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ISSUE 63 | SPRING 2017 | FREE

RETURN OF The

TRAIL

NINJAS Aomori Spring

青森スプリング

Fire and Spice in the Banda Sea バンダ海の炎とスパイス

The Unstoppable Bruce Cook

前進を続けるライダー、ブルース・クック

Outdoor Japan Spring Adventures ADVENTURE

PEOPLE

CULTURE

TR AVEL


I N S I D E I S S U E 6 3 ■ S P R I N G 2 017

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TRAIL NINJAS

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Return of the Trail Ninjas Aomori Spring 青森スプリング

The Unstoppable Bruce Cook

前進を続けるライダー、ブルース・クック

Fire and Spice in the Banda Sea

バンダ海の炎とスパイス

What Lies Beyond the Horizon

INSIDE

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From the Editor Eye on Okinawa Spring Events Beer Buzz Market Watch The Local Brew The Hakuba Taproom Ninja Folklore in Togakushi Outdoor Japan Spring Adventures Cycling Japan Tottori: Sea, Sand and Summit Travel & Adventures Directory


■ FROM THE EDITOR Gardner Robinson, Editor-in-Chief gardner@outdoorjapan.com

J

apan is an extremely mountainous country. These mountains and foothills are the outdoor playground for skiers and snowboarders in winter and hikers and peak baggers when the snow melts. It is fertile ground for mountain biking, although very few ski resort towns have embraced and committed to trail building and maintenance to attract the mountain biking market. Here in Nozawa Onsen, a Whistler-esque ski town and traditional hot spring village in northern Nagano, home to many Olympic skiers, mountain biking seems like a natural fit. The powers-that-be recently decided to build a zipline (flying fox) and an artificial summer ski slope rather than supporting a core group of local mountain bikers here and investing in MTB infrastructure. In my home state of Oregon, the central coastal town of Oakridge (population 3,200, roughly the same size as Nozawa Onsen) went through some tough times when the logging industry slowed. In 2005, they started a series of three-day summer biking festivals which injected much-needed energy and tourist dollars into the town, even attracting new residents. Today they estimate there are about 1,100-1,600 annual bike trips to Oakridge bringing in roughly 26,000-40,000 cyclists (and friends who come along for the ride) per year. Surveys show these are not dirt-bag mountain bikers sleeping in their vans, but “salary men” (and women) who stay in local inns, campgrounds and hotels. Restaurants, shops and other businesses benefit from this repeat tourism. So why can’t this work in Japan? The Hakuba mountain biking community is pushing forward, trying to build momentum to make the Hakuba Valley more mountain-bike friendly. The stunning valley, home to more than a dozen ski resorts and some of Japan’s most dramatic peaks, is the perfect place to create a buzz with trails galore, a pioneering spirit and a year-round community of outdoor enthusiasts ready for action. Spring is a time for rebirth and optimism, and we’ll be rooting for their success, keeping an eye on the progress and sharing more mountain bike news and developments in the near future. As we stretch toward the sun and come out of winter hibernation, we hope you’ll find some inspiration in these pages for fun activities, tours and travel ideas to get you out of the house and out to your new favorite destination. Get out there!

本の国土にはすばらしい山岳が連なっています。冬の季節にはスキーヤーやス ノーボーダーが、そして雪が解ければハイカーや登山家が峰の頂上をめざしま す。マウンテンバイクにとっても日本の山岳地帯は価値の高いフィールドです。 しかしながら残念に思うことは、日本のスキーリゾートのほとんどがマウンテン バイクについて理解が少なく、バイカーを魅きつけるようなトレイルやそのメインテナンスを おこなっている施設はほんのわずかしかないということです。 野沢は長野北部にある伝統的な温泉の里で、カナダのウィスラーのようなスキータウン でもあり、数多くのオリンピック・スキーヤーを輩出しています。この地にマウンテン・バイ キングが根付くのは自然の流れともいえます。しかし日本のお堅い行政は、夏季の観光事 業として、地元のマウンテン・バイカーのサポートや MTB のインフラを整備する代わりに、 ジップライン(ワイヤーと滑車で森の中を下るアクティビティ)と人工スキーのスロープを 建設する予算を可決しました。そのことを知った私は思わず頭をかきむしりたくなりました。 ほんの数年前、弊社アウトドア・ジャパンはプロマウンテン・バイカーのサム・ピルグリ ムと元プロサイクリストのポール・チェティンド(フリーライド・アドベンチャーのオーナー) たちとともに日本でのツアーを企画し、そのサポートを地元のバイカーたちとともにおこな いました。しかし残念だったことは、スキーリゾート側が提供してくれた峰やトレイルがほん のわずかだったということです。バイクトレイルとしてポテンシャルは高いのに、利用できな いのは残念というのが私たちの印象でした。 私の故郷であるオレゴン州のオークリッジ(人口は 3200 名ほどで野沢温泉とほぼおな じくらい)は海沿いの町です。この町の産業であった伐採(ばっさい)業が衰退してから は、町の景気はかんばしくありませんでした。しかし 2005 年に、この町は 3 日間のサマー・ バイク・フェスティバルを開催し、それが観光収入を町にもたらすカンフル剤となりました。 その効果により、この町に移住者までもがやって来るようになったのです。現在ではオーク リッジに関わるバイクツアーが年間 1,100 〜 1,600 もあり、それによって 26,000 人〜 40,000 人のサイクリスト(彼らに連れられてやってくる仲間も含む)がこの町へ訪れるよ うになりました。調査によれば、訪れるサイクリストたちは車の中で眠るようなダートバグ・ スタイルのマウンテン・バイカーではなく、その多くはまっとうな仕事を持つサラリーマンで、 地元のモーテルやキャンプ場、もしくはホテルに宿泊するような人々でした。リピーターの 多いツーリズムはレストランや小売店、そのほかのビジネスにも恩恵を与えます。どうして こういう事業を日本でもおこなえないのだろうと私は疑問に感じます。 白馬は数多くのスキーリゾートが集まるこの美しいエリアで、日本でも有数の峰々を拝し ています。その白馬で、白馬マウンテン・バイキング・コミュニティがマウンテンバイクの認 識を高めようと運動を開始しました。輝ける春の到来とともに、そのマウンテン・バイカー たちの運動にもきっと弾みがつくでしょう。当編集部でもマウンテンバイクに話題が集まる ように心がけ、近い将来にはよりよい環境がもたらされるように見守りつづけたいと思って います。 さあ、冬眠から目を覚まして、太陽に向かって思いっきり背伸びをしよう!本誌からお気 に入りの目的地やアクティビティを探し出し、ドアを開いて飛び出そう!アウトドア・フィー ルドはきみが来るのを待っている!

OUTDOOR JAPAN TRAVELER Published Seasonally Publisher Outdoor Japan Media

Media Coordinator Rie Miyoshi

Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson

Contributing Editors Wayne Graczyk, Shigeo Morishita

Editor Bill Ross

Translators Kumiko Kurosaki, Yoshine Lee, Eri Nishikami, Lana Sofer

Designer Misa Matsui

Contributors Joan Bailey, Lee Dobson, Eddie Gianelloni, Bryan Harrell, Neil Hartmann, Abdel Ibrahim, Pauline Kitamura, Takashi Niwa, Tim Rock, Robert Self, Justin Stein, Bonnie Waycott, Craig Yamashita Sales & Marketing media@outdoorjapan.com

©2017 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.

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Outdoor Japan Media

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Cover Photo: Return of the Trail Ninjas Photographer: Tomoki Fuse


A sea turtle dives into the warm, clear waters of the Kerama Islands.

Rocky seascapes line the shores of northern Okinawa Island.

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by Pete Leong A whale shark cruises with some friends off the coast of Okinawa Island.

The stunning contrast of white sand beaches and deep blue see on a northern Okinawa peninsula.

Panoramic view of the rocky cliffs on Miyagi Island looking out toward Ikei Island.

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GUIDE LINES

SPRING EVENTS As the days get longer and warmer, Japan offers a myriad of outdoor fun from mountain music events, beach parties, exciting races and cultural festivals. Get out there with our top picks of the season.

Coupe du Japon 2017 marks the third year for this official national contest for MTB racing in Japan. Started by the Japan Cycling Federation, the race features contestants judged based on international cycling standards with Olympic hopefuls participating regularly. Cross country and downhill races will be held monthly starting in Hyogo in April. April 8-Oct. 22 www.mtb-l.jp/events

Zushi Beach Film Festival Head to Zushi Beach to catch the sunset and some great films at the Zushi Beach Film Festival. This Instagram-worthy, pet-friendly outdoor cinema is held on the beach with a restaurant, bar, skate ramp and bazaar. April 28-May 7 Zushi Beach, Kanagawa www.zushifilm.com

Kyushu Beer Festival Only ¥500 a beer? At the week-long Kyushu Beer Festival, sample and compare the best of Japan’s craft beer including Far Yeast, Yamaguchi Beer, Kirishima Kogen, Kirishima Beer and Inawashiro Beer. The festival will occur six times throughout the year, ending with three events across Fukuoka.

Natural High Earth Day Camp

Tohoku Craft Beer Festival

Exactly how it sounds; get naturally high in the woods for this folksy, laid-back music festival . This event breathes health and wellness as it runs completely on clean energy and provides healthy (but delicious!) meals.

Tohoku boasts some of Japan’s best seafood, rice, produce and now, craft beer. This Akitabased event features brewers from Hokkaido, Iwate, Tazawako and local Aqula (Akita Akura). Foodies will be excited to know this festival will be held in conjunction with the Tohoku Meat Festival.

May 21-22 Doshi no Mori Campsite, Yamanashi www.naturalhigh.jp

Sea to Summit 2017 Montbell’s annual triathlon-esque challenge begins in May starting in Tottori Prefecture. Begin by kayaking to shore, followed by biking and hiking to the summit. There are a total of 12 events held all over Japan until November, and it is a great way to experience off-thebeaten-path, local areas. If you’re thinking of signing up, don’t be intimidated; although challenging, this race is open to everybody. May 21-Nov. 13 All Japan www.montbell.jp

Charity Cycle: Knights in White Lycra Cycle for a good cause with the Knights in White Lycra. Starting in Tokyo, an amateur cycling team will embark on a 550-kilometer journey to Ichinoseki, Iwate. All proceeds will go toward Mirai no Mori, an NPO providing life-changing outdoor programs for neglected, abused and orphaned children in care homes throughout Japan. May 25 Tokyo, Iwate www.kiwldonations.org

April 28-Oct. 9 Kumamoto, Oita, Saga, Fukuoka www.kyushubeerfestival.com

May 24-Sept. 18 Osaka, Kanazawa, Sapporo, Sendai, Kobe, Tokyo www.belgianbeerweekend.jp

Taico Club ’17 You don ’t have to stay in the city for electronic dance music. DJs, sound engineers and musicians from the world over w ill convene in the Nagano mountains for one of Japan’s hottest dance parties.

Red Bull Air Race 2017

Surf into summer at Yokohama’s beach lifestyle event. Enjoy live performances by reggae artist Michael Franti, surf artwork, film screenings and booths by top surf brands. May 20-21 Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, Kanagawa www.greenroom.jp

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The oldest of its kind in Japan, this cultural event celebrates the start of summer with yukata , light and colorful kimono worn during the warmer months. Against the picturesque Himeji Castle, enjoy local matsuri (festival) food and games and perhaps even wear a yukata yourself. Late June Himeji Castle, Hyogo

Aizen Festival In Japan, summer officially hits after a rainy June. Aizen Festival is famous for being the first major summer festival of the year in Osaka. Along with colorful booths cooking Osaka’s best fried food such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki , the festival holds the Hoekago Parade.

Niseko Classic: Yotei Circuit Fun Ride

May 27-28 Kodama no Mori Campsite, Nagano www.taicoclub.com/17

Greenroom Festival ’17

Himeji Yukata Festival

June 30-July 2 Shitennoji-Mae, Osaka www.aizendo.com/festival.htm

Belgian Beer Weekend To celebrate the friendship between Belgium and Japan, the Belgian Beer Weekend is making its 8th annual voyage around the country. Fine beer, food and live music—what more could we ask for?

