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ISSUE 50 | WINTER 2014 | Free

50 Issues of Travel & Adventure

in Japan

Mission Impossible

グリーンランドでの困難な任務

Return of the Humpbacks 戻ってきたザトウクジラ

Beyond Fukushima

Japan Snow Guide 2014 ADVENTURE

PEOPLE

福島でのマウンテンライフ

C U LT U R E

TRAVEL


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i n s i d e i s s u e 5 0 ■ w i n t e r 2 014

26 F E AT U R E :

Mission impossible from Niseko to Greenland ニセコからグリーンランドへ

16

34

41

58

65

F E AT U R E S

16

Return of the Humpbacks: An Okinawa Success Story 戻ってきたザトウクジラ:沖縄の成功物語

26

Mission Impossible

INSIDE

58

Beyond Fukushima 震災・原発事故を乗り越えて 福島でのマウンテンライフ

65

TRAVELER’S JOURNAL

グリーンランドでの困難な任務

The 21-Day Wasabi Powder Diet

34

ワサビ パウダー ダイエット 21日間

カー団地 10年の軌道

4

T R AV E L E R

41 Japan Snow Guide

From the Editor 編集後記

Hot Soba

08

ホット そば

10

F-Stop

13

サイクリング・ジャパン

14

オン・ザ・ラン

15 16 17

Photo Essay

10 Years on the Road a Car Danchi Flashback

06

71 72

Cycling Japan On the Run Events

Book Review Market Watch The Local Brew

ローカル 醸造

Traveler's Journal Travel Directory

トラベル ディレクトリー


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

Milestones and Reflections 節目を迎えるにあたって

W

some things are still out of your control. After March 11, 2011, we made a decision to rebrand Outdoor Japan Magazine and go completely free. We, like many of our sponsors, were reeling from the disaster, and tourism to Japan was virtually nonexistent. That summer we re-launched Traveler as a free magazine in print and digital editions. This allowed us to reach more readers and better promote travel in the region. Now, nearly three years later, anyone who watched the country bounce back has to be proud. In October 2013, not only was inbound tourism up 31.5% from the year before, but it was also the highest number of visitors for the month on record. This is encouraging to see. Our tagline is “Every season is an new adventure,” and we hope our readers can experience the magic

にかの節目を迎えたとき、そこへたどり着くまでの

の信頼を得るのも簡単ではない。これらをすべて得たと

ちのキャッチコピーで、読者のみなさまも、日本のすばら

道のりを振り返るのは当然のことだろう。私たち

ころで、まだ制御不能なことが多々あるのが雑誌だ。

しい四季を楽しんでいることだと思う。冬は、個人的に いちばん好きな季節だ。仲間と深いパウダーを楽しんだ

は、この冬号で50号目という節目を迎えた。日本の旅と

2011年3月11日以降、私たちは『アウトドアジャパンマ

アドベンチャーを読者の皆さまと分かち合いつづけて50

ガジン』を完全にブランディングしなおし、無料にするこ

回目ということになる。

とにした。スポンサーをはじめ、私たち自身もあの災害で

というわけで、ぜひご自分の目でたしかめていただきた

不安定な状態にあり、当時、日本への観光はもはや存

い。今号は、毎年恒例のJapan Snow Guideをフィーチャー

在しないという状況であった。

するとともに、iPhoneとiPad用のアプリをリリースした。

『アウトドアジャパンマガジン』という名前で創刊号を 出版したのは2005年の10月1日だったが、当時とくらべ ると、出版にかんする状況はかなり変わってきた。雑誌

そんな中、2011年の夏、雑誌とデジタルマガジンとい

の発行部数は減り、また休刊・廃刊となった雑誌も多

う形態でトラベラーマガジンをフリーペーパーとして再出

い。かわりに台頭してきたのがインターネット系のマガジ

発させたことで、読者へのリーチは増え、国内旅行のプ

ンだ。印刷費を払いつづけてきた出版社なら、この状況

ロモーションに微力ながら貢献したと思う。

を理解するのは難しくないだろう。ネットのほうがあきらか に安価で簡単だ。

あれから約3年、日本の復活はだれもが待ち望んだこ とだろう。2013年10月には、日本への観光客が前年比

雑誌を発行することは正直簡単ではない。スポン サー、流通、印刷会社、ライター、フォトグラファーとの 関係を築くのに時間を要するのはもちろんのこと、読者

Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson Editor Bill Ross Art Director Yuki Masuko

「新たな季節は新たな冒険のはじまり」というのが私た

Contributors Joan Bailey, Lee Dobson, Eddie Gianelloni, Bryan Harrel, Neil Hartmann, Abdel Ibrahim, Wes Lang, Takashi Niwa, Tomoko Okazaki, Tim Rock, Robert Self, Craig Yamashita

Sales & Marketing Fumitaka Igari, Luke McDonald, Tsuyoshi Otake

©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.

トラベラーマガジンは、空港ラウンジや予約カウンターや、右記航空 会社インフライト・ライブラリーにてお読みいただけます。

T R AV E L E R

皆さまへ、感謝の気持ちをささげたい。まだまだお伝えし きれていないストーリーや場所、人と感動がたくさんある。 これからのトラベラーマガジンにもぜひご期待していただ

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

AIRLINE PARTNERS

次の節目への一歩をふみだすにあたり、この雑誌をサ ポートしてくださっている各企業のご協力、そして読者の

きたいと思う。

Contributing Editors Wayne Graczyk Shigeo Morishita

Traveler magazine is available at selected lounges, reservations counters and in-flight libraries with the following airline partners.

App Storeからダウンロードして、 さまざまなお得な情報を楽 しんでいただきたい。

光客数を記録したことは大きな励みとなった。

Published Seasonally Publisher Outdoor Japan Media

後の温泉とビールに勝るものはない。

31.5%増となっただけではなく、10月として史上最高の観

OUTDOOR JAPAN TRAVELER

6

each season brings here. Winter is my personal favorite; there simply is nothing better to me than sitting in a hot spring and sipping a cold beer with good friends after a day riding deep powder. I hope you’ll come see for yourself. Our 50th issue includes our annual Japan Snow Guide, and we have launched our first iOS mobile app available now for iPhone and iPad. The Japan Snow Guide App includes useful information, articles, features and deals, and you can download it now from the App Store. As we look toward the next milestone, I’d like to thank all the great people and companies for their contributions and support over the years, and to you our readers. We’re excited about what lies ahead, and we hope you’ll join us. There are many stories yet to be told, places to explore, people to meet and new experiences to be had. Travel on!

hen you reach a milestone, it’s natural to look back to where you’ve been. This Winter issue marks our 50th; the 50th time we’ve had the privilege to share stories about travel and adventure in Japan with our readers. Since we launched the first issue (then called Outdoor Japan Magazine) on Oct. 1, 2005, the publishing landscape has changed signigicantly. A significant number of print magazines have gone out less frequently or disappeared entirely, while “e-zines” seem to have popped up everywhere. Any publisher who has received a printing bill can easily understand why; it’s simply much cheaper and easier to publish to Web. Also, let’s face it; publishing a magazine is hard. It takes time to develop relationships with sponsors, distribution partners, printers, writers and photographers and earn the trust of readers and, if you get that right,

Contact Information: Outdoor Japan Media

6-6-55 higashi Kaigan Minami Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa 253-0054 〒253-0054 神奈川県茅ヶ崎市東海岸南 6-6-55 Tel: (0467) 81-3212 Fax: (0467) 81-3213 Editorial: editor@outdoorjapan.com Advertising: ads@outdoorjapan.com Subscriptions: subscribe@outdoorjapan.com

www.facebook/japantraveler www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan

Cover Photo Matt Georges


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Hot Soba ホット そば

By Craig Yamashita Illustrations by Eureka! Studio

Wake up your noodles with some wasabi flavored edu-tainment.

Toyama

Snow Globe

Japan’s Record Snowfall - On Feb. 14, 1927, Mt. Ibuki (Elevation: 1,137 m (5,000 ft.)) recorded a snow depth of 1,182 cm (465.4 in.).

White Fright

Niigata

If you travel in the Japan Alps this winter, beware of the yuki onna. This comely legend frequents mountain roads and preys on travelers. You’ll recognize her by her snow white kimono and skin and long, black hair. She possesses a hypnotic beauty that will literally freeze you in your tracks. One of the most striking interpretations can be seen in Akira Kurosawa’s final film, “Dreams,” in which modern day alpine mountaineers encounter this ancient legend. Brrrrr!!

TOKYO

Toyama and Niigata prefectures are known as Yuki Guni (snow country) because of the heavy snowfall they receive. A mountain highway through the incredible snow depths attracts tourists eager to experience the yuki-nootani (snow canyon). In fact, the west coast of Honshu is second only to Valdez, Alaska, in global snow depths at lowlevel or sea level locations. 173.2 cm (68.2 in.) of snow fell on Tsukayama on Dec. 30-31, 1960, a world record for a low elevation site.

(Ame) Rain

+

This issue’s theme:

(Houki) Broom

YUKI

Rain that can be swept away.

The slopes of Mt. Zao in Yamagata-ken are teeming with yukiare (snow monsters), which are actually snow coated fir trees. Strong Siberian winds blow wet snow and moisture from a nearby lake to form nearhorizontal icicles onto which falling snow settles. The result is an army of gloopy, creepy shaped behemoths.

Snow season is upon us, and Japan has a long history with the powder. Get lost in one the many winter wonderlands Japan has to offer.

Snow Country for Old Men

No sky no land — just snow falling

In Lovers Sharing an Umbrella by woodblock artist Harunobu Suzuki, the natty couple are sporting stylish zukin (silken cowls)...traditional chic! Ready to throw away that flourescent orange knit hat, yet?

– KAJIWARA Hashin (1864-?)

Yukiguni (Snow Country) Author: Yasunari Kawabata. Set in a remote hot spring town isolated by heavy snowfall, a well-to-do Tokyo urbanite falls in love with a provincial geisha from the local inn. Kawabata received the Nobel Prize for Literature for the novel in 1968.

Sno-Tech Inspired by the painting “The Hunters in the Snow,” Yuji Obata began to photograph Japan’s winter scenes and soon became obsessed with the challenge of photographing snowflakes in free fall, something never accomplished before. His breakthrough technique allows the snowflakes to show the depth of their beauty in dynamic compositions. His recent book “Wintertale” reflects winter’s delicate yet fleeting beauty. His works, however, will stay with you a long time. Dr. Masaru Emoto gathered various water samples and observed the effects of words, prayers and music on the frozen samples. Dr. Emoto believes the crystalline structures that formed are proof of a universal positive energy in nature.

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Monkey Business

The Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey, is native to Japan and with the exception of humans, no primate lives as far north, nor in as cold a climate.

Sanzaru (three monkeys), are known worldwide as The Three Wise Monkeys. The original wood carving adorning the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, was inspired by the Buddhist teaching that if we do not hear, see or speak evil, we shall be spared from evil. Sometimes a fourth monkey Shizaru, with crossed arms, symbolizes the principle of “do no evil.” One of Mahatma Gandhi’s notable exceptions to a lifestyle of nonposession was a small statue of the three monkeys.

Kikazaru

Iwazaru

Meh.. I find these stereotypes highly offensive!

Mizaru


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F - STOP

Climbing the high ridges above Tsugaike for turns in early spring after the steady storms of mid-winter break, providing a windless, sunny day. Photographer: Bill Glude

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Hakuba-based photographer Bill Glude is an avalanche instructor and consultant and backcountry guide at Evergreen Outdoors in Hakuba (www.evergreen-hakuba.com).


F - STOP

(Top) Touring in Hokkaido's renowned backcountry as Mt. Yotei keeps watch. Photographer: Gordy Menzies

Gordon Menzies and Hayden Buck are Hokkaidobased photographers and guides for Black Diamond Tours (www.blackdiamondtours.com)

(Bottom) Mitch Potter trying to find the bottom on a deep Niseko powder day. Photographer: Hayden Buck

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F - STOP

Salewa athlete, Swiss strongman Roger Schäli, puts his sights on the classic Sandal of Gold (5.12a) route in Mizugaki’s Motsu area, while framed in the golden colors of late autumn. Photographer: Eddie Gianelloni

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Eddie Gianelloni is a Japan-based adventure photographer, climbing guide and father. Enjoy more of his work at www.eddiegianelloni.com


Cycling Japan:

A JOURNEY TO EXPERIENCE THE LOCAL LIFE サイクリング̶それは

土地の暮らしを感じる旅

By Takashi Niwa Translated by Sakae Sugahara

ROUTE

21

#

KAGAWA PREFECTURE

GOAL!

TOKUSHIMA PREFECTURE

Shikoku

EHIME PREFECTURE

Follow the Water from Kochi to Tokushima

KOCHI PREFECTURE

GOAL!

