center of the mountain where you can peer down into the scary, steaming hole of an impressive crater. The Ohachi Meguri Trail is well maintained, making it a relatively easy hike, and the 360-degree panoramic views from the top of this volcano are breathtaking. 12 SPRING 2 0 1 2 BLACK DESERT RUNNING abaku Trail 7 km35) The Omote S urs / (approximatel y 7 km, 3 - 5 ho O n the south foot of Mihara-yama is an area called "Omote Sabaku" or "front desert." The most exciting way to reach the trail, in my opinion, is to dash down from the top of Miharayama, hollering and whooping in ecstatic delight. Unlike hard-packed dirt trails, the "trails" here are crumbly granular lava rock, and the trick is to keep your balance while letting your feet comfortably sink and slide with the rocks as you descend. As its name accurately reflects, every which way you look, the land spreads out in front of you like a remote barren desert and, if there's one word that jumps to mind upon seeing this, it's "freedom!" Walking (or running) counter-clockwise around the mountain, you'll be treated to views of the regal Mihara-yama on your left and the ocean and Izu Islands floating in the horizon on your right. You'll also pass by an old concrete foundation of a roller slide, a remnant from the 1930s heydays. Back then, Oshima used to be a busy place, hustling and bustling with people and motorcars. Famous artists and writers, sea-faring sailors, fashionable young ladies and a ton of tourists all flocked to this popular island destination. One of the main "attractions" other than the volcano was a super long roller slide that zipped you down the mountainside. Certainly a must-do for thrill seekers at the time. Unfortunately, the metal roller slide had to be dismantled during the war when Japan ran into a shortage of steel. So today we're left with only the concrete foundation and our imagination. As you make your away along the trail, the unbelievable vastness of it all will make you begin to wonder whether you're really in Japan... or perhaps on the moon. The sky, the desert, the mountains and, oh, the views. The views! 1930 SPRING 2 0 1 2 13 SUMMIT TO SEA 35) Tr e Texas 7 kiail eters, 3 - 5 hours / 7km Th lom (Approximat ely hen a Japanese person imagines what the Lone Star State of Texas is like, perhaps the barren scene here is what comes to mind. Most likely named for its spacious, ranch-like setting, the land near the top is a mountain made of black volcanic rock with not a tree in sight. But the real beauty of this trail is the amazing change you'll see as you descend from the top of Miharayama toward the ocean. First, you'll pass through a sea of black lava rock, frozen into weird eye-catching formations for eternity (or at least until the next eruption). As you descend further, you'll start to see a few hardy looking plants and some low growing shrubbery W here and there. The more you descend, the more trees you'll find, until finally you'll find yourself running through a beautiful green forest with the sound of the ocean ahead of you. The trail ends at the Oshima Park where there are more than 10,000 Japanese camellia trees planted and bright red and pink camellia flowers blooming between the months of January and March. There are not that many trails in the world where you can experience the various ecosystems of an island in one descending swoop, and the dramatic change as you go from the very top of the island all the way down to the sea is fascinating to see and experience. 3 1 14 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SEASIDE STROLL 2.5) ture Trail e Seaside Na 1 -2.5 hours / 4 km 1 Th (Approximatel y 4 kilometer s, O n the northeastern side of the island, there is a lovely Seaside Nature Trail perfect for hiking and trail running. The gently undulating dirt trail takes you over cliffs overlooking the ocean, between rows of Japanese Black Pine, and underneath beautiful camellia tree tunnels. The path darts in and out of the forest, opening up from time to time to reveal the crashing waves below. ACTS OSHIMA F shima, which translates into "Big Island" despite only being nine kilometers wide and 15 kilometers long, is the largest and most populated of a group of islands collectively called Izu Shichito (or Izu Seven Islands). These islands are in fact officially a part of Tokyo but, as anyone who's been there will quickly realize, entirely a world away from the busy neon metropolitan. Oshima is renowned for its beautiful bright red Japanese camellia flowers that blossom in early spring and for its excellent diving spots during the summer. The island's centerpiece however, is undoubtedly Mihara-yama, the live volcano that sits right smack dab in the middle of the island. In September 2010, the island of Oshima was officially designated as a UNESCO Geopark. 9km 15km 2010 9 O Photo courtesy of Tokai Kisen Total area / : 91 km2 Size / : 9 km. east to west, 15 km. north to south / 9 km 15 km Circumference / : 52 km. Population / : 8,483 (as at April 1, 2011) / 8,483 201141 Highest Point / : Mihara-yama, 764 meters / 764 m SPRING 2 0 1 2 15 GETTING THERE / The fastest and most convenient way to get to Oshima is by high-speed jet boat. A slower but cheaper alternative is to take the overnight ferry that leaves Tokyo at night and arrives in Oshima early in the morning. If you want to get there quickly, there are flights from Haneda Airport to Oshima as well. GETTING AROUND / Bus / Oshima Bus / Tel: 04992-2-1822 Web: http://oshima-bus.com HOT SPRINGS / Opening times vary depending on the season. Please check the hot spring websites for hours of operation. Taxi / Oshima Koutsu / , Tel: 04992-4-1392 Nagaoka Koutsu / , Tel: 04992-2-2691 Car Rental / Izu Oshima Car Rentals / Tel: 04992-2-2691 Toyota Rent-a-Lease / Tel: 04992-2-1611 Kaiyou Car Rentals / Tel: 04922-2-2740 Nihon Car Rentals / Tel: 04992-2-3039 Bicycle Rental / Ramble Rental Cycle / Tel: 04992-2-3398 Asami Bike Rentals / Tel: 03992-2-8407 High-speed Jet Boat / Travel time: 1 hour, 45 minutes Departing from: Takeshiba Sanbashi Pier, Hamamatsucho, Tokyo, as well as Kurihama, Atami, Ito, Tateyama : 145 : Gojinka Hot Springs / A spacious hot springs onsen facility with a 25-meter pool and sauna. 25m 1-8 Tel: 04992-2-0909 Web: www.town.oshima.tokyo.jp/highlight/gojinka.html Motomachi Hamanoyu / Watch the sunset over the ocean in this open-air hot spring. Bathing suits required. 882 Ferry / Travel time: Approximately 4 - 6 hours Departing from: Takebashi Sanbashi Pier, Yokohama, and Shimoda See the Tokai Kisen Web site for schedules and fares. : 46 : HP Web: www.tokaikisen.co.jp/english/ Tel: 04992-2-5522 By Plane / Travel time: 40 minutes Departing from: Haneda Airport : 40 : ANA Domestic Flight Reservations Tel: 0570-029-222 Web: www.anawings.co.jp Tel: 04992-2-1446 Web: www.town.oshima.tokyo.jp/highlight/hamanoyu.html WEB CONNECTION / Oshima Tourism Association / www.izu-oshima.or.jp/ Oshima Town Official Site / www.town.oshima.tokyo.jp/ Oshima Navi / www.oshima-navi.com Izu Oshima GeoPark / www.izu-oshima.or.jp/geopark/ Tokyo Islands / www.tokyo-islands.com RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATIONS Asami-kan / 58-1 Tel: 04992-2-8407 Web: www.asamikan.com Izu Oshima Onsen Hotel / 3-5 Tel: 04992-2-1673 Web: www.oshima-onsen.co.jp/index.html Adventure Divas Pauline Kitamura is the founder of Adventure Divas, a company that runs trail running, hiking, multi-sport and adventure tours in Japan. Web: www.adventure-divas.com 16 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SPRING 2 0 1 2 17 ue l B A e of ad h S Dob By Lee son 18 SPRING 2 0 1 2 "Mine has been a life of much shame" ---- Dazai Osamu, 1948 (From his book No Longer Human, or Ningen Shikkaku) 1948 nk i P SPRING ardly a quote with which to launch a thousand ships, and nor did it. It was these words however that inspired me to take an interest in Honshu's northernmost prefecture, Aomori--the land of blue forests. A quick search resulted in an image of an area unkempt and wild, much like its native son, Dazai. H 2 0 1 2 19 20 SPRING 2 0 1 2 omori is bordered by Akita and Iwate prefectures to its south, and faces Hokkaido to the north across the Tsurugu Strait. Tsuguru is also the name of one of the two ben (dialects) spoken in the area, with the other being nambu-ben. The dialects are both unique to northern Japan, with a majority of Japanese not having a clue what is being said. The unusual language adds to the feeling of isolation, but its lyrical sound makes it pleasurable to hear. It was a treat to sit in a hot bath and listen to the locals chat and enjoy it for nothing more than the sound. For most of its prolific history, Aomori was little more than forests and coastline. Apart from the few hearty farmers and hunters who inhabited the area, it was a place to escape the populaces in the southwest part of Japan. In 1871 the Meiji government took an interest in the locale and changed it from its former name of Mutsu Province to what we know it as today. Fishing, farming and forestry drive the local economy, with Aomori apples enjoying a claim to fame as some of Japan's best. After 1945, Japan went through a "lost" period, as she tried to come to terms with her post-war place. It was interesting that two prominent figures who played key roles in redefining the nation should both come from such a remote area. Dazai Osamu, the pseudonym of Tsushima Shuji, was born the 10th child of 11 in Kanagi, Goshogawara, in the northwestern part of Aomori. Master novelist and storyteller Dazai was a literary hero and voice to millions. His novels and short stories, often biographical, were gritty, depressing and caught the mood of many at the time. A Farther south another figure to affect Japan's post-war period was born in the castle town of Hirosaki. Ishizaka Youjiro, born in 1900. A veteran correspondent of the war, Ishizaka took a different approach to