June 16-18 Nigiwai Park, Akita www.aqula.co.jp/tohoku-craft-beer

Red Bull’s aerial daredevils will be returning to Chiba for the third time for this globally renowned air race championship. More than 20 pilots, including Yoshihide Muroya, a.k.a. “The Last Samurai,” will be competing. June 3-4 Makuhari Seaside Park, Chiba www.redbullairrace.com

Niseko is a cycling haven with endless smooth paved roads and a variety of hills and courses catering to different levels of riding, which is why it is home to UCI Niseko Classic, one of only two qualifying events held in Asia for the UCI Gran Fondo World Series. To kick off this contest, the preliminary Yotei Circuit Fun Ride for entrants and their friends and families will be held on the most scenic course. This 58-kilometer trail offers views of Niseko’s best scenery and Mount Yotei. July 8 Mt. Yotei Circuit Course, Hokkaido www.igate-ikeuchi.com/en/fun-ride


BEER BUZZ Spring Beer Events By Justin Stein Spring is the time for fresh starts and fresh beer. Check out all the great green season craft beer festivals coming to a place near you. If you’ve been looking for a fun reason to explore a new city, why not travel during one of these upcoming beer events?

April 26 - May 7 April 28 - May 7 April 28 - May 7 May 3 - May 7 May 17 - May 21 May 18-21 May 20-21 May 24-28 June 3-4 June 8-11 June 24 - July 2 July 8-12 July 14-16 July 27-30 Aug. 8-13 Aug. 19-20 Aug. 30-Sept. 3

Belgian Beer Fest (Nagoya, Aichi) Odaiba Octoberfest (Tokyo) Kyushu Beer Fest (Kumamoto) Kyushu Beer Fest (Oita) Keyaki Hiroba Spring Fest (Saitama) Belgian Beer Fest (Yokohama, Kanagawa) Yona Yona Ale Cho-Otage (Agatsuma, Gunma) Belgian Beer Fest (Osaka) BeerFes Tokyo (Tokyo) Belgian Beer Fest (Kanazawa, Ishikawa) Belgian Beer Fest (Sapporo, Hokkaido) Belgian Beer Fest (Hiroshima) BeerFes Osaka (Osaka) Belgian Beer Fest (Sendai, Miyagi) Kyushu Beer Fest (Kurume, Fukuoka) BeerFes Nagoya (Nagoya, Aichi) Belgian Beer Fest (Kobe, Hyogo)

MARKET WATCH Harmonica Yokocho By Joan Bailey It seems only befitting that one of Tokyo’s trendier spots has some of the cutest, funkiest markets in town. Kichijoji’s Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi is petite, charming and full of a seemingly endless supply of goodies. It was started in June 2011 by three local shop owners – Kyoko Iida, Tomoko Irisawa and Hiromi Hayashi – who came together around a common goal. “We wanted to support the Yokocho and revitalize it,” said Iida. Well-known as a nightspot, the Yokocho is also home to a number of traditional shops offering everything from fish to flowers to pickles. “A morning market was an easy way to draw people back in,” she added. The monthly market, though, is not for sleepyheads. Running from 7 until 9:50 a.m., it features upwards of 60 vendors offering everything from tea to seasonal fruits and vegetables to baked goods. A number of local artisans also take advantage of the market to showcase their work, while a handful of nonprofits, many of which focus on Tohoku and Kumamoto restoration efforts, are also present. Yuka Nomura of Hidashi Spice can be found with her welcoming smile at one of the many tiny tables set up along the narrow network of alleyways that give the Yokocho its name. Organic herbs and spices, locally sourced when possible, are fragrant and lovely. The yuzukosho mix features organic peppers from Nagano and thin strips of bright yellow yuzu peel, and the cinnamon sticks are wonderfully pungent. Next to her, Namidango offers perfect-weight neck and eye pillows stuffed with komenuka (rice bran), rice and salt. Around the bend and easy to spot as her wares are sold directly from

her bicycle is K’s Boutique. Both the front and back baskets are cleverly converted into nicely decorated retail space. Volunteer Harumi Ozawa helps staff the table for Tsunahirote, a Minami-Sanriku-based nonprofit that sells local crafts and foods in an effort to raise funds and awareness for their town. A strolling salesman from Amemiya sells adorable Kumamon-shaped cookies that are deliciously supportive of communities affected by the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. A handful of local establishments transform themselves into early morning breakfast bars. Café Moskow turns its ground-floor standing bar into a sweet little seating area where a scrumptious breakfast set of coffee, sausage, egg and toast can be had while discovering what treasure lies around the next corner.

Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi 7-9:50 a.m. Nearest Station: Kichijoji, North Exit

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By Bryan Harrell 文:ブライアン・ハレル

Delicious Beer Springs from the Hakuba Valley 白馬の谷から湧き出る美味しいビール

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akuba Brewing Company is a joint effort of two Dans—Brit Dan Cockburn and Australian Dan Bacon. Cockburn had lived in Hakuba for almost five years when it occurred to him the town would be well served by a source of great locally brewed beer. Nearly two years later, he and Bacon opened Hakuba Brewing and now brew four regular beers in addition to specials on occasion. Right next to the brewery is their spacious Hakuba Brewpub which serves all their beers along with a broad selection of cuisine ranging from burgers and sandwiches to sausages, soups and stews as well as some nice desserts. The true strength of the beers produced at Hakuba lies in the high purity of the fresh mountain water available to the brewers. This results in a clarity of flavor that can almost be classified as “sweet,” owing to its lack of hard mineral content. This characteristic is served well in their four regular beers: Pale Ale, IPA, Amber and Black, which provides an interesting backdrop to their highly hopped ales that are also offered. Hakuba Brewery also makes bottles and sells kegs for shipment to other pubs in Japan. Demand from pubs in Tokyo and other major urban areas has made the brewery a lot busier in recent months. Ask at your local pub to see if they will be serving any beers from Hakuba Brewery in the near future. Another interesting feature is six compact apartments above the pub available for overnight stays at reasonable prices. Contact the Brewpub for details. Chances are spring skiing will be in full swing by the time you read this. Should Hakuba be your choice for a ski holiday, don’t miss the offerings at Hakuba Brewing.

馬ブルーイング・カンパニーは、イギリス 人のダン・コウバーンとオーストラリア人 のダン・ベーコンというふたりのダンによっ てはじめられた。コウバーンは、白馬に住 んで5年近く経ったとき、地元で美味しいビールを醸造 できればどんなにいいだろうと思いついた。それから約 2年後、彼とベーコンは白馬ブルーイング・カンパニー を設立し、いまでは通常4種類、さらにときによって特 別なビールも醸造している。  醸造所の隣にある広々とした白馬ブルーパブは、 ここでつくられたすべてのビールはもちろん、バーガー やサンドイッチ、ソーセージ、スープ、シチューなどか ずかずの料理のほか、美味しいデザートも味わえる。  白馬で醸造されたビールのなによりのすばらしさ は、ここで採れる新鮮で清い湧水のおかげだ。この水 はミネラルの含有量が少ないため、ビール本来の風味 が引き出され、甘みさえある。この特徴はレギュラーと して醸造しているビール、ペール・エール、IPA、アン バー、ブラックの4種にぴったりであり、これを元に興 味深いホップの高いエールができあがる。  白馬ブリュワリーでは日本国内のパブに発送する ために、ボトルと小樽も用意している。東京やそのほか の都市のパブからの需要によって、最近はずいぶん忙 しくなっている。近くのパブで白馬ブルワリーのビール が飲めるかどうか、今度訊いてみてはいかがだろうか。  ここのもうひとつの魅力は、パブの2階にある6つ の小さなアパートだ。宿泊料も手頃なのでブリュワリー に問い合わせてみるといい。  この記事が出るころには、春スキーが盛んになっ ているだろう。スキー・ホリデーに白馬を選ぶなら、 ぜひとも白馬ブルーイングに足を運んでみよう。

Hakuba Brewing Company Resort Inn Hakuba Honkan, 11420-1 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kita-Azumi-gun, Nagano-ken 399-9301 (0261) 85-2414 (Brewpub after 3 p.m.) 4-11 p.m. daily www.hakubabrewpub.com

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The

HakubaTaproom I

an Miller came to Japan to snowboard when he was 19. “I was really into snowboarding and met so many Japanese people back in the States who were great snowboarders. I thought to myself, “I could build a life for myself in Japan by learning the language and getting a job in the snowboard industry.” The Atlanta native learned Japanese and moved to Japan, but instead of working for Burton or Sims, he found himself employed in a bank in central Tokyo for 15 years. “We’d finish work at 5 p.m. on Friday and hop on the Shinkansen ,” Ian’s wife Sayaka remembers. “We had a car at Nagano Station, so we’d drive to Hakuba and ski for two days in the winter or hike and bike in the summer. Then we’d return on Sunday night.” After several years of rushing to the mountains every weekend, the Millers knew they wanted to move to Nagano full-time but never had concrete plans— until now. The Hakuba Panorama Hotel, located just 400 meters from the ski slopes in Hakuba Happo-One, was on sale. Ian took this opportunity and purchased the hotel with a bigger plan in mind: to make this hotel an all-season hub for outdoor enthusiasts. “Most of the hotels are closed in the green season, but there’s so much you can do in Hakuba even without the snow: mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and visiting

temples, snow monkeys and Matsumoto Castle,” Ian explains. During Golden Week, sakura are in full bloom, and visitors can behold the vistas of snow and cherry blossoms at the same time. Along with the hotel purchase, Ian wanted to give the restaurant a new feel. “I love craft beer, especially Baird Beer, so I reached out to them about opening a taproom in Hakuba. We’re the first Baird taproom not owned by Baird Brewery,” he said. Hakuba Taproom serves most of Baird’s year-round beers including several seasonal specials and one or two guest beers such as local brewer Hakuba Brewing Company. Conveniently enough, the hotel manager is a yakitori chef who prepares these traditional skewers with a modern twist to match everything from stouts to lagers. “It’s very family friendly here,” Ian says, as his daughter Maddie plays a few feet away with other guests’ children in the toddlers’ play area. “My kid’s here all the time, we’re here, it feels just like home. I’ve been coming to Hakuba for 15 years, the mountains are my home and I want to show our guests around my backyard.” With a delicious variety of beer, outdoor fun, live music on the weekends and an on-site onsen , Hakuba Taproom is an ideal spring escape from the Tokyo crowd. — Rie Miyoshi

Hakuba Taproom

(Hakuba Panorama Hotel) Hokujo 3322-1, Hakuba-mura, Nagano-ken 399-9301 (0261) 75-0075 6-11:45 p.m. on Wednesdays to Fridays, 12-11:45 p.m. on weekends www.hakuba-panorama.com

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By Rie Miyoshi

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alking in silence between rows of 900-year-old cedars that line the path toward a mountainside shrine, you can’t help but sense the mysterious, spiritual atmosphere that lingers in this ancient forest. Togakushi is the birthplace of Togakure Ryu Nippo, one of the top three ninjutsu schools in Japan. This ancient village in northern Nagano has produced some of Japan’s legendary ninja for more than 800 years. Ninja have been popularized on big screens around the world for decades, and most people associate these stealth assassins with Japan. Yet how much do you really know about them? In Togakushi, glimpse into the rare and authentic world of ninjutsu where you can meet real-life ninja, undergo ninjutsu training and find the truth about common misconceptions.