四国:高知から徳島へ

Enjoy cycling by the water in Shikoku. 海沿い、川沿いを満喫できる

I

f you head south from central Kochi City toward Tosa Bay, there is a route along the Pacific coastline that connects low traffic roads and bike paths. The ride takes you all the way to the Kaifu area of Tokushima Prefecture and features stunning views of the great Pacific on your right as you spin your wheels in scenic Shikoku. From Kaifu, begin ascending along the Kaifu River and continue up and over Kirigoe Pass (elevation 690 meters), then go down along the pristine waters of the Naka River. You will most likely have the route to yourself in this

sparsely populated area. The downside to the serenity is there are few places to buy food and supplies or ask for help. So, plan ahead and prepare to be self-sufficient. Along the route, you’ll run into some ohenro (pilgrim) lodges. You may find it helpful and fun to stay at one of these accommodations and exchange information. As you descend, your route will change from the Naka River to that along the Katsuura River. Once you hit Route 5, Tokushima City is just eight kilometers away on an increasingly busy street.

知の市街地を南下し、太平洋岸(土佐湾)に出

補給できるところがほとんどなく、買い出し、 トラブル回避

ると、交通量の少ない道やサイクリングロードが

など、サイクリングの総合力が試される。

海沿いに続く。室 戸岬を回って、徳島県の海 陽町の 海部まで、右手に大海原を眺めながら快走しよう。

途中、お遍路さんが泊まる宿坊が点在する。そのよう な場所に泊まって、情報交換するのもおもしろい。

そこからは川沿いの道。海部川に沿って登り、霧越峠

那珂川から勝浦川へとスイッチし、国道55号に出ると

(標高690m) を越え、那珂川沿いを下る。この川の水の

交通量は多くなる。ここからゴールの徳島市内までは8㎞

美しさは特筆ものである。交通量もかな���少なく、ほとんど

ほどだ。

“貸し切り” で走ることができるが、逆にいえば途中には

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 丹羽隆志(にわ たかし) :にわサイクリングツアーズ(www.ncycling.com) を主宰し、 東京の路地裏からチベットまで、地球上のどこかをガイド。 『大人のための自転車入 門』(日本経済新聞出版社刊)など著書多数。

!

Giveaway

Three copies of the 2014 calendar are available to readers who send in photos of cycling in Japan. Send photos to editor@outdoorjapan.com

WINTER 2014

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ON THE RUN By Robert Self

Double Your Fun This Winter N

ew trail runners in Japan often ask me when the trail running season is over. It’s never over; it just changes. It’s true that winter trail running in Japan requires preparation and planning, but the beautiful snowy mountains create some great running memories for those who venture out. Japan’s highest mountains are not runnable in winter. Don’t plan to run up Mt. Fuji or anything higher than 2,000 meters this winter. In fact, don’t plan on running anywhere in northern Japan after November. This would require full crampons, ice axe skills and enough gear in a backpack to compensate for the many things that can go wrong. However, there is some good trail running in lower areas in Kanto and Kansai that won’t require running crampons. Mt. Takao and Oku-musashi (near Agano) in Tokyo are great places to run in winter, as well as Oyama (Kanagawa) and the Diamond Trail (Osaka). A good plan is to map a circular run beginning at train stations with lockers. Store extra jackets and a change of clothes for your return. Good stations for this are Takao, all stations on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line past Hanno and most of the Odakyu Line that goes near Oyama and Tanzawa. Most have onsen (hot springs) nearby, and nothing is better than a rotenburo after a cold trail run. Do not run alone in the mountains in winter, unless you have plenty of confidence and experience. If you head to higher mountains, locate mountain huts open in the winter before you go. These sanctuaries can be mood changers and lifesavers.

To go higher, you need running crampons or light mountain crampons, gloves, wool or fleece cap that protects your ears and layered running wear including a fleece layer and a shell. Everything must fit in your running pack during your ascent. Note that PET bottles can be risky when temperatures hit -5 or -10, as they can freeze solid. Most safety issues in winter trail running begin on the way down. On the ascent, your body will burn through many calories, and the average trail runner will feel warm to hot. All the sweat you burn on the way up will quickly turn to cold water, then ice once you reach the summit and begin your descent. This can be deadly. Be sure to put on your fleece and shell immediately. Do not wait. Many cases of hypothermia happen during this “pause.” Descending is cold as our bodies burn fewer calories, and the wind from the increase in speed creates a chill. Winter Trails There are two places in the Tokyo area I recommend for getting experience on snowy winter trails. Maruyama (Oku-musashi): Get off at Ashigakubo Station and store a change of clothes here. Do the obvious loop up Ono-toge, then back down to the station. There is a nice hot spring (Buko Onsen) at Yokoze, the next station down the line. Ashigakubo Kajitsu Center, just below Ashigakubo Station, has hot meals on most days. Shibusawa to Ninoto (Tanzawa): Start at the end of the bus line at Ogura. There are various

routes up Ninoto, and a mountain hut at the peak is open in winter. For fit, experienced and wellequipped runners, bagging Tanzawa on an in-andout run is possible, though your group would need an early start and a lot of experience. Tanzawa Hut is also usually open in winter, but be sure to check before you go. Crampons Your best options are YakTrax or Hillsound Trail Crampons. If you do not have access to these in Japan, don’t panic. Most Japanese mountain climbing stores have a range of inexpensive light hiking crampons that work reasonably well. Avoid rigid crampons used for mountain climbing that attach to the bottom of a boot. These will not work for running. Find a non-rigid micro-spike or chain system that attaches to a shoe. Note these will not work in seriously angled-ice as you would encounter on higher mountains, but they will give you enough grip to run down snowy slopes in the lower mountains. Many inexpensive light crampons in Japan attach to the toe of your boot or running shoe. These work OK, but I have seen them fall off running shoes and get lost in deep snow 10 minutes into a run. Be sure any light crampon is attached under your shoelaces to make certain they will not slip off your trail running shoe at some point. Last, abort any winter trail run as soon as it is clear conditions are not right. I quickly gave up two group runs last year when it became apparent conditions were too cold with too much hardened ice for running safely. Hard and angled ice is not the surface for trail running. Know when to call it a day, and do it before the route back down becomes too dodgy. They say every mile you run is two in winter, so double your fun this season. Happy trails!

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

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T R AV E L E R


er wi nt 1 20 4 Dosojin Matsuri

E V E N T S C A L ENDA R Jan. 15

Dosojin Matsuri in Nozawa Onsen (Nagano)

www.nozawakanko.jp/english/

Jan. 25

Eboshi Resort Snow Fireworks Festival (Miyagi) www.eboshi.co.jp

FIND YOUR PERFECT GETAWAY!

Specializing in Resort Properties in Niseko Hanazono and Hakuba's Wadano Area

Jan. 18

Dondo-Yaki and Fireworks at Myoko Suginohara Resort (Niigata) www.princehotels.com/en/ski/myoko_kogen.html

Jan. 26

Osaka Half-Marathon 2014 (Osaka)

www.half.osaka-marathon.jp

Feb. 5-11

Sapporo Snow Festival (Hokkaido) www.snowfes.com/english/

Feb. 8

Snow Splash Party in Minakami (Gunma) www.outdoorjapan.com/snowsplash

Feb. 18-20

SBJ20 + 2014 Ski Expo Japan (Kanagawa) www.snow-again.com Toyota Big Air

Feb. 18-20

We provide real estate expertise and bilingual assistance for finding your ideal resort property.

www.interstyle.jp

Phone: 03-3556-8887 info@yamate-homes.co.jp www.yamate-homes.co.jp

Interstyle 2014 (Kanagawa)

Feb. 22-23

Toyota Big Air in Sapporo (Hokkaido) www.toyota-bigair.jp

Feb. 22-23

Tazawako Kogen Snow Festival (Akita)

Feb. 23 XTERRA

Tokyo Marathon (Tokyo)

www.tokyo42195.org/2014en/

Mar. 1

Red Bull Kick & Shred in Hakuba (Nagano) redbull.jp/shred

Mar. 1

Snow Splash 2014 in Hakuba (Nagano) www.outdoorjapan.com/snowsplash

Mar. 14-16

SBJ On Snow Air Mix at GALA Yuzawa (Niigata) www.galaresort.jp

Mar. 15

Warrior Dash IV (Osaka) www.warriordash.jp

Mar. 29 XTERRA

XTERRA Guam (Guam) www.xterraguam.com

Apr. 5

XTERRA Saipan (Saipan) www.saipansports.com

Apr. 12

Tagaman Triathlon (Saipan) www.saipansports.com

Apr. 26-27

XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship (Australia)

www.xterraplanet.com

May 25

GEAR 11 (Guam)

www.guamextreme.com For more events visit www.outdoorjapan.com

SKI RESORT NEW YEAR COUNTDOWNS ○ Countdown Fireworks at Niseko Annupuri (Hokkaido) ○ Countdown Fireworks at Nozawa Onsen - Nagasaka Slope (Nagano) ○ Countdown Live Event and Fireworks at Oze Iwakura (Gunma) ○ Countdown Event at Alts Bandai (Fukushima) ○ Countdown at Iwappara (Niigata) ○ NASPA Snow Fantwwasy Countdown (Niigata) ○ Torch Light & Fireworks at Niseko Village (Hokkaido)

SNOWBOARD WITH THE LOCALS Nagano ◊ Niseko Alaska ◊ USA ◊ Canada www.cloudlinetours.com

For more snow events visit www.japansnowguide.com

WINTER 2014

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Book Review

By Bryan Harrell

Craft Beer in Japan: The Essential Guide By Mark Meli

T

Web:http://japanbeertimes.com/craft-beer-in-japan/ ISBN: 978-0-9899163-0-1

By Joan Bailey

MARKET WATCH

Sapporo’s Jyogai-ichiba

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T R AV E L E R

his new book traces back to changes in brewing regulations in Japan in late 1994, which led to the emergence of a small craft brewing industry. However, it wasn’t until almost two decades later when a book in English finally emerged on the subject. I am certain readers of this column will welcome this book with open mouths. “Craft Beer in Japan” is written by Mark Meli, a resident of Kyoto since 1999 and professor of cross-cultural studies at Kansai University in Osaka. The book is a satisfyingly complete reference on the Japan craft-brewing scene, leaving no glass un-emptied at craft breweries in the nine major Japanese regions. There is a short section on the major Japanese breweries and a 20-page section detailing all the best drinking places in each region. In addition, there are well-written and brilliantly considered essays on such topics as Japanese beer history, craft beers and

Jyogai-ichiba is a smaller version of Sapporo's Central Wholesale Market and the northern counterpart of Tokyo's famed Tsukiji Market. Stalls lining both sides of this market street open at 6 a.m. and bustle with Hokkaido specialties throughout the year. It is a treasure trove of seafood and produce. Warmer months showcase muskmelon, watermelon, potatoes, squash, asparagus, apples, pears and grapes along with fresh crab, scallops and seasonal fish. When winter covers fields and mountains in snow and ice, the market shifts its focus to a selection of local wines, sake, assorted root crops, garlic and, of course, potato doughnuts. Crispy on the outside with a tender, cakey inside, these little gems get bought up as quickly as they are made. Duck inside any doorway to find an array of dried beans, miso ranging from light to dark and all shades in between, along with salty or sweet pickles. Jyogai-ichiba's main winter feature, though, is seafood. Known as a sushi lovers paradise, it is only fitting that a Hokkaido market boast tank after tank of bubbling water full of live seasonal fish ready to be eaten that day or packed up for delivery. A range of fresh, as well as dried, konbu (kelp), including Rishiri konbu and Hakodate's ma-konbu, is also available. One of the main ingredients in dashi, Hokkaido konbu has long been a prized pantry possession. Shoppers can refresh and regroup at any number of small restaurants and shops serving fresh sushi and sashimi. Wander down a damp, narrow lane lined with tiny shops and tables

Japanese cultural identity, Japanese food and drink, beer and the Japanese language, and more. The essays will provide great entertainment and enlightenment between destinations, while the small “Best of List” will prove quite useful. His section of craft beer festivals offers insights into how they operate and includes a five-page rundown of events throughout the year. The section on craft beer styles takes into account Japan-related factors such as the sweetness of the cuisine, common Japanese taste preferences and certain craft beers made in Japan with Japanese ingredients. There is even a part that explains the craze for chocolate beers brewed for Valentine’s Day. “Craft Beer in Japan” is available on Kindle from Amazon, and in print form from the publisher, Bright Wave Media.

where fish are sold at lightning speed to find Meshiya's Shoukudo (diner). Open the doors behind the bright yellow noren (shop curtain) and settle in with a bowl of ramen (eight different kinds available), sushi don (a rice bowl topped with sushi) or a plate of sashimi. Those desiring something other than seafood can feast on katsudon (rice topped with breaded, fried pork) or a variety of other scrumptious set meals. Jyogai-ichiba's early opening means an early finish. By 10 a.m. the selection is dramatically reduced and crowds begin to thin. The festive jostling atmosphere wanes as shop owners begin turning their attention to preparing for the next day's catch. By 1 p.m. the potato doughnut guy is closing up shop and no amount of sorrowful begging can sway him. Brave the cold weather and head in early to explore, eat and get a taste of winter on the north island. Jyogai-ichiba 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closest Station: JR Soen Station


AMERICAN CRAFT BEER

By Bryan Harrell

Coedo + Coronado = Coedonado コエド+コロナド=コエドナド

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

Coronado brewer Pete Falletta (face obscured) adds pellets of Sorachi Ace Japanese hops with fellow brewer Shawn DeWitt, as Coedo brewer yasuki Mizushima looks on.