Dazai and showed the nation how it could be, rather than how it was. His novel, Aoi Sanmyaku or Blue Mountain Range, was hugely popular, and it played an influential role in introducing the idea of a new Japan. Unfortunately, few of Ishizaka's novels have been translated into English, but they inspired a frenzy of movies that helped Japan climb out of its slump. Given it was early May, and the cherry blossoms had yet to shed their petals, I decided to visit the town that spawned a post-war hero, and take in the famous cherry blossoms of Hirosaki Castle. Hirosaki is/was Japan's northernmost castle town, located on the Tsugaru Plains, a short distance from Akita's northern border. The town sprang to life in 1571 after local warlord Oura Tamenobu declared himself independent of the Nambu clan and seized power in the area. In 1590, after assisting Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the battle of Odawara, Tamenobu was rewarded with large parcels of land in the area and confirmed as the local daimyo. At that time he changed his name to Tsugaru. In 1603, Tsugaru began construction on Hirosaki Castle, only to stop a year later after his death in Kyoto. Construction resumed in 1609, under Tsugaru Nobuhira, and it was completed in 1611. From all accounts it was an impressive structure before nature rendered splendor moot by means of a lightning strike on a stormy eve in 1627. The ensuing fire quickly engulfed the powder magazine, with the resulting explosion destroying the original six-story, five-roof structure. The three-story structure that stands today was built in 1810, by the ninth daimyo, Tsugaru Yasuchika. 1841 1945 11 10 1900 5 1571 1590 1603 1607 1609 1611 561627 3 1810 9 1871 1894 452600 100 917300 500 42355 10 SPRING 2 0 1 2 21 22 SPRING 2 0 1 2 In 1871, the castle was handed over to the new Meiji government and, after being garrisoned by the Imperial Japanese Army, it was largely dismantled with a number of buildings and most of the walls being taken down. In 1894, the site was donated by the Tsugaru clan to the government for use as a park. A total of 2,600 cherry blossom trees breathe life and vitality into the grounds each year at the end of April and early May, and they give canvas to one of Japan's most picturesque scenes. The view is enjoyed by more than a million visitors, from when the grounds open at 9 a.m. to closing time at 5 p.m. The admission fee of �300 (�500 for both the castle and botanical gardens) is well worth it, as you get to feast your eyes on one of Japan's finest displays of pink petals. During the cherry blossom festival which runs from April 23 to May 5, the grounds stay open as late as 10 p.m. to give one plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular light-up. Stick around after the lights dim, and you are treated to the sight of dozens of locals pitching in to clean up the rubbish for the next day. Stalls provide ample opportunities to sample local fare. Hirosaki is more than just its cherry blossom festival; being home to some fine examples of Renaissance-style architecture Japan has to offer. Hirosaki is also the hometown of popular manga artist Nara Yoshitomo, noted for his drawings of moody and sometimes evil-looking "cute" kids. Hirosaki is but the tip of a tourist iceberg, showing just a glimpse of what Aomori has to offer. What a stylish glimpse it provides. " " SPRING 2 0 1 2 23 Getting There The Shinkansen now runs up to Aomori City and, once you are there, just jump on the limited express train, Tsugaru, and it will see you in Hirosaki around 30 minutes later. All in all, Hirosaki is a five-hour train ride from Tokyo, thanks to bullet train access. From Hirosaki Station, take the Dotemachi Loop Bus for 15 minutes and get off at Shiyakusho-mae bus stop. Accommodation can be pretty scarce during the cherry blossom season, so it may be worth looking at places to stay in either Aomori City or Akita. There is plenty of bus or train access from both places. 30 5 15 Web Connection Hirosaki City: www.city.hirosaki.aomori.jp/index.html Aomori Prefecture: www.pref.aomori.lg.jp Travel Info: www.hyperdia.com/en/ 24 SPRING 2 0 1 2 H I G H T I D E By Mitsuharu Kume Ossan Power " " SHIMA FUKU- ow is the time to show ossan power," said a surfing friend of mine from Fukushima. His wife had taken his kids and left Fukushima to escape the invisible dangers of radiation. He chose to stay and now was alone in Fukushima. Despite some stomach problems, he was putting all his energy into building a better Fukushima for the future -- the day when everyone would return again. Ossan refers to men like him -- men in their 40s and 50s, not yet ojisan, but who in some ways had reached the peak of their life. I had first met him in Fukushima in 2007, when I was doing a nationwide slide show called Nihon Isshu Tempura Abura no Tabi (A Trip Around Japan on Tempura Oil). The show covered the half-year trip the four members of my family and our two dogs took on a bus powered by tempura oil. He was an expert at snowboarding, surfing and skating. He was running a shop and had started his own snowboard brand. He was very energetic and beloved by many. T hat meet ing s ta r ted off a lively relationship. He had come to visit me down "N in Tanegashima, the island in southern Japan where I live. Five months after the March 11, 2011, earthquake, I in turn went to visit him. With Geiger counter in hand, I went to where he was living. He brought me to an onsen ryokan run by his friend. It was there that a number of people who had lost their homes to the tsunami, or whose homes were in the high radiation areas, were living. We got into the rotenburo (outdoor hot spring) and talked for hours. Many people who wanted to know about the actual conditions in Fukushima, but there was very little information. He spoke passionately to me about this for hours. He lamented that, even though he had listened to noted researchers, he had no clear vision of the future for Fukushima. When I returned to my island, I decided there was something I could do. A tsunami can happen anywhere. Together with the people of Tanegashima, we could learn a lesson from the earthquake, so that the deaths of the thousands of people in Tohoku would not be in vain. We invited another surfer, who was an associate professor and also friend of my Fukushima fr iend, to visit us in Tanegashima. He gave three shor t presentations about life in Fukushima after the disaster. We also enjoyed some peaceful surfing sessions together. As fellow people of the sea, we were concerned about the mental state of those who were afraid to return to the ocean. "Age shio ja, age shio ja." The tide is rising, things are moving in the right direction--so goes the old saying. The earthquake has really strengthened my feeling of being Japanese, of understanding we are all classmates in the school life, learning the lessons the Earth teaches us. We should strive to do our best. We can't forget that there are people like my friend living in Fukushima. There are in fact a lot of ossan living there and they sometimes get a bit of teasing from younger people in Japan. Yet, we should do what we can to help them build a better future for Japan. Now is the time for us to show our ossan power. SPRING 2 0 1 2 25 Rock Story & photos by Tim EXPLORING LUSH 26 SPRING 2 0 1 2 Island Beat Japan Islands�Micronesia KOSRAE Most people haven't heard of this little Pacific island, but those who visit never forget hiking to hidden waterfalls, searching an endemic forest for a lost city, snorkeling a maze of mangroves or diving amidst rich corals and sharks. ... SPRING 2 0 1 2 27 KOSRAE L ocated in the north-central Pacific, Kosrae is part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and is a true gem. Many of the people here lead a natural lifestyle. It is not unusual to see men in dugout canoes paddling out to fish. Women use woven items to carry fruits to market. Riding a bamboo raft with the incoming tide at an inlet is a great source of fun and thrills for adventurous children. The other states in the FSM are the capital of Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk Lagoon) and Yap. Each state has developed unique cultural characteristics. For instance, in Kosrae, the Congregational Church plays an extremely important role in everyday life, while in Chuuk clan relationships remain an important factor. Over the last 15 years, Pohnpei has rapidly developed as the most westernized state, but it still retains a great many local customs. Even though the national government is located here, traditional leadership continues to play an important role. The Menke Ruins is a long hike and, to best see the entire area, one should plan on camping out in the jungle overnight. The temple of the Goddess of Breadfruit, Sinlaku, is here, and this is where she spent her last days before fleeing to Yap prior to the arrival of the missionaries in 1852. The Menkes are the oldest such ruins in FSM and perhaps even the entire Micronesian sub-region, pre-dating both the Lelu ruins in Kosrae and Nan Madol in Pohnpei. What is perhaps the best feature of the Menke ruins is the Menke Valley itself, which holds the pure and untrammeled Menke River. Easier to get to and explore, Kosrae's famous Lelu Ruins sit in town not far from a seaside chapel. Considered one of the wonders of the Pacific huge basaltic slabs and arranged neatly, they make 20-foot walls that encompass what was once an ancient capital. The Lelu Ruins were an active ruling metropolis through the latter part of the 19th century. The genesis of these ruins of large basaltic walls, channels, streets, tombs and living quarters dates back to the 13th century. photographers. Located in Utwe, the waterfall offers a small bathing pool at the bottom. Getting there is a rocky, but short, five-minute walk. Forest lovers will want to see the Yela Ka Forest with its newly completed