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Museum of Togakure School of Ninpo What’s most striking about this museum is how the mystical world of ninjutsu comes to life. In one of the buildings, visitors meet ninja masters who will walk you through the basics of physical training before showcasing their more impressive skills, such as splitting a rock in half with their bare fist and deflecting punches by flinging their opponent to the ground. Perhaps it is apt that Togakushi was originally called Togakure, meaning “Hidden Door.” The museum features a Ninja Trick Mansion, a plain-looking building filled with trapdoors, hidden passages and contraptions. Visitors can also practice their shuriken (throwing stars) skills at the throwing range. Relics of the past including actual weapons (shuriken , arrows, spiked climbing rings, nunchucks and katana swords) and valuable photographs of ninja in warfare and training by Masaaki Hatsumi, the 34th Togakure ninjutsu master. Next door, the Museum of Togakushi Folkore features cultural artifacts and every-day items from the Edo Period. To schedule a ninjutsu training lesson with a ninja master, e-mail Akira Miyashita at 200111hayaki@gmail.com (Englishspeaking services available). Most lessons are held at Yamanokami Ryokan near Zenkoji in central Nagano, but he is able to instruct at Togakushi if booked ahead of time. ¥600 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Late April to Late November) www.togakushi-ninja.com

Okusha Shrine Togakushi Shrine is made up of a lower, middle and upper shrine. Okusha Shrine, the uppermost shrine in the village, is located across the street from the museum. The two-kilometer trail up to the shrine is lined with more than 300 massive Japanese cedar trees. After several stone steps, the trail ends at the shrine’s main hall against the backdrop of Mt. Togakushi’s dramatic craggy peaks towering above. The Nature Reserve is located next to the shrine grounds. If you’re lucky, a local guide or even the ninja master might walk you through the trail and point out historical items of interest and edible and medicinal plants along the way. An alternative trail to the upper shrine goes past the pristine Kagami-ike, literally translated as “Mirror Pond.” Here, the waters offer a clear reflection of the surrounding mountains; it’s an excellent area for hiking during the green season.

Kids Ninja Village If you have children, drop by the Kids Ninja Village, the only other location dedicated to the Togakure School of Ninjutsu . Kids (and parents) can rent a ninja costume and test themselves at athletic challenges including pulling a rope to cross a pond while standing on a raft, channeling their inner ninja at a demonstration and making their way through the ninja fun house. ¥1,850 (¥1,630 for children) 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Late April – Late November; Closed on Thursdays) www.ninjamura.com/english

Yamaguchi-ya Soba Restaurant After a full day of training, you’ll no doubt be hungry. Togakushi is famous throughout Japan for its soba (buckwheat noodles). While zaru soba is typically enjoyed with tsuyu , a simple dipping sauce, Yamaguchi-ya introduces a variety of dishes using buckwheat flour, including deep-fried soba rolls. There are also allergy-friendly dishes available (reservation required). The restaurant is located down the road from the Museum of Togakure School of Ninpo and is in fact owned by one of the ninja. For serious foodies, you can make your own noodles at Togakushi Soba Museum under the guidance of a professional soba chef. (026) 254-2351 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. www.togakushisoba.com

Getting There By Bus: Take the bus bound for Togakushi Camp Area or Togakushi Chusha-miyamae from Stop 7, the Kawanakajima Bus Station opposite Nagano Station. The journey takes 45-50 minutes and is ¥1,350 one way and ¥2,400 round trip. By Car: From central Nagano, drive toward Zenkoji Temple and continue to Togakushi. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive from central Nagano.

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Outdoor Japan

Spring Adventures Every season is a NEW adventure

Whether you’re visiting Japan for the first time or just looking for a new Japan adventure, check out the growing number of green season tours at Outdoor Japan Adventures.

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Tokyo Shower Climbing

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Natural Waterpark in Okutama

Tokyo isn’t just high rises and busy streets. Western Tokyo has some wonderful green areas that make for great escapes. Okutama is a natural water park in the spring when waterfalls, canyons and rivers are bursting with fresh water coming off the mountains. Holy Canyon, or the more intensive Big Holy Canyon, are fun half-day canyoning tours featuring water slides, rock jumps, a 25-meter zipline and rappels where you control your own descent. Join Canyons for a tour, then relax in Okutama Onsen Moegi-no-Yu, just 10 minutes from JR Okutama Station.

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Unazawa Tani in Okutama is a volcanic rock canyon covered with lush green moss, only a little less than two hours from downtown Tokyo. For those wanting to experience a unique climbing experience, join Kanto Adventures on a sawanobori (shower climbing) tour, where travelers here go to scale multiple short waterfalls. This is an ideal introduction to sawanobori . This kind of mountaineering is popular in Japan as climbers ascend a tributary by swimming through gorges against the waterflow and using ropes to ascend. To top it off, there’s an exciting three-meter natural waterslide and onsen in which to warm up at the end.

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Spring Skiing on Mt. Fuji

If you’ve climbed Mt. Fuji during the summer, you’ve probably seen the masses battling for the perfect sunrise seat. Get a head start this year and experience the mountain without crowds, roped-off paths and vending machines. Kanto Adventures’ Mt. Fuji Spring Climb Tour is only available between late April to early June and October to December, but is recommended during spring when the snow is soft and the consequences of a slip are minimal. Snow climb up with experienced professional guide David Niehoff and ski or snowboard down this iconic mountain.

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Snorkel with Dolphins in Tokyo

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Swimming with dolphins in Tokyo? You don’t have to fly all the way to Hawaii to swim with everyone’s favorite aquatic creature. Mikurajima is part of the Izu island chain off the coast of Tokyo and home to nearly 200 Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphins. Take an overnight ferry from Takeshiba Ferry Terminal in Tokyo and arrive in paradise the following morning. Tokyo Snow Club offers weekend tours to Mikurajima for two full days of snorkeling and swimming with dolphins, island sightseeing, camping and barbecue. Ferry transportation, meals, cooking gear, bilingual tour guides and chartered boats included.

The meandering Shiribetsu River runs through southeastern Hokkaido and is perfect for stand-up paddlers of all levels and ages to enjoy the stunning scenery around Niseko. Rhythm Japan provides a range of inflatable boards and guided tours. After a half-day of working out your arms, reward yourself with a much-needed onsen , barbecue and massage.

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Countryside Cycling in Niseko

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Cycle Kutchan Town in southern Hokkaido while admiring Japan’s idyllic countryside and enjoying a slower pace of life in the local villages around Niseko, Japan’s powder capital. While mountainous, Kutchan is not too far above sea level, so you can explore comfortably with Rhythm Japan’s guided tours and standard or premium mountain or road bikes. These three-hour cycling tours offer an optional onsen trip, massage and barbecue.

Tokyo Backstreet Cruising

Escape the trendy tourist spots such as the Shibuya scramble and hectic Harajuku and explore one of the world’s great cities. If you’re not able to get out of the city but still want to get your exercise, longtime Tokyo resident and cycling enthusiast Brad Bennett who runs Freewheeling Japan will take you Tokyo backstreet cruising, stopping at favorite local eateries (vegan gyoza options available), parks to view blooming trees, hidden temples, calm river paths and local neighborhoods where you can see how people in the “Big Mikan” really live.

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Create Your Own Cycling Adventure

There is a certain freedom in exploring a new city or country which can only be experienced by bike. Luckily, Kansai-based Globalwheels have the solution. Simply send in your measurements and the type of journey you’re looking for to Globalwheels, and they will rent you road or hybrid bikes (and bike gear) while mapping out recommended routes using the Strava app. Not in Kansai? No problem. Nationwide shipping (takyubin ) to your accommodation is available. All you need to do when you’re done with your trip is send back the bikes in the takyubin shipping box provided.

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Cycling and Sake Tasting in Nagano

Miyasaka Brewery, maker of the famed Masumi sake, is one of the most highly regarded breweries in the world, using a special yeast first identified in 1946. The brewery and its Cella Masumi shop located along Lake Suwa are a must-visit for sake lovers. Perfect for a short trip to Nagano, Yatsugatake Cycling offers two-day custom cycling tours around Lake Suwa and Chino City during the warmer months of April and November. Not only will you drop by the brewery for a tour and tasting, but you will also explore the Nakasendo, the ancient route connecting Tokyo to Kyoto, the architecturally baffling Too High Teehouse, a traditional ryokan inn at Kamisuwa Onsen and more! This tour is vehicle supported.

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Get Spooked in an Abandoned Mountain Village

Go off the beaten path in Madarao in northeastern Nagano for this mysterious ride. This isn’t your average cycling tour. Downhill cycle on a fat bike on Madarao Highlands’ unpaved roads and secret trails before stopping at an abandoned village about which only a few people know. Additionally, you’ll see iconic rice fields, traditional temples, a mysterious tumulus and more. It takes less than two hours from Tokyo to reach Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The Shinetsu Shizenkyo Activity Center is located inside the station. Shinestu Shizenkyo is a massive nature park covering nine areas across Nagano and Niigata prefectures.

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Culture, Tradition and Food in Northern Nagano

Experience Japanese tradition in Iiyama where you can enjoy fresh produce and culinary favorites such as the Miyuki pork rice bowl, visit traditional neighborhoods and craft shops, mingle with the locals and cycle among endless rice fields and mountain peaks. Appropriately called the Yokoso (Welcome) Landscape Cycling Tour, Shinetsu Shizenkyo Activity Center gives travelers a personal introduction to this northern Nagano region on a five-hour cycling tour. The tour begins right at Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line.

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Cruise Nozawa Onsen

Explore the mountains and countryside with Compass House. This local tour company is run by professional skiers Take Ueno, Yuta Ueno and Manami Mitsuboshi-Ueno who host tours and rentals to introduce the famous ski town in the green season. Visit nature spots including Lake Hokuryu and soak in one of 13 free soto-yu bath houses. The slopes and hills are ideal for downhill cycling and mountain biking, and the gondola is open for a month and a half in the summer, so you can enjoy 10 kilometers of downhill cycling or be taken for cross-country trails. After cycling, soak in an onsen , dine at one of many Japanese eateries or ride the new zipline.

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From Sky to Sea

For the avid cyclist, embark on a week-long cycling excursion and experience the Japanese landscape up close from the mountains and foothills to the sea. Starting in southern Nagano, in the town of Chino, make your way through mountain passes, staying at local ryokan (Japanese inn), through the South Alps and descending into the Izu Peninsula for grand views of Mt. Fuji from the beach. You’ll pass spectacular waterfalls, pristine tea farms and rice fields, onsen and fill up on authentic Japanese cuisine. A week of cycling may sound intense, but Yatsugatake Cycling guided by professional cyclist Paul Chetwynd can customize this tour depending on your budget and schedule.

Book these great tours, and many more at

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Cycling Japan:

Tour de Kanto

800 kilometers Touring the Tokyo Suburbs ツール・ド・関東(前編) 東京の郊外を大きく一周、800km

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he Kanto Plain is the largest flatland in Japan. This tour carves a big circle around the rim of the plain with a detour over the Nikko Mountains to the north. In May, varying scenery will delight your eyes from a pass with snow walls on the roadsides and an idyllic bike path along a river to small villages with spring blossoms and views of the ocean from the Boso Peninsula or along the coast of the Sagami Bay. The route is about 800 kilometers in total distance and good for an eight-day tour. We will break up the tour in two parts, but you can try tp do it in a single stretch if you are feeling up for it. Day 1: You can start from anywhere on this circular route, but my choice is Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture. From here you can ride on bike paths along the Irumagawa, Arakawa and Tonegawa rivers and stay overnight in Maebashi in Gunma. Distance: 95 km. Day 2: Continue to ride along the Tonegawa bike path to Shibukawa and then veer off into the mountains on Japanische Romantische Strasse . An ascent leading to the Konsei Pass that will take you to Marunuma Highlands where you will stop for the night. Distance: 90 km. Day 3: Here we go. Today we are going over the

東平野は日本で最大の平野である。北側にそ びえる日光の山岳地帯を入れつつ、大きく一 周するビッグプランだ。5 月ならそこには雪の 壁の峠越え、川沿いのサイクリングロード、花が咲く里、 房総や相模湾の大海原など、バリエーション豊かな風 景の変化を楽しめる。 総距離は約 800km で、8 日間かけて走るのがおす すめ。一気に走ってもよいが、ここでは前編、後編に分 けて紹介しよう。 1 日目:スタートはどこからでもよいが、ここでは埼玉県 の川越市とした。ここから入間川、荒川、そして利根川沿 いのサイクリングロードを結び前橋へ。95 km 2 日目:渋川まではサイクリングロードで利根川沿いを。 こんせいとうげ

そこから山岳地帯へと入り、金精峠へと向かう日本ロマ ンチック街道をヒルクライムして、丸沼高原へ。90 km 3 日目:標高 1,843m の金精峠を越え、奥日光の戦 場ヶ原、さらに日光へと下る。宇都宮の市街地を避け、 しもだて き ぬ が わ 鬼怒川沿いサイクリングロードを走って下館へ。120 km 4 日目:筑波山のふもとにあるサイクリングロードの、 つくばりんりんロードを通って土浦、そして霞ヶ浦沿いを い た こ 通って、潮来、もしくは佐原で前編はゴール。潮来、佐原 ともに JR で東京都心までの列車がある。80 ~ 87 km

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2 Konsei Pass (1,843 meters). A long descent will take us through the Senjogahara Marsh in the Oku-Nikko region down to the heart of Nikko. From there, crank on to Utsunomiya City and go south on a bike path along the Kinugawa River to Shimodate. Distance: 120 km. Day 4: Continue south on Tsukuba Rinrin Road, a bike path along the western foot of the Tsukuba-san Mountains, to Tsuchiura and ride the last stretch of the first half of this 800-km. ride to Itako or Sawara along the shore of Lake Kasumigaura. There is a JR train to central Tokyo from either town. Distance: 80 to 87 km.