Coedo brewer hiromi Uetake and Pete Falletta of Coronado discuss ingredients as Coronado brewing director Shawn DeWitt adds Okinawan kurozato syrup into the boil.

コロナドの醸造者ピート・ファレッタとショーン・デ ウィットが日本の麦芽、ソラチエースを加えるのを見 つめる水島さん

ショーンが沖縄の黒砂糖シロップを加え、コエドの 醸造者植竹さんとピートは材料について話し合う

I

Pete Falletta adds the last of the kurozato syrup as Shawn DeWitt looks on. ショーンが見つめるなか、最後の黒砂糖シロップ を加えるピート

n the last issue I wrote about the collaboration between New York’s Brooklyn Brewing and Hitachino Nest Beer in Ibaraki. Continuing on that theme, the recent collaboration between Coronado Brewing of San Diego, California, and Coedo Beer in Saitama. Interestingly, both breweries were founded in 1996, and both have become successful as medium-scale micro-breweries. The introduction was made by Andrew Balmuth, founder of Nagano Trading, which imports Coronado Beer along with many other U.S. craft beers to Japan. In September this year, Coronado Brewing Director Shawn DeWitt and brewer Pete Falletta visited Coedo’s brewery in Saitama and brewed a small monster of a beer. At the suggestion of Falletta, it was named Coedonado. On the Coedo side were brewers Yasuki Mizunuma and Hiromi Uetake, along with Shigeharu Asagiri, president of Coedo, who deserves credit for getting behind the creation of such a unique and interesting brew.

It is a dark ale made with both dark and pale malt, a Japanese variety of hops called Sorachi Ace, a syrup made from Okinawan kurozato (a dark brown sugar) and a bit of kinako (roasted soybean flour) for an interestingly complex flavor and aroma. Boasting 9.5% alcohol, it is nearly twice as strong as normal Japanese beer, and features a complex aroma of coffee and caramel, along with a bit of lemon and peppermint from the Sorachi Ace hops. It also has above-average bitterness, registering 70 IBU. It is best served slightly chilled, preferably in a large brandy glass to enjoy the aroma. In short, it is an interesting mix of American strong dark ale and the restrained sweetness of traditional Japanese candy. The Coedonado collaboration beer w ill likely be sold out by the time you read this, but there is a chance you can find it in Tokyo at Beer Club Popeye (www.70beersontap.com) in Ryogoku or at Antenna America (www. antenna-america.com) in Yokohama.

回ご紹 介した、ニューヨークのブルックリンブ

コエドナドは、 ダークとペールの2 種類の麦芽を使っ

リューイングと茨 城 の 常 陸 野ネストビールの

たダークエールで、 日本原産の麦芽ソラチエースと沖

コラボの話をおぼえていらっしゃるだろうか。今 回の

縄の黒砂糖、 そしてきな粉を使った複雑���風味とアロ

テーマも同じくコラボビール。サンディエゴのコロナドブ

マが特徴のビールだ。

リューイングと埼玉のコエドビールだ。 偶然にもこのふたつの醸造所はどちらも1996 年に

アルコール度数は9.5% 、 これは通常の日本のビー

設立され、中規模マイクロブリュワリーとして成功して

エースのレモンとミントの香りが複雑に絡みあう。苦味 も強めで、 ビールの苦味の国際単位 IBUは70ある。ほ

め、 日本へさまざまなクラフトビールの輸入を手がける

んの少し冷やして、大きなブランデーグラスなどで香り

ナガノトレーディングのアンドリュー・バルマスだ。

を楽しんでほしいビールだ。一言でいうならば、アメリカ

今年 9月、 コロナドビールのディレクター、 ショーン・デ 訪れたさい、醸造したのが小さなモンスターコエドナド。 この商品名はピートの提案によるものだ。 コエドビールの醸造者は水沼さんと植竹さん、 そして この個性的で興味深い醸造の仕掛け人は朝霧重治

の強いダークエールと控えめな甘さが特徴の日本のお 菓子をミックスしたビールだ。 この記事を読者の皆さまが読む頃には、 コエドナド は完売の可能性が高いが、東京両国にあるビールク ラブ・ポパイ、 もしくは横浜のアンテナアメリカへ行け ば飲むことができるかもしれない。

社長である。

Coedo Beer

Kawagoe, Saitama Phone: (049) 259-7735 Web: www.coedobrewery.com

Order online at: WWW.antenna-america.com

ルの2 倍。コーヒーやカラメルのようなアロマと、 ソラチ

いる。両者を引き合わせたのは、 コロナドビールをはじ

ウィットと醸造者のピート・ファレッタがコエドビールを

WE DELIVER ALL OVER JAPAN

EVERYDAY OPEN yokohama, Japan 045-315-5228

5 MIN FROM JR KANNAI 関内 ST. Coronado Beer

Coronado, California Web: www.coronadobrewingcompany.com

facebook.com/antennaamerica twitter.com/antennaamerica

WINTER 2014

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Return of the Humpbacks:

An Okinawa Success Story 戻ってきたザトウクジラ:沖縄の成功物語 By Tim Rock

数 十 年 前 、沖 縄 に ザ ト ウ ク ジ ラ が

戻ってこなくなった時期があった。

し か し 、今 で は 冬 に な る と

数百頭ものクジラが沖縄へ帰ってくる。

T R AV E L E R

ひ とめ

18

see these giants of the ocean in the wild.

who come to Okinawa Island and Zamami to

and whale watching attracts throngs of visitors

そしてその巨大な海の生き物を

Okinawa. Today, hundreds return each winter,

一目見ようと多くの観光客が

the humpback whales stopped coming to

沖縄諸島や座間味へやって来る。

There was a time, several decades ago, when


T

he Okinawa Islands are part of the larger Ryukyu island chain, which stretches from Kyushu all the way to Taiwan. Okinawa Island is the most populated; home to more than a million people, many of whom live in the capital, Naha. From spring to autumn, Okinawa is a tropical paradise, a place to unwind and enjoy warm weather, beautiful beaches, scuba diving and marine sports. Winter is a relatively quiet time to visit; yet over the past two decades whale watching tourism has grown significantly. About 500 humpback whales breed in waters around the Okinawa and Ogasawara Islands (also known as the Bonin Islands), a marine preserve 25 hours east of Tokyo by ship. It’s reasonable to think more remote islands, such as Ogasawara, would be the natural place to find whales. Although humpbacks frequent these waters, they don’t seem to care much about what’s happening on land. Like the waters around Oahu, another island with a population of more than a million, the whales can be found

州から台湾へひろがる琉球諸島の一部で ある沖縄には、百万人以上が暮らし、その

a short boat ride away from Okinawa Island and Naha. The whales instinctively return to their natural breeding grounds to birth and mate, as they have for thousands of years. The males fight over females in spectacular shows of testosterone, called heat runs, and the females protect their calves, eventually taking on an escort male to keep suitors away and to accompany them on the journey back to summer feeding grounds. They are long distance travelers. From spring to autumn, they travel the 3,200 miles to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and around the Attu and Kiska Islands to feed in the plankton-rich waters there. Every year between January and April, hundreds of humpback whales migrate back to Okinawa. After being hunted to the brink of extinction, humpbacks have been spotted around Okinawa’s main island since the mid 1980s.

The Easy Way Out As we finished our coffee, the van rolled up to our Naha

クジラを選び、夏の繁殖場へともに旅をする。 クジラは長距離移動が得意だ。春から秋にかけて、ロシ

hotel. Minutes later, we were at the dockside office of Marine House Seasir filling out a bit of paperwork. I walked across the street to the boat chatting with one of the friendly guides. Originally from Osaka, she said there’s nothing she loves more than going out to see whales, rain or shine. Two Seasir boats were docked and ready. Both spacious with open decks and enclosed cabins. My fellow passengers hailed from Taiwan, Japan, the U.S. and Europe and all walks of life. Ages ranged from young children to adults in their late 60s. We received a thorough briefing from the crew on whale behavior and how to spot the whales by recognizing the crew’s hand signals. As we ventured out of the harbor and into the open sea, we headed north up the coast of the main island. After no sightings, we went in the direction of Ie-shima off the Motobu Peninsula. This is when the excitement started. On this wavy day, the distant breaches could easily have been mistaken for whitecaps. But the keen eyes of the crew spotted something. We soon see a huge geyser of ocean spray in the distance as a drizzle of cool rain begins to fall.

の行動や、スタッフがクジラを見つけたときに手でおこなうサ インについて、一通りの説明を受けた。

多くの住民は県庁所在地の那覇に住んで

アのカムチャッカ半島からアッツ島、キスカ島といったプラン

北へ向けて港を出発したが、クジラの気配はなく、本 部

いる。

クトンが豊富なエリアへ、なんと3,200マイル (約5,150km) も

半島にある家島方面へ向かった。今日のような波のある日

春から秋にかけて沖縄はまさに楽園となる。暖かい気候

の距離を旅する。そして毎年1月から4月にかけて、数百頭

は、波頭とクジラのジャンプを見間違えることも多いが、ス

に美しいビーチ。スキューバダイビングをはじめ、さまざまなマ

ものザトウクジラが沖縄へ戻ってくる。絶滅寸前の危機をの

タッフの鋭い観察眼がついに何かをとらえたようだった。冷

リンスポーツを楽しみながらリラックスするのに最適な時期

り越えて、1980年中頃から沖縄でふたたび目撃されるように

たい小雨が降りだすのと同時に、はるかかなたに巨大な水

だ。冬は比較的落ちついた季節ではあるが、この20年でホ

なった。

しぶきがあがるのが見えた。雨が降るのもおかまいなしに、 シーサーのキャプテンはボートのスピードをあげる。そして

エールウォッチングの観光客が急増している。日本では沖 縄、または東京からフェリーで南へ25時間ほどかかる海洋保 護区小笠原諸島へ、年間約500頭のザトウクジラが繁殖の ために回遊してくる。

簡易脱出方法 コーヒーを飲みおえたところにホテルの前に迎えのバン

そこで僕らが目にしたのは、海面から身体を空に踊らせる ブリーチングをしたあと、尻 尾で豪快に海面をたたくクジラ だった。

小笠原のような、より人 気の少ない島のほうがクジラに

が来た。数分後、僕らはマリンハウス・シーサーでホエール

乗客たちがもっとよく見ようと上のデッキへ押しよせた。ザ

は向いていると思うけど、陸地で人間が何をしているのかな

ウォッチングの申込書に記入していた。僕は、道を隔てたと

トウクジラが波立つ海と雨を楽しんでいた。どうやら雌のク

ど、クジラには関係のないことのようだ。100万人以上が暮

ころにあるボートへ、親しげなガイドのひとりと歩いていった。

ジラとシーズンはじめに生まれた子クジラのようだった。母ク

らすオアフ島もそうだが、沖縄でも那覇やそのほかの島から

彼女は大阪出身で、雨だろうが晴れだろうが、とにかくクジ

ジラが子クジラにブリーチングを教えていた。このレッスンの

ボートで少し行けばクジラを見ることができる。

ラを見にいくのが楽しくてしかたがないと言う。

クジラは繁殖のために同じ場所へ戻ってくるという帰巣

マリンハウス・シーサーのボートが2隻停まっていた。デッ

間、クジラたちはその巨大な身体を完全に海から空へと舞 いあがらせていた。人間の存在など気にする様子もないク

本能がある。雄は雌を獲得するために、ヒートランとよばれ

キと室内キャビン付きでかなり広い。僕らのほかに、台湾、 ジラたちのすばらしいショーを、僕らはまさに目の前で見るこ

る男性ホルモンむきだしの荘厳なショーを繰り広げる。雌は

日本、アメリカ、ヨーロッパからの旅行客が乗っており、子

子クジラを守り、最終的にエスコート (繁殖相手) となる雄の

供から60 代後半とみられるお年寄りまでさまざまだ。クジラ

とができた。 母クジラは身体を横にしたり、あおむけで泳いだり、巨大

WINTER 2014

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20

T R AV E L E R


The incoming storm doesn’t sway the determined captain of the Seasir who speeds toward the action. As we approach, we could see we were in for a real treat. One breach, then another followed by a huge splash. We come in close and people scramble to the ship’s upper deck for a better view. The humpback whales were enjoying the choppy seas and rainy weather. It’s a female with her calf, which appears to have been born early this season. She’s teaching her baby to breach. During these lessons, the whales launch their huge bodies completely out of the water. We had front row seats to this amazing show as they played unfazed by our presence. The mother would swim on her side, lie on her back and clap her huge pectorals together above the water. There were plenty of tail slaps and the baby would sneak some looks at us above the water, but he really seemed to be enjoying learning to breach. Despite wet and windy conditions, we witnessed some great humpback displays. The trip was not without its casualties, and the friendly crew helped a few with seasickness. Once tucked into the lee of the Okinawan mainland again, most people began to feel better and reveled in the spectacle they had just witnessed.

Zamami Whale Spotters Twenty miles (32 km.) southwest of Okinawa Island, you’ll run into a chain of subtropical islands called the Keramas. Although they are easily accessible by sea or air, they remain idyllic. Only four of the Kerama 22 islands are inhabited: Aka, Geruma, Tokashiki and Zamami.

