Outdoor Japan Traveler - Issue 51 - Spring 2014
Enjoy Issue #51 of Outdoor Japan Traveler magazine. The Spring 2014 Issue blazes a trail from Chilean Patagonia to Korea to Japan, exploring the highest bungy jump in Japan, colorful Golden Week festivals, driving and diving in Okinawa and much, much more!
ISSUE 51 | SPRING 2014 | FREE To the End and Back: Patagonia Drive & Dive Okinawa Golden Week Battle of the Skies Blazing Spring Trails ADVENTURE ■ PEOPLE ■ C U LT U R E ■ TRAVEL SPRING 2014 3 F - STOP The first issue of Outdoor Japan Magazine hit the streets on Oct. 1, 2005, the same month Bungy Japan set up their first bungy platform in Minakami, Gunma. Original (and current) Bungy Japan staff member Hiroshi Hasegawa goes off backwards with a copy of that first mag. Jump forward to Spring 2014 and Outdoor Japan cranks out the 51st issue, while Bungy Japan is opening their third (and biggest) bridge bungy in Japan. (Story on Page 28). PHOTO BY KSD PHOTOGRAPHY 4 T R AV E L E R I N S I D E I S S U E 51 ■ S P R I N G 2 014 40 F E AT U R E : TO THE END AND BACK Patagonia 48 16 22 28 32 F E AT U R E S INSIDE Blazing Spring Trails 16 Drive and Dive Okinawa Island 32 04 06 08 09 10 11 12 F-Stop From the Editor Hot Soba Cycling Japan Beer Buzz The Local Brew Guide Lines Market Watch Japan Angler On the Run Photo Gallery Travel & Adventure Directory & Battle of the Skies 22 28 To the End and Back 40 48 13 14 53 54 Q&A with Bungy Japan’s Charles Odlin Avalanche Awareness in Japan SPRING 2014 5 ■ FROM THE EDITOR Gardner Robinson, Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org riving home with my family from a ski trip in Nagano, I received a call from a friend I had just seen in Nozawa Onsen a couple of days before. He was calm but sounded concerned. It was late afternoon, and he and a friend had gone off piste from the resort. It was not their first time in the area; they’d been coming here for years. But they ventured out farther than they thought and were now hiking up a valley in waist-deep snow. It was getting dark, and they were becoming worried. Luckily, my friend had a phone with battery power. I relayed their situation to another friend in Nozawa who located them, initially through Google maps, then through the Find My Phone app, which takes considerably less battery power. They were advised to text only when necessary, and a search team from the D resort was organized. This story ended in a happy, albeit costly, rescue, but it could have ended differently. More and more people are heading into the backcountry, or in this case, “slackcountry,” areas accessed from the lifts at the ski resorts. Our editor Bill Ross looks at snow safety in Japan and the importance of awareness and training before you venture out. If travel is your passion, you undoubtedly have a bucket list. Perhaps yours includes scuba diving in Palau, touring Italy’s wine country or climbing Kilimanjaro. One place that captures the imagination of many travelers is South America’s Patagonia region. It had been high on my bucket list, and this past autumn I jumped from fall in Japan to spring in Chile to check it off the list. Patagonia did not disappoint, yet other parts of the country offered some pleasant surprises, from the capital of Santiago to Maipo and Casablanca wineries and colorful Valpraiso. It was a quick trip, and I only scratched the surface of this interesting and diverse country. Jumping back to Japan, Pauline Kitamura looks at some great spring trail running destinations. Lee Dobson takes us to Shizuoka for a spectacular battle in the skies during Golden Week, and Island Beat goes driving and diving on the big island in Okinawa. We also talk to Bungy Japan founder Charles Odlin about the launch of their new 100-meter bridge bungy in Ibaraki. If you’ve been building up the courage to try bungy, now is the time to go big and jump into spring. 100 Find My Phone OUTDOOR JAPAN TRAVELER Published Seasonally Publisher Outdoor Japan Media Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson Editor Bill Ross Art Director Yuki Masuko Contributing Editors Wayne Graczyk Shigeo Morishita Contributors Joan Bailey, Lee Dobson, Eddie Gianelloni, Bryan Harrell, Neil Hartmann, Abdel Ibrahim, Pauline Kitamura, Takashi Niwa, Tomoko Okazaki, Tim Rock, Robert Self, Justin Stein, Craig Yamashita Translators Kumiko Kurosaki, Yoshine Lee, Eri Nishikami, Lana Sofer Sales & Marketing Tsuyoshi Otake Contact Information: Outdoor Japan Media 6-6-55 Higashi Kaigan Minami Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa 253-0054 253-0054 6-6-55 Tel: (0467) 81-3212 Fax: (0467) 81-3213 EDITORIAL: email@example.com ADVERTISING: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIPTIONS: email@example.com www.facebook/japantraveler www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan ©2014 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 INC. PRINTED IN JAPAN. Cover Photo Bitrix Photography Traveler magazine is available at selected lounges, reservations counters and in-flight libraries with the following airline partners. AIRLINE PARTNERS 6 T R AV E L E R SPRING 2014 7 Hot Soba ホッ ト そば Wake up your noodles with some wasabi flavored edu-tainment. By Craig Yamashita Illustrations by Eureka! Studio This issue’s theme: Power of the Pink During the politically turbulent 1960s, Japan’s youth was a demonstrating bunch. Vietnam War protesters, social activists fighting for workers’ rights took to the streets, and in the early 1970s a feminist movement that fought for women’s freedom of self-expression, self-determination and self-emancipation took root in Japan. One of the more vocal factions was the Chupiren, led by Misako Enoki. The group wore pink construction helmets and were activists for birth control and access to the pill. Incredibly it took until 1999 for the pill to be legalized in Japan. In 2011, Newsweek published a Quality of Life of Women study ranking Japan 87th out of 165 countries. MOMO-IRO Momo-iro (もも色) is the traditional Japanese word for the color pink. Originally inspired by the color of peach blossoms, today it appears everywhere during the hanami season when the cherry blossoms bloom. Sakura-iro (桜色） was the word used to describe the paler cherry blossom, but these words have faded from use unless intended to evoke a bygone era. The euphemism “momo-iro-yuugi” (pink colored affair) was whispered in more discreet times when referring to an illicit love affair. A reporter in the early 1960s combined momo-iro with eiga to give a name to the wildly popular exploitation film genre that exploded on the Japanese cinema scene at the time. Kinky Pink Don’t let the go-go boots and hot pants fool you, when Peggy Matsuyama transforms into Momo Ranger, one of the members of the Gorenja team, she packs heart-shaped earrings that are actually high impact bombs. Along with her heart-shaped “Momo Card” throwing shurikens, and a “Momo Mirror” jamming device, she is one bad Momo. I ❤ Momo Pinku-eiga is blanket term covering the wide range of low-budget, indie exploitation films, not just pornographic films. Popular themes include violent gangsters, women’s prison, biker gangs, as well as soft-core pornography. Many mainstream film directors in Japan cut their teeth while making pinku-eiga films early in their careers. The most recent is Yojiro Takita who took home the Best Foreign Film Oscar for the 2008 hit “Departures” (Okuribito.) Cherry Blossoms adorn the tails side of Japan’s ubiquitous 100-yen coin Tales from the Game Center Time to Rethink the Pink If you enjoy a quiet cup of coffee during a break from the rat race, you have probably seen a klunky pink phone perched near the till of your favorite kissaten (coffee house). Some may be just object for display, but some are still functioning pay phones. The pinku denwa made its debut in 1959, enabling ordinary subscribers such as hospitals and coffee shops to offer this service to customers. Initially accepting only 10-yen coins, it was redesigned in 1985 to accept 100yen coins, plus a onetouch emergency call button. Pinky Ring So many, many memories Spring to mind those cherry-blossoms… – BASHO Matsuo (1644-1694) Mie-chan Kei-chan Sekihan Often appearing on tables at celebratory events, this pink colored sticky rice (the rice is boiled with azuki beans which give it the pink color) is served during special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and Shichi-go-san, and in the past, it was served in homes to celebrate their special young lady reaching menarche. If you have something to celebrate, break out the sekihan, and enjoy! If you’ve been to a karaoke party, chances are high that you’ve heard a rendition of one of Japan’s most successful pop duos. Pink Lady owned the charts in the mid-to-late 1970s, and have sold millions of records. The duo, Mie and Kei, even made a foray into the American market in 1980, releasing a disco tune, “Kiss in the Dark,” which rose to #37 on the Billboard charts, joining Kyu Sakamoto (Sukiyaki) as the only other Japanese artist to reach the Top 40. They boldly entered the then-crowded variety TV market by starring in the short-lived show, “Pink Lady and Jeff.” Unable to overcome the language barriers, Pink Lady returned to Japan, and disbanded shortly after in 1981. S.O.S.!! 8 T R AV E L E R Cycling Japan: A JOURNEY TO EXPERIENCE THE LOCAL LIFE ROUTE By Takashi Niwa Translated by Sakae Sugahara # 22 Yamagata Sendai Zao YAMAGATA PREFECTURE IWATE PREFECTURE START! Shiraishi MINAMI TOHOKU Yonezawa Tohoku Panorama Ride GOAL! Fukushima FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE Cycle above the forest line, through volcanic fumes and barren lands. T he Zao and Azuma mountain ranges lie on the border of Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures. This Tohoku ride offers panoramic views as you go over mountains gaining elevation of 1,560 meters in the Zao Mountains (from Shiroishi-Zao Station to the pass beneath Zao-katta-dake peak), 1,160 meters in the Azuma Mountains (from Yonezawa City to Shirabu-touge pass) and 1,060 meters on the Bandai Azuma Skyline Road (from Urabandai to Joudodaira). You need to be ready for a challenge when you decide to set out on this route. In May, these high elevation roads may still be lined with snow walls, but once the snow melts, it is fun to trek to the crater lakes located near the peaks of the Zao and Azuma mountains. Note the Zao Highline road leading to Okama Crater Lake near Zao-katta-dake peak is closed for bicycles. You can trek the 1.6 kilometers to the lake or take the Zao-katta lift from the Yamagata side. In between those mountains, the route is spotted with famous spas, such as the 550-year-old Kaminoyama Onsen, and you can enjoy biking through the open fields of farming villages and quaint castle towns such as Yonezawa. The starting point at Shiroishi Zao Station and the finishing point at Fukushima Station are both on the Tohoku Shinkansen line. The route distance is approximately 250 kilometers. 550 JR 1,560 1,160 1,060 5 1.6 JR JR 250 Takashi Niwa actively organizes guided tours around the world, from the back alleys of Tokyo to remote villages in Tibet. He has authored many books including “Otona no Tame no Jitensha Nyūmon” (Nihon Keizai Shinbun Shuppansha). His company, Niwa Cycling Tours (www.ncycling.com) has released its 2014 calendar full of images of his tours in Japan and around the world. It is available for purchase (¥1,050 / includes shipping in Japan). You can order at: http://ncycling01.sblo.jp/article/78003609.html WAY! GIVEA www.ncycling.com ( ) Three copies of the 2014 calendar are available to readers who send in photos of cycling in Japan. Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org SPRING 2014 9 BEER BUZZ By Justin Stein Baird Brewery Gardens Shuzenji to open in June 2014 If you are a fan of craft beer in Japan, you are most likely familiar with the name Baird. You may even have a favorite from their signature line of year-’round beers with fanciful names and colorful labels. If you spend time in eastern Honshu, you may even know Baird’s taproom locations in Numazu, Tokyo and Yokohama, with their adventurous seasonal brews and tasty eats. If you have yet to try Baird’s beers, you can still be excited about their new headquarters in Shuzenji, Izu City. This site will not only substantially expand production, bringing a third, 60hl brewhouse to Baird’s operations, but will also provide Japan with a destination for lovers of the relationship between beer and the natural world. In the words of co-founder and co-owner Bryan Baird, “Shuzenji will be a back-to-nature farmtype brewery.” Baird will grow its own grain, hops and fruit along an idyllic stretch of the Kamo River. Bryan is committed to beer’s long history as an agricultural enterprise and the role of “terroir,” or a sense of place, in beer produc t ion. Hav i ng t hei r ow n orchards and gardens w ill allow Baird to expand their usage of fresh, local seasonal fruit (since the first Carpenter’s Mikan Ale in 2001) and herbs (including wasabi , a local specialty). Additionally, Baird is a big fan of Masanobu Fukuoka’s shizen n ō h ō (natural farming) methods, and devoted to farming without chemicals. Fresh, organic, homegrown ingredients. Sounds like a brewer’s dream. T he new Ba i rd site is a for mer KOA campground, and by summer 2015, patrons will be able to combine a visit to the brewery, farm and tasting room, not to mention local onsen , with an overnight stay in a cabin or tent. Web: www.bairdbeer.com Specializing in Resort Properties in Niseko Hanazono and Hakuba's Wadano Area FIND YOUR PERFECT GETAWAY! We provide real estate expertise and bilingual assistance for finding your ideal resort property. Phone: 03-3556-8887 email@example.com www.yamate-homes.co.jp producing unusual balance for such hopforward ales. Since 2011, Japan has enjoyed Lagunitas’ excellent flagship beers—IPA, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and New Dogtown Pale Ale—each one delicious and provocative. But thanks to the Petaluma, California, brewery’s 2012 expansion, we now receive more of their Imperial IPAs, such as Hop Stoopid, Maximus and Sucks. That sound? That’s your taste buds singing. Japan is dear to Lagunitas’ heart, as the current COO, Todd