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Head over the Konsei Pass and then cruise down to the Senjogahara Marsh. 日光連山を金精峠で越え、戦場ヶ原を走る

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Return of The

TRAIL

NINJAS Jimi . r D y B

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On a cold autumn morning atop Mt. Iwatake, the clouds blanket the valley and the sleeping village of Hakuba. It’s just before sunrise, and the peaks of Shirouma and Karamatsu are vividly painted by the first rays of the morning sun. Near the top of the old Iwatake downhill mountain bike track, stands a group of riders. Among them are pumped locals and diggers, photographers, a film crew from British Columbia and a dog named “Teddy.” It’s been long time coming, but mountain biking looks to make a triumphant return to this beautiful valley.

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wenty years ago in a small village in rural Yamaguchi Prefecture, a young landscaper from some faraway snow-less mountain walked into a family-run bicycle shop. In extremely limited Japanese, he inquired about buying a strange-looking mountain/trials half-breed Araya bicycle, similar to the one in front of the shop. In just as limited English, the owner’s sister explained the bicycle he was pointing to wasn’t for sale, as it was her brother’s. “No worries,” he thought and proceeded to order the exact same one, albeit with a bit of a larger frame. What started out as an innocent morning shopping trip in search of a mountain bike to slay local trails turned into a three-month journey into the depths of Japan’s forests, shrines, temples, culture and – most importantly – a lesson on how to live in Japan.

The bike arrived and was precisely assembled a few days later. There was only one question left to ask: “Do you know any good trails to ride, Kazuyuki-san?” The next day at 6 a.m. on a crisp February morning, a quiet 31-year-old Japanese bicycle shop owner and—what may have seemed to him—a hyperactive blonde demon flown in to rape and pillage the town, headed up the local hill. The latter would get his first glimpses of a mysterious and ancient land. “Does this asphalt road go all the way to the top?” “What’s that say?” “What’s that called?” The young stranger sure could ask some questions. From that first morning the trails were sublime. At the top of almost every climb was a temple, shrine, vending machine or even a phone booth. “What’s that?”

“Who’s he?” The questions continued like a mudslide. “O-Jizo-san! Hajimemashite, sweet single-track wo itadakimasu. ” Kazuyuki-san had confirmation, the new alien should be committed. Over the next week or so they rode everywhere. Old trails, school trails, rice terrace trails. Then, while peering over the edge into a sparsely growing bamboo grove, the newly dubbed, “Henna Gaijin, ” was seen to dart off the side of the trail they were on and seemingly chase after thin air while yelling back up to where a bemused Kazuyuki-san stood patiently smoking a small Hope cigarette and scratching his head. The foreigner yelled, “Are there any ninja in here?” This randomness sent Kazuyuki-san into fits of laughter. Indeed this foreigner was a strange one. A few minutes later, he re-appeared, covered in dirt and leaves.

The Trail Ninja testing out the trail. Photo by Tomoki Fuse

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Photo by Tomoki Fuse

“Check this out, Kazuyuki-san.” There was a trail, and what it opened up to was like a dream. Ancient trails, left alone to be at one with the forests and hills, flowing endlessly down ridge lines, across valleys, next to crystal clear streams. The newer trails were direct and convenient, perhaps more so for walking, but the older trails were perfect for fat tires. These trails in forests steeped in history. Next to groves of bamboo, just hidden under the azalea and cherry trees. The attention they were getting from these bikers was making the trail feel good again. Making the hills feel good again. The journey of who would become Dr. Jimi began here. Some time late in the 20th century in a cold and dreary rain-soaked land was born to a young couple a boy named Evan. Lucky for Evan, his parents decided to emigrate to a sun-soaked land Down Under. A love of bikes and a teacher

Photo by Jinya Nishiwaki

who had seen the light allowed the young truant to become proficient on a bicycle. Evan would become a landscape gardener. However, travel got the better of him and, through the skills he had obtained from landscaping and drawing from his riding experience, Evan quickly acquired work in most places he traveled. Whistler and Queenstown are but two on a long list of where his legacy remains in the form of a trail. In Queenstown, it is the “Rude Rock” trail. Since Evan was just a puppy, in the exhausting heat of the tropical rainforest of far north Queensland, Australia, there is a set of trails that have existed for a very long time. On the World Cup circuit for the 1994, ’95 and ‘96 seasons, they stayed waiting in the jungle for 20 years. During the dry season of 2013, while working on the trail rebuild for the MTB World Cup to be held that next spring, Evan and Dr Jimi had a first exchange of banter and useless

rhetoric. They shared a common warped sense of humor, a love of life and a love of what they were doing. One, a young clown with excellent bike skills and the knowledge of how to incorporate that into a trail – the other an old clown trying not to be, but with connections to awesome riders and a place with perhaps the most MTB potential anywhere in the world: conversations about Japan soon followed. While trail building, Evan sits gazing at the hill periodically. A lot of people may take this for simpleness. The good doctor says nothing, he knows the mind of the man at the front of the line is not a place to be if you are third in line. Young Evan sometimes daydreams of one day being known as “The Trail Ninja .” Over the years, Jimi spent a great deal of time in central

Photo by Jinya Nishiwaki

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Local rider catching some Vitamin D and contemplating what’s to come.

Photo by Tomoki Fuse

Nagano. This connection will last forever. He lived with a Japanese family, serving Japanese guests. He was privileged to have been taught by a fatherly man in the ways of the bigger Japanese mountains known as the Japan Alps. In these mountains he met an old master from the North Shore. The lessons learned from these two men were immeasurable in the life of Jimi. The Japan Alps have big mountain trails, a lot of them rarely used by anything but deer and the occasional bear or kamoshika . These trails in these serene forests were in need of a touch-up here and there. Were these mountains too big for Trail Ninja s? The elements of Japanese nature are in such harmonious balance that disturbing them seems a sin. Recreating a North American ski town taken over by rad dudes with trucker caps (excuse the generalization) is also not the aim. The goal is to create an original

mountain bike and general cycling haven in this part of the world. Since Jimi and Evan both come from landscaping backgrounds and rural upbringings, their strength is using their aesthetic nature to build trails that blend into the hillside. The Doctor had many an autumn and winter gardening in the Kamakura area and learned from an early age of the harmonic nature of a Japanese garden and its ability to be presumably designed and yet completely at one within its natural environment. Bringing awareness of Japan to trail building can only add to the appeal and mystique of riding in the Hakuba Region. Horiuchi-san, a Hakuba local, and Dr. Jimi were walking down a rather ragged and eroded DH trail on a hot summer day.

Photo by Tomoki Fuse

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Photo by Tomoki Fuse

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Photo by Jinya Nishiwaki

”No good for the punters, no good for the hill,” was the gist of the conversation. Dr Jimi suggested coming to see some trails that deal with a heavy wet season, a large volume of riders and a following dry season that can be just as harsh as it is wet. They descended the trail while talking of optional lines and areas. The humidity of the day was somehow reminiscent of the tropical heat of North Queensland; perhaps it was a sign. They organized a meeting with the local boss and asked if they would pay for a trip to see World Cup-level trails. Horiuchi was doubtful; the doctor only slightly more optimistic. To their surprise, without taking much time to think about it, he agreed. It was on a journey to study different trail types and the importance of efficient and sturdy drainage. Tickets were booked, and the following year Horiuchi-

san headed down to Cairns. Dr. Jimi had prepared a surprise for Horiuchi’s arrival in an unknown jungle. After finding an extremely overgrown bamboo grove with his grommets one sultry January afternoon, the doctor had gone to work and created a 200-meter pump track winding through, and back in and out of the grove. Just like an amethystine python Horiuchi-san had heard lived in those parts. He was amazed. Pretty soon Evan strolled down the path, and the three had a meeting right there and then. They sat down in the bamboo and discussed what it may take to bring world class, sustainable trails to Hakuba without affecting the uniqueness of Japan’s mountains. Hakuba has a committed group of local riders from a wide spectrum of the community. Dave Enright from Evergreen Outdoor Center runs mountain bike tours and is

an avid rider. He has long been an advocate for more trails and to open more terrain to allow new trails. Many stories come from the Hakuba crew about the stagnant time of no change. During this time, mountain biking has changed, and everything with it, from tire size to technology. One thing hasn’t changed is the positive energy riders feel. Like water, it will eventually penetrate and can create life. The simple joy of being in the mountains riding a bicycle brings a smile to people whether they are a novice or an expert rider. The adrenaline kick is the same whether spinning 12inch or 29-inch wheels. This is the inspiration, in the most basic form, for getting the wheels spinning, to breathe new life into this mountain biking community and for the return of the trail ninja s deep in the Japan Alps.

No Trail Ninjas here!

Teddy adjourns the meeting. Less talking, more digging!

Photos by Tomoki Fuse

Photo by Jinya Nishiwaki

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This story of dirt trails, fat tires and hope was written with the input, support and collective energy of the Hakuba MTB community.

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very winter a growing number of powder seekers arrive on Japan’s shores and then head to the mountain in search of the famous bottomless snow falls. Ski resorts have taken notice as more and more are turning their attention to developing off-piste terrain and backcountry access, or attempting to at least.

本を訪れるパウダー・シーカーたちは毎冬ご とに増加している。もちろん彼らの目的は日 本の山の底なしのような新雪の谷を探すこと だ。日本のスキーリゾートも利用者の要求に 応えてオフピステのゲレンデやバックカントリーへのアクセ スなどを解放もしくはできるように改善している。

Up north in Tohoku, Aomori Spring Ski Resort (known as Naqua Shirakami before the new ownership group purchased the complex in 2014) is refusing to follow the powder crowd and going freestyle. Taking a leaf out of Sun Tzu’s book, they may be changing the snow landscape in Japan by building the country’s premier park resort.

東北の北にある青森スプリング・スキー・リゾート (2014 年以前は現オーナーとは異なって、ナクア白神 と呼ばれていた)はパウダーやフリースタイル志向のス キーヤーを拒絶していたが、孫子の教えに従って方針を 変え、日本のスノー文化に変化をもたらすことになるかも しれない最高のスノーパーク・リゾートを建設した。

The events of 3/11 had grievous effects on a number of ski resorts in Honshu, particularly the Fukushima resorts, leaving a gap in the domestic freestyle skiing and snowboarding market.

3 月 11 日に起きた大震災は本州のスキーリゾートに 甚大な影響をおよぼした。とくに福島のリゾートはスリー スタイルスキーやスノーボーディングの市場との隔たりを 生んだ。

Alts Bandai once led the way in park and pipe facilities and played host to Asia’s premier snowboard contest, the Burton Nippon Open (which went on to become the Asian Open Snowboarding Championships in 2009). Needless to say, this event was forced to move from Alts Bandai after the earthquake—even though they still maintain a quality terrain park to this day.

パークやパイプの設備で日本をリードしていたアルツ磐 梯(ばんだい)はアジアで最高のスノーボードコンテスト、 バートン・ニッポン・オープン(アジアン・オープン・スノー ボーディング・チャンピオンシップ 2009)のホスト役を 務めていたが、このイベントはアルツ磐梯から別の会場へ と変更を余儀なくされた。しかしながらこのリゾートはい までもクオリティの高いパークとして存在しているのだ。

So the door to Japan’s freestyle market is currently wide open, and very few resorts are attempting to walk through it, which is crazy considering the current level of Japanese park and pipe riders. In steps Aomori Spring.