Zamami is a whale-watching center about an hour from Naha’s Tomari Port. A comfortable, albeit slightly pricey, high-speed ferry leaves each day at 9 a.m. It’s easy to do a day trip to Zamami, so we decided to go and have a look around the island. As we neared Zamami, we spotted Aka-jima and Gerumajima, two islands connected by Aka-ohashi Bridge. A small airport was visible on Geruma Island. Off in the distance there are undeveloped islands with primeval forests where the protected species of Kerama deer live. As you enter the Zamami Harbor, a statue of a breaching whale protrudes from the sapphire sea. In a park nearby the island’s school kids covered a wall with paintings of whales. We were clearly in the right place. The sea that surrounds the Keramas is supplied from the Kuroshio Current feeding healthy coral reefs and creating a rich diversity of sea life. In winter, it’s all about the whales but, in the warmer months, this is a great place for diving, snorkeling, fishing and sea kayaking. Above the sea, well-marked hiking trails lead to lush, green hills and unspoiled beaches where sea turtles lay their eggs in sandy nests. A trail heads straight up from the village to a scenic park and the Mt. Takatsuki Observatory. The viewpoint overlooks Agonoura Bay, taking in the turquoise coral reefs, sandy beaches and tucked-away pearl farms. This picturesque stretch of land forms the island’s northwestern peninsula, while nearby Inazaki Observatory looks out across the rocky northern coast. In all, there are nine such well-placed observatories where spotters, employed by the Zamami Whale Watching Association,

な胸ビレで拍手したり、尻尾で水をたたいたりしていた。子

一辺倒になるが、暖かい季節にはダイビングやシュノーケリ

クジラも海面から顔をだして、僕らの様子をうかがったりして

ング、フィッシング、そしてカヤックなどが楽しめる。

いたが、楽しそうにブリーチングのレッスンを受けているよう にみえた。

leisure

activities

陸地にはみずみずしい緑の丘や、ウミガメが産卵に来 るような手つかずのビーチへ続くトレイルがある。村から

雨と風というコンディションではあったが、僕らが見たのは

高 月山展望台へとつづく トレイルもあり、ターコイズブルー

まちがいなく最高のものだった。船酔いした乗客も何人か

のサンゴ礁と、白いビーチの奥にある真珠の養殖場などを

いて、スタッフが介抱にあたっていたが、沖縄諸島本土の

擁する阿護の浦湾を見渡すことができる。

風下へ入るとほとんどの人が回復し、たった今見た光景を

sports

まるで絵に描いたような景色のこのエリアが島の北西部

思いだしてはだれもが興奮していた。

の半島にあたり、一方、稲 崎展望台は岩でできた北の海

座間味のホエールスポッター

エールウォッチング協会のスタッフが双眼鏡とともに一日クジ

discover the

岸を望む。島にはこういった展望台が9か所あり、座間味ホ

亜熱帯の慶良間諸島は沖縄諸島から南西へ約32キロに

ラの監視にあたっている。ボートキャプテンたちは無線で連 絡を取り合い、ゆっくりと注意深くクジラたちに近づくのだ。

ある。海からも空からもアクセスはよいが、いまだのどかで素

今回の旅行ではハートランド・マリンショップの美川ももさ

朴さの残る島でもある。22ある島のうち、人が住んでいるの

んがガイドをしてくれる。元気で明るい彼女は、クジラを尻尾

は4島のみ。阿嘉島、慶留間島、渡嘉敷島と座間味島だ。

の特徴で見分ける方法をどうやってあみだしたのかを教えて

座間味は、那覇の泊港から約1時間の場所にあるホエー

くれた。彼らはブログも毎日更新しており、慶良間のクジラ

ルウォッチの中心地だ。料金はやや高いが、乗り心地抜群

にかんする本を出版している。美川さんは英語も流暢で、 ハー

の高速フェリーが毎朝9時に出港する。僕らは、座間味へ

トランドをどのようにつくりあげてきたかなども話してくれた。

は日帰り旅行が可能なので行くことにした。 座間味に近づくと、阿嘉島と慶留間島が結ばれている

「 ‘80年代のはじめ頃、クジラがここへ戻ってこなくなってし まったんですが、’ 85年に2頭あらわれ、そのあと一年ごとに

阿嘉大橋が見えた。慶留間島にある小さな空港も見える。

数頭ずつ増えていきました。今では、私たちがわかっている

遠くに見える未開の島々には太古の森が広がり、天然記

だけでも300頭以上のクジラがいます」

念物に指定されているケラマジカが住んでいるという。 座間味港へ到着してまず目に入ってきたのは、サファイ

座間味ホエールウォッチング協会のガイドのもと、ホエー ルウォッチングに関する規定を自らに課すことで、ここ沖縄

ア色の海からブリーチングしているクジラの像。近くの公園

へザトウクジラが戻ってくる環境を守っている。ここ北部のザ

には、地元の小学生が描いたクジラの壁画がある。間違い

トウクジラが守られているのは彼らの努力のおかげだ。

なく目的地へ到着したようだ。 豊かな黒潮に育まれた慶良間諸島をかこむ海には、元気 なサンゴ礁と多様な海洋生物が生息している。冬はクジラ

possibilities

www.picresorts.com

翌日、天気がよくなったので、ふたたび海へ出ることにし た。美川さんは波止場で待っていてくれて、数分後には、ベ トナム、台湾、グアムの観光客とともに乗船した。

For reservations, contact us at: +1 (670) 234-2042 reservations@picsaipan.com WINTER 2014

21


spend the day perched with binoculars. Boat captains are radioed coordinates, allowing for a careful, low-speed approach to the whales. During our recon trip, it was good fortune to run into the effervescent Momo Mikawa, the head whale guide for Heart Land Marine Shop. She explained how they created their own whale identification system using the whale’s signature tails. They update their blog daily and have published a book about Kerama’s whales. Momo’s English is excellent, and it was fascinating to hear about what Heart Land had compiled over the years. “In the early ’80s, the whales stopped coming here,” Momo said. “Then, in 1985, two whales showed up. Each year after it was a couple more. We have identified so many; there could be over 300, or more now.” Under the guidance of the Zamami Whale Watching Association, self-imposed whale watching rules have been implemented to help ensure the sea around Okinawa will

The mother would swim on her side, lie on her back and clap her huge pectorals together above the water. There were plenty of tail slaps and the baby would sneak some looks at us above the water, but he really seemed to be enjoying learning to breach. 母クジラは身体を横にしたり、あおむけで泳いだり、巨大な胸ビレで 拍手したり、尻尾で水をたたいたりしていた。子クジラも海面から顔を だして、僕らの様子をうかがったりしていたが、楽しそうにブリーチング のレッスンを受けているようにみえた。

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continue to be a breeding place for humpback whales. So far, this group of northern humpbacks has been quite the success story. The next day the weather looked better, so we headed out. Momo was waiting for us at the dock and in minutes our small group, hailing from Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Guam, was on board. As the boat left the harbor, we passed by a sandy spit that melted into the sea in an array of oscillating cobalt, mint blue and indigo. This is a big marine preserve and is a prized scuba destination. Momo gave a briefing as we passed Unaji-no-sachi Point and into the open sea. We went north of Zamami into the area we had surveyed from the Inazaki outpost the day before. “The bottom here is maybe 100 meters deep,” Momo said. “But it has sea mounts that come up to 40 meters. The whales like this area.” She adds that it drops off into

an abyss farther west and bigger whales, such as sperm whales, have been seen there. The beauty of the spotter program is that there isn’t a lot of time wasted searching for humpbacks. The boats already know where the whales are that morning after receiving intel. Humpbacks rarely dive for more than 20 minutes so, when one does, the guide and captain do their best to predict where it will surface. Humpbacks are shy but curious. When one sees a boatload of whale watchers, it often stops to have a look or at least slows down. So even though boats try to maintain a certain distance out of respect for the whales, the whales may come right up to the boat anyway. That’s what happened to us. There were three or four pairs surfaced as we looked on; they drew long breaths and then sounded again. No big breaches or amazing aquabatics, but a sunny and enjoyable morning. I took a stroll into town to grab a bite and, as I made my

way back to the pier, I passed a few traditional homes made of weathered wood and red tile roofs. Often a guardian shisa was placed on the rooftop and hinpun (walls) surrounding them. This was a traditional way to ward off evil. Other buildings were more modern, giving the village an eclectic charm. We had time for one more trip out before heading back on the afternoon ferry. The wind died down, and we came across some curious whales. There were fewer boats out, and our whales were feeling braver. Much to our delight, they stayed near our ship, floating in the water for long stretches. My guess is they were two “teenagers,” probably a couple of young males hanging out together. When they went directly under our boat you could see the white of their pectorals in the translucent blue water. With Momo acting as head whale cheerleader, the group applauded the whales’ performance until it was time to head back. We shared a quick drink and admired each other’s photos. If you are a serious whale photographer, the Whale Watching Association can arrange private boat charters in smaller boats with experienced whale captains. Snorkeling with the whales is not allowed, and there are only a few places in the world where it is. From the deck of the Zamami Queen we waved long good-byes, saying farewell to Zamami Island. Whether you’re a veteran whale watcher or have never experienced the thrill of whale watching, this is a great place to see the largest creatures on earth up close and personal. ✤

港を出ると、コバルトブルー、ミントブルー、インディゴブ

ルウォッチングのボートがあるのを見つけると、クジラはだい

隻出ていたが、そのクジラは気にするでもなく、僕らのボート

ルーに色を変える砂の浅瀬を通りすぎた。ここは巨大な海

たい様子をうかがうために泳ぐのをやめるか、もしくは泳ぐス

まで近づいてきてくれて、かなり長いこと海面に浮かんでい

洋保護区で、スキューバダイビングのスポットとしてもとても

ピードを落とす。ボートが近づきすぎないようにしても、クジ

た。人間で言うならたぶんまだ10代の若いクジラで、オス2

人気のたかい場所である。

ラのほうからやってくる可能性もあるが、今回、僕らの場合

頭で遊んでいたのではないかと思う。彼らがボートの真下に

は、まさにそれが起きた。

来たときには透きとおった青い海に白い胸ビレが見えた。

美川さんの説明を聞きながら、女 瀬の崎を通りすぎる。 今回向かったのは、座間味の北部、前日に稲崎展望台か らチェックした場所だ。 「ここは水深100メートルくらいですが、40メートルの海山

僕らが見ていたのは3∼4ペアのクジラで、長い呼吸をし

美川さんを筆頭に、だれもがクジラたちの行動に拍手

たかと思ったら急潜行した。大きなブリーチングやジャンプを

喝采をした。クジラが帰ってしまったあと、乗客たちはみんな

するわけではなかったが、天気もよく、すばらしい朝となった。

自分が撮った写真を見せあっていた。

があり、クジラたちお気に入りの場所です」。また、西側に

街へ買い出しに行って、港へ帰る途中、雨風にさらされ

本格的にクジラを撮影したい人には、ホエールウォッチン

ある海溝付近ではマッコウクジラなど、もっと大きなクジラも

た木と赤いタイル屋根でできた伝統的な家があるのを発見

グ協会が小さめのプライベートボートと熟練のキャプテンを

見つかっているとのことだった。

した。このあたりの家屋の屋根にはたいてい守り神のシー

用意してくれる。クジラとシュノーケリングは禁止されており、

彼らの監視システムのおかげで、クジラを探しまわって時

サーが鎮座しており、そのシーサーを魔除けのためのヒンプ

世界でもそれができるのはほんの数か所だ。

間を無駄にすることがないのがなによりだ。朝のチェックで

ン壁(中国語の屏風のことで、沖縄では門の内側に魔除

クジラがどこにいるのかはすでにわかっている。また、クジラ

けの壁を作る)が囲んでいる。もちろん今風の建物もあるの

ホエールウォッチング体験者でも初心者でも、あの巨大な

は一度海の中へ姿を消すと、20分以上潜っていることはな

で、そのごちゃまぜ感がまたよい味を出している。

生物をあれほど間近で見ることができるこの島が、訪れるに

いので、キャプテンは次にどこにあらわれるのかを予測する。 ザトウクジラはシャイだが、同時に好奇心旺盛だ。ホエー

午後のフェリーまで、もう1ラウンドする時間があった。風

僕は、高速フェリーのデッキから座間味に別れを告げた。

値する目的地であることに疑いの余地はない。✤

が止んだ海で好奇心旺盛なクジラに出会った。ボートは数

WINTER 2014

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ESSENTIAL INFO 基本情報

GETTING THERE & AROUND: There are numerous daily flights to Naha from Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. It also hosts a number of international flights. Daily flights and ferries serve the Kerama Islands from Naha. ACCOMMODATION: Everything from five-star hotels to hostels is available in Naha. Zamami has a nice selection of small hotels and pensions and camping is available at Ama Beach. NAHA WHALE WATCHING: Whale watching boats go out every day from mid-January to March. You can expect to see whales 80 percent of the time. Bring binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens and image stabilization. Seasir runs daily tours leaving at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tours are roughly three hours long. ■ Marine House Seasir - Naha Branch   TEL: 0120-10-2743 (toll-free) / 098-869-6329 (Japanese)   090-5927-5598 (Mandarin / Cantonese) / 090-8668-6544   (English).   E-MAIL: english@seasir.com   WEB: www.seasir.com/en/whale.htm