Stevenson, lived here for years as president of Diageo Japan. Demonstrating this commitment, Lagunitas is the first American craft brewer to send Japan its own kegs. Nagano Trading, Co., Ltd. is Lagunitas’ official importer and distributor, so their 100 percent cold chain transport ensures we receive the highest quality hop flavors. Available at Antenna America (www. a n t e n n a - a m e r i c a . c o m ) . We b : www.lagunitas.com WHAT’S ON TAP April 1-6 The Hangover 1st Anniversary Ohana Takeover (Nakano, Tokyo) April 24-May 6 Belgian Beer Weekend (Nagoya, Aichi) April 25 Hikarie Beer Night (Shibuya, Tokyo) April 26-27 Grande Biere (Shibuya, Tokyo) May 14-21 Belgian Beer Weekend (Fukuoka) May 16-19 Keyaki Hiroba Spring Beer Festival (Saitama) May 31-June 1 Great Japan Beer Festival (Ebisu, Tokyo) June 4-8 Belgian Beer Weekend (Osaka) July 2-6 Belgian Beer Weekend (Yokohama) July 4-6 Tanabata Beer Festa (Toyama) July 4-6 Tsukuba Craft Beer Fest (Tsukuba, Ibaraki) July 10-13 Belgian Beer Weekend (Sendai, Miyagi) July 19-21 Great Japan Beer Festival (Osaka) New imports from Lagunitas Brewing Company While at an Oregon Brewfest, my initial excitement about rare, local, experimental ales faded, and I could no longer resist the tastiest beer on tap that day. A broad spectrum of hop flavors—citrus, tropical fruit, f loral, herb, spice, pine—danced in my head, while the honeyed malt backbone yielded to a dry finish, leaving my palate eager for another sip of Lagunitas Hop Stoopid. Lagunitas signature flavor profile comes from a combination of high mash temperatures, English ale yeast and copious amounts of West Coast hops, particularly in dr y hopping. This combination provides relatively high levels of unfermentable sugars to counteract hop bitterness, 10 T R AV E L E R By Bryan Harrell AMERICAN CRAFT BEER bottle shop & tasting room FRESH FROM THE BREWERY huge variety of bottles 8 rotating taps brewery merchandise & american food Dine in Take out Cold SHIPPING Nihonkai Club Noto, Ishikawa 石川県能登 WE DELIVER ALL OVER JAPAN O ne of t he most beaut i f u l a nd sc en ic coastlines in Japan is certainly the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. Naturally, it is a fitting place to have a nature-themed craft brewery producing superb brews. Most are in the style of the Czech Republic, one of the largely unsung places where truly great beer originates. Fittingly, Nihonkai Club has a Czech brewmaster, Jiri Kotynek, who began brewing there in the summer of 2005 as the third in a series of Czech brewers. Founded in June of 1998, Nihonkai Club now brews just four beers. They boast a Pilsner and a Dark Lager, both in the Czech style, which means nicely balanced and intensely flavorful, with a quenching dry finish, though the Dark Lager leaves a bit more roasty sweetness in the finish. They also make the a German-style Weizen, a wheat beer fermented with a traditional top-fermenting ale yeast and featuring a fruity aroma and a hearty yet quenching finish. Finally, they make an interesting local-style amber lager called Okunoto Densetsu, brewed with deep-sea water taken from the nearby Kujuku Bay. The beer is said to be full of natural minerals and quite easy on the body. These beers may be purchased through their website. However, if you are lucky enough to be traveling through the scenic Noto Peninsula, pay a visit and avail yourself of their beer fresh from the source. Better yet enjoy their brews with some snacks or a meal at their restaurant which is open daily except Wednesdays and offers a variety of meat dishes, ranging from eisbein (salt-cured pork) to whole roast local chicken, along with vegetable dishes using produce from their own farm near the brewery. Order online at: WWW.antenna-america.com 4 2005 3 1998 4 3 Nihonkai Club 92 Aza Tatekabe, Noto-cho, Hosuden-gun, Ishikawa-ken 927-0605 927-0605 92 Phone: (0768) 72-8181 Web: www.nihonkai-club.com EVERYDAY OPEN yokohama, Japan 045-315-5228 5 MIN FROM JR KANNAI 関内 ST. facebook.com/antennaamerica twitter.com/antennaamerica SPRING 2014 11 GUIDE LINES Spring tour tips A fter a cold winter of playing in the snow, the folks at Natural Action can’t wait for spring activities around Mt. Fuji. With cherry blossoms bursting into color and iconic Mt. Fuji looking on, enjoy their new SUP, (stand-up paddleboarding) tours on lakes, the sea or the Fuji River, depending on your experience. Mountain bike tours are a good way to clear those winter cobwebs and, with snow still on the mountain, the scenery is spectacular in the Asagiri Plateau as the fresh green splash of spring arrives. As the snow melts, the rivers are filling up, and it's a great time to jump on a boat in the Fuji River and then enjoy a tasty BBQ to relive all the fun. Web: www.naturalaction.co.jp. Green season in the Northern Alps is spectacular. Snowcapped peaks and fresh flowing waters surround the scenic mountain village of Hakuba, Nagano. Evergreen Outdoors guides will take you to epic single track MTB trails, canoeing or kayaking crystal lakes or sliding down cascading waterfalls on thrilling canyoning tours. Evergreen’s certified professional guides ensure your safety, and they can customize group tours and team-building events. Web: www.evergreen-hakuba.com. May and June is the best time to raft the mighty Tone River in Minakami, Gunma, and the three amazing canyon sections of sprawling Grade-3 and Grade-4 rapids. The river, which hosted the 2001 rafting world cup qualifiers, is thrilling enough for hardened adventurers but still enjoyable for first timers. Canyons has a full-day rafting course that covers 25 km. of continuous whitewater with spectacular gorges in the upper section and amazing panoramas of the Tanigawa Range in the lower section. If you have a big appetite for adventure and want even more adrenaline, then add a canyoning tour. The canyons are typically in high flow in May, so be ready to jump, slide and swim down the famous Fox Canyon. Finish off the day with a relaxing hot spring or a few beers at a riverside BBQ. Web: www.canyons,jp. If you have only visited Hokkaido in winter, you are missing some serious outdoor fun. Hokkaido Outdoor Adventures, located at the foot of the Hidaka Mountains in central Hokkaido, runs tours to some great rivers in the area. The white water season kicks off in April when the melting snow brings high flows and fast and furious rivers for action-packed adventure as well as safe, mellow floats great for the whole family (children as young as 5 can take part in the rafting experience). HOA runs tours on the Saru, Mukawa and Chubetsu rivers. The Chubetsu has fast-moving whitewater and stunning views of the Daisetsu Mountain Range. It’s a great hit for families and groups of friends looking for an adventure. Web: www.rafting-hoa.co.jp. By Joan Bailey MARKET WATCH Sendai’s Asaichi Market T hey say good farmers make good cooks, and one step onto the narrow side street that is the Sendai Asaichi Market makes it clear this is where to find some of the locals’ secret ingredients. Established in 1948, this little market is big on variety, seasonal flavors and all things Tohoku. You’ll find tiny whole eggplants perfect for pickling, daizu (soybeans) used to make the city's famous miso, and fresh local specialties are made and sold year-round. It’s testament to the region's fertile soil and abundant seas; the challenge is deciding what to eat now and what to lug home for later. Citizens and local restaurant owners jostle for the day’s best picks at the 53 stalls that make up the market. Travelers wanting an immediate taste of the region can nibble on shiso-wrapped onigiri (rice balls) stuffed with akamiso (red miso) or shiso-wrapped seasonal fish. Duck under the colorful awnings and wander through a maze of shops featuring fish fresh, filleted, dried, or turned into a scrumptious side dish as you watch. Stop by Suzuya, a market presence for nearly 70 years, for an unparalleled selection of Tohoku beans. Visitors can find red and black azuki, a rainbow of daizu (soybeans) and soramame (broad beans), along with all the ingredients (and recipes) for miso. In the spring, winter greens such as komatsuna (mustard spinach), cabbage and karashina (mustard greens), with leaves sweet as candy from frosty nights, give way to the first sansai (mountain vegetables) such as fuki (butterbur) and asparagus. While the latter is available nearly year ’round, this traditional spring vegetable is at peak flavor now. Spicy winter daikon and kabu gradually make room for verdant green bundles of nanohana (rape seed blossoms). Hungry shoppers can venture down a narrow path between a stall selling handmade onigiri and another offering buckets of blazing red kimchi to Asaichi ramen. (Look for the red folding sign next to the onigiri shop.) A steaming bowl of shoyu (soy sauce) or misobased broth brimming with noodles arrives with a thin layer of oil on the top to keep in the heat. (Seasonal variations, such as a tomato ramen, are also recommended.) Slurp along with the locals while soaking up the atmosphere in this city's little kitchen. The Sendai Asaichi is a five-minute walk from the north exit of the JR Sendai Station. It runs from roughly 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., but early arrivals will get the best selection. 12 T R AV E L E R Real Deep Sea Fishing W hen I make new friends and acquaintances and discuss my interest in offshore fishing, I occasionally get a response such as, “Wow, deep sea fishing sounds like fun,” or “I’d like to go deep sea fishing one day myself.” Those two words deep sea bug me a bit, because although I fish way out in the ocean, most of the species I target feed at or near the surface. In my mind, true deep sea fishing is pulling something from way down below, and the methods used to take fish from those depths are a complete departure from anything I know. My buddy Katsumi in Chigasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, is quite fond of hitting the water for deep pelagic species when they are in season and filling his cooler with a fresh catch that could rival that of a commercial fisherman. Some of the species he brings up go for a premium price when they hit the shelves of fish markets. This notion that deep equals higher quality fish struck me as odd when I first saw the ¥4,000 price tag of large kuro mutsu in Tokyo a decade ago but, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. For one thing, the high tech battery powered tackle used to target deep species can cost as much as a used car. Add the cost of extra fuel to get to the grounds and find the fish which may be holding as deep as 1,000 meters, and recreational anglers risk breaking the bank. Fortunately it is possible to ride on boats skippered by skilled commercial fishermen who constantly monitor oceanic conditions and know which stretches of water are holding fish. For somewhere in the ballpark of ¥30,000 per person, anglers can get in a day of deep sea long line drift fishing, with tackle and bait included. When the skipper reaches the grounds, the process of dropping the long lines has to be done in a specific order based on the position of the boat and the direction it will drift. These tediously constructed lines contain as many as 30 baited hooks and are dragged to the depths with a three-to-fivekilogram weight. Everything is done carefully and methodically to avoid having any lines tangle as they sink to the target depth. The majority of one’s time on these trips is spent with lines deep in the water column drifting through a school of fish. Once the captain gives the signal for everyone to bring in their lines, the same mechanical process is done in reverse order. Deep drifting for bentho-pelagic species seems to be a bit overly industrial on spec, but the fun of hauling in the catch keeps many coming back every year. Katsumi and his deep sea buddies have in years past brought back several ice chests of alphonsino (kinmedai) and other high quality species that would be nearly impossible to find at markets in quantity, much less for an affordable price. Anyone interested in giving it a whirl should check with skippers at their local port or tackle shop staff to get an idea of which boats are running and specifics on season dates and pricing. SPRING 2014 13 ON THE RUN By Robert Self Seoul Running T rying to decide on your next running adventure? Before sending in your yen for a race in Japan, consider spicing things up with a running holiday to Seoul instead. With discount flights (check out Jeju Air), the ticket might be cheaper than the entrance fees and lodging costs charged by many marathons and trail races in Japan. Imagine if Mt. Takao and Okutama were surrounded by Tokyo rather than outside of it. Or visualize Yosemite-like rock faces next to downtown Osaka. Take a morning run to the top of one of these mountains and be downtown for a late lunch of spicy bulgogi, oxtail soup and kimchi. This is Seoul. Korea has a vibrant road running scene. The Han River will draw hundreds of runners each morning, as will the city’s main parks. However, in my opinion, the best place to join the shuffling crowds is the running course that encircles Namsan, Seoul’s most prominent downtown hill. Seoul Tower rises from the north peak and can be seen from most of the city. A paved road (no cars allowed) and running track undulates six kilometers (with several variations) around the entire mountain. It’s beautiful, green, and it provides sweeping sunset and sunrise views of the city’s business district. Buses and a cable car run to Seoul Tower, which lies at the apex of the road and is a convenient start for the run. Join the milling crowds enjoying the sweeping views, while young couples tie locks to the metal fence, symbolizing their unending love (this is also Seoul’s premier dating spot). To get the full experience of the mountain from base to top, forgo the cable car and run up. A good access point is from the National Theater of Korea (Gungnip Geukjang). It’s entirely possible to run Namsan on any weekday morning before work, especially from major hotels such as the Hilton, Hyatt or Shilla, or from the bustling Itaewon District. Ultra running is well established in Korea, and the world ultra running