つまり日本のスリースタイルのマーケットのドアは大き く開かれたままだってことだ。そこに足を踏み入れようと している日本のリゾートはごく少数で、日本人のパークや パイプライダーのレベルを考慮してもすごいチャンスだって ことがわかる。 さて青森スプリングを訪れてみた。

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An hour’s drive from both the Shin-Aomori Shinkansen stop and Aomori International Airport, this resort is easier to reach than you might think. The hotel at the base offers all-inclusive packages, with an impressive buffet breakfast and dinner service and a stand-out onsen. But that’s probably not going to be the motivation for your next trip to the northernmost point of Tohoku. When the new Korean-American ownership team took over the resort, it knew the effect a well-built park could have. One of the first things they did was inquire about halfpipe cutting machines and the best pipe builders. It didn’t take long for the search to lead them to John Melville from Development Snowparks. John is a Kiwi with a considerable history in the industry. Having designed his Global Cutter pipe machine in 2006 (patented in 2010), his company, along with his new creation, was contracted for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He’s since gone on to design and build parks around the globe as well as work on some of the biggest events and projects in the free-ski and snowboard world. Now he’s in Aomori.

The Kiwi Connection The 2016-2017 winter in Aomori Spring has seen numerous faces appear on the resort’s guest list. New Zealand pro snowboarder Will Jackways, NZ Snowboarder Magazine, myself, a NZ snowboard coach and some other riders, made Aomori a must stop on this year’s Japan agenda. Olympic pipe rider Katie Tsuyuki (Canadian-Japanese) has been in and out of Aomori a number of times to train for the South Korea World Cup test event and to run coaching camps in partnership with the resort.

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The blonde-haired, already-sponsored 9-year-old super twins, Fin (free-ski) and Cam (snowboard) Melville-Ives have chosen Aomori Spring as their northern hemisphere training ground. Elijah Teter (ex-US Snowboard Team athlete-turned top coach, currently working with Japan’s top pipe rider Ayumu Hirano) and the Method4Life snowboarding academy made a stop here at the end of March too. The list goes on. You might be wondering how this comes about for a relatively unknown resort in one of Japan’s more out-ofthe-way prefectures. It’s the Kiwi connection. John Melville spends his Southern Hemisphere winters based at Cardrona Alpine Resort in Wanaka, New Zealand, renowned for its huge terrain park and two halfpipes. It’s home to the Melville-Ives twins and Jackways and is the training ground for Tsuyuki and many of Elijah’s athletes. Kiwis and fondly adopted Kiwis are helping to put Aomori Spring on the freestyle radar internationally.

Park Terrain From the top of a high-speed quad chairlift, located next to the main car park, access to both the park and pipe is a breeze. The park begins with three flawlessly sculpted small jumps alongside some easy ride-on boxes, ideal for those getting in the air or sliding on metal for the first time. This flows into a smooth step-up-like tabletop—the perfect next step for intermediate park skiers and riders. Further down you have a series of three larger jumps, gradually increasing in size from 10 to 15 meters and aimed at more advanced park riders. The bottom half of the terrain park includes a few different sized jumps, a number of hips and transfer jumps, more rails and boxes with a street-style setup at the bottom.

It’s an impressive collection of features that allows skiers and snowboarders to put together a total of 13 jumps or rails/boxes in a line of their choosing. That’s not all. The icing on the cake for this park—and we’re talking thick strawberry-infused icing with lumps of soft caramel—is the behemoth seven-meter halfpipe. This bad boy is unreal. It is one of just three halfpipes of this size in Japan, the others belonging to Sapporo Bankei and Takasu Snowpark. While the sheer size of the walls are certainly daunting at first, the progressive shape (thanks to John’s amazing piece of engineering) is as safe as you can get and probably easier to ride than a small pipe, as you can adjust to the speed. The walls are so smoothly shaped, you feel as if you’re levitating on a roller coaster. No whippy transitions. No over-vert walls. This is the real deal and the best part of the whole set-up is it is open at night.

What’s next for Aomori Spring? The current array of features in the Aomori Spring park is impressive but is only about half of what they are planning. Over the next few years, prepare to see this become the park of all Japanese parks. It’s currently being scouted as a pre-Olympic training ground before next year’s winter games in South Korea. If national teams start booking, the park will reach its full capabilities very quickly. The plans are huge, and they don’t stop with the park and pipe. The motivated resort owners openly discuss their vision for the unobstructed base area that has plenty of room to grow. Condominiums, backpacker-style capsule hotels and a comprehensive indoor sports facility all feature in the plans. They also hope to create a village-style precinct with leases available for private businesses in which to operate, unlike many Japanese resorts.


新幹線の新青森駅や青森国際空港からでも約 1 時 間の運転で到着できるこのリゾートは思ったよりも近 い。ベースとなるホテルにはパッケージ料金の宿泊サー ビスが用意されていて、バイキング形式の朝食やディ ナーサービス、すばらしい温泉までがそこに含まれて いる。 でもこれだけでは次の旅の目的地としてこの東北の 最北端を選ぶ理由にはならないだろう。そのために新 しいオーナーの韓国系アメリカ人が最初に手がけたこ とは新しいパークの建設で、ハーフパイプのカットマシ ンとパイプビルダーを雇い入れたことだった。その人物 はスノーパークの開発者、ジョン・メルビルだった。 ジョンはキウイ(ニュージーランド人)で、この業 界では有名な人物だ。2006 年に彼はグローバル・カッ ター・パイプ・マシンをデザインした(2010 年に特 許取得)。彼は、2104 年のソチ・オリンピックとも契 約し、その後フリースキー&スノーボードの最大級のイ ベントやプロジェクトとなると彼が手がけるようになっ た。その彼が青森にいるのだ。

キウイ・コネクション 2016-2017 年の春山シーズン。青森にはすごい名 前がゲストリストとして名を連ねた。ニュージーランド のプロスノーボーダーのウィル・ジャックウェイ、 『ニュー ジーランド・スノーボーダーマガジン』、そして私やス ノーボード・コーチからそのほかのライダーたちは、青 森を日本の目的地に選んだ。 オリンピック・パイプライダーのケイティ・ツユキ(日 系カナダ人)は韓国で開催されるワールドカップのテス トイベントに向けて電車で何度も訪れていた。また彼は このリゾートのスノーキャンプのコーチとしてもパート ナーシップを組んでいた。 ブロンドの髪をした9歳の双子、フィン(フリース キー)とカム(スノーボード)のメルビルアイブス兄 弟はすでにスポンサーも付いているが、彼らは青森の 春シーズンを北半球でのトレーニング場として選んで いた。 エリジャ・テター(前 US スノーボードチームのコー チで現在は平野歩と組んでいる)とメソッド4ライフ・ スノーボーディング・アカデミーは 3 月末まで青森に 滞在予定。まだまだリストはつづく。 でもどうして日本の北のはずれのあまり知られていな いリゾートに彼らが集まるのか、不思議に思うかもし れない。それがキウイ・コネクションだ。ジョン・メル ビルは南半球での冬はニュージーランドのワナカにある カードロナ・アルパイン・リゾートをベースにしている。

そこには巨大なことで有名なパークとふたつのハーフパ イプがある。 そこはメルビルアイブス兄弟やジャックウェイのホーム でまたツユキやエリジャと関係のあるアスリートたちの トレーニング場でもあるのだ。つまりキウイとキウイの 仲間たちはこの青森スプリングをフリースタイラーが集 まる場所として世界に発信しているのだ。

パークの設備 駐車場のすぐ近くにある高速クアッドチェアリフトに 乗ればパークとパイプにはすぐにアクセスできる。パー クは完璧に整備された 3 つの小さなジャンプ台と簡単 なボックスではじまるから、エアーかメタルのスライド で調子をみたらいい。このフローはテーブルトップへの スムースなセットアップとなるから、中級のパークスキー ヤーやライダーには最高の練習となる。 その下には 3 つのジャンプ台があって、サイズは 10 から 15m くらいだ。ここはもっと上級クラスのライダー 向けだ。パークの下部にはサイズの異なるジャンプ台 がある。ヒップスやトランスファージャンプからレールや ボックスも設備されてある。 驚くべきことは 13 ものジャンプかレール/ボックス が一回滑るだけで楽しめることだ。 このサイズのハーフパイプは日本には 3 ヵ所しかな い。札幌ばんけいと高鷲スノーパークだ。この切り立っ た垂直の壁にはだれもが怖気つくかもしれないが、そ のシェープは進化し安全対策も施されていて、スピード さえ克服できればむしろほかの小さなパイプよりも滑り やすいだろう。 (ジョンによる最新工学には感謝したい) この壁はスムースなシェープで、まるで空中のローラー コースターに乗ったような気分にさせられる。. パーク のいくつかのパートは夜も営業される。

青森スプリングの未来 現在の設備だけでもすばらしいけれど、これは青森 スプリングの計画のまだ半分にすぎないという。これか らは日本の全てのパークの状況を見ながら準備を進め るようだ。現在は来年の韓国でのオリンピックに向けて トレーニング場として候補となっていて、もし代表チー ムの予約が入ればパークは完全な体制をすぐにでも整 える用意がある。 かれらの計画は壮大で、パークとパイプのために彼 らは休むことなく働きつづける。リゾートのオーナーた ちはじゅうぶんな広さの余地がある未開発の土地につ いて、将来の夢をオープンに話しあっている。

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The new proprietors think very differently from past owners. They understand, to create a vibrant ski village atmosphere, you need external influences as much you do your own. Attracting motivated small businesses that can bring a creative flair is the key. Bar and cafe owners, restaurateurs, retailers and beauty treatment specialists: everything a ski village needs to keep everyone entertained and happy during their winter vacation.

コンドミニアム、バックパッカースタイルのカプセルホ テル、総合的なインドアスポーツの施設などすべてが計 画に入っているという。また彼らはビレッジスタイルの区 画を設けて、個人ビジネスが展開できるように場所をリー スする計画もある。ほかの日本のリゾートにはこのような スタイルはない。 この新しい所有者は以前のオーナーとはまったく違っ た発想をもっている。彼らは理解している。活気のあるス キービレッジの運営には自営としての仕事以外に外部か らの刺激も必要なのだ。スモールビジネスの成功の鍵は センスのいい創造性が鍵となる。 バーやカフェのオーナーたち、レストラン経営者、小 売店業者、ビューティ・ケアのスペシャリストたち、スキー ビレッジが求められるものは訪れる人々に楽しさと喜びを 提供することだ。

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UNSTOPPABLE BRUCE COOK Bruce Cook The Unstoppable With Rie Miyoshi

前進を続けるライダー、 ブルース・クック

B

ack in 2014, freestyle motocross rider Bruce Cook was attempting the biggest trick in the world of action sports at the time, a double front flip on a dirt bike. Little did he know his life would change forever as he rode out in front of thousands of screaming fans on his first show with Nitro Circus Live, the global action sports tour started by Travis Pastrana featuring the world’s top motocross riders and action sports athletes. Bruce crash landed mid-flip on the second rotation and broke his T11 vertebrae. He was immediately paralyzed from the waist down. Fast-forward to 2017 and the 29-yearold is back, again attempting a world record as the first paraplegic to successfully backflip a dirt bike. Bruce joined Nitro Circus for its second tour to Japan and discussed his miraculous comeback with Outdoor Japan. Rie Miyoshi: Most people would have quit the world of action sports after an accident such as yours. What got you back on the bike? Bruce Cook: I’ve been through a lot of injuries in the past. For example, when I broke my wrist, the first question in my mind was, “How long until I can get back on a bike?” It was no different when I broke my back. I just wanted to ride again and figure out how to recover the fastest, so I worked hard in physio and rehab because I had a goal in mind. RM: Did your upbringing influence your outlook on life? BC: I would say so. I’m from Kelowna in British Columbia (Canada) and, growing up on a farm, I was used to hard work. It was never a question of whether I could get stuff done; it was more about how could I do it. If I worked hard enough, I could get it done. Never giving up was a natural thing for me. RM: When did you first start riding? BC: I’ve been on a dirt bike ever since I was 5. It was a natural progression, I just liked the adrenaline and spent a lot of time at the dirt bike tracks. I didn’t really like the

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tracks when I practiced tricks and big jumps, so I built my own track at my parents’ place. It was what I loved to do. RM: Does anyone else in your family ride? BC: No, I’m the only one. My parents bought a little 50-cc. bike from my cousins to get them out of a tight spot and have a dirt bike around the farm. Then I just took to it and didn’t put it down. RM: How long did it take to get back on your bike after your accident? BC: I was in recovery for three months. In the meantime, my good friend Billy Van Vugt (a fabricator for Nitro Circus) and I had never talked about a modified bike, but he knew what I was thinking and how I wanted to ride again. So he started designing, figuring what fit me best and how my legs would be protected. Nine months after my injury, I was back on a dirt bike. Back flipped into a foam pit on my first day successfully and a dirt ramp three days later. RM: Can you tell me a bit about the bike you’re riding now? BC: Billy owns a fabrication shop, and I went out there while he was building this bike for me. It’s the one I’m riding now – and it worked the first time we tried it. There’s the bit which protects my legs: I did my first flip with just this leg protection part but, for the tour, we customized it to protect my body bet-ter, especially if I crash and can’t feel if my legs are broken. There are little stirrups holding my feet in place, leg straps and the seat belt. This is the scariest part because it means I’m attached solid to my bike. There’s also a roll cage, a small roll bar sticking out in the back; it doesn’t cover my head but is high enough so, if I were to land upside-down, I’d be safe. I need someone or something to lean against when I start and finish riding, and in between I have to keep my balance. It’s nerve-wracking to be strapped to a 250-pound bike, but at the same time, I’m confident. RM: I noticed you don’t need a lot of momentum to flip the bike; you speed up right as you hit the ramp.