boardwalk. Yela offers a pristine series of tropical island ecosystems and is one of the last roadless areas in the Pacific, remaining largely closed to the public. At the center of the area is something to behold; a freshwater swamp dominated by hundreds of towering endemic Ka trees (Terminalia carolinensis). These trees have been referred to as the "Redwoods of Micronesia." CORAL REEFS One of the island's greatest attractions is Kosrae's outer barrier reef. It is a blend of aquas and greens. In places, the reef plunges deeply close to shore. Signs of development are few on Kosrae, and the rugged ridges of the heavily jungled mountains dominate the shoreline residences. Today, each has special features that make these dive destinations unique. Kosrae has been pretty much off the "snorkeled path." Dive exploration here is not much more than a decade old. Adventurous pioneers such as Doug Beitz at Kosrae Nautilus Resort have been having a good time exploring while awaiting the masses to discover these undersea HISTORY & HIKES For pure nature and great daytrip adventures, Kosrae is the destination. The island has dense jungle, and even the mountains are covered in jungle. There are remnants of WWII located high in these hills as well as the reminders of Kosrae's ancient past. FALLS & FOREST Jungle waterfalls await visitors and include the Sipyen Waterfall, a refreshing 30-foot cascade of mountain water that attracts bathers and SPRING 28 2 0 1 2 Island Beat Japan Islands�Micronesia 19 13 10 5 4 15 10 5 1852 SPRING 2 0 1 2 29 KOSRAE gems. The island is famous for amazing hard coral reefs which are possibly the healthiest in the Pacific. The variety and size of these reefs, located east of most typhoon disturbances, is a biologist's delight. The extensive mangroves add to the healthy formula for diversity. The lack of development on Kosrae (the main road doesn't even go all the way around the island) keeps the reefs in superb shape. They are the kind you expect to see at an outer atoll. Fish life is plentiful, and Kosrae has the finest mooring buoy program in Micronesia, with sites around the entire island with well-maintained buoys and lines. For diving, don't miss heading to Hiroshi Point by boat, so you can get right to the wall and start looking for action. The sloping drop-off at Hiroshi is covered in beautiful corals adorned by hovering fairy basslets in brilliant magentas and yellows. A good variety of sea anemones and the shallower waters produce schools of parrotfish that roam the reef munching on corals and algae. Sand rays rest in the white sand flats, and big coral bommies come to within 15 feet of the surface, making this an ideal snorkel site and a great place for novice divers to enjoy a truly beautiful reef. Or try Walung Dropoff for an amazing coral display of absolutely huge and varied coral heads and big bunches of colorful Christmas tree worms. Morays hide within the cracks and crevices created by these thick, competitive corals. Fantastic regal angelfish, absolutely brilliant flame angels, blackback butterflyfish, ornate butterflyfish, midnight snapper and a whole collection of other reef fish make this a superb spot for fish-watchers. Check out shrimp and octopus if the fish life gets too much to handle. The spectacular thing is that all of this is found in the 40-to-60-foot range. Deeper dives also produce sightings of sharks and schooling bigeye jacks. The current is usually minimal here, making it a fine snorkeling site as well. MANGROVES ABOVE & BELOW For a very, very strange (can you say surreal) diving and snorkeling experience, try Dwarf Forest. This dive is done in a unique brackish marine area that exists between the ocean and the inner mangroves. A trip through the mangrove forest is like a visit to another world. Whether you are diving, snorkeling or just exploring, you follow meandering channels covered by a majestic canopy of mangrove trees. Wildlife abounds. Fish swim lazily through the teacolored water, and birds chatter in trees above. Mangrove forests surround the island of Kosrae and are a place of beauty and solitude. The SPRING mangroves are not quite sea and not yet land and provide important environmental benefits to the island. Because the mangrove forest is rich with life, it is an important resource for the people of Kosrae. The trees provide timber, the channels are a protected transportation network, and their waters are a favored place to fish. Enter the water here, and you will see looming overhead magnificent mangrove trees. Below, hard corals, odd but brilliant sponges and tunicates and silvery moon fish live among a maze of tangled roots. The dive is shallow, so one can weave carefully under the trees and within the roots to reveal a natural light show. Kosrae offers fine dive shop facilities, equipment, training and dedicated dive resorts. Kosrae is a religious island and all businesses close on Sundays--by law. Diving is not permitted but it is OK to snorkel. This is a good day to take a hike into the pristine jungle or just read a book by the sea. New things are happening here all the time. Surfing is a "best-kept secret" and kayaking is becoming popular. If you are looking for an out-ofthe-way adventure, a place teeming with nature, this Micronesian outpost awaits. 30 2 0 1 2 Island Beat Japan Islands�Micronesia ...... 10 20 OK SPRING 2 0 1 2 31 Island Beat Japan Islands�Micronesia GETTING THERE: Travel to the FSM is available via Guam or Hawaii through United Airlines. Kosrae is serviced twice weekly. A number of airlines fly daily to Guam from Japan. TIME: Kosrae is GMT +11 hours. ELECTRICITY: Standard 110-volt and U.S.-type outlets are used. Currency, Banking and Credit Cards: The U.S. dollar is the official currency. There are several U.S. FDIC insured banks operating in the FSM. Most major credit cards are welcome at most visitor-oriented businesses. WHAT TO WEAR: Travel light. It never gets cold in FSM, so only lightweight clothing should be brought. Attire is very casual and formal wear is considered unnecessary and impractical. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended when enjoying the sun. HOTELS: Kosrae Nautilus Resort: www.kosraenautilus.com 2 GMT11 110 FDIC( ) OK : www.kosraenautilus.com 32 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SPRING 2 0 1 2 33 Good Eatin' 34 SPRING 2 0 1 2 t's a frosty weekday morning in early February on the Tsushima Strait. The wind is blowing, and the ocean swells are tossing the boat around like a rubber duck. To top it off, no matter how accurately I cast, the tuna I'm after are ignoring my plug as they feed on small pods of squid hanging at the surface. What appears to be a 30-kilo blue fin flashes as it picks off one of the unfortunate cephalopods, and I jokingly console myself with the thought that at least I'm not in danger of being eaten alive. We have a good four hours of fishing left before heading to port. I know the Buri (seriola quinqueradiata) will show us some love and bite our lures late in the afternoon. Meanwhile, instead of making my nerves bad trying to trick the spooky tuna into biting, I opt to curl into a ball inside the cabin and catch up on sleep. Not too soon into my semi-slumber, my mouth starts watering, and I realize why I really came to Kyushu despite the fact I absolutely hate fishing in cold weather. The food. One thing I like about Japanese outdoor enthusiasts--not just anglers--is they know how to turn around any so-so to downright rotten day by adding hot springs and good eats to the equation. On lousy fishing days such as today, I can at least look forward to a bout of full-sensory culinary indulgence on a scale I can't experience outside Japan. When I first began running with my fishing I sempai, Yoichi Mogi, he half-jokingly and half-disparagingly told me how a lot of the guys he makes trips with will happily catch one or two fish to take home and spend the rest of the trip lounging about or engaging in lad-ish hi-jinks. "Aitsura, enkai no tame ni kuru kara, shoganai." "Those jackasses only come for the banquet." Nowadays I'm growing into the mold myself it seems. Every fishing trip to Kyushu starts with an evening run to Hakata for motsu nabe (beef intestine hot pot) and ends with a big bowl of Hakata-style ramen. These dishes are must-haves for anyone visiting Kyushu, but what really gets our mouths watering are the meals prepared for us at the tiny island inns where we crash after fishing. To many westerners the notion seems strange, but the appeal is never knowing what you will be served, but being sure it will blow your taste buds away. This trip we'll gorge on a main course of wild boar sukiyaki the first night, followed by a slew of the freshest tuna, whitefish and squid sashimi the second night. For me the sight and taste of translucent slices of kawahagi sashimi and the heaping pile of uni sitting atop my ochazuke will outlive any memory of the few fish I pulled onto the boat. My wife says, considering how much I enjoy stuffing my face, it may behoove me to forego fishing for a life of "foodie" tours. 30 ...... 