championships are frequently held here. Yet trail running in Korea is still a bit of an obscure activity. The country has produced one trail running champion, the enigmatic Jaedeok Shim, who has bagged some of the world’s top races, including Japan’s Hasegawa Cup. But presently mountain trails in Korea are somewhat bereft of runners, mainly packed with slow, older hikers traveling in small groups. They often don’t move aside for runners, mainly because they don’t know what you are doing. Politely saying “Shilrye hamnida” (excuse me) in Korean doesn’t always work, but it can’t hurt. Until they get used to sharing the mountains with trail runners, politeness, patience and trying to avoid running on weekends is the best advice. On to the big stuff. For the serious trail runner, two areas to highlight are Gwanak and Bukhan national parks. Gwanak Mountain is located in the southwest Seoul, visible from trendy Gangnam. To get there, take the Line 4 subway to Gwacheon, use Exit 7, and then follow the shaded alleyway that goes along apartment buildings until it joins a larger road. Turn left there until getting to the temple complex and the rather obvious trailhead. You can also just follow hikers clad in the latest expedition gear heading toward this splendid 632-meter mountain. The next four kilometers up the ridge are steep, calf-frying, lung-busting fun. As in running up Bukhan, there is some scrambling to be done 14 T R AV E L E R Address Nozawa and some sheer drops over Seoul’s brilliant white rocks. When in doubt, remind yourself that hundreds of Korean grannies negotiate the same terrain every week. The temple near the summit, Yeonju Hermitage, is the sort of view one expects in Tibet and a highlight of a running trip to Seoul. The area below the temple can get icy in winter and early spring, so take care. Gwanak’s peak has a large radar tower on top but is still enjoyable on rare uncrowded days. For the descent, follow the same trail or descend the ridge trail from the summit, which is a harrowing series of chains and ropes dropping precipitously from the summit. You will need a taxi and extra time if descending this way. For the average trail runner, a traverse of Gwanak will not take more than two hours by the route described here, depending on the crowds. Bukhan National Park is one of the world’s great urban national parks. The shark’s tooth profile of this wonderful range on the northern horizon can be seen from most points in Seoul. Frankly, I love this place and have run its trails some 30 times in the past 10 years. I should mention one slight drawback to trail running in Seoul: the maps. There aren’t any worth mentioning, and theories range from, “The government doesn’t want to make things easy for the North Korean Army,” to “Most groups just follow their guide.” But the fact is trail running in Seoul entails a certain degree of wandering. Fortunately it rarely turns out badly, since public transport at the base of Gwanak and Bukhan is readily available. Taxis and buses are everywhere. Just stick to well-traveled trails and avoid any off-trail activity. The most obvious access point for Bukhan National Park is the national park office. It’s about 10 minutes by taxi from Gireum Station (Line 4, Exit 3). After arriving at the national park office, there are various routes further on to reproductions of ancient fortifications at the top of the ridge. The trail to Bukhan’s main peak is a long harrowing ridge scramble to the east (your right) or you can descend two kilometers north from the wall until finding signs to Bukhan’s main peak. Running up here is only for the very fit. Most will find speed hiking Bukhan’s ascent trails to be more than enough exercise. Within this surprisingly spacious national park, runners can explore any number of trails at their whim. Rather than prescribe an exact course, explore and find your own running adventure. Buddhist temples, ancient fortifications, sheer cliffs and fantastic running trails await. Dangerous areas are clearly marked with recognizable warning signs. Start early, have a big adventure and be back to downtown Seoul in time for a late lunch, tea or something stronger such as soju, Korea’s national drink. Gunbae! (Cheers!) Writer’s Note: I would like to thank Barbara Schulz, a true running champion on Korea’s trails, for her contributions to this article. Kawamotoya Kawamotoya’s Onsen new!~ The View Hotel’s Onsen Robert Self came to Japan from northern California's redwood country. He has been running in Japan's mountains for 20 years and has coached runners from beginners to international champions. He is the director of Hanno Trail School which specializes in running tours and trail running lessons. Web: www.tokyotrailrunning.com / Facebook: www.facebook.com/tokyotrailrunning www.nozawahospitality.com firstname.lastname@example.org Japan : +81 (0)269 85 2064 Singapore : +65 6412 0128 Book Now: SPRING 2014 15 BLAZING SPRING TRAILS By Pauline Kitamura Now that Japan’s hills and mountains have begun shedding their winter coats, it’s time to pull those trail running shoes out of the closet and hit the trails. Japan’s refreshing, colorful spring season is ideal for trail running. International runners have discovered this, as evident by the number of entries for this year’s Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji (UTMF), which has seen participants from overseas more than doubled in 2014. There’s no question early spring in Japan is special, when pink cherry blossoms adorn trees in parks, hills and mountains. The intense beauty is fleeting, however; spring showers or breezes will blow petals from their branches, forming a pink canopy trail runners can enjoy on the trails. Fresh young flowers and newly sprouting leaves and plants start appearing, and the fresh spring air adds to the trail running bliss. Late spring temperatures are pleasant and generally dry until tsuyu (rainy season) arrives and the summer humidity begins to set in. Here are three fantastic courses to get you moving during this glorious season. 日本の雪山が冬のコートを脱ぎはじめるこの時期は、 押し入れの中で眠るトレイル用のランニングシュー さわ ズをひっぱりだす時期でもある。爽 やかで色鮮やか な日本の春がトレイルランに最適だと近年海外のラ ンナーのあいだでも噂だが、2014年のウルトラトレ イル・マウントフジ （UTMF） の海外参加者が倍増し ているのをみればその注目度がわかる。 薄いピンク色の桜の花が公園の木々や丘、 そして山々 いろど はかな を彩 る日本の春は特別だが、その美しさは儚 い。ひと たび春の雨が降り風が吹けば、散った花びらがトレ イルを覆いランナーを楽しませる。 い ぶ 花や草木の新芽が息 吹く空気は、春のトレイルラ ンにこのうえない喜びをあたえてくれる。春は比較 的乾燥しており、気温も安定しているが、梅雨に入る と夏の湿気がやってくる。今回は、この気持ちのよい 季節にお薦めのコースを三つ紹介しよう。 16 T R AV E L E R APRIL HANAMI TRAIL RUN Ogusuyama, Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa 4 BLAZING SPRING TRAILS In Japan, hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is one of spring s most popular and beloved pastimes. These pink-and-white sakura (cherry trees) ﬁll parks and line trails with color as they usher in the season. This hanami course takes you through Kinugasayama Park, which has more than 2,000 cherry trees and is included in the Best 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Japan. It also takes you atop Miura Peninsula s highest mountain, Ogusuyama a mere 241.3 meters, but it boasts a magniﬁcent 360-degree view of the Miura Peninsula and beyond. 2,000 234.1m 360 100 THE COURSE Start at Kinugasa Station and follow the signs toward Kinugasayama Park. The Kinugasayama Cherry Blossom Festival is held from the end of March through early April; vendors will have stalls selling food, drinks and trinkets. The beer and yakisoba will be tempting but, beware; overindulgence may result in a fun, but very short trail run. From Kinugasayama, head toward Kinugasa Jouji. Unfortunately, there’s little left to see of the feudal castle that used to stand here, but it’s a peaceful oasis away from the partying cherry blossom crowds. Follow the signs toward Ogusuyama. You’ll pass vegetable patches, cross a bridge over a busy highway and then run along the outer edge of the Hayama International Country Club golf course. The final climb to the top of Ogusuyama consists of 230 steps. Your effort and perseverance will be richly rewarded, though, with sweeping views of Sagami Bay and Tokyo Bay. On a clear day, you’ll also be able to see farther out to Izu Peninsula, the Hakone Mountains, Oshima Island, Chiba and, if you’re lucky, Mt. Fuji. Onwards, follow the signs for the Maedagawa Trail. En route, you’ll pass by an incredibly bright yellow field filled with thousands of fragrant nanohana (field mustard). Like cherry blossoms, nanohana are symbolic of springtime in Japan. It’s also an edible vegetable related to the broccoli family and is sold in supermarkets all over the country in spring. Jog along the edges of the nanohana field. Take photos of yourself frolicking in the field of yellow. Maybe it’s the intoxicatingly sweet smell of the flowers or perhaps it’s the blinding brightness of it all but, whatever the reason, your heart will be filled with spring joy. From here, the trail starts to descend toward the Maedagawa (Maeda River). Once you reach the river, the “trail” will become a series of strategically located rocks in the river. This, in my opinion, is one of the highlights of the course. Hop, step and jump your way across the slowly meandering river. Once you reach the final wooden walkway, you’ll be at the end of the trail. From here, the bus stop for the trip back to JR Zushi train station is just a few minutes away. 3 4 230 JR Ogusuyama h Yoko ama / 1 10 4 4 JR JR 30 Kinugasa Station Kinugasayama Park Yoko suka w High ay COURSE INFO Kinugasa Jouji Maedagawa YOKOSUKA-SHI Maedabashi Bus Stop Start / Finish: Kinugasa Station (JR Yokosuka Line) – approximately an hour and a half from Shinjuku / Maedabashi bus stop (30-minute bus ride to JR Zushi Station). Distance: Approx. 10 km. Time: 4–4½ hours Level: Easy. Recommended for trail runners just coming out of hibernation as well as for beginners. USEFUL LINKS Yokosuka City / www.city.yokosuka.kanagawa.jp/4415/kankoumap/ oogusuyama.html Yokosuka City Tourism / www.yokosuka-kanko.com/kanko-annnai/hiking/index.html SPRING 2014 17 MAY SHINRYOKU TRAIL RUN Mt. Takao, Tokyo 5 ne The word shinryoku consists of two Japanese characters: (shin), which means new and (midori) which means green. As the characters suggest, shinryoku is a word often used to describe the fresh green leaves that sprout in spring. If you re looking for a place to immerse yourself in this new green, Mt. Takao is a good place to start. THE COURSE There are numerous ways to get to the top of Mt. Takao. You can run or walk up one of the six routes from Takaosanguchi Station, but one of my favorite ways is to hop on the slow but scenic “Eco Chairlift.” The lift only takes you part way up the mountain but is a great way to get in a bit of obligatory sightseeing of this Michelin 3-star rated mountain as you walk along the main “Omotensando” route. Be forewarned, though. On weekends, and even some weekdays, the top of Mt. Takao can be crowded. Very crowded. If you start to feel claustrophobic, quickly run down the stone steps and head in the direction of Shiroyama and Kagenobuyama. While you’ll still likely be sharing the trail with other hikers and trail runners, you’ll be relieved to find the crowds thinning and will find the peace and quiet for which you’ve been looking. During April, the cherry blossoms along the trail are lovely. But the reason I’m recommending this route is not for the blossoms, but for the latter half of the course, a continuous soft dirt single track surrounded on all sides by lush green foliage. From Shiroyama, many trail runners continue northwestward toward Kagenobuyama and Jimbasan. Nice, but not spectacular. I recommend heading south. Take the route that descends toward Odarumi-touge. There’s some seriously prime trail running in this short but, oh so sweet, section. At Odarumi-touge, take the overpass across busy Route 20 (Koushukaidou Road). This is the entrance of shinryoku heaven with beautiful tunnels of green foliage and delightfully runnable single-track trails and, from time to time, peak-a-boo lookouts with jaw-dropping views of the valley below. The trail, called the Minami Takao Trail, will take you over several small peaks (such as Oborayama and Kompirayama), as well as a few passes (Nakazawa-touge, Nishiyamatouge, Mitsuzawa-touge, Kusato-touge). It’s relatively well marked (albeit in Japanese) and will eventually take you back to Takaosanguchi Station. Remember to bring a map and compass, just in case. 6 4 20 / 1 14km 5 6 HACHIOJI-SHI Chuo-li Takao Station Keio -line Shiroyama Eco Chairlift Takaosanguchi Station COURSE INFO Odarumi-touge Oborayama Kompirayama Nakazawa-touge Nishiyama-touge Mitsuzawa-touge Kusato-touge MACHIDA-SHI Start / Finish: Takaosanguchi Station (Keio Line) – approximately 1 hour from Shinjuku Distance: Approx. 