かのぼること 2014 年、フリースタイル・モ トクロスライダー、ブルース・クックは世界の アクションスポーツでもっとも過激なトリック を試みた。それはダートバイクでのダブルフロ ントフリップという技だった。彼にとっては最初のナイトロ・ サーカスのライブ。それはトラビス・パストラノが主宰 (しゅ さい)する世界のトップのモトクロスライダーとアスリート たちによるアクションスポーツ・ツアー。数千人の観衆が 声援を送るなか、ブルースの人生が大きく変わってしまう とは彼自身も想像していなかった。ミッドフリップのセカ ンドローテーション中に彼は事故を起こして、第 11 胸椎 (きょうつい)を骨折してしまったのだった。 事 故 後、 彼の下 半身は麻 痺してしまった。しかし 2017 年、29 歳になった彼はふたたびナイトロ・サーカ スに復帰し、その障害を持った身体でダートバイクに乗り バックフリップを決め、世界レコードを達成した。 ナイトロ・サーカスの 2 度目の日本公演のために初来 日したブルース・クックにアウトドアジャパンは独占インタ ビューを試みた。

三好利恵(以下 RM) :アクシデントで重傷を負ってしま うとだれもがアクションスポーツの世界から引退を考える と思うけど、ふたたびバイクに跨ったのはなぜですか? ブルース・クック(以下 BC):ぼくはいままでいろんな 怪我をしてきたんです。でも、たとえば手首を骨折しても こう考えるんです。 「バイクに乗れるようになるまでどのく らいかかるだろう?」 。だから背骨が折れてもおなじことを 考えたんですよ。ふたたびバイクに乗れるにはどうやった ら早く治るかってことだけを考えてしまうんです。物理療 法とリハビリに耐える理由はぼくの心の中にそのゴールが あるからですね。 RM:その姿勢は自らの人生に影響をおよぼしていると思 いますか? BC:そう思いますよ。ぼくはブリティッシュコロンビア州 (カナダ)のケロウナ出身です。そこにある農場で育ち、 そこで一生懸命働けば、それに見合ったものを得られる ということを学んだのです。だから諦めないという態度は ぼくにとって自然なことなんです。 RM:バイクに乗るようになったのはいつですか? BC:ダートバイクは5歳のころから乗っています。それは 自然な成り行きでした。ぼくはアドレナリンの刺激を求め

てダートバイクのトラックで長い時間を過ごしました。で もトリックやビッグジャンプの練習をそのトラックでするの は嫌だったので、自宅に専用のトラックをつくったんです。 お気に入りのトラックです。 RM:あなたの家族でバイクに乗る人はいますか? BC:いえぼくだけです。両親が小さな 50cc のバイクを、 お金に困っていた従兄弟たちから買ったんです。農場の 周囲にもダートバイクがありました。ぼくはそれに夢中に なったんですよ。 RM:事故からバイクに乗るまでにどれくらい時間がかか りましたか? BC:3 ヶ月ほど治療に専念しました。その間、友達のビ リー・バン・ブウ(ナイトロ・サーカス製作者)とぼく は改良バイクの話はしなかったんです。でも彼はぼくがな にを考えているかわかっていて、しかもバイクに乗ること を切望していることも理解していました。それで彼はデザ インをはじめて、ぼくの身体にどうフィットし、どう両足を 支えるか考えたんです。怪我から 9 ヶ月が経ってバイクに 戻ることができました。 RM:現在はどうやってバイクに乗っているのか少し説明 していただけますか? BC:ビリーが組立工場を所有していているんです。そこ で彼がぼくのバイクをつくってくれたんです。今乗っている やつがそれで、最初に試したときもうまく機能しました。 両足をほんの少しだけプロテクトしてあって、このプロテ クションで最初のフリップを決めました。ツアーのために 上体をプロテクトできるようにカスタマイズしたんです。も しクラッシュしたときに両足が折れたかどうか、わからな いかもしれませんから。また小さなアブミ(足を置く馬具) が足を支えてくれて、両足のストラップとシートベルトが 付いています。でもこれは怖いんですよ。バイクから離れ られませんからね。それからロールケージとロールバー がバイクに装着されてあります。背後にロールバーがあっ てじゅうぶんな背丈があるから、ぼくの頭を保護するだけ じゃなく、たとえ上下が逆さまになっても安全なんです。 それからスタートとフィニッシュのときにだれかに支えても らう必要があるんです。そのあいだは自分自身でバランス を保たなければなりません。250 パウンドのバイクにくく りつけられるってことには神経がすり減らされますね。や りきる自信はありますけどね。

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BC: I’m basically doing a wheelie off the ramp and relying on my bike’s power. The ramp for the show is steeper than the rest and I start slow before giving it full throttle at the last minute. I can’t use my legs at all, so I’m 100 percent relying on my arms, pulling as hard as I can, which is what gets the rotation. RM: Do you have a lot of time to practice? BC: I practice at my parents’ place – the track’s still there, but because I’m not home often, the only time I flip a bike is during the show. RM: Are there other tricks or tweaks you’re working on currently? BC: Some variations like one-handers, but I’m letting this backflip ride out. When I get home, I want to get on snowmobiles and downhill mountain biking. We’re also going to lift the bottom cage a little higher, so it doesn’t hit the ground, but I think it’s pretty cool we nailed the bike on the first design. I’ve been busy touring with Nitro Circus though, which has been a lot of fun. RM: How did you get involved with Nitro Circus? BC: Billy’s sister Jolene was part of the original Nitro Circus show. In 2008, I wanted to learn a backflip, so I asked Jolene if I could go over to Travis’ (Pastrana) place. I still see Billy and Jolene quite a bit, even though we’re all traveling and working on separate projects now. Nitro is my extended family, and they are so supportive. Naturally people were hesitant about me getting on a bike, but they knew I was going to do it anyway, so they supported me. RM: And this is your first time in Japan? BC: It’s my first time in Asia actually. I’ve only heard good things and am definitely excited I got to see the sites. Everything’s so clean, and people have been friendly. Tokyo’s population is mind-blowing; so many people in a small area compared to back home where it’s just wide open fields. It’s been incredible.

Bruce and the Nitro Circus team continue their tour in Australia and America with more than 40 shows through Autumn. For more information on Nitro Circus and tour details visit www.nitrocircus.com.

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RM:あなたがバイクをフリップさせるときにあまり反動 を必要をしていないことに気づきました。ランプにヒット するための適した速度に達するだけのようにみえました。 BC:基本的なやり方はバイクのパワーに委(ゆだ)ねて ウィリーさせるんです。このショーのランプはほかのもの より急角度です。まずはゆっくりスタートしてフルスロット ルにするのはぎりぎりまで待つんです。ぼくは両足が使え ないので両腕に 100% 頼るしかありません。だからでき うる限りの力で両腕を引いてローテーションを成功させる んです。 RM:練習にはじゅうぶんな時間がありますか? BC:両親の家にまだトラックがあるからそこで練習しま す。でも帰れないことが多いから、バイクをフリップする のはショーのときだけです。 RM:新しいトリックやツイークス、また最近やっている ことは? BC:片手でおこなうバリエーションがいくつか、でもバッ クフリップが中心です。家に帰ったときはスノーモービル で山をダウンヒルしてます。それからバイクのボトムケー ジの位置を少し上げようと思っています。地面に当たらな いようにです。とはいえぼくたちがつくりあげたこのバイク のデザインは画期的だと思っていますよ。とにかくナイト ロ・サーカスで忙しいですね。でも楽しいんです。 RM:ナイトロ・サーカスと関わりだしたのはどのような きっかけですか? BC:ビリーの姉妹であるジョレーンが元祖ナイトロ・サー カスのショーのメンバーなんです。2008 年にバックフリッ プを学びたかったぼくは、彼女にトラビス・パストラノの ところに行ってもいいかって申し出たんですよ。最近はビ リーとジョレーンに会う機会が少なくなってしまいました。 旅がつづいてますし、プロジェクトも違うからです。ナイ トロはぼくのファミリーのようなもので、ぼくをサポートし てくれています。ぼくがバイクに乗ることを皆はためらって いましたが、ぼくの意思を理解して応援してくれてます。 RM:日本は初めてですか? BC:アジアに来ることも初めてです。アジアについては いろんなことを聞いていましたから、大変楽しみにしてい ました。日本は清潔な国で、人々はフレンドリーですね。 東京の人口を聞いて驚きました。ぼくの故郷とその密度 を比較すると信じられないくらいです。

ブルースとナイトロ・サーカスのチームはオーストラリア からアメリカへと秋にかけて 40 以上の開演を予定してい ます。ナイトロ・サーカスに興味のある方は下記の URL へアクセスしてください。

www.nitrocircus.com

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バンダ海の

炎とスパイス

Fire& Spice in the Banda Sea Story & photos by Tim Rock

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S

even-thousand friendly inhabitants call the charming port town of Banda Neira home. It is one of the most picturesque ports in Indonesia, steeped in trading history and settled amidst a backdrop of lush mountains and a recently quiet volcano. The streets are still lined with Dutch-style lamps and huge, ancient trees. British and Dutch architecture, that has withstood the test of time, still grandly adorns the town, while goats and children play in large parks. The market bustles in the mornings and evenings, filled with the colorful smells of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Four-hundred years ago spices were worth as much or more than gold, used as meat preservatives even more so for their flavor. Banda Neira produced prized nutmeg sought throughout Europe. Just one shipload of nutmeg would produce so much income that a family—often the entire lineage— would be financially set for life. The Dutch erected a fort to protect their trade and it still sits in the town today. Restoration efforts have made this thick-walled fortress a fascinating place to visit, where burgundy nutmeg sits drying in the sun along the fort’s steps. Take some time to stroll around, and you’ll find a large veranda selling ice, and a few shops down another offering local coffee. It’s a wonderful place to take a break for a couple of days to dive into Bandanese life, before diving some of the fascinating sites in nearby islands or even in the Banda Neira Harbor itself. Muck divers can jump right at the main pier and try to find a piece of history, such as discarded Dutch bottles or coins. Nearby, a small waterfront hotel has become an entry point for those seeking critters and treasures in the muck. In fact, the entire front slope along the pier area has some great finds from giant frogfish to fire urchins with Coleman shrimp, zebra crabs and benthic ctenophores. The port is also home to the colorful mandarin fish, a favorite of underwater photographers and videographers. Small and reclusive, they normally come out only at dusk to mate and establish territory.