ZAMAMI WHALE WATCHING: For travelers with more time, a trip to Zamami Island is an opportunity to tour one of Okinawa's outlying islands while enjoying whale watching at a more leisurely pace. Zamami also offers land-based conservatories for whale watching; a great venue for those who suffer from seasickness. Ferries for Zamami leave regularly from Tomari Port's South Pier in Naha. Ferry travel from Okinawa Island to Zamami takes 90-120 minutes. A high-speed ferry (Zamami Queen) takes 50-70 minutes. The Zamami Whale Watching Association offers tours starting at the end of December to the beginning of April. Daily tours are two-and-a-half hours long, leaving at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. from Zamami Port. Zamami has a Whale Watching Festival the last weekend of March. ■ Marine Center Heartland   CONTACT: Momo Mikawa   TEL: 098-987-2978   WEB: www5.ocn.ne.jp/~zamami/English.htm ■ Zamami Island   WEB: www.vill.zamami.okinawa.jp

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アクセス:東京をはじめとする日本の各都市から那覇へは毎 日何便も飛行機が飛んでいる。那覇から慶良間諸島への フェリーも毎日運航している。 宿泊:五つ星のホテルから安価なホステルまで、那覇には どんなタイプの宿泊施設でも選ぶことができる。座間味に は小さなホテルやペンションなどのほか、阿真 (あま) ビーチ にはキャンプ場がある。 那覇ホエールウォッチング:1月中旬から3月までホエール ウォッチング・ボートが毎日出航しており、80%の確率でクジ ラに出会える。双眼鏡やズームレンズつきのカメラは必需 品だ。シーサーでは毎日朝9時から午後1時までツアーをおこ なっている。ツアーの所要時間は約3時間。 ■ マリンハウス・シーサー 那覇店   〒900-0001 沖縄県那覇市港町2-3-13   TEL: 0120-10-2743   WEB: www.seasir.com/naha/whale/ 座間味ホエールウォッチング:時間があるなら座間味へぜひ 足をのばしていただきたい。ホエールウォッチングをしながら 沖縄の島々を楽しむことができる。また、座間味では陸上で ホエールウォッチングができる施設もあるので、船酔いを避 けたい方にはお薦めだ。 座間味ホエールウォッチング協会のツアーは12月終わりから 4月初旬まで。座間味港から10時半と13時に2時間半のツ アーが毎日行われている。3月の最終週の週末にはホエー ルウォッチングのお祭りも開催される。 フェリー:座間味へのフェリーは那覇の泊港の南湾から定 期的に出ており、90∼120分で到着する。高速船クイーンざ まみなら50∼70分。 ■ マリンセンター・ハートランド   担当:美川 もも   TEL: 098-987-2978   WEB: www5.ocn.ne.jp/~zamami/index.html ■ 座間味諸島   WEB: www.vill.zamami.okinawa.jp/


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25


Mission

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Impossible グリーンランドでの困難な任務

By Aaron Jamieson

About 180 kilometers into the mission, the gravity of the situation pulled me down like a lead weight toward the thick ice and the inky black bottom below. This was supposed to be a 100-kilometer recon trip across Greenland’s glorious frozen landscape. However, the original plan had long been discarded. Now we were literally stuck on a sea of ice in the middle of nowhere, and I was way outside my comfort zone. あらが

およそ180kmという行程は抗 うことのできない重力のように私にのしかか り、足下の厚い氷と、その下の漆黒の海底に引きずりこもうとした。グリー ンランドの荘厳な凍りついた山水を観測するこの旅は、おそらく100kmは 進んでいただろう。しかし、当初の計画はもろくも崩れ去り、私たちは凍り ついた大海原のどこかに立ちつくしていた。状況がかなり切迫しているの を、私は身にしみて感じていた。

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“I

s that it?” This was the thought that went through my head as I peered out the window of our Twin Otter plane as it descended toward Greenland. Jammed between baggage and boxes of supplies for our two-month expedition, I was peering down at the tiny collection of sheds and the strip of ice-covered dirt that is Greenland’s most northern airport. This outpost is the only way in or out of the northeast region of the largest island on the planet. I had been invited on this Australian Geographic-funded expedition as an “experienced” guide and cameraman and enthusiastically committed to the two-month filming assignment in one of the most remote places on earth. But as the plane plummeted toward the icy collection of rusty sheds, nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead. Six of us arrived to set up operations. A base camp manager, snow mobile mechanic, lead guide and three other guides, with two of us doubling as the film crew. Our mission was to capture the expedition, the people and the daily challenges of life in the Arctic. It would be the most challenging undertaking of my life and, as the plane skidded to a sliding halt, it was about to begin.

The Mission After a month of settling in and exploring the region, it was time for the longest reconnaissance mission of the expedition. Four of us left our tiny base camp near Nerlerit Inaat Airport early in the morning with fuel and provisions; each riding a snowmobile pulling a heavily laden trailer weighing nearly 250 kg. We all had experienced harsh winters. Phil Poole, our lead guide, had several years in Greenland under his belt. Gunilla Lindh grew up amid unforgiving Swedish winters, Darren Harris was an experienced skier from the French Alps and, although I grew up in Australia, I had spent the last seven winters in Hokkaido working as a photographer and guiding film crews in the north island’s legendary backcountry. Our plan was to travel the 100 kilometers to Sydkap Hut at the top of Scorseby Sund fjord, leaving a fuel depot stocked for future trips. We would reach the hut by early afternoon and spend the night. The next day, we would venture farther into Milne Land and see if we could find routes into some unexplored fjords, returning home in time for dinner that night. Poor weather, raging Arctic winds and variable snow and ice conditions forced us to traverse the length of Scorseby Sund fjord instead of cutting through the mountains. This turned out to be a disastrous mistake. We found ourselves navigating icebergs frozen into the sea ice, blanketed by fresh waist-deep snow. The route had doubled the distance and had taken its toll on us and the snowmobiles. It was now 9 p.m. and, although the sun was still teetering above the mountains, the temperature was

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T R AV E L E R


「あ

れかな?」。2ヶ月分の遠征の装備を満載し

た双発機ツインオッターの窓から、私は眼 下に広がるグリーンランドの凍てつく大地

に、ポツリと建つ小さな小屋と氷で覆われた滑走路を見つ めてつぶやいた。それはグリーンランドで最北にある飛行場 というだけではなく、地球上でもっとも大きなこの島の北東 エリアで唯一アクセスが可能な玄関口でもある。 私は、文明から隔絶されたこの場所へオーストラリア地 質調査隊による遠征メンバーのひとりとして招 聘された。 経験豊富なガイドとして、またカメラマンとして2ヶ月におよ ぶ撮影という任務を課せられていた。飛行機はすでにその 氷で覆われた小屋に向かい急降下を始めているというの に、私にはこれから起こることへの心の準備がまだできてい なかった。 その私たち6 名は、遠征の準備を整えるためにやってき た。ベースキャンプ・マネージャー、スノーモービルのメカニッ ク、ガイドをまとめるリーダーとガイド3人、そのうち私を含む2 人は撮影班としての任務も兼ねていた。それは遠征隊の、 北極圏での毎日を映像として残すことだった。飛行機が氷 の滑走路を滑り降りたとき、私の人生でもっとも過酷で挑戦 しがいのある任務が始まりを告げた。

ザ・ミッション (ある任務) この地域での1ヶ月にわたる準備と探査ののち、私たちは 今回の予定でもっとも長距離の任務に遂行することになっ た。早朝、ナーレリットイナート飛行場近くに設けたベース キャンプから燃料や装備を積んだ4台のスノーモービルに4 人のスタッフがそれぞれ乗り出発。その後には250kg近くの 荷物を積んだトレーラーが牽引されている。 このメンバーたちはすでに過酷な冬を経験していた。リー ダーのフィル・ポールはグリーンランドでの生活を何年か経 験していたし、グニーラ・リンドウは厳しい冬のスウェーデン で育った。ダレン・ハリスはフランスアルプスのベテランス キーヤーだ。私はオーストラリア育ちだが、過去7回の冬を 北海道で過ごし、その地でフォトグラファーとして、またよく知 られたバックカントリーでの、撮影のガイドとしても働いた経 験があった。 この任務の目的は100km先のシドカップ小屋に、将来の 遠征に備えて備蓄燃料を届けることだった。その場所はス コースベリースンド峡湾の上にある。当初の計画では午後 の早い時間に小屋に到着し夜をそこで過ごし、翌日はマイリ ンランドまで遠征して未踏の峡湾 (フィヨルド)へのルートを 可能ならば捜しだす。そして夕食までにはベースキャンプに 戻るというものだった。 悪天候に加えて北極圏の厳しい風と雪、そして氷の状 況に陥った私たちは、山越えのルートからやむなくスコース ベリー峡湾をトラバースすることにした。しかし、この判断が 悲惨な結果を招くことになった。しばらくすると、氷の海原に ある氷山と腰までつかる新雪のなかに私たちはいた。この ルートは距離が2 倍になり、私たちとスノーモービルに過大 な負担を課してしまった。 午後 9 時を過ぎても太陽はまだ山の上にあった。すでに

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Not long into the trip, we had hit deep snow and were covered from goggles to gloves. The snowmobiles were having trouble getting through, so we sent one machine out in front to break trail while the rear snowmobile towed two trailers. Hours of ploughing through the powder eventually killed the lead sled, and we were now in more than just deep snow; we were in deep shit.

We had been approaching the top of Scoresby Sund, the largest and longest fjord system in the world. Scoresby punctuates the southern tip of the Northeast Greenland National Park, the largest National Park on the planet – bigger than all but 30 countries in the world. This fjord system covers 38,000 square kilometers and plunges to 1,450 meters deep at its heart. It is high in the

Arctic Circle on Greenland’s northeast coast and is the birthplace of some of the largest icebergs on earth. It is true wilderness, a land ruled by polar bears. When we rounded the bottom of Jameson Land earlier that morning, we were buzzing with anticipation, eager for a glimpse of these gigantic 'bergs. We had pushed our snowmobiles and our bodies to the limit. We were exhausted. Suddenly, there they were; icebergs the size of cathedrals. From the moment you first spot one of these monsters, it could be several hours before you were able to see the full ’berg. The sheer scale is difficult to describe, except to say I have never felt so insignificant. Hundreds of these magnificent ice monsters were scattered across the fjord. Huge frozen peaks were visible in the distance with nothing else but flat white surrounding them. Only the ghostly shadows of the ’bergs and the footprints of bears patrolling the ice broke the spell of this view.

11 時間ほどスノーモービルに乗りつづけていた。気温は

野であり、支配するのは人間でなく北極熊だ。

てしまった。雪はさらに深くなり、私たちのトラブルもさらに深

plummeting below -30C. It had been a balmy -20C for most of the 11 hours we had just spent on snowmobiles. Totally exhausted, we now found ourselves staring at frozen sea ice, a broken down snowmobile and staring at polar bear tracks zig-zagging across our path. It was remote, incredibly cold and, while no one openly admitted it, we were all scared.

Scoresby Sund

-20 ℃ほどで居心地はよかった。だが、その頃から気温は

その日の早朝のうちはまだ巨大な氷山を見ることで期待

-30℃以下に下がりはじめていた。疲労感は極限に達して

に胸を弾ませながら、ジェムソンランドの低地を迂回してい

いた。そしてスノーモービルが故障し、立ち往生することに

た。私たちはスノーモービルを力のかぎり押して進んだ。そし

なった。私たちは凍りついた海原で、スノーモービルと北極

て疲労困憊したときに、そこに大聖堂のような氷山が出現

熊が残したジグザグの足跡を呆然と見つめた。ここは地球

した。

の極寒の最果てなのだと改めて思い直した時、私たちは突 然、恐怖に襲われていた。

スコースベリースンド峡湾

The Red Hut We managed to tow the broken snowmobile off the ice and onto the edge of the fjord. We dumped some fuel barrels, loaded our supplies onto three snowmobiles and set off again for the hut. The final 20 kilometers were slow going. Temperatures continued to drop, and we were losing visibility. The cloud cover was causing a misty, low-contrast whiteout on the fjord. It took us three freezing, gruelling hours.