14 km. Time: 5-6 hours Level: Intermediate. Although relatively short, there are numerous climbs and descents along the way. For beginners, it might be better to do an out-and-back route from Mt. Takao. USEFUL LINKS Mt. Takao Ofﬁcial Website / www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/index2.htm (English) www.takaotozan.co.jp (Japanese) Mt. Takao Visitor Center / www2.ocn.ne.jp/~takao-vc/ 18 T R AV E L E R JUNE PRE-TSUYU TRAIL RUN Mt. Tounodake, Kanagawa 6 BLAZING SPRING TRAILS The month of June in Japan is known for the onset of tsuyu (rainy season), which essentially signals the end of spring (and the beginning of a very hot and humid summer). Running in the rain can be fun, but let s be honest, beautiful sunny skies are better. Tsuyu usually happens some time after mid-June, so it might be a good idea to squeeze in a few solid spring trail runs before the rain. The Omoteone course will take you high into the Tanzawa Mountains and is a fabulous course, especially on a nice sunny late-spring day. 6 6 THE COURSE To get to the trailhead, catch a bus from Hadano train station. The buses don’t run often, so be sure to check the bus schedules beforehand. After a long and very windy road up the mountain, get off at the Yabitsu-touge bus stop. Walk for about a kilometer along the paved road toward the Fujimisansou (Fujimi Hut). Across the street from the hut is the path that will lead you to the trailhead for the Omoteone trail, the most popular hiking route in Tanzawa. There will be plenty of signs in both Japanese and English to point you toward your main destination, Mt. Tounodake. The first half of the course consists of a lot of climbing. Make your way upward through a forest, up some wooden stairs and then up a steep rocky mountainside. Along the way, you’ll pass several small peaks, Ninotou and Sannotou, with wooden benches. Sit and relax, eat some lunch, but then get quickly on your way, because there’s still a long way to go. After Sannotou comes the undulating ridge section and several thrilling chain sections. While it’s possible to run along the ridges, slow down and be extra careful along the narrow sections. Hold onto the chains embedded into the mountainside when scrambling up/down the rocks. The total climb should take you about three-to-four hours. The top of Mt. Tounodake (1,490 meters) boasts some fantastic views. There are rows and rows of benches on which to stretch out, and you can buy drinks (albeit expensive) and use the washroom at the Sonbutsu Sansou hut located on top of the mountain. As this is quite a long hike, many hikers will stay overnight at the hut. After the long climb, you may feel compelled to stay the night as well, however, as an ambitious day trail runner – downward and onward you go. The route down is called Okura-one (Okura Ridge) and is very simple. Just keep running straight down and down and down for about two hours. It’s a quad-busting but exhilarating run. The route ends at Okura where you can take the bus back to Shibusawa train station. 1km 3 4 1,490m 2 14km 5 1,100m 30 7 Mt. Tounodake ✤ Okura-one Sannotou Fujimisansou Yabitsu-touge COURSE INFO Start: Yabitsu-touge bus stop (buses leave from Odakyu Line Hadano train station) Finish: Okura bus stop (buses go to Odakyu Line Shibusawa train station) Distance: Approx. 14 km. Time: 5½-7 hours Level: Intermediate/Advanced. While relatively short in distance, the course has several big climbs with a cumulative altitude gain of more than 1,100 meters and one very long descent. Recommended for experienced trail runners. ✤ USEFUL LINKS Hadano City Tourist Association / www.kankou-hadano.org/hadano_mountain/mountain_o2js.html ABOUT THE WRITER / Pauline Kitamura runs a Tokyo-based company called Adventure Divas that runs trail running and hiking tours in the Kanto area throughout the year. She is also the International Racer Media Coordinator for the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji trail running race. Web: www.adventure-divas.com Okura SPRING 2014 19 BLAZING SPRING TRAILS SPRING HIGHLIGHTS / Early to mid-April: Cherry Blossoms May to June: Bright red azaleas June to early-July: Purple, pink, violet, blue, white hydrangeas Let’s Go! Tanzawa Hadano Yamanami Stamp Rally Let's Go! Starts April 1, 2014 Ends March 31, 2015 TRAIL RUNNING RACES The popularity of trail running in recent years has launched a number of races around the country. Registration begins and ends months in advance and sometimes fills up within hours, so be ready for online clicking wars to grab a spot. Hadano Tourist Ofﬁce: Next to the Odakyu Line at Hadano Station. Open: Weekdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays 7 a.m.- 5 p.m. (Closed on Mondays). 8:30 17:00 / Ohtsuya Kyarabuki Honten: Located along the Oyama Koma Sandou. Open: All year round 9 a.m-4:30 p.m. Tel: (0463) 95-2704 Tel: (0463) 95-2704 9:00 16:30 WHAT S A STAMP RALLY? In Japan, a stamp rally is a popular game often put on by cities and towns where participants can collect stamps by visiting different attractions or locations in the area. Once they have collected all the stamps, they can exchange their completed stamp rally cards for prizes. This year, the Tanzawa Hadano areas will be hosting the Yamanami Stamp Rally with interesting locations ranging from train stations, ancient temples, trail heads and the top of three famous mountains in the Tanzawa Hadano area. What? I need to climb three mountains to collect my stamps? Yes, but no need to rush. You ve got one full year to collect your stamps, and there will be a lucky draw at the very end with some fantastic prizes. Ultra-Trail Mt. FUJI April 25-27 UTMF 168 km. / STY 88 km. www.ultratrailmtfuji.com Shinetsu Five Mountains Trail Mid-September (official dates to be announced) 110 km. www.sfmt100.com Hasetsune Cup CUP) ( Mid-October (official dates to be announced) 71.5 km. www.hasetsune.com WHERE CAN I GET MY STAMP RALLY CARD STAMPED? You must collect six different stamps from the following stamp stations in order to complete your card. • Miyama Sansou (Tanzawa-san) Tel: 090-2624-7229 • Soubutsu Sansou (Tounodake) Tel: 090-2569-6013 • Nabewari Sansou (Nabewariyama) Tel: 0463-87-3298 The above three are inside the mountain huts (sansou) on top of the mountains and can be reached by hiking up. The other three locations are easier to get to: • Ohyama Afuri Jinjya Shimosha Shrine Tel: 0463-95-2013 • Donguri House (Okura) Tel: 0463-87-0021 • Isehara Station Tourist Ofﬁce Tel: 0463-95-5333 *Make sure to check the opening/closing times for each location beforehand. HOW TO PARTICIPATE • Pick up a stamp rally card at one of the Stamp Rally Exchange stations. • Enjoy hiking in the beautiful Hadano area and, when you reach a Stamp Station, get your card stamped. You can collect your stamps in any order you like. • Once you ve collected all the stamps, take your card to a Stamp Rally Exchange station to collect your prize. Remember to get your card stamped for proof of completion. • Fill out your name, address and contact information on your card and hand it in at the Stamp Rally Exchange Station (remember to make sure you have the proof of completion stamped on your card!). You can also mail your card in later. RACE CALENDAR LINKS Trail Run Ohkoku www.trailrunning-ohkoku.jp Runnet Trail http://runnet.jp/trail/ Trailrunner.jp http://trailrunner.jp DogsorCaravan.com http://dogsorcaravan.com Outdoor Japan Online www.outdoorjapan.com WHAT KIND OF PRIZES CAN I WIN? Participants who ve collected all six stamps will receive a mini-size four seasons tenugui towel. A different towel with different seasonal motifs will be given out, depending on the month. April – June: Spring motif towel July – Sept: Summer motif towel Oct. – Nov: Fall motif towel Dec. – March: Winter motif towel Also remember to mail in your completed Stamp Rally card for the lucky draw. Winners will receive special prizes ranging from outdoor goods to local specialties. TRAIL RUNNING CLINICS & TOURS Trail running clinics and tours are a great way to go out and meet other trail runners and get involved in the trail running community. STAMP RALLY EXCHANGE STATIONS. Stamp Rally cards and prizes (in exchange for completed cards) are available at the following stations: Isehara Station Tourist Ofﬁce: Located near the north exit stairs of Isehara train station. Open year round: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed for lunch from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tel: (0463) 95-5333 Tel: (0463) 95-5333 12:30 13:30 ) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Let s Go! Tanzawa Hadano Yamanami Stamp Rally Ofﬁcial Website Let's Go! www.kankou-hadano.org/tanzawayamanami/ Hadano Tourism Ofﬁce Tel: (0463) 82-8833 www.kankou-hadano.org Isehara Tourism Ofﬁce Tel: (0463) 94-4711 www.isehara-kanko.com Adventure Divas www.adventure-divas.com OSJ Shonan Club House (OSJ www.powersports.co.jp/clubhouse/ Fuji Trailhead www.facebook.com/fujitrailhead Tokyo Trail Running School www.tokyotrailrunning.com 9:00 17:00 Donguri House (Okura): Near the Okura bus stop. Open: Weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.,; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 7 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed on Mondays). Tel: (0463) 87-0021 Tel: (0463) 87-0021 9:00 17:00 17:00 7:00 20 T R AV E L E R SPRING 2014 21 BATTLE OF By Lee Dobson If you are tired of battling the crowds at the airport during Golden Week, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the spring holidays here in Japan, and none more spectacular than the epic battle in the sky over Hamamatsu. ゴールデンウィークは絶好のホリデーだが、混雑した空港にはうんざりという方にお薦 めのイベントを紹介しよう。春を満喫する方法はいろいろあるが、浜松の空で大々的に 繰り広げられるバトルはいかがだろうか。その壮大なショーは一見の価値がある。 22 T R AV E L E R THE SKIES SPRING 2014 23 uring the last days of April and early May, a few of Japan’s national holidays are strewn together to form Golden Week. It’s the first long holiday of the year, a time to take a break from work, spend time with family and friends and travel. Children’s Day (Kodomo-no-Hi) is one of these holidays; it falls on the fifth day of the fifth month (just like Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo). The holiday was originally called Tango-noSekku and was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon in the lunar calendar (or Chinese calendar). It was, and still is, observed in other Asian countries. But after Japan's switch to the Gregorian calendar, the date was set as May 5. In 1948, the Japanese government declared the day a national holiday. The origins of the day began much earlier, however, when the holiday celebrated boys in particular, while Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day) is celebrated on March 3. Typical Kodomo-no-Hi symbols include a boy riding a koi (carp) up a waterfall, a helmet, or a boy dressed in armor. Koi banners, called koi-no-bori, can often be seen flying high over traditional homes or from the balconies of apartment buildings. Ornate, boldly-colored wind sock-styled flags depict the Japanese carp, resplendent in gold, with one of the country's favorite sons, Kintaro, tenaciously hanging on to the back of the fish much like a rodeo rider straddling a bull. Kintaro is credited with being the childhood name of Heian period hero, Sakata-no-Kintoki, a low-ranking samurai known for his bravery. Legend has it Kintaro rode a bear instead of a horse and played with wild animals rather than kids his own age. What parent would not want their child carved from the same tree? Today, Kodomo-no-Hi is celebrated in Japan in various ways, depending on the region. Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka does it in spectacular style with a huge kite festival. What better way to celebrate kids than flying kites? Adding to the excitement, the festival features kite battles, while marching bands provide fighting tunes complimenting the drama unfolding in the field and in the sky. The night before the grand finale, droves of locals dressed in happi, a kind of short coat, march behind bands with D 4 5 5 1948 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 24 T R AV E L E R Koi banners, called koi-no-bori, can often be seen flying high over traditional homes or from the balconies of apartment buildings. そ して日本で昔から愛されてきた金太郎という子どもが、 ま るで雄牛にまたがるロデオ乗りのよ う に鯉の背中にしがみつく よ う に 乗るた く ま しい姿をも表している。 SPRING 2014 25 their bugles trumpeting and drums beating out a double time quickstep. Participants take short, quick steps in time with the band's beats, looking much like how people walked in those old silent-era movies. The same scene takes place all over the city, as 180-odd municipalities, each with their own unique and traditional happi, enthuse each other in support of their local kite “pilots.” The next morning teams make their way to a field next to Hamamatsu's great sand dune, carrying the traditionally decorated kites above their heads. After participants gather on the huge field, an explosion of fireworks signals the start. Then it is all hands on deck as teams rush back and forth, pulling rope from large spools on wheels and scrambling to get their kites airborne. One or two persons man the spool, ensuring the rope doesn't tangle, while the others tug in unison, each pull coaxing the kite a little higher. Once the kites are up, kids gather around the rope and take their turn at pulling it, the rising kites symbolic of their journey to adulthood. It isn’t until the afternoon that the actual battle begins; the temperature rising as the action starts to heat up as well. Teams gradually start moving nearer, forming a closeknit mob in front of the stands for spectators, kicking up dust as they move into battle formation. Groups of men start to crisscross each other, making sure their ropes become entwined. Once one or more ropes are entangled, they proceed to tug frantically in a sawing action. The point is to cut the rope of your opponent's “bird.” Combatants are hoisted onto the shoulders of their comrades in a ferocious attempt to get the upper hand. As the kite battle for dominance reaches a crescendo, the bands start playing, winding their teams into a frenzy and hopefully a victory. Nobody is quite sure when or how the festival first started, but most believe it began way back before Hamamatsu was on the map. According to local history, Hikuma Castle stood in the area during Japan's feudal period. The master of the castle, Iiwo Buzen-no-kami, is believed to have raised a kite to celebrate the birth of his first son. The tradition has stood over time and evolved into one of Japan's most spectacular Boys Day events. There is the kite museum nearby to the grounds that can provide more detailed information and facts, as well battled-scarred kites of fights long ago. If you want to do more than just watch, wander down to the beach, where locals are more than happy to let you play with the ropes of one of the smaller kites. Don't be fooled by the size, though, as it is still big enough to give you a kick if you're not careful. ✤ 180 1 2 ACCESS: Hamamatsu is a major stop on the JR Tokaido Line, and the Shinkansen stops there. Buses run daily from the station to the Hamamatsu Festival (kite) Museum during the event. From there it is a 10-to-15-minute walk to the Great Sand Dune. Just follow the crowds. 10 WEB CONNECTION: In Hamamatsu: www.inhamamatsu.com Hamamatsu Daisuki: http://hamamatsu-daisuki.net 15 ✤ 26 T R AV E L E R SPRING 2014 27 Q&A with Bungy Japan’s Charles Odlin Japan’s highest bridge bungy opens this spring in Ibaraki Prefecture. Outdoor Japan talks to Bungy Japan’s founder, Charles Odlin, about life on the edge in Japan. 今春、茨城県にオープンする日本一の高さを誇 るブリッジ・バンジージャンプ。そのバンジー・ ジャパンの創設者チャールズ・オドリンに日本 でのバンジーの” エッジ “な魅力を聞く。 