ンダ諸島といえば、世界中のだれもが知っ ている時期があった。インドネシアのモ ルッカ諸島の一部をなすこの香辛料で有 名な列島は、華やかな歴史をもち、それ に負けぬほど華やかな海底があるが、その美しさを知る ダイバーは比較的少ない。 バンダ・ネイラのチャーミングな港町には 7 千人の友 好的な人たちが住んでいる。ここはインドネシアでもっと も画趣(がしゅ)に富んだ港であり、貿易の歴史は深く、 青々とした山脈と休火山を背景にしている。  通りにはいまでもオランダ式の街灯と古く巨大な樹 木が立ち並んでいる。英国式およびオランダ式の建築は、 今も時代を感じさせず、堂々とした構えは、街を美しく引 き立てている。いっぽう、大きな公園ではヤギや子供た ちが遊ぶ姿が見られる。 市場は朝も夜も人で賑わい、シナモン、バニラ、ナツ メグなどの香りであふれている。400 年前、香辛料は金 に勝るとも劣らぬ価値があり、その香りというよりも肉の 保存のために使われていた。 バンダ・ネイラは、ヨーロッパ中で重宝されていた貴 重なナツメグの生産地であった。船 1 隻分のナツメグだ けで一家、さらには一族が一生暮らせるほどの収入を得 ることができたのである。 オランダ人は、貿易を守るために砦(とりで)をつく り、 今日でもそれはまだ街に残っている。 修復作業の結果、 この分厚い壁の砦は観光地としても最適で、その階段沿 いに暗紅色のナツメグが日干しされている。 ゆっくりと街を散策してみてはどうだろう?大きなベラ ンダで氷を売っている所や、その近くには地元のコーヒー を売っている店が見つかる。まずは数日間バンダナの暮 らしにどっぷり浸かってみるのがお勧めだ。それから近く の島々やバンダ・ネイラの湾ですばらしいダイビングを楽 しもう。

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They are prized by underwater shooters for their orange and brilliant green markings that make striking images. The shallow water around the piers is a photographer’s dream. Other creatures you’ll find are schools of catfish, various anemones with anemone fish—some laying eggs on the shards of Dutch bottles—skeleton shrimp, juvenile batfish, nudibranchs, tunicate lobsters and a long list of good muck subjects. Across the harbor stands Gunung Api (Fire Mountain), one of the many volcanic cones found throughout Indonesia. The last volcanic eruption just took place in 1988. Today, one can see where molten lava flowed down the northeastern and northern slopes into the sea, covering the entire reef below. A platform that was created became the base of a new coral reef that has grown at high rates and attracted studies from scientists from all over the world. The prevailing current flowing across this point combined with minerals within the lava made a base for coral gametes to grasp and flourish. The growth rate has never been seen before, starting with huge table corals and other

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hard reef-builders. It is like a sculptured undersea park. Cabbage corals and a wall with black corals and gorgonian sea fans also make this reef worth a couple of dives. There are 10 islands in and around Banda Neira and a couple farther out in the Banda Sea that can be reached by live-aboard when the sea is flat calm. They host everything from the odd Lembeh sea dragon (a pygmy type of pipefish) to yellowfin tuna and sperm whales. Below Batu Kapal (Ship Rock) which, not surprising, looks like a ship, there is beauty, chaos and lots of movement. There are three main submerged pinnacles. The main pinnacle rises 24 meters. On its western and northern sides are walls with undercuts, giant barrel sponges, soft corals and a bazillion pyramid butterflyfish. One can just explore the various sides of this pinnacle and look out into the blue or go on to the other deeper pinnacles. A southeast pinnacle drops to 34 meters on its outer wall. Big fans and immense barrels also adorn this deep tip that rises 26 meters. There is also a shallower pinnacle here and the whole area is worth a couple of dives to cover it properly.

Currents can get strong but, when they do, expect to see large marbled groupers, reef sharks and yellowtail barracuda. On one dive I saw a vast tornado of bigeye jacks seemingly covering the entire sea floor. The ubiquitous redtooth triggerfish can be seen in the shallows in large schools off the main pinnacle. Other dive sites offer coral-drenched arches, beautiful undersea passages with deep swim-throughs adorned in white soft corals and sponges of all types and some nice walls and drifts. At Koon Island out in the Banda Sea (east of Seram), one can drift out to a current-fed point with silvery dogtooth tuna, barracuda shoals and jacks. When the El Nino brings colder waters, schooling hammerhead sharks also rise to the shallows, thrilling divers. Manu Island is a major bird colony and only accessible by live-aboard. Steam belches from its volcanic vents and spews sulfur underwater as well in places. It is uninhabited by people, but a healthy population of sea snakes makes up for this.


マック・ダイビングという砂地や泥地のダイビングの 場合、ここの桟橋から飛び込めば、古いオランダの瓶や 硬貨など、歴史の欠片(かけら)が見つかるかもしれな い。近くにある海岸沿いの小さなホテルは、泥地の生物 や宝物を探すダイバーたちのエントリー・ポイントとなっ た。事実、桟橋の前部にある斜面では、そこらじゅうに 巨大なカエルアンコウから、コールマンシュリンプやゼブ ラガニやクシクラゲなどが寄生しているファイヤー・アー チン(イイジマフクロウウニに似たウニ)を見つけること ができる。 この港には、水中写真家や映像作家に大人気の色鮮 やかなニシキテグリも生息している。小さく、いつも隠れ ており、交尾のため、または縄張りを設定するために、 夕暮れにしか現れない。 鮮やかなオレンジや緑がなす模様が美しく写真映えす ることが人気の理由で、桟橋近くの浅瀬は写真家にとっ ては理想の場所だ。ほかにもナマズの群れやクマノミを抱 えたさまざまなイソギンチャクも見られる。なかにはオラ ンダの古いガラスの欠片に産卵しているものもいる。さら にはスケルトンシュリンプ、バットフィッシュの稚魚、裸鰓 (らさい)類(ウミウシの仲間)、尾索(びさく)動物(ホ ヤの仲間)にのっかったロブスター、そしてあらゆる種類 の泥地の生息動物が見られる。

湾のむこうにはインドネシア中で数多く見られる火山錐 (かざんすい)のひとつ、 ムラピ山(火の山)がそびえ立つ。 この山が最後に噴火したのは 1988 年だ。今日、溶岩 が北東と北部の斜面から海に流れ落ち、海の珊瑚全体を 覆った様子が伺える。 そこにできたプラットフォームをベースにすごい勢いで 新しいサンゴ礁ができ、世界中の科学者たちがそれを研 究しにに来た。 このポイントに流れる卓越海流と溶岩に含まれている ミネラルが、珊瑚の生殖細胞の土台となって、繁栄を促 したわけだ。巨大なミドリイシや、そのほかのイシサンゴ 類からはじまって、これほど急速な成長はこれまでにない ものだった。まるで彫刻でできた水中公園のようだ。キャ ベツサンゴ、ブラックサンゴの壁、ヤギ目サンゴも見られ ることから、ここは何度かダイビングする価値がある。 バンダ・ネイラとその付近には 10 の島があり、バン ダ海でもうすこし沖にいくとさらにいくつかの島があり、 波がなくて海が穏やかなときにリブアボード(クルーズ船) で行ける。ここには妙なレンベ・ピグミー・シードラゴン からキハダマグロやマッコウクジラまでいる。 船岩という意味のバトゥ・カパルというダイビングス ポットには、数多くのピナクルが連なっており、そのなか でももっとも大きなものは水面から 24m も出ており、そ

の名のごとく船の形をしている。このスポットは、 美しさと、 カオスと、かなりの動きがある。ピナクルのおもなものは 3つだ。西側と北側は壁で下がえぐりとられたようになっ ており、ミズガメカイメン、ウミトサカのほか、数え切れ ないくらいのカスミチョウチョウウオがいる。このピナクル のいろいろな場所を探険して、目の前の青空を臨むもよ し、あるいは、もっと深いピナクルのほうへ行くのも楽し いだろう。 南東のピナクルは壁の外側が水中 34 m までおよんで いる。大きなヤギ目サンゴや巨大なミズガメカイメンも、 26 m の高さになる深い尖塔(せんとう)を引き立ててい る。ここにはまた、もっと浅いものもあり、くまなく観る ためには何度かダイビングする必要がある。 海流がきつくなることがあるが、そのときにこそセッパ リハタ、リーフシャーク、イェローテール・バラクーダが 見られる。以前1度のダイビングで海底を埋め尽くすほど のギンガメアジの群れに遭遇したことがある。どこにでも 現れるアカモンガラは、もっとも大きいピナクルの近くで 大きな群れをなし浅瀬でよく見られる。 このほかのダイビング場所には、サンゴだらけのアー チや、さまざまな種類のウミトサカやカイメンなどで飾ら れた、壁や流れのある、深く美しい水中通路がある。

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Seemingly attracted by the floppy movement of one’s fins, the snakes swim up to see what a diver has to offer. For people who don’t like snakes, this can be a bit unnerving. But they are fascinating reptiles. The most commonly seen are banded sea kraits and there are Chinese sea snakes as well. This tip of land, really not much more than a volcanic cone, is a major bird colony for a number of sea birds such as boobies, tropic birds and cormorants. But as these avians soar overhead, below is something highly unusual. Surfacing to the calls of thousands of birds makes this site a special and unusual place to explore. Not many tourists come to visit Banda Neira, and there is even more to see in the Banda Sea. Diving can be quite seasonal, but new spots and remote pinnacles are discovered each year. Out on the water you aren’t likely to bump into many other divers; you are more likely to see a traditional long canoe propelled by a couple dozen men in brightly dressed traditional garb, rowing to the steady beat of drums that has echoed on these waters for centuries.

バンダ海のセラム島の東にあるクーン島では、海流 に流されたポイントで銀色のイソマグロや、バラクーダ・ ショールズ、カマスなどが見られる。エルニーニョによっ て水温が冷たくなると、シュモクザメの群れも浅瀬に現れ、 ダイバーたちをドキドキさせる。 マヌ島は鳥の主要保護地区であり、リブアボード(ク ルーズ船)でしか行くことができない。蒸気が火山の墳 気孔から噴きだし、水中やいろいろな所に硫黄を噴出す る。人はいないが、その代わりにかなりの海蛇がいる。 ダイバーのフィンの動きに誘われてだろうか、蛇はなに があるのかと近寄ってくる。蛇の嫌いな人にとっては、こ れは怯(おび)えることだろう。しかしひじょうに興味深 い爬虫 (はちゅう)類だ。もっともよく見られるのはバンデッ ド・シー・クレイツで、チャイニーズ・シー・スネークも いる。 この島の突端部は、じっさい火山錐(かざんすい)程 度の大きさでしかないが、カツオドリ、ネッタイチョウ、鵜 (う)など、数多くの海鳥の主要な群生地だ。しかしこ れらの鳥たちが頭上を飛ぶいっぽう、下ではひじょうに珍 しいことが起こっている。何千羽もの鳥の声に呼ばれて 浮上すると、 そこは本当にすばらしく、 探険に稀な場所だ。 バンダ・ネイラを訪れるツーリストは多くないが、バン ダ海には観るものがたくさんある。ダイビングは季節によ るが、毎年新しいスポットや遠くのピナクルが発見されて いる。海では、多くのダイバーに出くわすことはまずない。 それよりも、この地に古くから伝わる鮮やかな色の服をま とった数十人の男たちが、何百年もこの海にこだましてい るドラムの音のリズムに合わせて漕いでいる伝統的な長い カヌーに遭遇するチャンスのほうが大きいだろう。

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Practicalities Getting There: For divers, the best way to visit is by live-aboard. There are ferries from Ambon and limited flights from some smaller Indonesian airlines. Keep an eye out for new routes. Money: Changing money is not common here. Bring enough rupiah for food, accommodations and gifts if not staying on a ship. Language: Bahasa Indonesia is the main language spoken. A form of Malay dialect with Dutch influences is also spoken. Diving/Weather: Dry season in the Banda Sea is roughly May to November. January and February are considered rainy months. The temperature is quite constant between 27°C and 32°C. Diving: All levels can handle the diving here, but some sites are for advanced divers due to fast currents, drifts and some pelagic points. On the whole, the sites are pretty with amazing sponge life, hard corals and more than 700 fish species. Getting Around: One can walk, hire a bicycle or hire a motorbike. If not used to driving a cycle, a motorbike and driver can be hired. Taxis, for longer journeys, as well as mini-buses and becaks are available. A taxi ride from the airport to the town takes about 45 minutes. Banda Neira has good roads. The other islands are not highly developed.