4 2 SPRING 2 0 1 2 35 36 SPRING 2 0 1 2 Deep Turns By Gardner Robinson This Hakkoda Mountains in northeastern Japan are a place of incredible beauty. Over the years locals have gained a healthy respect for these temperamental mountains, whose moods swing from gentle to terrifying on a whim. Paul Vanderheiden was drawn to the Hakkodas for the deep powder they are known for. He formed a deep connection with the mountains and the people in this far corner of Tohoku, never imagining life would take such a dramatic turn. The story "Deep Turns" is part of a documentary series chronicling the lives of people in Tohoku affected by the events of March 11, 2011. The program will be aired on April 27 on JIBTV and NHK World. SPRING 2 0 1 2 37 38 SPRING 2 0 1 2 uring winter, the weather in Hakkoda is merciless. Pretty much every day is a complete whiteout. When I was still learning how to be a guide on the mountain, my sempai (teachers) would aimlessly ride into the whiteness, or so it seemed to me. I wondered what was the matter with these people; how they knew the terrain so well was a mystery to me. "It seemed liberating to be able to know the entire mountain in the back of your head. So I wanted to memorize the mountain as quickly as possible," says Hiroshi Soma who runs the Hakkoda Sanso Lodge and is the Lead Guide at the Mt. Hakkoda Guide Club. "When the sun comes out, my jaw drops at how beautiful is the scenery. But my sempai would say, 'Now is the time to study the mountain. Look and memorize.' They would always say the beautiful scenery should be appreciated, but these days are rare, so this is the time to study," he adds. "D MT. HakkoDa The Hakkoda Mountains rise just south of Aomori City, the capital of Aomori Prefecture. The area is a natural playground for outdoor lovers throughout the year. Locals have gained a healthy respect for the Hakkodas, especially in winter when weather conditions can change in an instant. Masamichi Kaimori knows these mountains better than just about anyone; he's been a guide in the Hakkodas for more than four decades and has trained many of the guides on the mountain today, including Soma. He's guided the Royal Family in these mountains for 28 years, and he and other earlier guides explored and discovered many of the trails. "It wasn't as difficult as you might think," he says. "At night, while drinking, we would have a map out and draw a line with a red pencil where it looked like fun. If the weather was good, we'd go out. "If customers we were guiding wanted to come along, we'd tell them, `Sorry in advance if we fail, but if we succeed you will be part of discovering a new trail.' That's how, day by day, we increased the number of trails. So it wasn't actually all that tough," he modestly states. Back in the day most of the winter touring was done in spring, when the snow pack was more stable and there were more sunny days. In fact the Hakkoda Ropeway, which opened in 1968, didn't start operating in winter until later. In mid-winter, day after day of seemingly bottomless snow falls on these mountains and there are few clear days. Giant trees, frozen in twisted shapes, watch over the pristine white slopes like guardians of the Hakkodas. Certain mountains in Japan, however, carry weight within the community of skiers and snowboarders who love riding backcountry powder. Hakkoda's location near the top of the Tohoku region, in northeastern Honshu, means you must be dedicated to travel to this relatively remote region of the country to get your powder fix. Yet the sheer amount of snow is unrivaled, and when the skies break after a big storm, powder junkies come with beacons packed, powder boards and fat skis in hand, waiting for the first ropeway to claim fresh lines. The weather here can change in the blink of an eye, so it's wise to also have a healthy respect for the mountain. It's also prudent to go with a guide, unless you have a lot of experience in the backcountry and firsthand knowledge of the mountain. "The main difference between Hakkoda and other mountains is the snow is not packed or groomed. There are many ski resorts in Japan, but Hakkoda is extreme. There is no mountain like it in Japan," says Takanori Fukuchi, manager of the Hakkoda Ropeway. "There are routes you can call proper courses but, unlike other resorts where they deforest the mountain and show you exactly where the course is, at Hakkoda there are only orange poles to help guide you to these relatively easier routes down the mountain. The two basic courses are called Forest Course and Direct Course. Apart from these (basic courses), you can pretty much venture anywhere you want on the mountain. There are also regular touring routes but, if you are with a guide, the mountain can be limitless," he points out. "It seems like a ski resort, but it's not," says Soma. "No, it is not," agrees Kaimori. "If you are an avid skier at a resort, and you want to try this mountain and test the powder off the basic tour routes, the most important thing is to hire a qualified guide and follow his lead. Unlike most resorts where they flatten the terrain, here there are naturally formed traps. There are huge tree wells you can easily fall into, the wind can create big cornices out of trees, and one can easily fall into a crevice. You don't get this kind of experience at a normal ski resort," Kaimori adds. The most famous example of just how merciless these mountains can be occurred on Jan. 23, 1902, when two infantry regiments of the Imperial Japanese Army set out to traverse Mt. Hakkoda. They soon became lost and disoriented in a blizzard as they desperately tried to find their way out of the mountains. This routine winter training exercise would later be known as the Hakkoda Death March claiming 199 lives with just 11 survivors. "When the snow really gets deep, the mountain can play tricks on you. The more you try to climb, the more you are actually descending. Even if you try to cut diagonally across the mountain, the snow can be so deep you aren't able to. Instead, you gradually drop further down the valley," Kaimori explains. "You can only comprehend this after you have experienced it yourself. Otherwise, you will keep advancing in the wrong direction, getting more and more lost," he states. WesT MeeTs easT To the east of the Hakkodas lies a small, but significant town, Misawa. In 1938 Japan built an airfield in Misawa; however, since 1945 it has been in American hands and is the only joint service base in the western Pacific, home to U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as Japan's SelfDefense Forces. In March of 2009 an American, Paul Vanderheiden, found himself moving here with his wife Meghan, a dentist and captain in the U.S. Air Force. The young couple had Japan on their wish list for overseas assignments and, although they were heading to one of the coldest and most isolated regions of the country, they couldn't wait to get there. "We were super excited when we found out we were coming to Japan. We knew Japan had really good snow, but it was the culture that drew us here. They give you a 'dream sheet' so to speak, of places you'd like to go, and Misawa was on the top of our list," says Paul. "We've lived in the mountains and near the beach for the past 10 years, so for us, starting a family, we really wanted to live in the country, and we like small towns, so coming to Misawa was kind of the perfect fit for us. "As soon as I found out we were coming to Misawa, I immediately got on the Internet and started doing some research. I checked out the area, ski resorts and backcountry (mountains) and the first thing that came up in Aomori was Hakkoda. It's kind of a legendary place as far as backcountry and really deep powder, and not many people go there," he remembers. Once they were moved into their house off-base, Meghan settled into her new job, and Paul found a part-time job at a local elementary school. Misawa is a hybrid town where inaka meets Americana. You step off the base, and you've got great TexMex, Italian and sports bars. Head a few blocks in another direction, and there are hot springs and traditional Japanese restaurants. Go deeper into the countryside, and there is no limit to the outdoor fun to be had. Paul felt as if he had the best of both worlds; the convenience and support of the base, while experiencing the real Japan. He began exploring the area and discovered he could surf year-round (although it is cold in winter) and snowboard six months a year at Hakkoda. Paul soon hooked up with a local snowboarder, Eisaku Mukai, and started making more frequent trips to the mountain. It didn't take long for him SPRING 2 0 1 2 39 40 SPRING 2 0 1 2 to have his first "Hakkoda Experience," which he describes as "having to dig yourself out of a hole, tree well or some other natural trap Mother Nature throws at you." During his first two seasons at Hakkoda, he discovered a tight-knit local community of backcountry enthusiasts and knowledgeable guides. He also recognized the mountain was a formidable place for foreign visitors or people from the base who didn't have a lot of experience skiing in the backcountry. Paul had studied snow and avalanche safety back in Arizona and Colorado and wanted to use the skills he developed to help visitors ride the Hakkoda backcountry safely. "I decided I wanted to start Japow Tours (www. japowtours.com) because I felt there was a small niche for people coming from overseas to Hakkoda who wanted to ride a lot of powder in the least amount of time. At Hakkoda, you can get lost in two or three turns so, if you don't go the right way, you can end up in a creek or a box canyon," he points out. Before he started guiding, Paul made a conscious effort to get to know and learn from the local guides at Hakkoda. Even now he usually checks in at Hakkoda Sanso Lodge before he goes on a tour to get some insight on the weather or conditions in certain areas from the guides who go out every day. He'll also find out where the other groups are going that day, so he doesn't take the same route. "The other Japanese guides -- such as Somasan from the Hakkoda Guide Club -- are legends; they know the mountain better than anybody, and I am basically a guest in their mountains, and I fully respect that," he says. "Paul comes to greet us every morning and night to say 'Yoroshiku.' That's the kind of guy he is. As a foreigner, an American, Paul is very modest. Almost Japanese-like. He has Japanese friends, and I feel like he really fits in here. I also think he respects his surroundings and the locals," says Soma. the shelves. That's when he knew something was really wrong. Power was out at their house for a while, so it wasn't until two