28 T R AV E L E R When did you come to Japan and how did you get involved in bungy jumping? I first came to Japan from New Zealand in 1994 on a working holiday visa. I worked for a winter in a pension in Kuruma-yama Kogen in southern Nagano. In the spring I was looking around for something to do, and I found myself in Yamagata working on Japan’s first bridge bungy jump site in its first year of operation. It was an exciting time as the concept of “Outdoor Tourism” in Japan was very new. It was about the same time rafting started in Minakami, and it felt as if we were pioneering something over here. I still remember my very first bungy jump like it was yesterday – the fear and excitement before I jumped and the elation afterwards. As I was bouncing around under the bridge waiting to be lowered into the raft, I as much made up my mind this is what I wanted to do. Why did you choose Minakami for Bungy Japan’s first bridge? It was more than 10 years, and a long winding road, before we started bungy operations on the Suwakyou Bridge in Minakami. During those years, I had heard a lot about Minakami and the growing outdoor adventure tourism that was developing in the area, so it was always on the radar. In 2005, we were invited to set up an operation as part of the Minakami Adventure Festival; it was a chance to prove ourselves with a short two-day event. What do you look for when choosing a Bungy Jumping location? Obviously, the height of the jump is important, but you also have to take into account access, infrastructure (car parking, toilets, etc.), operational logistics, how receptive are the locals to having the operation in their area and ideally what sort of tourism vision the local council has in place. A place such as Minakami is perfect, as there is such a variety of other activities people can do, such as rafting, canyoning, mountain biking and paragliding. There are also a lot of great restaurants in the area and amazing onsen . It all makes for a great outdoor experience comparable to what you’ll find in Queenstown or Whistler. Building on our success, we were able to open a second site close by in Sarugakyo. For some of our more remote sites, we look for places that will attract attention. In the case of Itsuki-mura, Kumamoto, which is as remote as you could possibly get in terms of public transport, we have been working closely with the local council and regional tourism board to use the opening of a bungy jump site to revitalize the local area and hopefully become a catalyst to create an outdoor tourism industry there. There is a lot of hard work that needs to be done for us to ever achieve that goal, but it is an exciting challenge. What have been some of the challenges to get approval to set up bungy operations in Japan? It hasn’t been easy. In the beginning, the hardest part was there were no guidelines or playbook for what we were doing. There were four Japanese words that came up over and over and are now right at the top of the page anytime I am working out a new plan or strategy: Zenrei (precedent), jisekki (proven success), jitsuryoku (proven ability), and shinrai (trust). Setting a precedent was the hardest one for us. Although I had experience in both New Zealand and Japan and held a New Zealand Safety Standards Approved Jump Masters 2005 1994 2 4 4 2 10 SPRING 2014 29 certificate, no-one had really done what we were proposing, which meant we were setting that precedent. We had to believe what we were doing was going to work and slowly build that trust over time, be patient and persistent to keep things moving. What’s your favorite bungy jump in New Zealand? I am a bit biased because it is in my hometown of Auckland, and I worked there for three years, but my favorite jump in NZ has to be AJ Hackett Auckland Harbor Bridge Bungy. At 40 meters, it is one of the smaller jumps around, but there are a number of different jumps you can do. It is scary but not too intimidating. You have the option of dipping in the ocean, which is unique and, on the way back up, the view of the Waitamata Harbor and Auckland cityscape is awesome. Any particularly memorable jumps in Japan? In the summer of 2001, I was the Jump Master on an indoor bungy jump in a shopping mall in Odaiba for six weeks. It was a 30-meter jump, so not huge, but we just had enough side safety space to fit within NZ Safety Standards, so it was fairly tight. People could watch from every level of the mall as you jumped, so every day we had hundreds of people watching and cheering every jumper. It was pretty special, and we made it on CNN World News, so that was cool too. How many bridges do you have permanent or semi-permanent bungy platforms on? We currently have three. Two in Gunma; the 42-meter bridge in Minakami and the 62-meter bridge in Sarugakyo. We opened our 100-meter Ryujin bridge site on March 1 this year. Each site is unique and offers customers a different experience and challenge. To the best of my knowledge, New Zealand and Japan are the only two countries in the world that have at least three bungy jump sites with one more than 100 meters. You sound excited about the new Ibaraki location. Yes, we are very excited about the Ryujin Bungy site. At 100 meters, the height is the biggest selling point for this jump, but the bridge and location are impressive as well. It’s like a dream come true to be able to offer our customers a bungy jump experience like this in Japan. You’ve been on the platform while so many people have taken the leap. Any jumps you have seen stand out? That’s a tough question. I have witnessed so many jumps over the years – perhaps close to 100,000. I have seen the toughest looking guy scream like a little girl, watched jumpers summon every ounce of courage and inner strength just to stand on the edge of the platform, then suck it up and pull off a great jump. I had one poor soul on his bachelor party dressed in a superman outfit end up in the corner of the jump deck literally so paralyzed with fear that he couldn’t move a muscle for a good 10 minutes. One thing I love about doing this job in Japan is the amazing array of costumes and effort our customers put into their jump costumes — celebrating a birthday, making a wedding video or just for fun. Any celebrities come out to jump? Every year we get a steady stream of celebrities and tarento . We’ve had members of girl bands AKB48 and MomoIro KuroZ, Comedian Yabe-san from NaiNai Saizu and also Dewi Fujin, to name a few. What’s more dangerous, bungy jumping or eating raw fugu (puffer fish)? That’s actually a good question, as I think there are more similarities than you might think. Both have a relatively high perceived risk and both have the potential to be fatal in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. But, handled properly, identifying and taking the right precautions to minimize that risk through systems, procedures and training, then the actual risk drops close to zero. Are there any special events throughout the year? Two events we look forward to every year in Minakami are the Summer Splash weekend, usually in early September, and the Minakami Adventure Festival at the end of October. The Ibaraki Bridge has three major events through the year: Koi-nobori, which runs from Golden Week through May 18, the Summer Lantern Festival during O-Bon in mid-August and the koyo (autumn leaves) festivities on weekends in mid-November when there are stalls selling food, local music and other fun stuff. More details are available on our website at www.bungyjapan.com. ✤ 62 AJ 3 40 3 1 100 AKB48 100 100 2001 6 30 10 10 3 5 18 9 8 11 CNN 10 www.bungyjapan.com✤ 3 2 42 30 T R AV E L E R SPRING 2014 31 32 T R AV E L E R DRIVE AND DIVE OKINAWA ISLAND By Tim Rock & Yoko Higashide Travelers flock to Okinawa’s islands for sun, sand and the undersea attractions. Ishigaki has manta ray stations, Yonaguni submerged ancient ruins and hammerheads, while The Keramas are home to everything from sea turtles, stunning reefs and even humpback whales in winter. Yet perhaps the busiest beaches in this vast chain of islands are on the main island of Okinawa (Okinawa-honto). From Itoman to Motobu, especially along the western shores, and especially on weekends, people snorkel, dive or just cool off in the clear waters of the East China and Philippine seas. 沖縄は太陽とビーチと海を求める観光客でいつもにぎわっている。石垣島はマンタ け ら ま で有名だし、 与那国島の海底には古代遺跡が眠っている。慶 良間諸島はウミガメや息 をのむような珊瑚礁、 そして冬はザトウクジラがやってくることでも有名だ。 しかし、 このさまざまな島を擁する沖縄諸島のなかで、やはりもっとも人気なのは本島だ。 いとまん もとぶ 糸 満から本 部エリア、 とくに週末の西側のビーチでは、 シュノーケリングやダイビン グはもちろん、 東シナ海とフィリピン海の透明度の高い海を楽しむ人でにぎわう。 SPRING 2014 33 Beach diving is fun. You can do it on your own schedule without spending a lot of money. 好きなと きに潜れるビーチダイ ビングは お金もかから ないのでお薦めだ。 I first heard about driving and diving around Okinawa Island from a friend named Anna Simeon. Anna is a marine biologist based in Guam who studies marine algae. She and a fellow biologist had great success renting a car and some scuba tanks and exploring various dive sites and beaches in search of the marine life they studied. I decided, why not? Equipped with a borrowed wagon and some help from friends who live in Naha, I was ready to roll. If you don’t have a local contact, car rental shops and island-wide public transport are easily available, and options for places to stay vary from full-blown resort spas to homey pensions and even backpacker hostels. Why dive the big island? Well, aside from all the amenities available before and after a dive, the island has a nice diversity of marine life including many fish and coral species and even some visits by really big fish such as manta rays and whale sharks. Beach diving is fun. You can do it on your own schedule without spending a lot of money. Beach snorkeling is even simpler, requiring just a mask, snorkel, fins and perhaps a rash guard. Dive and snorkel season is basically from April to October. Seas get rough and the weather and water cooler in the winter months. But locals don their wetsuits and do it year-'round if the seas are calm. Okinawa has many places to beach dive and snorkel. It is not a small island, so a car is a must for the independent adventurer. If visiting from abroad, you’ll need an international driver’s license to rent a car and a valid dive card to rent tanks. INTO THE SEA On our first day we drove south, stopping at the market in Itoman to get some fresh vegetables and fruit and some fish for dinner. After the mandatory somen lunch, we headed southwest and clambered down limestone cliffs to watch surfers taking advantage of morning high tide swell. After getting some good lungfuls of salt spray, we were ready to get wet. We headed to the public beach below the vast Southern Links Golf Course. This area offers some nice protected inner reef snorkeling in a maze of rough coral rocks pocked with passages, swim-throughs and overhangs. The reef held starfish, various gobies and sapphire chromis fish and some fat pufferfish. Hard corals, including some beautiful purple star corals, dot the reef. As we snorkeled near the golf course cliffs, we found quite a few stray golf balls before exiting near a snaking cliffline road. We stopped at the southeastern shore of Okinawa-hontoō at Mibaru Beach, which stretches well over a kilometer. That evening we stayed at a modest pension our friends operate on weekends, ate our fish and enjoyed good conversation and spirits. The next day we headed north for some beach-entry scuba sites. In Okinawa, dive shops have tanks for rental, but there are also many filling stations. These are businesses, sometimes located in residential neighborhoods, that rent filled tanks for the day or the weekend. Cheaper than buying a tank and getting refills, many divers just rent and return. We did this as well, stopping in the Chatan area for tanks and then taking a nice morning drive to a secluded area in scenic Onna. The roads in Okinawa are in great shape and wellmarked. Getting to a site is normally easy, although it can take a bit of local knowledge to find smaller roads to the final destination We arrived at a rugged overlook of a favorite dive site called The Horseshoe. Nearby was a site with a less appealing name called Toilet Bowl. Entry is by either a rugged hike through a limestone cliffline or through the jungle past pandanas trees to a secluded beach. Our plan was to dive as close to high tide as possible, as unpredictable currents 34 T R AV E L E R sports BC 4 10 1 leisure 6 30 6 7 activities 2 3 discover the 5 1 3 SECORE 1 possibilities The Horseshoe Tiolet Bowl The Dojo www.dojobarnaha. com BAKU www.picresorts.com For reservations, contact us at: +1 (670) 234-2042 email@example.com SPRING 2014 35 can occur to make this site best suited for advanced divers. It was Sunday, and many Japanese and military divers were there. The tide was coming in, and we made a surf entry by the outer reef. The payoff is a series of beautiful crevices and an underwater wall that teems with marine life including barracuda, damselfish, sapphire tangs, sea turtles and even the occasional reef shark. It is a difficult dive due to strong longshore currents at times, so we were glad to have our local friends to follow. One note of caution on land at these remote dive spots; thieves do prey upon vehicles here. They go only for cash and are quite slick at quickly breaking into a car. Bring a waterproof container for your cash and carry it in your BC. The stories of break-ins to the cars of shore divers are plentiful. THE HOT SPOT You can’t say you have dived Okinawa unless you’ve been to Maeda Point. This is where planeloads come every weekend to do all kinds of diving, instruction and snorkeling. It is so popular, there’s a gated pay parking lot and a huge food and change facility on the grounds with a nice sheltered overlook of the entire bay. Entry is easy with a wide set of stairs leading down the cliffline to the ocean. Before suiting up at the point, check the conditions. Don't dive at Maeda Point if the surf exceeds a foot. The facility managers are supposed to close the entry if surf conditions are bad, but that seems to be a subjective call so, if the surf isn’t slapping your shins, go by boat. The stairs from the parking lot lead to the waterline. Divers spread out here and climb carefully down to the water. To the right of the reef's edge, the