みに向かっていた。

赤い小屋 壊れたスノーモービルを氷河の縁にやっとの思いで運びだ

これらの怪物をすべて見るには数時間がかかるだろう。そ

し、荷物を残りの3台に積み込み、燃料の入った重いタンク

のスケールの荘厳さは筆舌つくしがたい。ただ一言いえた

をいくつか置き捨て、目的の小屋に向かった。最後の20km

のは、そのとき私自身がいかに小さな存在か初めて気づい

は低速で進んだ。気温は下がりつづけ、視界は不良だった。

たことだった。

曇空の影響もありコントラストの低いホワイトアウトが氷河の

数百にのぼるこれら氷の怪物は峡湾のいたるところに点

上で起こった。それは極寒で疲弊した3時間であった。

私たちはスコースベリーの頂上を目指した。ここは世界

在していた。北極熊の形跡だけを見ることができる純白の

小さな赤い小屋が視界に現れた。氷河の縁に佇むその

でもっとも長くて大きい峡湾で、北東グリーンランド国立公

平野と、そびえ立つ巨大なピーク。そこには霊的な気配を

小屋を見た瞬間は人生でもっともすばらしい瞬間にも感じら

園の南部に位置している。この国立公園そのものも世界

感じさせる影が不気味さを漂わせていた。

れた。この放置された狩猟用の小屋にはヒータはおろか快

でもっとも大きく、世界各国の面積と比較しても30 番目を 誇る。

ほどなくして私たちはゴーグルやグローブまでも覆う深い

適なものはなにもなかったが、屋外でテントを張ることを思え

雪に行く手を阻まれた。このままでは先に進むのが困難に

ば風を遮ってくれるだけではなく、北極熊から襲われる心配 もなかった。

この峡湾は38,000 平方 kmの広さがあり、水深・断崖は

なったために、1台で道を切り開き、残りのスノーモービルで

1,450m。グリーンランドの北極圏ではもっとも高く、また世

2台のトレーラーを引くことにした。だが数時間にわたって雪

その夜の気温は-35℃を記録した。壊れた窓から雪が吹

界最大級の氷山もここから生まれる。ここは正真正銘の原

をかき分けているうちについに先頭のスノーモービルが壊れ

きこむ。小屋の気温は外気温と変わらなかった。私はスリー

30

T R AV E L E R


WINTER 2014

31


The sight of the tiny red hut, tucked into the edge of the fjord, was one of the most wonderful moments of my life. This abandoned hunting shelter had no heating or comforts, but it was out of the wind and much safer from bears than a tent on the ice. That night temperatures hit -35C and snowdrifts blew in through broken windows, accumulating beside our sleeping bags. It was every bit as cold inside as it was outside. I hunkered down in my bag with the drawstring pulled tight, completely covered except for a tiny breathing hole. I lay there, waiting for morning to come, and managing a few sporadic hours of sleep. I emerged from my sleeping bag to the sound of ice crackling. It was the frozen condensation from my breath. Temperatures hadn’t changed and visibility was worse. We boiled some snow, had a quick freeze-dried packet for breakfast and started planning our return route. An assessment of our situation revealed we’d used more than twice the fuel we’d planned just to reach the hut. Any chance of further reconnaissance had passed, and leaving fuel in the depot was out of the question. We’d need all of it retracing our steps. Now it was all about making it back to the base.

Getting Home After refuelling, our little convoy limped back across the fjord toward the abandoned snowmobile. With visibility at about five meters, we navigated purely by GPS waypoints and, with a small amount of luck, came across the broken snowmobile without encountering any polar bears. We quickly reorganized. One snowmobile would tow the disabled sled and the other two would have to pull two trailers each. With deep snow and the weight behind each snowmobile, stopping was not an option. If we stopped, we were bogged. If we were bogged, the chances of surviving out there were slim. For four hours the two snowmobiles did their best to create a path for the trailing sled. There was no visibility, just endless white ahead and temperatures hovering around -20C. When we finally stopped on solid ground, no one moved. We were frozen in position, exhausted and only a quarter of the way home.

Reviving ourselves with a hot cup of tea, we checked on everyone’s condition and prepared for another 10 hours in the saddle. Two-hundred kilometers to the east of our location, clinging to the frozen coastline, is a tiny village called Ittoqqortoormiit. The settlement is home to 450 people. North of Ittoqqortoormiit, there are no known permanent settlements. To the south, some 800 kilometers of glaciated mountainous terrain separate Ittoqqortoormiit from its closest neighbouring village. Our base was our closest refuge, and the four shipping containers seemed like an oasis in this frozen desert. We pressed on. After hours of sitting in the same position on a snow mobile, with your thumb locked on the throttle, you enter a trance-like state. The icebergs hold little interest as you drift by their frozen shapes, consumed by the single-minded purpose of getting back. With so little to stimulate your mind, and so much time to think, you drift into strange states. With eyes wide open, I was essentially asleep at the wheel. As the day blended into twilight, driving the sleds became more treacherous. We nodded off at the wheel, waking when helmets bumped the handlebars. Twice I accidentally hit the kill switch on my snowmobile with my visor. It’s not a pleasant feeling waking up at 50 km. per hour. as your snowmobile slows to a halt in deep snow while other sleepdeprived drivers are close behind. It took all of our strength to fight off exhaustion, and I found myself losing the battle. Glances between us confirmed we shared the same fear; we wanted it to be over. As twilight finally gave way to the few hours of darkness that descends this time of year, we caught our first glimpse of the lights of the camp far in the distance. We stopped and, after a moment of relief, we prepared for the home stretch, one of the worst sections of the journey. The 30-kilometer stretch contained ferocious sastrugi – a wind blown, hard-packed, corrugated, ice, snow and dirt surface that comprises the unsuitably named Hurry Fjord.

An unrelenting wind howls down a cleft in the mountains to the north of the fjord and scours the surface of the ice with a brutality hard to measure. It is like trying to ride a jackhammer across a surface kicking back at you. I vividly recall nature exerting her power on us here. No matter how slow or carefully we navigated the random spines of ice, we got slammed, tossed and thrown in every direction as the loads were shaken loose in the trailers. It was hell. We limped slowly into camp some time between midnight and 2 a.m. We had made it. When our base camp manager and Dean Miller, my filming partner, met us, it was elation verging on tears. “Deano” is a fellow Australian and a good mate. He had been the driving force of this Greenland trip. He is an unfatigable cameraman known for demanding above all else, “Did you get the shot!?” He has lived and worked in Antarctica, Russia and points all over the world and is famed for standing down a polar bear charge with his video camera running, just to capture the footage. It’s always footage first, safety second with Deano. He gave me a hug and didn’t say a word. The silence spoke of worry and immense relief. There were no questions about filming or the state of the $50,000 worth of equipment I’d just dragged for what felt like days behind my snowmobile. In fact, we had spent 41 hours on snowmobiles and covered more than 400 kilometers of terrain. We’d endured deep powder, sastrugi and unimaginable temperatures and had traversed the length of the largest fjord in the world – twice. During the brutal last push, I had lost sensation in my nose, fingers and toes. After I crawled into my sleeping bag, a burning pain spread to my extremities as blood reached them again. Yet I lay there and enjoyed the pain, a welcome reminder I was no longer on the snowmobile. I know now that to live in the Arctic means suffering and to physically and mentally face incredibly harsh conditions. Mistakes here have severe consequences, and there are daily reminders of how insignificant you are amidst this frozen landscape. Yet, the suffering only heightens the reward – a natural beauty beyond description. ✤

The suffering only heightens the reward – a natural beauty beyond description. りょうが

ここに住む苦難を凌 駕するものがある。それは言葉では言い尽くせない大自然の美しさだ。

32

T R AV E L E R


ピングバッグに潜り込み、フードの紐を強く引き、呼吸のた

私たちのベースキャンプは避難所に近

めの小さな穴だけを残して閉じた。そして床に横たわって散

かった。私たちが運び据え付けた4つの

発的に眠りながら朝が来るのを待った。朝になり、バッグか

コンテナは凍りついた砂漠にあるオアシ

ら抜けだすと私の吐く空気が凍っていて氷が砕ける音が同

スのようなものだった。

時に起こった。 気温は変わらず視界はさらに悪化していた。雪を溶かし て湯を沸かし、フリーズドライの食物で朝食を取った。そして 帰りのルートをどうするか考えた。

スノーモービルのスロットルを開けたま ま何時間もそこに乗りつづけていると、 一種のトランス状態に陥ってしまう。帰 還することだけに意識を集中していたた

状況を冷静に分析すると、予定よりも2倍の燃料を消費

めに、美しい氷山の横を通りすぎても興

していた。これ以上の調査も燃料をここに残すことも論外

味はあまり湧くことはなかった。気持ちを

だった。思いはただひとつ、登ってきた階段を戻り、ベース

鼓舞することもなく、さらに長時間集中し

キャンプへとたどり着くことだけだった。

ていたことも影響して、異常な精神状態

家路へ

ていたにも関わらず、私は一種の睡眠状態にあった。

に陥ってしまっていた。眼は大きく見開い そしてついに私たちはもたつきながらキャンプに生還する

薄暮のなか、スノーモービルを運転しながら私たちは睡魔

ことができた。真夜中の2時くらいだったと思う。ベースキャ

燃料を給油した後、私たちの小さな旅団はたどたどしい

に襲われるという危険に身をさらした。何度もヘルメットをハ

ンプのマネージャーと撮影パートナーのディーン・ミラーに出

足取りで峡湾を渡り、乗り捨てたスノーモービルのところま

ンドルにぶつけては眼を覚ました。私は、二度もエンジン停

迎えられたときは思わず涙がこぼれそうになった。

で戻った。視界は5mほどしかなく、GPSだけが頼りだった。さ

止スイッチを頭のバイザーで押してしまう失態を犯した。深

彼、ディーノはオーストラリア人で私のよき友人だ。彼は

さやかな幸運が味方してくれたおかげか、北極熊に遭遇す

い雪の中、時速50kmで走りながら突然エンジンを停止して

今回の旅の牽引者として振る舞った。疲れをしらないカメラ

ることはなかった。

しまうのは楽しい行為ではない、しかもすぐ近くには睡魔と

マンであり、 「写真は撮ったか?」が口癖で、それが彼の最

私たちは迅速に旅団を再編成した。壊れたスノーモービ

戦いながら走る仲間がいるのだ。

重要課題なのだ。彼は南極やロシアなど世界のいたるとこ ろで暮らしたことがある。また彼は、北極熊に襲われたとき

ルを1台で牽引し、残りの2台がそれぞれのトレーラーを牽引

その睡魔は、疲弊と闘おうとする私たちの気持ちを削ごう

することにした。深い雪とスノーモービルが牽引する重量を

とした。この闘いにはもう勝てないと私は思っていた。周り

にもビデオカメラを回しつづけた強者だ。常日頃、ディーノ

考慮すると、なにがあっても新雪の上で停止することはでき

の仲間を見ても同じ恐怖に怯えているようにみえた。もう終

にとって撮影は身の安全よりも重要なのだ。

なかった。もし停まってしまったら、沼にはまったのと同じこと

わりにしたいという気持ちだけだった。

だ。もしそうなってしまうと、この状況から抜けだすことは難し

薄暮から、この季節にほんの数時間だけ訪れる夜になっ

だが、彼は何も語らず私を抱きしめた。その沈黙こそが、 私が帰還できたことへの彼の気持ちを表現していた。撮影

た。すると遥かかなたにキャンプの灯りがあるのを見つけた。

のことも、スノーモービルで牽引してきた5万ドルの装備につ

私たちはスノーモービルを停止させて安堵を感じることがで

いても、彼から一切質問はなかった。事実、私たちは41時

すための道を懸命に作りつづけた。視界はほとんどなく、終

きたが、同時にこの旅のもっとも過酷な区域ための準備を

間もの間、スノーモービルの上で過ごし、400km以上もこの

わりなき白い世界がどこまでも続き、気温は-20℃を維持し

もしなければならなかった。

くなる。

2台のスノーモービルは4時間にわたって壊れた1台を通

た。そしてついに私たちは固く締った氷上にたどり着くことが

これからの30kmは、サストルジといわれる強風、雪庇、雪

できた。私たちの身体は凍りつき疲れ果てていたが、帰り

のうね、氷、雪などによって荒れた大地が続くが、それはハ

の道程はまだやっと4分の1を過ぎただけだった。

リー峡湾という似つかわしくない名前で呼ばれている。

温かい紅茶で元気をつけて、お互いのコンデションを確 認しながら次の10時間の運転の準備をした。 私たちのいる場所から東へ200km行くと凍りついた海岸

大地を走破した。深いパウダースノー、サストルジ、想定外 の極寒に耐え、そして世界でもっとも長い峡湾を二度も横 断していた。 キャンプにたどり着くまでの最後の試練で、私は鼻と指、

容 赦ない強風が山々の裂け目からその峡湾に向かって

そして足のつま先の感覚を失っていた。スリーピングバッグ

吹きつけ、氷の表面を削り取っていく。それはまるで削岩機

に潜り込んで身体を暖めていると、血液が全身に流れだし

かのようだ。

凍傷の痛みが駆け巡った。身を横たえたまま私はその痛み を楽しみ、これでしばらくはスノーモービルに乗らなくてすむと

にイットクオトーミットという小さな村がある。住人は450名ほ

私には大自然がそのパワーを思う存分発揮している様子

どだ。その町から北にはだれも住む人はいない。氷河によ

が鮮やかに感じることができた。私たちが慎重にかつ細心

る山脈によって、この村は近くの村からも隔絶している。

の注意で氷の刺をかわしていこうとしても、私たちは押し倒

北極圏に住むことは苦難であることを私は悟った。それは

され、こづかれ、そしてさまざまな方向からトレーラーに積ま

肉体的だけでなく精神的にも過酷な環境に晒されるという

れた荷物を揺さぶりつづけた。それはまるで地獄であった。

ことなのだ。この地での失敗はときには取り返しのつかない

いう安堵感に心が和んだ。

結果を招く。この凍てつく大地では自分自身の小ささに毎日 気づかされる。だがここに住む苦難を凌駕するものがある。 それは言葉では言い尽くせない大自然の美しさだ。✤

WINTER 2014

33


PHOTO ESSAY

10 years

On the Road a Car Danchi

Flashback By Neil Hartmann Photos by Matt Georges

T

ime is a fickle creature, sometimes creeping along, other times so fast you can’t keep up. There are many ways to measure time, from atomic clocks and Swiss watches, to hourglasses, sundials or just watching a shadow on a wall. Somewhere in between is my personal favorite - kilometers per hour.