or three days later, when they were able to get some Internet access, when they realized the magnitude of the disaster. While the Tohoku area they had grown to love was being broadcast into living rooms around the globe, Paul and Meghan faced some tough decisions. Their son Christian was just 20 days shy of his first birthday when the earthquake hit. He would take his first steps the day after. Meghan had to stay in Misawa for her job, but Paul and Christian had the option of being evacuated to the U.S. The family needed to decide whether to split up or stay together in Misawa. "We chose to stay as a family. We really felt safe staying here, especially in the area of Tohoku where we were, and we wanted to help with the Japanese community as much as we could," Paul says. Meghan added, "We just decided as a family we wanted to stay together, we did feel safe, and we wanted to help with the humanitarian effort. There were a lot of places within a 15-minute drive really hard hit, and we wanted to help rebuild." "I felt 100 percent safe and 100 percent comfortable with our decision," she says. "We were very well connected. The base was constantly updating us; multiple times a day, on the status of the water testing they were doing. They were doing air testing, testing all the planes coming in and going out, and they would inform the community on what they found. "But, I think one of the hardest things was watching people in the community struggle with resources; gas, kerosene...because we were provided al lot of that on the base." work that we did in eight hours. You know, I think there were 30,000-40,000 man-hours of volunteer work done within a 100-mile radius of Misawa," Paul states. Moving ForWarD A few months after the disaster, although rebuilding efforts were far from over, it was time to look to the future. People needed to go back to doing what they loved so they could move forward. For Paul that meant getting back to the mountain. "We were like, we gotta move forward and do something for ourselves, because you just get so stressed out thinking about all the bad things that can happen, and not all the good things that you have right here on our doorstep. "The first day I went snowboarding was so good for me. My morale after just one day snowboarding kept me going for another week after that," Paul beams. "Both the American military and the local Japanese community in Misawa really tried hard to return to normalcy. They went on with festivals as planned. I think it really was good for the morale of everyone. "I think this last year, I mean, anytime a big tragedy happens, it makes life that much sweeter. It really makes you appreciate the good days, and makes the bad days seem not so bad," says Meghan Nature is a real part of life in Japan. Typhoons and earthquakes, even volcanoes, occur regularly. The colorful seasons are celebrated vigorously and often. Nature in all its beautiful and terrifying forms has contributed to making the country and the people so strong. This past winter has been one of the best snow years in recent memory. Paul's overseas customers have left Tohoku satisfied, having gotten their fill of Hakkoda powder and the many refreshing hot springs in the area. "Just being able to be up here and share this mountain with the Japanese locals, and show foreigners around has been a really cool experience. You know this is the real Japan, this is the countryside, the traditions; it's a pretty special place," Paul affirms. It's been a year since the disaster and although winter stubbornly clings on, it's a new spring in the Hakkodas. The relentless storms begin to subside, making way for more sunny days ahead. "What I still love about Hakkoda is that the base of the mountain is very gentle," says Kaimori. "It feels like the mountain wraps around your body. I feel a sense of relief when I enter. When I am stressed I go into the bamboo forest where no one else would come and lay face down on the ground. I spend about an hour doing nothing and, before I know it, all the confusion in my head goes away. That's what kind of mountain it is." rebuilDing The base was organizing and running several missions a day. According to Meghan they would go as far south as Noda nearly every day. "One time we went to the Hachinohe seaport where there were huge tankers overturned. The entire seaport section was just devastated. There was muck, huge mud piles waist-deep, fish parts, and the fishing wire and nets were all over everything, so you had to pull that out," said Paul. "On another outing to help with the cleanup in the tsunami-hit areas, we went to a town just 10 minutes from Misawa, called Oirase, right along the coast. They had a bunch of strawberry fields and strawberry farms," he says. "It was just a local farmer, and he didn't have a very big plot of land, but what he had was completely leveled," Meghan adds. "Basically we tore down the green houses and ripped it up so they could replant the strawberries. It probably would have taken them two weeks of MarcH 11 March 11, 2011, was one of those amazing powder days at Hakkoda. Japow Tours was keeping Paul busy, but he would make a point not to schedule tours on certain days, so he could be with his friend Mukai just to ride. They rode hard all morning, tearing up the 30-40 cms. of fresh snow. Paul headed to the parking lot to switch boards when things started shaking and people ran out of the ropeway station. He set his board against his car, but it fell over, then suddenly all the cars in the parking lot started jumping around in their spaces. Driving back toward Misawa, they stopped at the first convenience store and saw the line was out the door; people were taking everything off SPRING 2 0 1 2 41 JIBTV PRESENTS THE DOCUMENTARY SERIES `FORWARD' The earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused tremendous damage across a wide area of eastern Japan. The nuclear power plant meltdown made the situation even worse. People around the world were horrified by the aftermath but also inspired by the survivors' quiet courage. The "FORWARD" documentary series demonstrates the determination to recover from the devastation. "DEEP TURNS" was produced by Cipher Communications, SET Japan and Outdoor Japan Media. For program schedule and live streaming, please visit the JIBTV and NHK WORLD Web sites. FORWARD: DEEP TURNS On Air Date: April 27 (Friday) On Air Time (JST): 1:30 a.m., 5:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. JIBTV: www.jibtv.com/special/forward/en.html NHK World: www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/ 42 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SPRING 2 0 1 2 43 Cycling Japan: A JOURNEY TO EXPERIENCE THE LOCAL LIFE -- ROUTE By Takashi Niwa Translated by Sakae Sugahara # 15 ISHIKAWA START! TOYAMA Pedaling Across the Chubu Region From Toyoma Bay to Ise Bay SHIGA NAGANO GIFU GOAL! AICHI SHIZUOKA Back in the saddle after a night at a minshuku in Shirakawa-go. his cycling route is quite easy to follow as it basically connects two rivers � the Sho -gawa in Toyama Prefecture and Gifu's Nagara-gawa. Despite such simplicity, the scenery along the 280-kilometer route changes dramatically as you depart the Japan Sea side of Japan and head toward the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy peda ling pa st ma ny attractive histor ic tow ns a nd v illa ge s, including Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, an area that is one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as the nicely preserved cities of Gujo Hachiman and Mino. Take your time ; spend a night or two while you discover each of their charms T for yourself. Then, once you cross over the ridge that divides the two sides of Honshu, simply descend into the Nobi Heiya, a vast plain that stretches from southwest Gifu all the way to northwest Aichi Prefecture, as you arrive at Ise Bay. 280 Takashi Niwa's Yamamichi Adventure company has been renamed Niwa Cycling Tours (www.ncycling.com). He offers many bike tours, both domestic and overseas. For other routes in Japan, please pick up a copy of "CYCLING JAPAN: 10 of the Best Rides, Vol. 1 by Takashi Niwa," at bookshops around Japan and various online stores. 20111 " " " "www.ncycling.com 10 vol.1 44 SPRING 2 0 1 2 By Bryan Harrell Brimmer Brewing Kawasaki, Kanagawa As I write this, Scott Brimmer is finishing up his first batch of beer in his new brewery, located in suburban Kawasaki City, wedged in between Tokyo and Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture. The location is ideal, allowing Scott to supply his hand-crafted ales to the massive markets of both cities. For me, the development is exciting, as the presence of a seasoned brew ing pro such as Scott is certain to further raise t he b a r o n qu a l it y craft beer in Japan. Scott got his start as a professional brewer at Sierra Nevada Brew ing in northern California where he worked for n i ne ye a rs, a nd a s a brewer during his last four and a half years there. He then moved to Japan, where his wife is from, and worked as a brewer for five years at Gotemba Kogen Beer. While he was there, he brewed a number of special ales that were quite different from the brewery's main commercial products, and I recall all of them to have been very clean, well-balanced and highly flavorful. In the spring of 2011, Scott began work on opening this brewery and fortunately has kept everything on a comparatively small scale. There are three main beers � Pale Ale, Golden Ale and Porter � along with a specialty beer that changes throughout the year. All beers are in 330-ml. bottles, and though prices have not been decided yet, all are listed at 5.5% alcohol. A ll beers will also be available in kegs for pubs and other commercial accounts. Scott plans to begin offering brewery tours in April, when people can come and see the brewing equipment and learn how t he b e e r s a re made. The