depth is about six meters; to the left over the reef, it's about 30 meters. There are a lot of divers at Maeda Point, but there’s also plenty of fish. In late June and July, there are beautiful silver swirls and clouds of sardines and other baitfish attracting predators and even dive-bombing sea birds. Look for moray eels, sea snakes, sea anemones with their clownfish, lionfish, shoals of squid and large batfish schools. Save some energy for the exit and the climb back up the stairs. The main island is great for seeing other ocean-related attractions too. The world-famous Churaumi Aquarium is about two-and-a-half-hours drive from Naha past Motobu, and it is pretty much a full-day excursion. In the massive main tank — the world’s third largest — is an amazing collection of marine life. Guests can see three whale sharks, a dozen mantas, even common dolphins, molas and yellowfin tuna. The aquarium is a member of SECORE, a worldwide group that studies coral reef health and farming. Churaumi’s five-segment coral reef tank is one of the showplaces for the facility’s groundbreaking work on hard coral reproduction. Separate tanks hold big sharks, old-growth sea turtles and even manatees. The dolphinarium has daily shows, and nearby Emerald Beach is available for some cooling off and snorkeling. In the main rest area, the facility has added many new displays with immense skeletons of whales and other marine life, along with the remains of an extremely rare megamouth shark. legendary. Aside from the usual Okinawa offerings such as taco rice, Okinawa soba and Orion beer, there is a nice selection of bars along side streets. A couple favorites included The Dojo (Web: www.dojobarnaha.com), which is adorned with portraits of Okinawa martial arts masters, and the cozy Baku Craft Beer House (Web: http://baku.ti-da.net). Specialty shops sell collectable beads, African art and snakeskin shamisen (a kind of Japanese banjo). One place divers will like is Kaisou. This gift shop chain has five locations along Kokusai Street, each a little different from the next, selling eco-oriented T-shirts, carved necklaces of ocean icons and some Okinawan-themed items (Web: www. kaisou.com). The convenient tram can be accessed at many points along the street and taken all the way to Shuri Castle perched high above Naha. The relic, dating back to the 1300s, has been professionally restored with vast grounds and landscaping. The castle presents daily shows of traditional plays, costumes and music. Enjoy cool breezes while marveling at how the huge stones were carried up the hilltop in ancient times to make the castle. ONNA AND ENVIRONS After getting our fill of the city, we headed north to the Onna area where we met Jan Claudius Weirauch of Piranha Divers (Web: www.piranha-divers.jp). He suggested an old pension for us to stay nearby. It had nice wooden floors and a picnic table out back shaded by a fir tree where we sat and enjoyed the view of the setting sun. From the wooded neighborhood, it was a short walk to Inbu Beach. Snorkeling there, we saw the sandy bottoms produced small, blue-spot rays and coral patches with an array of tropical fish. Jan also took me to Maeda Point by boat, which leaves out of a marina a bit north of the point. It was just me and two other divers. We cruised along the cliffline and tied up to one of the many buoys. It was there I saw a large batfish school, parrotfish and some deep crevices lined with sea anemones. Aside from having to keep an eye out for boat traffic when surfacing, diving by boat is a considerably easier way to see the reef here but does require more logistics. At the marina, I noticed a lot of people going back and forth on public bicycles. The bathroom was far from the dock, and divers made good use of the bikes, with some still in wetsuits pedaling faster than others. The villages along the main coastal road are pleasant, and I found one eclectic restaurant full of antiques and a real Formula 1 car parked inside — on the second floor! We ordered tacos and cold beer. What else could a diver want? Next door was a nice gift shop with some clever mobiles made of local beach shells and driftwood. In all, we explored about 10 dive and snorkel sites, but there must be a hundred of them along this long and varied terrain of the island’s western coast. It was a fun and unfettered trip that allowed me to see some of Okinawa’s diverse reefs. Next trip, I suspect I’ll be a bit more adventurous and hit some of the more popular offshore sites by boat that include islands, sea mounts and shipwrecks. But for divers and snorkelers who have visited popular dive destinations such as Bonaire and Guam, we know shore diving is a real bonus you can’t find on every island. Okinawa is blessed in this regard and well worth a try. ✤ DIVING INTO NAHA The shopping, food and nightlife on Kokusai Street is 36 T R AV E L E R We know shore diving is a real bonus you can’t find on every island. Okinawa is blessed in this regard and well worth a try. 陸からアクセスでき るシ ョアダイ ブはでき る場所が 限られており、 その意味でも沖縄は行ってみる 価値がじ ゅ うぶんにある場所だ。 5 T www.kaisou.com 1300 www.piranha-divers.jp 2 1 10 ✤ SPRING 2014 37 OKINAWA ISLAND BEACH DIVING TIPS Don t go in unless the ocean is calm. Use a car big enough to hold snorkeling or dive gear. Rent tanks from ﬁll stations or dive shops. Do not leave cash in the car. Bring fresh water in a large jug and leave in the shade for a nice shower after the dive or snorkel. 6. Avoid the crowds and go during the week. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. OKINAWA ISLAND S TOP BEACH DIVING/ SNORKELING SITES MAEDA POINT: The island s Mecca for diving and dive training. MAEDA FLATS: Not so crowded and good for diving and snorkeling. SUNABE SEA WALL: Walk out of a dive shop and into the sea. HORSESHOE: Advanced diving with rewarding marine life. DEVIL'S COVE: Good place for snorkeling and octopus. THE JUNKYARD: Long swim but worth the time; lots to see. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. / PRACTICALITIES 基本情報 GETTING THERE: Okinawa Island is most easily accessed by air and there are numerous domestic ﬂights from which to choose, including low-cost carriers from Tokyo and Osaka. International ﬂights are also becoming more common, especially from Taiwan. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Valid passport. CLIMATE: Mild and sometimes rainy winters and hot summers. Average air temperature is 25˚C, with the highest average at 32˚C in summer. The sun can be intense, so wear sun block. WATER TEMPERATURE: In the islands, 22˚C in winter to 30˚C in summer. Okinawan water in summer can be warm on the surface, so snorkelers can just use a rash guard. But at six meters, it can cool off, so a 3-meter suit is best for divers. ACCOMMODATIONS: Accommodations vary greatly from modest pensions and some backpack hostels in Naha to upscale resorts and spas along the western coast. MONEY: Local currency is the yen. Credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, but you may ﬁnd small shops and restaurants prefer cash. Gratuities are not customary in Japan. Gift-giving is appreciated. GETTING AROUND: In Japan drive on the left side of the road. An international license is required for driving or renting a vehicle. Renting a scooter is also an option. Bus service is available to most of the main towns and attractions on the island. There is a major tram from the airport to stops in Naha s tourist and hotel districts. 25 22 30 6m 3 32 38 T R AV E L E R SPRING 2014 39 To the End an Gardner Robinson takes a spring break to the southern hemisphere from the Highway to the End of the World and Patagonia trails to Santiago’s wine country and colorful diversions in “Valpo.” 春休みを利用して南半球のハイウェイを走り世界の果てへ、 パタゴニアの トレイルからサンティアゴのワイン農家が広がるバルポ （バルパライソ市 もしくは州） で出会ったさまざまな思い出を語る。 U 40 nfamiliar names on a travel itinerary are a beautiful thing. Summoning my best college Spanish, I read them aloud. “Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales…” Then I grabbed a map to see where I was going. The plan was to travel from Japan to the tip of South America in time for the Patagonian International Marathon (PIM) and explore Torre del Paine National Park. I’d then head north to the wine country near Santiago and the Andes mountains, and then drop by Portland, Oregon, on my way back to Japan to attend the opening party for Montbell’s new Portland store. I had a little more than a week to make it halfway around the world and back. First, I needed to get to Punta Arenas. T R AV E L E R PATAGONIA Punta Arenas is sometimes referred to as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego and Puerto Williams on Antarctica’s Isla Navarino are actually farther south, but Punta Arenas is by far the largest city. It used to be named “Magallanes,” after Ferdinand Magellan who first circumnavigated the earth, sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the straits that still bear his name. When I arrived at Punta Arenas Airport, I looked around for Krissy Moehl. Krissy was arriving late due to some terrible floods where she lives in Colorado. I also arrived the day before the race, so we arranged to meet at the airport and catch a ride into Torres del Paine National Park together. Krissy had recently won the 2013 Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji, Japan’s most prestigious ultra-trail running event, and had been to Japan as a Patagonia (the clothing brand) ambassador. We chatted about Japan and whether she was returning to defend her UTMF title in 2014. “I try not to do the same race two years in a row,” she said. It was refreshing to hear an athlete be more interested in travel and new experiences than defending titles. I liked her immediately. She wasn’t the only pro running the 2nd Annual PIM. Ryan Sandes, Billy Barnett, Yassine Doubain and hometown favorites Veronica Bravo and Daniela Seyler Palamino would also participate, as would hundreds of TRAVELER: CHILE nd Back PIM 2 1 SPRING 2014 41 42 T R AV E L E R TRAVELER: CHILE runners of all levels. The event, organized by Nomadas International Group, offers no prize money, and entry fees support conservation in the park. A tree is planted in the park for every participant as part of reforestation efforts. A new, dusty Toyota pick-up pulled up, and our smiling driver, Cesar, leaned out the window to greet us. Soon we were cruising along the aptly named “La Ruta de Fin del Mundo" (The Highway to the End of the World) looking out at the Straits of Magellan. We passed flamingos and Darwin’s Rhea, a flightless bird akin to an ostrich, and estancia (ranches) with herds of sheep grazing. Later, we’d see wild guanaco, the llama-like animals that thrive in the park and, although we didn’t see the Patagonian hog-nosed skunk, we were sure we passed a couple of them. While Punta Arenas is the capital of the region, Puerto Natales, a two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest, is the gateway to the park. A burnt orange sun was sneaking behind Patagonian peaks, reflecting off the sound when we pulled into town. Outdoor outfitters lined the streets renting mountain bikes, sea kayaks and trekking gear, while cheery voices spilled from restaurants. A couple hours later we arrived at our destination in the park, the Hotel Rio Serrano. Dawn came quickly. A morning mist was clinging to the meadow while a curtain of clouds parted to reveal jagged peaks bathed in a soft purple glow. Then the curtain closed and the mountains were gone. As I rolled out of bed, the bathroom door suddenly opened and a big guy in a Superman-like costume greeted me with a booming, “G’day mate!” Race day was off to an interesting start. It turned out I was sharing a room with Trent Morrow, AKA “Marathon Man.” In January 2013, he embarked on a challenge to break the record for the most marathons in one calendar year. That day marked the 106th full marathon of the year for him. He would equal the Guinness World Record (157) on Dec. 27, 2013, and the next day would break it. On Dec. 31, he would run his final race of 2013 and set the new world record at 161 marathons in a calendar year. Incredible. Shortly after I arrived at the flats next to Lake Grey, the starting gun went off for the ultra-marathon. The scene, with icebergs floating in the glacier-fed lake as runners passed by, was surreal. The marathon, half-marathon and 10K would start at intervals at similarly stunning locations. The atmosphere would get more festive as the sun rose higher in the sky, with runners dancing and stretching to electro-salsa beats during group warm-ups for their race. Crowds gathered in front of Hotel Las Torres, at the base of Mt. Nieto, to greet runners as they crossed the finish line. Krissy shook off jet lag to be the first female ultra-runner across, followed by Chileans Daniela Seyler Palamino and Veronica Bravo. South African Ryan Sandes was the fastest man, with Americans Billy Barnett and Yassine Diboun next. Runners continued to roll in as the supportive crowd cheered. Awards were handed out while everyone enjoyed a delicious Patagonian ranch-style barbecue. Pigs were spread across beds of coals, music played and Chilean wine flowed. It was a fitting end to an unforgettable day in Patagonia. This year’s race takes place on Sept. 27. Visit the website to register. The following morning, the granite towers we’d been staring at since we arrived beckoned. A group of us leaving the next morning opted for the day-hike up to the towers. Those with more time chose one of the epic multi-day treks, either the “W” route, which takes about five days, or the full circle (8-9 days). It’s hard to leave Patagonia without yearning for more time for activities around Puerto Natales, or island hopping in the Straits of Magellan, exploring the virgin forests of Tierra del Fuego or Antarctica beyond. I left thankful, vowing to return. 