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土地情報 行き方: ダイバーの場合、 もっともよい方法はリブアボードというクルーズ船が最適だろう。アンボンからフェ リーが出ているほか、インドネシアの小さな航空会社による航空便も出ているが、数が限られている。 新しいルートがどんどんできているので新しい情報を調べることだ。 貨幣: 貨幣両替は、ここではほとんどおこなわれない。船で生活するのでなければ、食事、宿泊、ギフ トにじゅうぶんなルピアを用意しておくこと。 言語: 公用語はインドネシア語だ。オランダ語の影響を受けたマレー方言も話されている。 ダイビング / 天気: バンダ海の乾季は5月頃から11 月頃。1月と2月は雨季となっている。気温はかなり一定しており、 27° C から 32° C だ。 ダイビング: ここでのダイビングはレベルを問わないが、場所によってはきつい海流、漂流、外洋域のために、 上級ダイバー向けの所もある。全体的に見て、美しく、すばらしい海面類やイシサンゴや、700 種 類以上の魚類がいる。 島巡りの方法: 徒歩、または自転車やモーターバイクもよいだろう。自転車やモーターバイクに慣れてない人は、 ドライバーを雇うのも手だ。遠い所へ行く場合は、タクシーのほか、ミニバスや自転車タクシーもある。 空港から街へは、タクシーを使うと 45 分ほどだ。バンダ・ネイラの道はたいてい舗装されているが、 ほかの島はあまり開発されていない。

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JAPAN TRAVEL

Tottori: Sea, Sand and Summit By Rie Miyoshi

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Going from the beach to the mountains on the same day is easy to do in Tottori, a skinny prefecture along the Sea of Japan coast. Sleepy west Tottori is home to a number of fishing villages, while the busier east side is more mountainous and features the famous Tottori dunes.


Beaches and Baths Tottori’s beaches offer an unusual sight: clear blue waters and white sandy beaches dotted with evergreen pine trees. While it’s much too cold during the winter, Yumigahama Beach is popular for swimming during the warmer months and is the starting point for the annual Sea to Summit challenge, a multi-sport race involving sea kayaking, cycling and hiking. This year, the race takes place on May 20-21. To get involved, visit www.montbell.jp . After a day in the ocean, soak in the nearby Kaike Onsen hot spring, which is said to relieve nerve pain, skin conditions and anemia. At the notable Kasuitei Ryokan, you can relax in the rotenburo (outdoor bath) overlooking the waves below.

Mt. Daisen: “The Fuji” of the South At 1,709 meters, Mt. Daisen looms over an otherwise flat Tottori. Characterized by its imposing symmetrical shape, Mt. Daisen is nicknamed Houki Fuji for its similarity to Japan’s most famous volcano. With the beach less than an hour’s drive away, the mountain offers panoramic ocean views and is a popular five-hour round-trip trail with kid-friendly camp sites, farms and hot springs at its base. During the winter season, Daisen White Resort offers panoramic ocean views on bluebird days and is easily accessible for skiers and snowboarders coming from Kobe and Hiroshima.

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Cycle the Eco Track Leading Japanese outdoor brand Montbell has partnered with selected cities and towns to create “Eco Track,” mapped cycling routes to help travelers experience Japan’s nature and local culture they might otherwise miss from a car or train. The 83-kilometer Tour de Daisen Route starts in Sakaiminato Port and follows the route along the coast, ending at Mt. Daisen. There are lodges, restaurants, bars, temples, gift shops, activity centers, hot springs and other attractions along the way where you can receive discounts or free gifts upon showing your Eco Track booklet (available at Yonago Airport or ask at a Montbell store before you go).

Bicycle rentals are available at the following locations:

Kaike Cog-station (Kasuitei) 4-19-10 Kaike Onsen, Yonago City (0859) 33-0001 Open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Yodoe Cog-station (Hakuho no Sato) 1548-1 Fukuoka, Yodoe-cho, Yonago City (0859) 56-6798 Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Daisen Cog-station (Morinokuni) 634 Akamatsu, Daisen-cho, Saihaku-gun (0859) 53-8036 Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except Dec. 1-20 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1

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Seafood Lovers Paradise At the point where Tottori meets Shimane Prefecture along the coast is where you will find Sakaiminato Port, where some of Japan’s top seafood arrives each day. This is where the largest amount of snow crab in Japan is offfloaded during the peak months of November to March. The famous matsuba-gani (adult male snow crab), yellowtail, red snapper, salmon, cod roe, shrimp, abalone, sea urchin, squid and bluefin tuna (during summer) can be found for sale at nearby fish markets or served at neighboring restaurants and inns. For seafood enthusiasts wanting to get in on the action, a 50-minute tour of the port and auction site is available on weekdays and Saturdays from 7, 9 and 10 a.m. for ¥300 yen per person (closed on Sundays, public holidays and between Aug. 12-17 and Dec. 21-Jan. 10). Bookings must be made three days in advance.

GETTING THERE It takes about an hour and a half from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to reach Tottori’s Yonago Kitaro Airport on the west side of the prefecture. There are approximately six flights per day. If you want to check out the sand dunes and the San’in Kaigan Geopark first, fly into Tottori Sakyu Conan Airport in eastern Tottori.

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r e l g n

A

What Lies Beyond the Horizon By Abdel Ibrahim

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W

hen I was growing up, Myanmar was one of those places from which you didn’t hear anything good. Mass media and the movies portrayed it as a country where nearly everyone was oppressed, and barring a large-scale revolution, nothing good was likely to happen. I am quite pleased to report what I saw there this spring was a land of hope and optimism. My mates and I visited specifically for giant trevally (GT) fishing, which took us on a journey well off the tourist track and gave us a chance to pass through local townships and tribal areas as we moved by car from the Thai/Myanmar land border to the Andaman Sea coast. Along the way we observed folks living simple yet content lives. Despite arriving with the notion we would be off the grid for the better part of a week, it was surprising to see kids sporting street wear and dyed hair speeding around on new scooters or texting one another on smart phones. Once we got on the mother boat that took us to a small archipelago about 120 kilometers south of the Dawei coastal township, we were even more surprised to learn that multiple families of fishermen resided on the larger islands. For four days straight we bounced around from

point to point, timing our sessions with the tidal movement. We cast large handmade stickbaits and poppers at clusters of exposed rocks where we reckoned there might be a few GT hiding. These fish are ambush predators that in many instances will not chase lures that do not enter their strike zone. This means it’s important to present lures accurately and often—think “fish of a thousand casts.” My fishing companions were GT novices like me, but our results were surprisingly good, probably due in no small part to the fishery just recently being opened for recreational angling. T h e h e a d g u i d e ex p l a i n e d h e h a d b e e n a commercial fishermen for years and got the idea to retool for sport fishing after numerous encounters with huge GT when he dove the same points for lobster. The specimens we captured weren’t big, but plentiful and a good fit for four guys who, despite having plenty of experience tussling with large tuna in the open ocean, were complete novices when it comes to pulling GT away from jagged rocks. These fish are often referred to as “thugs” or “gangsters of the reef” because they fight hard and dirty and spank nearly every newbie the first time they go toe to toe with a big one.

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I had caught seven or eight GT on previous trips to Hawaii and Madagascar and thought I was ready to battle a big one. I was wrong. Late in the afternoon on the first day, our guide told me to make a “Hail Mary” cast into a patch of rough current and, no sooner than my stickbait hit the surface,

The massive silhouette of a GT dove out of the water at my lure like a breaching submarine. No sooner than I set the hook and got into my fighting stance, I found myself holding on for dear life as the GT ran straight for the bottom. I tried tightening my drag and even using my hand to stop the spool from giving up line, but it was no use. It was destined that I’d be punked this day, and after less than a minute, I felt my line break. Lesson learned.

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Perhaps the most surprising thing we witnessed was a feeding behavior exhibited by many pelagic fish, but not known to happen so frequently with GT. Several times a day, they’d begin voraciously surface feeding on smaller baitfish giving us a chance to race over in the boat and cast into the boil, almost certain to hook up. This high paced “run-and-gun” style of casting is pretty much the same as what my friends and I experience when targeting tuna, but in this case, we had to flip a switch and remember to bear down and drag the GT to the boat once we had one on the line. By the end of the fourth day, we were pretty beat from making hundreds of casts and fighting multiple fish, but still wondering if we had what it took to land a monster GT. Perhaps we’ll get a

chance to try again in the not-too-distant future. For many, GT fishing is usually a costly and time-consuming undertaking requiring each participating angler to fork over at least five grand and travel 48 hours just to get to the fish. For this trip, reaching the islands was definitely a trek, but the cost was probably less than half of what is normally required, and the fishing, food and hospitality were first rate. On the ride back to Bangkok, my buddies and I kept discussing what the skipper had told us about new points where he had yet to take any clients as well as some unexplored areas where no one is believed to have ever casted for GT.


To be one of the first to fish such a point is the dream of every GT angler—one that’s increasingly difficult to realize as the world gets smaller. The necessity to travel farther distances to the most remote corners of the ocean make the cost and logistics of such endeavors a high hurdle as well. Still, every year rumors and speculation float around the ether, and every hardcore enthusiast is keeping his ear to the ground for news of the next GT Shangri-La. Were it not for the low cost of this particular outfit, my mates and I would not be looking hard at making a return in the near future, but we’re seriously considering it if the captain will organize an exploratory trip later this year. My trophy GT awaits. Now is a great time to travel to Myanmar, not just because it’s inexpensive, but also because it’s an unspoiled and pleasant place to be. The people we met were all kind and happy to meet visitors from overseas. Although we spent most of our time offshore, it was clear there is an organized move to develop the country’s tourism economy, and I’m sure there are plenty of possibilities for exploring the cities and smaller townships. It’s definitely worth the trip.

GT fishos looking to get into first rate topwater plugging can contact Garamuu Myanmar to get info on open dates. For more information, visit www.garamuumyanmar.com.

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TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY HOKKAIDO

HOKKAIDO

Amazingly Dry Powder Snow

Head to Hokkaido's last frontier ' ' www.facebook.com/HokkaidoPowderBelt

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HOKKAIDO

HOKKAIDO

NAGANO

NAGANO

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HOKKAIDO

NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

NAGANO

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TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY NIIGATA

GUNMA

SHIZUOKA

SHIZUOKA

GUNMA

Refresh your Mind, Body & Soul

NAGANO

Refreshing outdoor adventure experiences under 2 hours from Tokyo!

Whitewater rafting, canyoning, adventure combos..... 0278-72-2811 www.canyons.jp 56

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SHIZUOKA

PPYRA A H

TOKYO

TOKYO

rR te

SHIKO FT

n`s B est Whi te pa -W Ja a

i ng a nd Ca nyo a ft ni ng

Happy Raft (Double Vertical)

TOKYO

res. ntu ve Ad

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ft htt aft HappyR

NARA

TOKUSHIMA

TOKYO

TOKYO

OKINAWA

USA

SNOWBOARD WITH THE LOCALS CELEBRATING HUMAN POWER AND INTRODUCING THE QUIET BACKSTREETS, BEAUTIFUL PARKS AND UNIQUE CULTURE OF TOKYO NOT FOUND ON TOURIST MAPS.

Nagano ◊ Niseko Alaska ◊ USA ◊ Canada www.cloudlinetours.com

freewheeling.jp SPRING 2017

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TRAVEL & ADVENTURE DIRECTORY MICRONESIA

MICRONESIA

MICRONESIA

THAILAND

P.I.C Saipan (single)

KOH LANTA  KRABI  THAILAND

email: reservation@pimalai.com

www.pimalai.com

Discover Nature, Discover Yourself. TAIWAN

BALI 癒しの空間で... 波を心いくまで満喫...

サーフィンガイド サーフィンコーチ ラグジャリーな宿泊施設

Surf Guiding Surf Coaching Luxury Accommodation

Feel at home... Enjoy the ride... VIETNAM

NEPAL

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www.thechillhouse.com VIETNAM


SPRING 2017

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Outdoor Japan Traveler - Issue 63 - Spring 2017  

Every season is a new adventure in Japan. Get the most out of Spring 2017 with Issue #63 of Outdoor Japan Traveler magazine.