brewery is a short seven-minute walk from Kuji Station on the Nambu Line which runs between Kawasaki and Tachikawa. While there is a small area where beer can be sampled and enjoyed, the facility is without a pub or restaurant. Scott believes craft beer is all about craftsmanship and dedicates his efforts to producing ha ndcra f ted premium beers that can be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone. 2011 330-ml 5.5% 4 7 49 Brimmer Brewing 4-27-14 Kuji, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa 213-0032 Phone: (044) 281-0541 Web: www.brimmerbrewing.com SPRING 213 - 0 0 3 2 4 -2 7-14 2 0 1 2 45 Save water, share a bath. THE NAKED STRANGER TA L E S F ROM T H E BAT H Episode 9: A winter ode to l'eau chaude H ot water is good. I love it. But not like that comfortable, homey love affair I have with my slippers. And not like that sneaky, guilty love I feel for hot chips with gravy. I'm talking real slappin'-your-pants hot, hot love. Like my love for Natalie Portman and that funny thing she does with her lip when she smiles. Ah, l'eau chaude, it even sounds better in French. Hot water has many practical uses as well. You can use it to clear ice off your windshield on a winter morning or sterilize your surgical instruments. Put it in jelly crystals, and it goes hard. It is efficacious and mysterious and, if you take the bidet option on the Japanese toilet, your world will change forever. Hot water is what separates us from other hominids. Turn on the tap, and there it is. It is a testament to our ancestors' struggle against nature, and we reap the rewards. But in winter after a day on the slopes, the majesty of hot water is taken to an even higher plane. Stick a room temperature, warm toe in hot water and it feels pleasant. Stick a foot that has been wedged in a ski boot for six hours in sub-zero temperatures, and joy turns to rapture. It is better than that Natalie Portman smile. It is banging on the table, hooting, tooting ecstasy. So, do yourself a favor this spring and reignite your romance with l'eau chaude. 6 "" l' chaude eau ' l eau chaude 46 SPRING 2 0 1 2 Off-the-beaten-track Japan SEE A DIFFERENT SIDE OF JAPAN SELF-GUIDED WALKING T HE BA R E E S S E N T I A L S Yutaki Onsen, Nozawa Onsen, Nagano / Rating: Address : Oaza Ichiyama Aza Kawaoshi 1898 Iiyamashi, Nagano Period, but the 1849 earthquake in Nagano caused the water to stop flowing in the area. Luckily, it was re-established in 1987 at the current location. � Discover Japan your own way - with a self-guided walking trip along the historic Nakasendo or Kumano Kodo trails! WALKING TRAILS Evocative village-to-village walking + ACCOMMODATION + MAPS & DIRECTIONS Local inns with excellent regional cuisine Detailed route maps and step-by-step directions 1898 Cost : �400 (adults) 10 Tel: (0269) 65-3454 Web: www.yutakionsen.net The Upside : The rotenburo is beautifully designed. The onsen water cascades four feet down a stone wall to the bath through ornate timber work that would be of interest to anyone with an appreciation of traditional carpentry techniques. Watch the river flow slowly by from the rotenburo. � 1849 1987 Sasazushi (vegetarian sushi in bamboo leaf) is a specialty of the Iiyama area. Nozawa Onsen ski area, Togari Onsen ski area and Oku-shinano or "Little Kyoto." " " Take the Joshinetsu Expressway toward Iiyama and then the Toyoda-Iiyama exit, then onto Rt. 117 toward Yutaki Onsen. It's about 20 minutes by car from Iiyama Station or 10 minutes from Nozawa Onsen. Food : Nearby Attractions : Access : The Downside : It is difficult to access without a car. The Bare Facts : �� Yutaki Onsen sits beside the Chikuma River, the longest river in Japan. It is a quick 117 10-minute drive down the hill from Nozawa Onsen and a nice change from the many free onsen in the village. �� Yutaki was a popular place during the Edo IC 20 40 I.C. 10 WIN A TRIP FOR 2 enter here enter here firstname.lastname@example.org SPRING .jp 2 0 1 2 47 ACTION A New Zealander takes up the challenge to run 4,100 kilometers (the length of Japan), averaging 50 kilometers a day, to raise donations and awareness for Tohoku and bring smiles to people's faces along the way. PROFILE Name: Justyn "Jup" Brown Age: 39 Nationality: New Zealand Blog: http://jupbrown.wordpress.com Web: www.jupbrown.com Hasse Trike 48 SPRING 2 0 1 2 n April 2012, Jup Brown embarks on a 4,100-kilometer journey to run the entire lengthy of Japan from Okinawa to Wakkanai in northern Hokkaido to raise money to rebuild schools and the communities in Tohoku affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It would take a world-class endurance athlete to complete such a challenge, or so you might think. "Actually, I'm just a plumber from Wanaka, an average Kiwi looking to achieve a goal, for a worthy cause, and have some fun along the way," says the 39-year-old Brown, who moonlights as a Japanese translator and a ski/ snowboard course designer. Although he's traveled the world over the last two decades, he's spent a lot of time in Japan and the country is close to is heart. "I love Japan. When I'm asked why, I don't know, it's the people, the food and the countryside. I'm always really happy when I'm in Japan. I'm not sure why, but I am." Jup has lived in Japan on and off for the past 19 years. Other than a year and a half living in Niseko, Hokkaido, most of his time has been spent in Tohoku, particularly Fukushima. He was never big into running. He did it training for sports and staying in shape, but he hadn't run a full marathon until 2006, "on a flat Gold Coast course in Australia," he points out. While working at a ski resort in Inawashiro, Fukushima, where he's spent many winters, he realized a 100K ultra marathon started right outside his door. He joined the race in 2010, finishing in 12 hours and 20 minutes. "It was such an awesome feeling to finish that first ultra marathon. After that I thought, `I could run even longer,' and I loved the ultra running culture, the people were having a lot of fun." In 2011 Jup met a guy in New Zealand named Nick Chisholm who had suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheel chair. Jup wanted to help him rehab and fulfill his dream of riding a Hase trike (a three-wheeled mountain bike). "Nick showed me a picture of the bike and his eyes just lit up. I knew how happy it would make him, so I created a charity event, telling 1,000 people I'd run 100K on a treadmill at a gym if they would donate to help Nick get his new wheels," he says. It took Jup one week, 12 hours and 12 minutes of running to complete the 100 kilometers, but he did it and raised AUD $30,000 to get Nick two three-wheeled Hasse trikes and a bit of extra pocket money if he ever needed it. "It was so amazing to watch so many people I who didn't know me come together and support me, and help a guy in a wheelchair who they also didn't know; I loved every minute of the running and then giving the bikes to Nick," Jup declares. A week after finishing the run for Nick, Jup headed off to Nepal for his next challenge -- the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon -- a 42-kilometer race starting at 5,335 meters and finishing at 3,400 meters. He then flew back to Japan and ran in the 100K Ginga Ultra in Iwate, a race started to help support the tsunami-affected areas in Japan. He wasn't done there. Once back in New Zealand he decided to organize a charity run to raise money for the New Zealand Stroke Foundation, which he learned about through Nick. This time he would run the length of New Zealand, from south to north. He averaged 50 kilometers a day for 67 days while taking just seven days off to rest. Nick was able to join him on his bike for a couple of days as well. Jup wasn't sure he would make it, but with the encouragement of the people who joined him for parts of the run, he did. This is where the idea of running across another island country was born. Jup is calling his challenge "(S)miling , " the "S" standing for "smile" and the "miling" for running many miles in Japan. He will start far south in Okinawa, then cover 4,100 kilometers over 95 days, reaching northern Hokkaido, before finishing up in Tohoku. He plans again to average 50 kilometers a day, while taking one day off every 10 days to recharge; he also plans to spend 4-5 days volunteering in Tohoku along the way. He will take a detour from his cross-country run to join the Ginga Ultra Marathon once again on June 10 while in Tohoku. There is talk of some special guests joining him at the race and some points along the way, and he encourages anyone to join him for a run, walk or cycle during the run -- or just to come out and say, "Gambatte!" He speaks Japanese, so locals needn't worry about communication. He will stop by schools along the way, spreading encouragement and sharing the message that Japan still needs support. "One thing I like to tell people is that I'm not some professional athlete," Jup says. "I'm just a normal guy out there running. I'm a traveler looking for an adventure or two and to have as much fun as I can every day -- while trying to bring some smiles to people's faces and help people along the way." (S)miling What: Running approximately 4,100 kilometers (the length of Japan) from Okinawa to Hokkaido. When: April to Early July 2012 How can you help? Support Jup by donating on his site and/or getting out there and joining him on the road! A detailed schedule and route map is online at http://jupbrown.wordpress.com/59-2/ SPRING 2 0 1 2 49 The guys behind the "Diaries Down Under" series, led by presenter Nick Hyne, spent a good part of this epic winter shooting and riding some of Japan's best mountains for their new project, Japan Journals. Nick took some time to look back on the season that was and, for spring skiers, continues to be. 50 SPRING 2 0 1 2 er 20 Lo o 12 kin g B ack Wint SPRING 2 0 1 2 51 52 SPRING 2 0 1 2 you this winter