10km 2 1 1 2014 27 2013 12 27 2013 12 31 1 106 157 161 9 5 W 8 SPRING 2014 43 TRAVELER: CHILE SANTIAGO Santiago is often overshadowed by flashier South American neighbors Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. However, Chile’s capital, which sits between the Andes and beach resorts to the west, shouldn't be overlooked. The city has a colonial charm and is filled with tree-lined streets, parks and interesting neighborhoods. The people are generous and friendly. They speak openly about politics, including the dark Pinochet years, and take pride in the diverse country, their wine, food and artists. It is a multi-ethnic population with an estimated 70 percent of the population of European descent, 25 percent mestizos (Latin American of Spanish descent), and five percent Mapuche and other indigenous people. Alfonso Canales and his wife Jose Maria live in Santiago, and Alfonso works at Antawaya, an outdoor recreation company in the nearby Andes. We met in Patagonia at the post-race barbecue. When they heard I was coming to Santiago, they offered to show me their city. It’s not uncommon to get polite, yet often, empty invitations when traveling, but when I got to my hotel and checked e-mail, there was a message from Alfonso. They’d pick me up at 7 p.m., so I had better be ready. The first stop was The Clinic, a Santiago institution. The people who run this popular restaurant also publish a satirical newspaper with the same name. The inspiration for the name came from The London Clinic in England where former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in 1998, and the first newspaper was printed shortly after. The paper features cutting social and political satire, jokes as well as in-depth interviews and investigative work. The first round of piscolas arrived shortly after we did. Pisco is a grape brandy produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. Chilean wine is far superior, but I was told the best pisco comes from Peru. A piscola is exactly as it sounds, pisco and cola, and it was surprisingly good. The Clinic seemed to be filled with conspiratorial conversations echoing off candle-lit walls. Ideas were being formed, plans hatched. Our plans, however, weren’t progressing very far. After an undetermined number of piscolas and hours of lively conversation, it was time to head home. I spent the next morning exploring Santiago’s historic landmarks. I rented a bike and cycled riverside parks and up San Cristobal Hill to soak up the breathtaking view of the capital. In the afternoon, I arranged a cycling and wine-tasting tour of Cousiño Macul winery (est. 1856), the only 19th century winery still in the hands of the original family. Grapes have been cultivated in the Macul area as far back as 1564, but in 1856 Matías Cousiño purchased the Macul estate with the sole purpose of producing wine. Six generations later, the family is still making great wine. Santiago has expanded to the point of completely surrounding the Macul estate in the southeast of the city. The tour was more wine tasting than cycling, but I enjoyed the leisurely ride through the estate on our Chilean “mama-chari.” We pedaled through the vineyards, glasses clinking in bike baskets, Santiago city rising on one side and the Andes on the other. This region of the Upper Maipo, where Cousiño Macul’s vineyards are located, is the closest wine-growing area to the foothills of the Andes. Cool air descends into the valley from the mountains, reducing temperatures, while snowmelt provides fresh water to irrigate the vineyards. After parking the bikes, we strolled through dim corridors and subterranean enclaves. We ended in the main tasting room where we filled our glasses one last time with the wine of our choice. I opted for the Antiguas Reservas, an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French oak. I savored the wine and the six generations of care that went into it. Next stop was Tesoros de Chile (Treasures of Chile), a restaurant just two blocks from Concha y Toro, the largest producer of wine in Latin America. Sergio, the caretaker, greeted us at the door. A look around the country home revealed rooms full of antiques, art and objects telling the story of Chile’s people and natural history. Our meal would be a gastronomical journey from north to south. First, a pisco sour to cleanse the palate, then pumpkin flat bread with tomato, cilantro and goat cheese accompanied by a tasty Maipo Valley merlot. Next was a corn pie with meat and chicken, followed by fresh local fish topped with shrimp in a mild curry sauce. Finally a delicate flan with a coconut roasted pastry. The visit ended after slowly climbing stairs to a room dedicated to Chile’s volcanic landscape, a reminder that great seafood was not all Chile and Japan had in common. Both countries are also hotbeds of seismic activity. 6 70 25% 5% 2 1856 19 1564 1856 6 7 1998 2 44 T R AV E L E R SPRING 2014 45 WEB CONNECTION RESOURCES Chile Tourism / http://chile.travel/en/ Torres Del Paine / www.torresdelpaine.com Patagonian International Marathon www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com TOUR OPERATORS Turismo Milodon / www.waytogochile.com Tours 4 Tips / 4 www.tours4tips.com Antawaya / : www.antawaya.cl HOTELS Hotel Las Torres / www.hoteltorremayor.cl Hotel Rio Serrano / www.hotelrioserrano.cl Hotel Lago Grey / www.lagogrey.com/en/ Hotel Torremayor: www.hoteltorremayor.cl Marathon Man / http://marathonman.com.au WINE Bodegas RE Winery / http://bodegasre.cl Cousiño Macul / www.cousinomacul.com Wines of Chile / www.winesofchile.org RESTAURANTS Tesores de Chile / www.tesorosdechile.cl Bocanáriz Wine Bar / http://bocanariz.cl RE 46 T R AV E L E R TRAVELER: CHILE CASABLANCA I scrapped plans to go snowboarding in the Andes on my last day. Conditions weren’t great, and a number of people had suggested I make a trip out to Valparaiso instead. “Valpo,” as it is commonly called, is on the coast about 70 km. northwest of Santiago via a toll highway. A fourkilometer tunnel separates the metropolitan valley and the Curacaví Valley. Long before the Spaniards arrived, the Incas created sophisticated irrigation systems, and much of the vegetables people eat in Santiago are grown here. As you emerge from a second tunnel, the Casablanca Valley unfolds beneath you. This coastal region is home to a number of boutique wineries, and there was one I wanted to check out on the way to Valpo. Pablo Morandé, one of the most influential winemakers in Chile, opened Bodegas RE winery after a 40-year career with the big winemakers. His family came over from France nine generations ago, using clay vessels for wine-making. The family kept the original clay pots and opened “RE” with the mission to re-create these ancestral wines using the old methods, hand-mashing grapes with a wood masher and burying the clay pots in the earth where they are naturally kept at the right temperature. Sustainability is at the heart of the process, and they are proud the fermentation process and storage of the wine does not require expensive, contaminating equipment. They simply rely on the earth’s energy to do the job. Their patience is rewarded with some beautiful wines. They also make balsamic vinegar, aged for 21 years, and their own liquor using all natural ingredients. Bodegas RE has regular tours and, if you are lucky, you may bump into Pablo or one of his three children who are also winemakers. winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Down the hill from Le Sebastiana, I met Camilo Quoroz, an artist commissioned to do a huge mural for a restaurant. I snapped a photo of him atop his ladder, then spent the next few hours getting lost in the labyrinth of steep, narrow streets covered with colorful creations. After a day walking Valpo’s hills, I returned to Santiago and headed for the Bocanáriz Wine Bar in Centro. The manager had studied in New Zealand and was enthusiastic about wine and the burgeoning restaurant scene in Santiago. After a tour of the impressive wine cellar, I sat in the open-air room as a carnival passed down the middle of the street. A clown on stilts leaned down and offered his hat. I tossed in some coins and received a bow in return, then the music faded away down the street. The circus always seemed to be in town in Santiago. I made one last stop in the Bohemian district of Bayo Vista. Al fresco cafés lined the streets, and I sat down to soak up the remaining moments in the city before my flight. Dancers with colorful streamers performed for cars waiting at the stoplight. Some rolled down their windows and reached out their hands to show their appreciation. Next to me, a middle-aged guy managed to make Bob Dylan sound cheerful on his harmonica. I chatted with the friendly waiter about the Lollapalooza tour coming to Santiago. His T-shirt read, “Que tengas un buen dia” (have a nice day), accompanied by a hand giving you the finger. Cheerful and sardonic with a touch of defiant humor. it summed up Santiago well. ✤ VALPARAÍSO Valparaíso is a fascinating place. Commercially, it is Chile’s main container and passenger port. Politically, it is where the National Congress meets – not Santiago – and Chile’s first civilian president, Manuel Montt, as well as the infamous Pinochet hail from here. Culturally, a system of historic funicular cars still operates, taking people up the steep hillsides above the Pacific. In 2003, Valparaiso was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in the same year, Chilean Congress declared it “Chile's Cultural Capital.” It is also home to the “School of Valparaíso,” the famous avant-garde architectural school, as well as El Mercurio de Valparaíso, the oldest Spanishlanguage newspaper in circulation in the world. Valpo is one of the most colorful cities you will likely ever visit. Street artists have created amazing murals on buildings, streets, alleyways and stairways all over Valparaíso. Pickpocket artists also roam the streets. Valpo has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The joke is, if you get something stolen in the morning, you can probably buy it back at the street market in the afternoon. With a little convincing, my driver left me alone to explore the city. I took one of the 15 public funicular cars near Plaza Sotomayor to the top of the hill, then walked to La Sebastiana, the house of beloved writer Pablo Neruda, 15 1971 21 70km 4km RE 3 40 RE 9 2003 RE T ✤ SPRING 2014 47 AVALANCHE AWARENESS IN JAPAN By Bill Ross t was a typical season-opening day in Tateyama. Hundreds of skiers, boarders and climbers were out to get the first powder of the year. There’s only a tiny window of opportunity up here in November, between the time when there’s enough snow to cover the rocks (hopefully with plenty of soft powder) and when, toward the end of the month, transportation and accommodations in this big alpine bowl simply shut down. Skier and climber Tracy Lenart was outside Raicho-so on this day, the mountain hut/hotel with a commanding view of the sweeping range of alpine peaks almost completely surrounding it. “Someone said, ‘Hey, there’s an avalanche,’” Lenart remembers. “I’ve seen quite a few avalanches, but this was the largest.” A huge snow cloud was racing down the folded valleys and ridges of Mt. Masago, just to the southeast of I the hut. After snapping a few photos (videos have also been posted on You Tube), Lenart decided to move. “I thought, what am I doing here taking pictures,” he says. Skiing down from the hotel, he passed “literally hundreds of people,” he says, but when he got to the actual debris field, no one was checking the debris for victims. “They all just said everything is OK,” Lenart says. “I didn’t know, and I couldn’t disprove them, but the response kind of stunned me. I’m sure some people were in shock after just being missed by the avalanche, but I felt nobody was doing anything.” So he took out his avalanche transceiver (beacon), switched it to receive and started heading up the concrete-like avalanche debris. After discounting the signals coming from a group above and to his right, Lenart soon found a signal coming from within the snowpack — and found the first fatality of the accident. “I was concentrating so hard on what I was doing, because this was the first time I’d ever actually used my beacon in an actual search, that I didn’t realize there were more people working on other victims higher up.” In all, seven people died in the couloir of Mt. Masago that day. According to the official report by the Japan Avalanche Network (JAN), the country’s leading education and research organization, a husband and wife were skiing high up in the couloir; a group of five below had just finished a break and may also have been skiing together in the snow, which was deep in the area after being blown in by earlier winds — something they should have taken into account. They weren’t stupid, though, nor were they inexperienced. They just made a very bad decision about where to ski, driven perhaps by the prospect of those first turns of the season ( You Tube ) 7 NPO 11 (11/30 ) JAN 5 48 T R AV E L E R You have to know when not to go. Photos by Tracy Lenard in the fresh, deep powder. Or perhaps they were in a group where no one was willing to voice concerns. Too often those are the kinds of decisions that result in avalanche accidents. The terrain was what avalanche experts would call “complex,” full of ridges and valleys facing different aspects with variable degrees of steepness. “It’s not a place you want to go unless the conditions are exactly right,” says veteran skier and a former director of the Telemark Ski Association of Japan Ryuji Kodama. “You have to know when not to go.” Whatever the reasons they were there, the deaths from avalanches in Japan nearly reached the total yearly average on that day. “Looking at statistics over the past 20 years, there are an average of five fatal accidents annually in Japan, with nine fatalities,” says Azusa Degawa, head of JAN. But, he adds, it’s hard to correlate accidents with the increased number of people heading into the backcountry, and that education may in fact be keeping that number from climbing. “The trends in fatal accidents varies a lot year by year,” he says. “One year we might have just three fatalities; another year it might be mostly climbers rather than skiers. Like elsewhere in the world, accidents tend to happen depending on the avalanche cycles and even if it’s a sunny weekend. What happened on Mt. Masago was a real tragedy, but there is a lot to the fact that, within one hour, a group of regular backcountry people was able to locate and dig out seven victims buried two meters