Nearly 10 years ago I picked up a video camera and hit the pavement to document the snowboarding and lifestyle of my friends here in Hokkaido. Since then we have spent countless hours on the road and many cold nights in our vehicles in search of the magic elixir – Japanese powder. The Car Danchi film series started with a tight knit crew. We drove around Japan’s northern island searching for great backcountry spots to hike and ride. We slept in our cars and campers regardless of weather or temperature, and this became our trademark. Today, stories of deep, endless powder in Japan have spread overseas, attracting ski bums and socialites from around the globe to hot spots such as Hakuba and Niseko. They come for the snow but soon discover the hot springs, amazing food, friendly people and incredible service are equally good reasons to come back for more. Word of the “Danchi” lifestyle has also gotten out. Each year I get more calls from people wanting to partake in the Car Danchi lifestyle. This past year well-known snowboarder and Japan lover, Antti Autti, bombarded my inbox with questions and travel dates for the winter. He was coming with a crew of riders and filmer/photographers and they had one simple request. “We must do Car Danchi! We want to sleep in our cars and travel the north island like you guys do!” he said. That was all I needed to hear and soon the wheels were in motion. Our crew would join theirs at the end of January for an international “Danchi” bonanza. This fantastic journey was documented by a talented young photographer from France named Matt Georges. He enjoyed the trip so much, he came back with his fiancé in October to spend another week traveling “Danchi-style” around Hokkaido and soaking in the autumn splendor.

34

T R AV E L E R


Claim your life status loud and proud "Viva la Car Danchi!"

WINTER 2014

35


Home is where you park it. But be sure to get a warm sleeping bag and never leave your car running when sleeping.

Alvaro Vogel tests the rumors and tries to find out how deep Hokkaido powder really is.

36

T R AV E L E R


Sit back, relax and enjoy the roadside view. Antti Autti tweaks one for the road.

Left: Life on the road can seem like a continual battle to get your gear dry every night. Right: Advising our guests on the proper Japanese Danchi breakfast options.

WINTER 2014

37


Mountain guide and Hokkaido local Shinya staying composed in the thick of it.

Twenty years in Hokkaido and 10 years living the Danchi life makes me the official advisor—plus I have my secret map of roadside spots.

38

T R AV E L E R


Tyler Chorlton is from Andorra; nobody knew where that was, so he did his best to leave a lasting impression.

Left: Antti takes a short cut at the nightly onsen to get his gloves dry before getting back in the car to continue the journey. Bottom: Yusuke Mino under fire from the cameras makes his own barrel to ride through.

With Car Danchi we have been exploring all over northern Japan for the last 10 years. What does the next decade hold? I see more and more people from around the world visiting and getting addicted to the winter paradise we have here. I myself have only scratched the surface of what can be done here. So many resorts, so many roads and so many unseen mountain passes. The only thing I wish I had more of is time.

WINTER 2014

39


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Next to Hotel La Neige Honkan

Inside of Noah’s Gondola Sta.

Next to Tsugaike Tourism Board

Inside of Tsuganoyu Building

[Time]7:30-17:00 [Time]8:00-17:00 [Time]7:30-17:00 [Time]8:00-17:00 [Tel]+81-261-72-2857 [Tel]+81-261-72-2479 [Tel]+81-261-83-2240 [Tel]+81-261-83-2277

40

T R AV E L E R


Download the free iOS App!

Photo by Hayden Buck

Park

ICON LEGEND

Park

Halfpipe

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Night Skiing

Ski School

Ropeway

Gondola

Quad Lift

Gear Rental

Kids Facilities

Triple Lift

Double Lift

Single Lift

Snow Carpet Resort opening and closing times and lift schedules may vary from day to day and season opening and closing dates may change depending on conditions. Please check with the resort directly before you go.

WINTER 2014

41


HOKKAIDO

Kamui Ski Links

T

he general rule with skiing is, the farther north you go, the better the snow. Well, you can’t go any farther north in Japan than Hokkaido, and the area rightfully creates the biggest buzz for people in search of deep powder. The reason for this is simple; Hokkaido consistently gets the best snow conditions, and Niseko in particular is recognized as a world-class ski resort, rivaling the long-established ski areas in Europe and North America. However, anyone thinking Hokkaido is a one-trick pony will be pleasantly surprised to find there are some great ski areas all over Japan’s north island.

Furano Kiroro Snow World

Sahoro

Niseko Grand Hirafu Niseko Village Niseko Annupuri Rusutsu Tomamu

NISEKO NISEKO GRAND HIRAFU, NISEKO ANNUPURI, NISEKO VILLAGE RESORT

Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido Niseko United: www.niseko.ne.jp

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Niseko Annupuri

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,156m Base Elevation: 400m Beginner Lifts

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Longest Course: 4,550m Top Elevation: 1,030m Base Elevation: 308m

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Longest Course: 5,600m Top Elevation: 1,170m Niseko Village Base Elevation: 280m Longest Course: 5,000m Top Elevation: 1,175m Base Elevation: 280m

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Niseko Village Resort

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Niseko gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It is the most international ski resort in Japan and consistently gets some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The mountain, Mt. Annupuri (which, in Ainu, means White Mountain), is home to three ski resorts: Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village (formerly Niseko Higashiyama) and Niseko Annupuri. Collectively they form Niseko United and share a common lift pass. The Hanazono area of Niseko

Grand Hirafu is independently managed, and one of the more progressive areas on the mountain, featuring three terrain parks and the only FIS Half Pipe in Japan, which is well maintained throughout the season, and a bag jump, where you can safely practice your freestyle tricks. Niseko Village (which is a 10-minute drive from the main Hirafu Village area) also has nice facilities and a lot of activities. Niseko Annupuri keeps the lowest profile of the three, but has some nice areas that can be less crowded. Other nearby resorts are Niseko Moiwa and Niseko Weiss. The lifts are no longer running at Weiss, but cat tours service the area. While a few other resorts may challenge Niseko’s claim to the best powder in Japan, there is no doubt Niseko has the best, and widest, selection of restaurants and accommodations in Japan. The infrastructure is well organized, with efficient bus service to/from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport and a shuttle bus that takes visitors to the various resorts. On one of those rare mid-season clear days, the view of Mt. Yotei from the slopes is the quintessential image of skiing in Japan.

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By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station ACCESS to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport

NISEKO VILLAGE (0136) 44-2211 Dec. 1 - Apr. 6

www.niseko-village.com 8:30 - 16:30 (16:30 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,800

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station ACCESS to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport

NISEKO HANAZONO RESORT (0136) 23-0103 Dec. 7 - Apr. 6

www.hanazononiseko.com 8:30 - 16:00

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,600

Park

By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station ACCESS to Kutchan Station By Car: 120 minutes from Sapporo City and New Chitose Airport More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2014

43


RUSUTSU RESORT

Rusutsu, Hokkaido

(0136) 46-3331 http://en.rusutsu.co.jp Nov. 21 - Apr. 4 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥5,100 TICKET Kids ¥2,550

Rusutsu is more than a good day trip from Niseko. It’s an excellent all-round mountain with 37 courses over three mountains: Mt. Isola, East Mountain and West Mountain. Powder lovers will love the big valleys full of deep tree runs funneling down to the modern, efficient lifts, and everyone will enjoy the views of the back side of Mt. Yotei and the quieter alternative to bustling Niseko. The ski-in/ski-out Rusutsu Resort Hotel is the most convenient place to stay with hot springs, day care, fireworks during Christmas and New Year and a variety of great activities.

Park

30% 4

4

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 7

30% 4

Advanced

37

courses

Longest Top E Base E

30% 8

Park

Beginner Intermediate Station ACCESS By Train: 120 minutes from Sapporo Station to Kutchan Lifts Gondola By Car: 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport

Advanced

KIRORO SNOW WORLD (0135) 34-7111 www.kiroro.co.jp/english/ Nov. 23 - May 6 9:00 - 20:00 (16:30-19:30)

Longest Course: 3,500m Top Elevation: 994m Base Elevation: 400m

37

courses

Akaigawa, Hokkaido 1 DAY Adults ¥5,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Kiroro is a relatively new ski resort (it opened in 1992). It is just 30 kilometers west of Sapporo and easily reachable from Niseko, so is a nice place to explore from either area. The resort has great facilities, some amazing views of the Japan Sea and the natural surroundings and gets a lot of snow from midDecember until early May. If Kiroro has one major drawback, it would be a lack of challenging terrain. However, there are powder pockets and plenty of gentle slopes for beginners and children. The "Powder Zone" opens from the middle of January to the middle of March. Kiroro also has one of the best base lodges in Japan, complete with a hot spring to soak away the day’s bumps and bruises and an adjacent hotel with good restaurants.

Park

33% 1

2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

29% 4

33% 1

Advanced

21

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E

38% 4

Park

Beginner byIntermediate car from ACCESS By Car: About 30 minutes by car from Otaru or 80 minutes Lifts Gondola downtown Sapporo

Advanced

Longest Course: 4,050m Top Elevation: 1,180m courses Base Elevation: 570m

21

SAPPORO KOKUSAI

Sapporo, Hokkaido

(0115) 98-4511 www.sapporo-kokusai.jp Nov. 22 - May 6 9:00 - 18:00

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥1,000

If you ski or snowboard, Sapporo is hard to beat. Residents can get a few quick runs just 15 minutes from downtown at Sapporo Bankei. However, many families make the one-hour drive out to “Kokusai,” which offers more choices for beginners and intermediate skiers and has a nice park. Although this is a day-trip resort, it does attract a spattering of international guests who find it hard to stay in the city when snow is falling. Most will be pleasantly surprised as this coastal resort gets its fair share of powder days and offers some varied, albeit fairly short, runs and a small, but decent park. Night skiing is not available. Park

ACCESS

Beginner Intermediate By car: One hour from Sapporo city center, depending Lifts on traffic Gondola

Advanced

Park

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,300

If someone mentions the Winter Olympics in Japan, you’ll undoubtedly think of the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Yet 26 years earlier, Sapporo hosted its own Winter Games at a resort just 30 minutes from downtown Sapporo. Yet, what might be most surprising is this resort, Sapporo Teine, offers some steep and deep powder fun for intermediate and advanced riders. The off-piste terrain is up in the Teine Highland area, accessible without having to duck ropes or elude the patrol. The Teine Olympia is a kinder, gentler area, which has a lively park scene. Night skiing available until 9 p.m.

(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 ACCESS

T R AV E L E R

7

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E

10% 2

Longest Course: 3,600m Top Elevation: 1,100m Base Elevation: 670m

7

courses

Beginner Intermediate By Car: 30 minutes from Sapporo city center, depending Lifts on traffic Gondola

Advanced

Park

40% 1

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

30% 1

Advanced

30%

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,023m courses Base Elevation: 680m

15

For more Hokkaido information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

44

Advanced

Sapporo, Hokkaido

(0116) 82-6000 www.sapporo-teine.com Nov. 22 - May 6 9:00 - 21:00 (16:00-21:00)

Season runs from December 3rd to May 6th

60% 1

30% 2

SAPPORO TEINE

SKI JAPAN

Intermediate Gondola

6

15

courses

3

Longest Top Ele Base E


SAHORO SKI RESORT (0156) 64-4121 Dec. 1 - Apr. 6

Shintoku, Hokkaido

www.sahoro.co.jp 9:00 - 18:00 (16:00 - 18:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,830 TICKET Kids ¥3,780

Park

Sahoro is a well-run resort that caters to families. There are 17 nicely groomed courses, some “semi-backcountry,” a cross-country course and a terrain park. Like Tomamu, it’s a place where you can have fun whether you are a skier or not, with lots of activities. Two all-inclusive hotels service Sahoro Resort: The Sahoro Resort Hotel, an attractive luxury hotel, and the Club Med Sahoro. English ski lessons are available and lots of organized fun for the whole family. Sahoro is not for the budget traveler, but makes for a great family getaway.