in Japan? What was the highlight for I am going to go with the obvious answer - the powder! Seemed like everywhere in Japan had a really good winter this year. The snow we got up in Hokkaido was as good as it gets. or different? made each area interesting Yeah, we were based in Niseko snow areas in Japan, what Traveling to these different to Japan? conditions when they come It always shocks me how easy it lovers to find good snow How easy it is for snow for the bulk of the trip. Niseko is a really good spot as the snowfall is so consistent. It gets about 14 meters of snow a year. Nearly every day in January and February was a powder day. We did a road trip up to Asahidake, which was probably the highlight of the trip for us. It was pretty much a blizzard every day but we got into the roadside trees and rode some of the lightest, deepest snow we have ever encountered. Check out Episode 3 for the evidence! For Episode 4 we mixed things up a little and focused on traveling within the main island of Japan. We got some good conditions in Hakuba and Niigata and saw the snow monkeys in their hot springs in Jigokudani. is to get good snow in Japan. You don't need a snowmobile or any crazy hiking equipment necessarily, you can get amazing powder right at the resorts. challenges the crew faced? It was always going to be a mission with six people in the crew and only one person filming all the riders. It was hard at times but we adapted to each situation and it ended up being the best trip I have ever been on. We are all really close friends so it was never going to be too much of a chore hanging out and riding the world's best snow together. Having a small budget made for a few challenges as well. We didn't have a car at the start of the trip but Rhythm Snowsports in Niseko Hirafu sponsored us, providing a van for the rest of the Hokkaido leg. This let us explore a little more and made shopping, pick ups, onsen trips and every day filming requirement crap a lot easier. What were some of the you find in Japan? snow conditions and what The amount of snowfall is between southern hemisphere What's the main difference probably the biggest difference. The climate is a lot milder in New Zealand than Japan. The winters aren't quite as brutal and the summers aren't so hot. Because of this, the only place we have resorts is up in the alpine regions where there aren't any trees. This means the fresh snow we get is a lot more exposed to the elements, not like Japan where there are always stashes in the trees and valleys. you can share with us? Any crazy stories or moments Surprisingly, things stayed relatively tame this trip. On the road trip back from Asahidake to Niseko the highway was closed so it took us about 8 or 9 hours to get back. We found a massive bottle of Sake under the seat and things got a little rowdy. We had a loose night of karaoke in Tokyo too! again next season? best snow once again! Will we see Japan Journals Yep, we will be here hunting the guys shoot? How many episodes did you We shot four episodes of Japan Journals. The first episode came out near the start of February and the 4th is due for release at the end of March. Having four episodes was good because it allowed us to travel to different areas and have a theme for each episode that made up the series. SPRING 2 0 1 2 53 e ya Se ext n ter! win Japan Journals Vimeo: http:/ /vimeo.com/38305108 Facebook: www.facebook.com/JapanJournals Diaries Down Under Web: www.diariesdownunder.com 54 SPRING 2 0 1 2 MAMMuT MONiTOR & TRiAl PROGRAM There is only one way to go into Japan's backcountry � safely, and with the right equipment and knowledge. Mammut's Barryvox Element beacon was created to be easy to use and affordable for new backcountry enthusiasts without sacrificing functionality. Two veteran backcountry guides in Japan share their impressions after using the Barryvox Element beacon with their customers this season. Bill Ross Director & Guide, Dancing Snow (Myoko, Niigata) www.dancingsnow.com "I have used Mammut's Pulse Barryvox for a while now, after using a variety of transceivers from the good old days of analogue devices. It's just great--I used it during avalanche training, and literally found a target in a great big field in less than 30 seconds. Much easier and intuitive than in the past. The Pulse does take a little study to know all the functions, so I was really pleased to have the chance to try out the Element with our guests. Its simplicity doesn't mean it is a dumbed-down version. Rather, in quick pre-tour briefings with guests I felt that they understood the idea behind it, how it functions, and what to do if something did happen. Makes me feel safer, because I'm the first one to ski! And the reasonable price is also a real benefit for people who are already investing a lot in backcountry gear. The area around Mt. Myoko has a wide range of backcountry terrain, ideal for everyone from experienced skiers and boarders to those leaving the groomed runs and "sidecountry" for the first time. It's serious snow country, though, so a transceiver is a requirement. Paul Vanderheiden Owner, Japow Tours (Hakkoda, Aomori) www.japowtours.com "The Mammut Element is a three- antenna transceiver, which make it much faster than other beacon searches on the market. I have been using different beacons for years and have tried many companies but Mammut has made great strides in the design and simplicity of their New Mammut Element. As a Guide I feel much safer knowing that the people in my group have a quality product and they are confident in using it even if it's their first time with the Transceiver. Thank you Mammut for making such an amazing life saving device." Tohoku's Mt. Hakkoda is a backcountry playground attracting advanced skiers and snowboarders. A beacon is standard equipment for exploring these serious mountains, as is a knowledgeable guide. About Hakkoda About Myoko Japow Tours Customers Feedback "The Mammut Element Barryvox transceiver is incredibly intuitive and even tells you to turn around if you are going the wrong direction with a simple U-Turn symbol" "The simple on and off switch locks into place making each function secure and one confidant that he or she is sending or receiving the proper signal." "The harness and housing of the Mammut Element Barryvox is actually quite comfortable and allows for easy access the to transceiver itself." "As an avid backcountry snowboarder the "Mutual burials function" is essential when traveling with larger groups." "When practicing with The Mammut Element Barryvox vs. my friends' BCA Tracker the Element was picking up a signal and tracking at least 10 meters before the BCA Tracker. When doing a speed search in the practice field, the Element Barryvox won every time." "The Mammut Element Barryvox 3 antenna system works faster and more fluid than other beacons I have had in the past, by far the best and easiest transceiver I have ever used." Dancing Snow Customer Feedback "The unit is very compact, and the straps keep it close to your body and out of the way. You're not really aware that you have it on while you're on the hill." "It's really easy to figure out which way to search. All you have to do is follow the arrows and watch the distance figures go down." "I liked the way the display shows how many beacons are out there when you switch to search, and the way you can mark victims so the transceiver stops receiving from that person, and you can move on to the next." "It was my first time to use a transceiver, and it was very easy to understand how to use it. The switches and dials are also simple and clearly marked. I liked the fact that it was hard to accidently turn it off!' Element Barryvox Beacon Pulse Barryvox Beacon "I've used other transceivers that are not as natural to switch from transmit to receive, or harder to use in an actual search. Very fast and accurate." SPRING 2 0 1 2 55 sPrInG aCtIvIty GuIdE EvEry sEason a nEw adv WHITE WATER RAFTING TONE RIVER Gunma www.canyons.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 The Tone River runs through Minakami, the hot spring town in northwest Gunma that has become Honshu's adventure Mecca. The imposing Mt. Tanigawa is the backdrop for the white water tours. The river's three canyons--the Momiji, Minakami and Suwa-- feature the most excitement and, when Momiji is at high water, it is truly world-class. In summer, water levels are low and perfect for family outings. ARAKAWA RIVER Saitama www.outdoorjapan.com/travel/operator_details/28 www.outdoornagatoro.com SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 The Village of Nagatoro is halfway up the Arakawa River from Tokyo in northwest Saitama. Here there are some interesting rock formations along five kilometers of the river that have been designated a national natural monument. The deep waters make for a gentle ride with some Grade 2 rapids in this scenic area. CANYONING SHIKOKU CANYONS Kochi www.happyraft.com SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Shikoku, the oft-forgotten island, is home to some of Japan's best canyoning. The warm climate, steep, rugged mountains and abundance of clear, fresh water make for a great canyoning destination. Here you can get away from the crowds and enjoy some of Japan's most pristine nature. This is the real deal with 40-meter waterfall descents and big waterslides. KUSATSU CANYONS Gunma www.canyons.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Kusatsu is one of the most famous onsen areas in Japan, and the thermal activity that feeds the natural hot springs, as well as the volcanic rock, creates some truly unique canyoning courses. Here you can explore Dear Canyon, one of Japan's highest vertical courses, as well as the depths of Poison Canyon, one of the only hot spring canyoning courses in the world. 