deep. They had the equipment, they knew how to use it, and immediately after a very large avalanche, many people moved in and began a very fast search. I think that shows there is a growing awareness of avalanche safety measures in Japan.” BY THE NUMBERS: AVALANCHE SURVIVAL Here are some sobering facts: • More than 90 percent of avalanche victims triggered the slide themselves. • Slightly more than one-quarter of avalanche victims die from trauma; they hit rocks or trees, or get carried over cliffs. • If you survive the above and are dug out within 15 minutes, you have a 92 percent likelihood of surviving; by 30 minutes it’s down to about 30 percent. Only 28 percent of completely buried victims survive. • Very few victims survive burial two meters or more below the surface. • 90% • 25% 1 6 30% • 2m 20 JAN 5 2 • 15 92% 30 SPRING 2014 49 SLACKERS BEWARE Bruce Tremper of the U.S. Forest Service and author of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain wrote, “The good news is that it’s possible to avoid nearly all avalanches. The bad news is that it requires work.” It’s not that painful, though; simply reading Tremper’s book (one of the best general introductions to avalanche awareness) is a good start, but one that should be followed with more formal education, and there are more places here in Japan and overseas to start getting some hands-on education. One new target for that education is not the true backcountry skier or boarder, but those who use the lift to get up the mountain, then take off to the sides of the resort, often referred to as “slackcountry” or “sidecountry.” “In North America, the avalanche centers have got pretty good coverage, so backcountry people listen to the forecasts, and they know the basics of avalanches,” says Bruce “Edge” Edgerly, Vice President of Backcountry Access (BCA). The company has been a leader not only in products such as transceivers (it created the first digital beacon in 1997) and airbags, the newest development in avalanche safety, but also a company which puts a great effort in education as a major part of its offering. Edgerly founded the company after he had been buried in an avalanche in his native Colorado. “The area where there is vulnerability today is in the sidecountry, where people go off the lifts and duck out of bounds,” he says. “They don’t have the barrier of having to know how to use skins and touring gear, so they haven’t done their homework.” The response from the Snowsports Industry America (SIA) trade group is Project Zero. “This is the first pan-North American effort involving industry and the avalanche centers with a goal of reducing avalanche fatalities to zero,” he says. “It’s idealistic, sure, but that’s an important target. In Japan, sidecountry is where the action is, so this is a real hotspot there as well. “People need to know it’s no safer just outside the boundaries than it is 20 miles out in the wilderness,” Edgerly says. Unfortunately, where most people heading out into the “real” backcountry today will carry a transceiver, shovel and probe, very few sidecountry skiers do; almost none would have the extra clothing or other emergency gear that would allow them to spend a night out in the snow. That brings up another important point: avalanches aren’t the only things you can set off to kill yourself. People literally launch themselves out and get lost all the time, and for very bad reasons. Most get rescued, but it’s not as certain as you might think. As I was writing this story, I received a call. A skier was lost somewhere in or around Suginohara ski area in Myoko Kogen, Niigata. About four years ago, there was a realization locally that the police and fire department — the official rescue organizations — had almost no one familiar with the Myoko backcountry, or capable with touring ski gear (quite different from the Northern Alps and other mountain areas). So a fledgling search-and-rescue group was set up, of which I was one of the founding members. While the police or fire department finds most lost people close to the ski areas, we’ve had two successful rescues of people really, seriously in trouble. The call was typical. A young male, skiing alone, heading off the course, no map, lost, a frantic phone call, the phone battery dies. The police field the emergency call, don’t understand everything (the victim was not Japanese), but triangulate the phone to somewhere in the ski area. Just as the team is getting mobilized for a search starting the next morning — that’s right, after a night out in heavy snow, for safety concerns for the rescuers — the ski area snowcats find the lost rider. It was a good thing he was found the same day; panicking, he thought following a valley down would be a safe way to get down the hill. Instead, he tumbled into a stream repeatedly; wet and cold, he likely would not have survived the night. A case on the first day of the year was much more serious. A Japanese snowboarder riding the sidecountry off Ikenotaira ski area saw a nice slope through the trees to the north. There was fresh powder, so it must have been a good ride. He saw another slope further on, and probably the landmark Akakura Kanko Hotel just across what must have seemed like a small valley. He dropped in what at first was a good line, then tumbled 200 Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain Photo by Forty Tribes Backcountry SIA 2 20 3 1997 4 50 T R AV E L E R BACKCOUNTRY ESSENTIALS Anyone traveling outside of groomed ski areas should always have the following: • Avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. • A topographical map of the area, preferably with compass or GPS. • Information about recent weather conditions. • The knowledge to use and apply the above. • Some extra clothing and gloves. • A little food and water. • Friends to slide with, and preferably someone who knows exactly where you ll be going. • Cell phone (with battery power) or other means of communication; extra battery. • The ability to say no when conditions look bad people are often more difﬁcult to handle than weather, snowpack or terrain. AVALANCHE AWARENESS & EDUCATION Japan Avalanche Network (JAN) JAN is the primary avalanche and snow safety organization in Japan, and is afﬁliated with and uses materials from the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) and Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC). JAN provides a range of courses in Japanese for everyone from complete neophytes to guides and avalanche forecasters. Our goal is a mature avalanche community in Japan, Azusa Degawa says. We want to bring up the level of mountain guides and other professionals, and provide educational opportunities for recreational users. To accomplish this, JAN holds a serious of free Avalanche Night sessions in the fall (with online streaming), a series of multi-day training sessions drawn from the programs of its partners: CAC for recreational users, and CAA for professionals. Details on courses available at http://nadare.jp • • • • • • • • • GPS JAN CAA CAC JAN JAN CAC CAA http://nadare.jp Photos by Josh Kling SPRING 2014 51 ENGLISH INSTRUCTION PROVIDERS Black Diamond Tours (Niseko, Hokkaido) Black Diamond offers regular CAA Certiﬁed AST I & AST II from Mid-December through March. They offer some early season class discounts to support locals and seasonal staff as well. Web: www. blackdiamondtours.com Hokkaido Powder Guides (Furano, Hokkaido) HPG offers regular CAA Certiﬁed AST I from Mid-December through March. Web: www. hokkaidopowderguides.com Evergreen Outdoor Center (Hakuba, Nagano) Evergreen holds a series of CAA Certiﬁed AST I and AST II courses through the season, as well as group sessions by request. They also host the ongoing (free) Avalanche Awareness Nights in Hakuba. Web: www.evergreen-hakuba.com MountainLife (Hakuba, Nagano) MountainLife provides regular CAA Certiﬁed AST I, AST II and Companion Rescue Skills (CRS) courses. Web: www.mountainlife.jp Dancing Snow (Myoko, Niigata) Dancing Snow hosts instructors from Canada for CAA Certiﬁed AST I courses at ﬁxed times during the season and plans to expand avalanche and snow safety offerings on a more regular basis next season. Web: www.dancingsnow.com Stuck out there alone, you’ll realize quickly that sidecountry really is backcountry, in the worst possible way. Photo by Alexandra Erickson bush-and-tree-covered meters down something close to a sheer cliff. The fire department and two of us headed out, trying at first to climb a small dam to work up the river toward him (unsuccessfully, as we almost got washed out by continuous sluff avalanches), then worked along a ridgeline above him without hearing any response to our calls. So he spent one night out in heavy snow. Returning the next morning, we found a spot where we heard his voice, roped in to see if we could find him, then called in the fire department's climbing specialists. After hours of searching, hundreds of meters of rope let out and actually coming within just meters of finding him, the day ran out, and everyone left before night fell, leaving him out for another night. (The hard, cold reality is the victim is in an emergency; the rescuers aren’t, so they get off the hill when it gets dark.) Day three dawned clear, the helicopter flew in, and a miraculously uninjured, un-frostbitten 36-year-old was plucked out of the steep valley. Good thing, too; the fire department explained the day before to his tearful parents that the official search would only go for three days, and that they would next have to hire private searchers to continue. Luckily, there was a happy ending — but one that still cost them several hundred thousand yen for the searchand-rescue organization. (Luckily for them, helicopters fly for free, at least in Niigata Prefecture). The lessons are clear, of course. A ski area’s course map tells you nothing about the terrain beyond it. Going alone without telling anyone exactly where you’re going is a great way to avoid getting help when things go wrong. Not having the right gear can create a situation that at the least is cold and unpleasant, and at worst will kill you. Not having the right gear and knowledge is basically a selfish act, potentially putting friends and rescuers at risk. Stuck out there alone, you’ll realize quickly that sidecountry really is backcountry, in the worst possible way. ✤ Photo by Ian Millar MOUNTAIN AWARENESS SOCIALS Tracy Lenart is one of the organizers of Mountain Awareness Socials (MAS); a series of casual events with presentations, discussions focused on awareness for those interested in riding backcountry and backcountry enthusiasts. The ﬁrst event was held in Hakuba on Jan. 28 and featured mountain rescue medical technician Menno Boermans. Menno has a special skill/gift for conveying pow addiction, medical technician experience and knowledge. It was the most informative awareness presentation I ve experienced, says Lenard. The group is not afﬁliated with any organization. The goal is to simply spread awareness and basic knowledge, and then encourage people to get educated with the organization of their choice. Additional events are planned this autumn. 36 200 3 MAS 1 28 POW ✤ 3 Web: www.facebook.com/mountainawarenesssocials 52 T R AV E L E R Ski High P ance erform 〃 rd ance erform 〃 rd 〃 〃 Standa Sno wboard High P Standa Kids & Jacket ts n a P Adult Kids 0 ／¥4,50 0 0 0 , 4 ¥ 0 Item ／¥4,00 0 0 oles 5 P , & 3 ts ¥ oo 00 Ski & B 0／¥3,5 0 0 , 3 s ¥ ole 00 Ski & P 0／¥3,0 0 5 Poles , & 2 ts ¥ o o ,500 Ski & B 00／¥4 0 , 4 s ¥ le o 00 Ski & P ¥4,0 & Boots ／ g 0 in 0 d 5 , in ¥3 0 with B Board ／¥3,50 0 0 ing d 0 , in 3 B ¥ with 00 Board oots ¥3,0 ／ 0 ing & B 0 d 5 in , B 2 ¥ 0 with Board ／¥2,50 0 ing 0 d 0 , in B 2 h ¥ wit 00 Board 0／¥2,5 0 Poles 0 , & 2 ts ¥ o o 00 Ski & B Boots 0／¥2,0 0 ding & 5 in , B 1 h ¥ it w ,000 Board 00／¥2 5 , 1 s ¥ le o ,000 Ski & P 00／¥3 5 , Binding 2 h ¥ it w 00 Board ¥2,0 ／ 0 0 5 , ¥1 ,500 ／¥1 － 00 oggles ／ ¥7 es & G v site. － lo e G & ur w b no Beanie oggles bove o es or G ys or a v a d lo 2 G r r o t fo Beanie rice lis r to the rental p e refe *Pleas Price (H alf day /1day) *incl.TA X Others Thre item Single e items H n the i p o h ntal s e r d r wboa o n s return ki & y s a t m s You r gear at arge The l you y our an ! stores ard dit cn Crey me ts pa a re le! Goryu Echomall Hakuba Happo b a t p e Please acc glish Visa Master AMEX Diners Club China UnionPay lley. a V a akub En ff ng sta speaki sist you will ashoose to c uipment st eq r you! the be ht fo just rig Return Skis/ Snowboards by 17:00. ［Time ］ ［Time ］ ［Time ］ 7 30-17:00 7 30-17 00 7 30-18 30 ： ： ： ： ： ［Tel］ +81-261-75-7522 ［Tel］+81-261-72-2858 ［Tel］+81-261-75-1110 In front of ESCAL PLAZA Located at the entrance of Echoland Next to Hakuba Springs Hotel http://www.spicy.co.jp/ SPICY Rentals Search Wadano Iwatake Gondola Tsugaike Tsuganoyu Please "LIKE" our Facebook page ［Time ］ ［Time ］ ［Time ］ ［Time ］ 7 30-17 00 8 00-17 00 7 30-17 00 8 00-17 00 ： ： ： ： ： ： ： ： ［Tel ］ +81-261-72-2857 ［Tel］+81-261-72-2479 ［Tel］+81-261-83-2240 ［Tel］+81-261-83-2277 Next to Hotel La Neige Honkan Inside of Noah’s Gondola Sta. Next to Tsugaike Tourism Board Inside of Tsuganoyu Building SPRING 2014 53 PHOTO GALLERY Photo by Neil Hartmann 2nd Annual F-stop Mountain Shoot-Out www.fstopgear.com Photo by Neil Hartmann Photo by Tomoki Fuse Date: Feb. 22, 2014 Location: Hakuba, Nagano Winner Best Show: Neil Hartmann Winner Best Photo: Yoshiro Higai Photo by Tomoki Fuse www.outdoorjapan.com/ snowsplash Date: March 1, 2014 Location: Hakuba, Nagano Featuring: Osaka Monaurail, Shapeshifter DJ Set, Mitsukaze & Green Massive, Swell Snow Splash 2014 in Hakuba 54 T R AV E L E R TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY HOKKAIDO HOKKAIDO Amazingly Dry Powder Snow Head to Hokkaido's last frontier ' ' www.facebook.com/HokkaidoPowderBelt HOKKAIDO HOKKAIDO HOKKAIDO 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 SPRING 2014 55 TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY FUKUSHIMA NAGANO NAGANO GRANDECO RESORT Aizu UraBandai NIIGATA HOTEL GRANDECO 0241-32-3200 www.grandeco.com NAGANO GUNMA GUNMA Refresh your Mind, Body & Soul Refreshing outdoor adventure experiences under 2 hours from Tokyo! 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