56 SPRING 2 0 1 2 EnturE CYCLING After an epic winter, spring skiing will be open at many resorts through Golden Week. The big snowmelt feeds lakes and rivers for great paddling, and pleasant temperatures make the season a great time for some outdoor fun. Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy spring in Japan! SHIMANAMI KAIDO Hiroshima and Ehime http://ncycling01.sblo.jp/article/42313367.html www.go-shimanami.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 The Nishi-Seto Expressway, aka Shimanami Kaido, is a motorway linking the islands of Honshu and Shikoku via a number of bridges. Except one, all the bridges have bike lanes, which makes hopping from island to island across the Seto Inland Sea, a breeze. You'll be awe-struck as you peer down from a soaring bridge to dormant fishing villages below. TOKYO CITY RIDES Tokyo www.tokyocycling.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 The megalopolis of Tokyo is an outdoor playground for cyclists. Feel the energy of the city as you cruise spacious urban parks or busy waterfronts, then suddenly turn into a maze of back streets and residential areas. Surprisingly, Tokyo is dotted with pockets of lush greenery, which gives the city a different face each season. You may bump into a sumo wrestler or discover a new favorite caf�. TROPICAL CYCLING Okinawa http://ncycling01.sblo.jp/article/42313367.html SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 When it comes to cycling in Japan, the sparkling blue sea of Okinawa is not to be missed. The road stretches through sugarcane fields into the horizon of endless water where blue sky meets turquoise water. There are no mountains or large forests that hinder your view. Touring Miyakojima and its neighboring islands, you'll feel truly liberated. NOTO PENINSULA Ishikawa http://ncycling01.sblo.jp/article/42313367.html SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Noto is a time capsule taking you back to old Japan. In addition to the well-preserved city of Kanazawa, or Wajima, famous for its urushi lacquer ware and asa-ichi morning market, you'll find old village houses with black kawara tiles on the top and wood shingles on the side. It will seem as if the clock has turned back a few centuries. With no tourist coaches on its narrow roads, you start to wonder what else will appear around the next corner from years past. SPRING 2 0 1 2 57 sPrInG aCtIvIty GuIdE EvEry sEason a nEw advEnturE CANOEING LAKE NARAMATA Gunma www.ilovecanoe.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Minakami is best known for white water and hot water (onsen) but still waters also run deep in the Minakami area, and one way to enjoy a relaxing spring afternoon is floating in a canoe or kayak in one of the many lakes in the area. Guests can paddle the crystal clear waters while monkeys and kamoshika (a Japanese serow) walk the shores of the lake. LAKE AOKI Nagano www.evergreen-hakuba.com SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Just a short drive from Hakuba, the clear waters of Lake Aoki are fed by the snowmelt of the surrounding mountains. In spring cherry blossoms are abundant and the area is teeming with wildlife. The best way to explore the lake is a gentle paddle in a Canadian Canoe. Take it slow and enjoy the views. ADVENTURE FOREST ADVENTURES Hakone and Odawara www.foret-aventure.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Japan's forests are a great escape from the hectic pace of city life. Forest Adventures runs a number of parks that get you off the ground and into the trees, featuring rope swings, rope bridges, net climbs, tree ladders and zip lines that are challenging but safe for all ages to climb, swing and step across. The Odawara and Hakone parks are great for day trips from Tokyo. BUNGY JUMPING Gunma www.bungyjapan.com SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Adding to Minakami's reputation for outdoor adventure sports is Japan's only bridge bungy jump. The 42-meter bridge spans the Tone River and features spectacular views of the Tanigawa range. But if you are brave enough to step out on the platform and take the ultimate leap of faith, you'll be more focused on what's below. It's a personal challenge you'll enjoy and an experience you'll never forget. The bridge opens Apr. 20. 58 SPRING 2 0 1 2 SCUBA DIVING OGASAWARA ISLANDS Tokyo www.ogasawaramura.com/englishpage.htm www.tourism.metro.tokyo.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 The seasonal diving here is rich and varied, offering screaming drift snorkels over fields of table corals, snorkeling excursions with bottlenose dolphins and a chance to see breaching humpback whales. Huge, schooling tuna, solitary ragged tooth sharks and barnacled sea turtles come to the surrounding reefs of Chichijima and Mukojima, making undersea scenery even more exciting for divers. WRECK OF THE USS EMMONS Okinawa www.piranha-divers.jp SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 The USS Emmons was a minesweeper in the battle of Okinawa that was sunk from a massive kamikaze attack on April 6, 1945. It's the only wreck in the area accessible at a depth of 36-45 meters, yet it wasn't discovered until February of 2001. She is in very good shape, with many details clearly visible, since relatively few divers have yet visited her. SURFING NIIJIMA ISLAND Tokyo www.outdoorjapan.com/surf SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Surf in Tokyo? Tokyo's hidden gem is Niijima Island where there are a variety of good waves with breaks that can handle everything from easterly, northeasterly, southeasterly, westerly and southwesterly swells. The eastern coast is a long white sand beach break that gets some powerful tubes. The west has some popular spots but not as much swell. And don't miss the island's natural outdoor hot spring. ONJUKU BEACH Chiba www.kanaloa7.tv/teal/ SEASON 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8 9 10 11 12 Escape from Tokyo and learn to surf from a two-time Japan champion. When not competing on tour, or paddleboard fishing, reigning Longboard Surfing champion Eugene Teal runs a surf school and clubhouse on Onjuku Beach in Chiba. The huge beach gets good waves and is a great place for beginners to learn. Come for the day or stay at the clubhouse, just a short walk to the beach. SPRING 2 0 1 2 59 OJ CLASSiFiEDS HOKKAiDO HOKKAiDO TOHOKu SHINETSU � HOKURIKU CHUBU � TOKAI KANTO KANSAi HOKKAiDO HOKKAiDO HOKKAiDO HOKKAiDO HOKKAiDO HOKKAiDO www.htholidays.com Niseko's Finest AOMORi Japow Tours is a rider driven guide company with a unique approach to off trail & backcountry snowboarding in the Hakkoda Mountains. HOKKAiDO Japan Adventures Your Japan Hiking Specialists www.japan-adventures.com 60 SPRING 2 0 1 2 CHUGOKU � SHIKOKU KYUSHU � OKINAWA OuTSiDE JApAN GEAR & SERviCES Lifestyle Directory NAGANO IWATE A space to relax and be at one with nature! Summer HAKUBA IN - Exclusive range of luxury cabins, chalets and apartments - Great range of summer activitives - Car and bike rentals arranged "Naka no makiba" rated 5th the most beautiful night sky in Japan. 5 min from Hotel APPI Grand y Heat Escape the Cit www.hakubaresort.com Hakuba Office : TEL (81) 0261 72 6663 email@example.com NAGANO NAGANO inaka home [DOT] GREEN AWARDS www.GreenDotAwards.com WINNER of NAGANO NAGANO NAGANO GIN DE W O ing from �2, he at in the cool br ee r he ze me m of su 5 KUBA HAR LOD G G P Te l:( 02 6 Be at t t 0 ar erson per nig 0 Ster p ht ) p ( :09 C ell Web: www.hakubapowderlodging.com -8 1 12 1) 85 0-1 14 7- 07 9 9 ba ku Ha SPRING 2 0 1 2 61 OJ CLASSiFiEDS NAGANO HOKKAiDO TOHOKu SHINETSU � HOKURIKU CHUBU � TOKAI KANTO KANSAi NAGANO NAGANO NAGANO NAGANO NAGANO Summer �8,500 Winter �9,500 (per person with meals) Long stay packages also available Stay and Play in beautiful Norikura Kogen with an adventure package at NORTHSTAR and the Halenoa Lodge. We offer a full lineup of Green Season Outdoor Fun and if your not so adventurous then you can still enjoy beautiful Norikura Kogen with a dip in one of the Onsens and some local Soba. GUIDED FUN � Beginner MTB Lessons with rentals � Guided MTB Tours � River Hiking UNGUIDED FUN � Road Biking to the top of Mt. Norikura � Trail Running / Hiking � Local Onsen (Hotsping) � Day trips to Mt. Norikura, Kamikochi, Matsumoto City & Takayama City NiiGATA GREEN SEASON www.ridenorthstar.com NORTHSTAR outdoor adventures 4306 Azumi, Matsumoto-shi Nagano-ken Ph: 0263.93.1688 NAGANO NAGANO SKI JAPAN Season runs from December 3rd to May 6th (With Mother Natures Blessing) Come in December, March or April and beat the crowds and save some money! tel. 050 5532 6026 www.nozawaholidays.com 62 SPRING 2 0 1 2 CHUGOKU � SHIKOKU KYUSHU � OKINAWA OuTSiDE JApAN GEAR & SERviCES Lifestyle Directory GuNMA NAGANO GuNMA Refresh your Mind, Body & Soul iBARAKi Refreshing outdoor adventure experiences under 2 hours from Tokyo! Whitewater rafting, canyoning, adventure combos..... 0278-72-2811 www.canyons.jp GuNMA TOKYO SPRING 2 0 1 2 63 OJ CLASSiFiEDS TOKYO HOKKAiDO TOHOKu SHINETSU � HOKURIKU CHUBU � TOKAI KANTO KANSAi SHiZuOKA KANAGAWA IZU SHIMODA International License for SURF LESSON www.real-surf.com SHiZuOKA KANAGAWA YAMANASHi GE T WET, GET HAPPY! Fuji River, The closest rafting spot to Tokyo Surf Shop, Lessons and Rentals Okuda Style Surfing � Located in Kamakura 0467-23-8284 � www.padobo.com TOKYO NATURAL ACTION TEL 0544-65-1123 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.naturalaction.co.jp YAMANASHi TOKYO KANAGAWA KANTO KANAGAWA Shichirigahama, Kamakura Tel/Fax: 0466-24-5381 www.soleilprovence.com 64 SPRING www.easysurf.jp Phone: 0467-55-5702 2 0 1 2 CHUGOKU � SHIKOKU KYUSHU � OKINAWA OuTSiDE JApAN GEAR & SERviCES Lifestyle Directory OKINAWA KANSAi KOCHi CHUGOKU � SHIKOKU MiCRONESiA MiCRONESiA MiCRONESiA THAiLAND TAIWAN KOH LANTA KRABI THAILAND email: email@example.com www.pimalai.com Discover Nature, Discover Yourself. BALi Feel at home... Enjoy the ride... 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