Beginner Station Intermediate ACCESS By Train: 94 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Shintoku Gondola By car: 200 min. from Sapporo to Shimukappu I.C. Lifts

30% 1 3 Beginner Lifts

30% 1 3

Advanced

17

courses

TOMAMU

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2 1

Advanced

17

courses

40% 2 1

30% 1

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,060m Base Elevation: 420m

30% 1

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,060m Base Elevation: 420m

Shimukappu, Hokkaido

(0167) 58-1111 www.snowtomamu.jp Nov. 30 - Apr. 6 9:00 - 19:00 (16:00 - 19:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥3,600

Park

Tomamu has excellent facilities and a beautiful location. Many courses are suited for beginners, yet a challenging double black diamond course and cat-ski tours will challenge advanced riders. Tomamu is a destination in itself with a plethora of ways to entertain the whole family. There’s a good selection of restaurants, an indoor wave pool, Kids Park, ice village, dog sledding, nighttime air-balloon rides and a variety of spa and relaxation options. Tomamu is celebrating its 30th year by opening a new high-speed quad, expanding the Family Adventure area and connecting the two mountains (no more walking). Beginner Station Intermediate ACCESS By Train: 70 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Tomamu Lifts Gondola By Car: 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport

25% 1 2 Beginner Lifts

25% 1 2

Advanced

Intermediate Gondola

45% 2

Advanced

25

courses

45% 2

30% 4

Longest Course: 4,500m Top Elevation: 1,239m Base Elevation: 568m

30% 4

Longest Course: 4,500m Top Elevation: 1,239m courses Base Elevation: 568m

25

FURANO RESORT

Furano, Hokkaido

(0167) 22-1111 www.princehotels.co.jp/newfurano Nov. 23 - May 6 8:30 - 17:00 (17:00 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids FREE

Park

Central Hokkaido's Furano Resort is known for blue skies, yet manages nearly nine meters of snow each year. There are two sides to the mountain, serviced by a 101-person cable car (Japan’s fastest). The nearby Tokachi Range is a popular backcountry playground. The ski-in/ski-out New Furano Prince Hotel has a new hot springs facility. Join the Host Program and get a tour from a local or a bus tour from January to March to Lake Shikarebetsu’s ice village and bathe in ice bathhouses or enjoy a drink at the ice bar built on the frozen lake.

Park

Beginner Lifts

Park

40% 1 5

23 Beginner Intermediate Advanced Asahikawa Airport courses ACCESS Bus or car access is recommended: 60 minutes from Lifts Gondola to Furano Station

KAMUI SKI LINKS

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1 1

Advanced

40% 25% 1 52

25 23

courses

40% 45% 30% 20% www.hokkaidopowderguides.com 42 12 1

Longest Course: 4,000m 4,500m Top Elevation: 1,209m 1,239m Base Elevation: 964m 568m

20% 2

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,209m Base Elevation: 964m

Asahikawa, Hokkaido

(0166) 72-2311 www.kamui-skilinks.com Dec. 1 - Mar. 31 9:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥3,000 TICKET Kids ¥1,500

Kamui Ski Links is a resort run “by skiers, for skiers.” Those who enjoy powder and tree skiing will understand why this little resort 20 kilometers outside of Asahikawa has so many admirers. Management has no restrictions on tree skiing and has even left several courses in which to play ungroomed. On top of that, the snow quality is excellent. You may find yourself in some short lines for the lifts on weekends, but on weekdays it is nothing but fresh lines down the hill. Be sure to warm up by the fireplace at Café 751 at the top of the gondola.

Park

20% 1

40% 7

40%

Park

Beginner Lifts

20% 1

Intermediate Gondola

40% 7

Advanced

10

courses

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 750m Base Elevation: 600m

40%

Park

10 Beginner from Intermediate downtownAdvanced courses ACCESS Bus or car access is recommended: About 25 minutes Lifts Gondola Asahikawa on Route 12

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 750m Base Elevation: 600m

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2014

45


TOHOKU Hakkoda Ropeway

Hachimantai Resort

Tazawako

HAKKODA ROPEWAY

Hakkoda, Aomori

(017) 738-0343 www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp Late Nov. - Mid-May 9:00 - 15:20

Appi Kogen

Gran Deco Miyagi Eboshi Alts Bandai Yamagata Zao

APPI KOGEN

Photo courtesy of JapowTours.com

T

he Tohoku Region represents about 35 percent of the area of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Running north-south through the center of Tohoku are the Ou Mountains, ranging between 1,500-2,000 meters. When the famous poet, Matsuo Basho, wrote The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi), these were the mountains toward which he walked. Today they are full of some of Japan’s least crowded ski resorts. Tohoku may seem far away, but it’s only twoto-four hours by bullet train or you can jump on a domestic flight. Regardless, it’s never too far to go to find good snow.

Hachimantai, Iwate

(0195) 73-6401 www.appi.co.jp/foreign_country/english/ Dec. 7 - May 6 8:00 - 20:00 (16:00 - 20:00) 1 DAY Adults ¥5,200 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

1 DAY Adults 5 Times (on Ropeway) ¥4,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,200 Park

Park

Tour Route Area Tour Route Area

20% 1

60% 1

20%

30% 2 1

Park

4 3

Longest Course: Longest APPI5,000m is a giant resort (41K of trails) with a The eight peaks of Hakkoda attract Japan's 10 Top Elevation: 21 Top Ele 1,324m(thanks to the many north-facing Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced long season most devoted powder lovers. It is basically courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: Base E slopes) 660m plus some great facilities (thanks to backcountry with a 100-person gondola that bubble era spending). Unlike many resorts in takes 10 minutes to the top with four trips 40% 20% Japan that have relatively short runs, the average course 30% 20% 60% 30% every hour. Once you get off, you can choose from "Direct" or Tour length at APPI is 2,100m; the longest 5,500m. It’s possible to "Forest" trails. You won't get many Route blueAreabird days here, and 1 1 2 3 11 Tour Route Area do Appi as a long day-trip from Tokyo but, with two ski-in/skivisibility can be difficult during snowstorms, which happen out hotels and an annex hotel, which collectively sleep 4,100 often. So if you are a Hakkoda newbie and want to explore 1 guests, why not stay and soak away sore muscles at one the terrain, it's best to grab a local guide. Hakkoda Sansou, Longest Course: 5,000m Longest Course: 5,500m of the two natural hot springs after a day on the mountain. across the parking lot from the gondola, is the closest 10 Top Elevation: 1,324m Families will appreciate the Kids Park. 21 Top Elevation: 1,328m Beginner Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced accommodation. Up the road, Sukayu Onsen Intermediate is a mixed hot courses Base Elevation: 660m courses Base Elevation: 828m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola spring with a 300-year history and a 1,000-person bath. Park

ACCESS By Bus: 80 minutes from Aomori Station By Car: 35 min. from Aomori I.C. and Ishiguri I.C.

ACCESS By Train and Bus: 50 minutes from Morioka Station to APPI. By Car: 15 minutes from Matsuo-Hachimantai I.C. or Ashiro I.C.

HACHIMANTAI RESORT

Hachimantai, Iwate

(0195) 78-4111 www.hachimantai.co.jp Dec. 14 - Apr. 6 8:30 - 16:30 (12/15-21, 3/25-4/7 9:00 - 16:00) Night Skiing:

please check website

TAZAWAKO SKI RESORT

Tazawako, Akita

(0187) 46-2011 www.tazawako-ski.com Dec. 14 - Apr. 21 Weekdays 9:00 - 16:00, Weekends 9:00 - 16:00

1 DAY Adults ¥3,700 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥3,800 TICKET Kids ¥1,000

Park

Park

40% 1

PANORAMA

30% 1

20% 5

30% 2

3 4

SHIMOKURA Park

Longest Longest Course: 2,700m When it snows in Tazawako, and it usually It’s easy to get confused because there are 13 Top Ele 14 Top Elevation: 1,130m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced does, there is deep powder and a good variety of two Iwate Hachimantai resorts and another in courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base E Base Elevation: courses 540m to enjoy. When it is not snowing, you are Akita. The smaller Hachimantai in Iwate is a treated to one of the great views of any ski resort three-lift powder resort known for free riding. 50% 30% 10% in Japan, with Lake Tazawa below providing a stunning backdrop. 40% 40% 30% PANORAMA Iwate’s Hachimantai Resort, on the other hand, is larger and For this reason, Tazawako is a popular ski resort for people in is a great family ski destination. Hachimantai Resort covers 4 1 3 2 Tohoku, but the lines are still relatively short when compared to two main areas, Panorama ski area and the Shomokura resorts in other areas of Japan. The lifts run directly from the ski area. Both are well sheltered from the weather, and SHIMOKURA Tazawako Onsen hotel area. The selection of runs should keep Panorama features a huge night skiing area. There are highLongest Course: 2,700m Longest Course: 3,000m happy; on one side is a beginner and intermediate area, speed lifts servicing mostly beginner or intermediate courses 7 Top Elevation: 1,000m everyone 13 Top Elevation: 1,186m Beginner room Intermediate Advanced Advanced and on the other is a more challengingBeginner advancedIntermediate course. Powder that are wide open, so plenty of breathing for beginners courses Base Elevation: 540m courses Base Elevation: 578m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola lovers won’t want to miss the Komagatake Panoramic Cat Tour. or kids wanting to bomb down the hill. Park

Park

Park

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka Station (2 hours, 26 minutes), then about 90 minutes by bus to Hachimantai Resort

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Tazawako Station (3 hours), then 30 minutes by bus to the ski resort

For more Tohoku information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

46

T R AV E L E R


EBOSHI RESORT

Zao-machi, Miyagi

(0224) 34-4001 www.eboshi.co.jp Dec. 1 - Mar.30 9:00 - 22:00 (17:30 - 22:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,300 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

Miyagi's Eboshi Resort is on the other side of the mountain from the more famous Yamagata Zao Onsen Ski Resort. It's much quieter, the lift lines are shorter on this side of the track, and the views are fantastic. Although it's a decent sized resort with well laid-out courses and a variety of ways to descend the mountain, it is more geared for beginners or advanced riders, as there is not a lot of challenging terrain. Powder hounds will be salivating on some of the areas outside the lines.

Park

50% 1 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

50% 1 1

Park

10

courses

20% 6

Longest Course: 4,300m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 650m

20% 6

Longest Course: 4,300m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 650m

10 Beginner Station Intermediate(1 hour, Advanced courses ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shoroishi-Zao Gondola 54 minutes) then about an hour to the ski resort Lifts

YAMAGATA ZAO SKI RESORT

30% 1

Advanced

30% 1

Yamagata-shi, Yamagata

(023) 694-9328 www.zao-ski.or.jp Dec. 7 - Early May 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Ski resorts each have their own personalities; it is one of the joys of exploring new resort areas. Zao Onsen has a big bubbling personality. The town is literally bubbling with hot springs, and the ski resort offers a unique ski experience—skiing among the famous Zao Snow Monsters (juhyo). The resort is big with four gondolas, 35 lifts and a 10K downhill course. Skiers will enjoy the layout more than snowboarders (too much traversing), but the highlight, undoubtedly, is riding among these huge creatures formed of ice and wind. The peak season is February, and the juhyo illumination is spectacular.

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 3 3

Park

Beginner Intermediate to Yamagata ACCESS By Train and Bus: 2 1/2 hours by bullet train from Tokyo Lifts Gondola Station, then 40 minutes by bus to Zao Onsen

40% 3 3

Advanced

40% 1 27

Advanced

26

courses

40% 1 27

20% 5 2

Longest Course: 8,000m Top Elevation: 1,660m Base Elevation: 780m

20% 5 2

Longest Course: 8,000m Top Elevation: 1,660m courses Base Elevation: 780m

26

ALTS BANDAI

Bandai, Fukushima

(0242) 74-5000 www.alts.co.jp Dec. 21 - Mar. 23 8:00 - 17:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,700 TICKET Kids ¥3,700

With 30K of rideable terrain, nearly 30 courses and progressive freestyle parks, it is no surprise ALTS is a favorite of many of the top park riders in Japan. The resort is the largest in southern Tohoku and was the home to the Asia Open. This year ALTS features a new Cat Ski area on the west side of the resort where visitors can enjoy some deep turns. They offer budget backpacker accommodations and have shuttle bus service directly from Narita. After crankin’ big air in the pipe, slide into the Riders’ Café for a drink or relax in the hotel's great hot springs. ALTS is a south-facing resort, so it’s bright and features some nice terrain for free riding, but powder lovers will want to head next door to north-facing Nekoma.

Park

35% 1 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

35% 1 1

Park

Beginner StationIntermediate ACCESS By Train: 82 minutes from Tokyo Station to KoriyamaLifts By Car: 60 minutes from Fukushima International Airport. Gondola

Advanced

GRAN DECO SNOW RESORT (0241) 32-2530 www.grandeco.com Nov. 30 - May. 6 8:30 - 16:45 (8:00 - 17:00)

Intermediate Gondola

29

courses

40% 3

Advanced

29

courses

40% 3

25% 7

Longest Course: 3,300m Top Elevation: 1,280m Base Elevation: 700m

25% 7

Longest Course: 3,300m Top Elevation: 1,280m Base Elevation: 700m

Aizu Ura Bandai, Fukushima 1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥3,400

Gran Deco Snow Resort is a medium-sized resort with first-rate facilities, which include a gondola and express chairlifts and artificial snow-making capabilities to guarantee early and late-season riding. There is also a luxury hotel and SIA certified Snow Academy. Although the resort is best suited for beginners and intermediate riders, there are tree runs for advanced riders and a well maintained park. Gran Deco is one of the highest resorts in the area, which means good quality snow. The nearby Hotel Gran Deco has western-style rooms, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool (open in winter), Jacuzzis, saunas, hot spring baths, restaurants and bars. Beginner bus. ACCESS By train: 45 minutes from Inawashiro Station via local Lifts By car: 35 minutes from Inawashiro Bandai Kogen I.C.

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

Park

7 40% 1

Beginner Lifts

40% 1

Intermediate Gondola

45% 4

Advanced

7

8

45% 4

15%

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,590m

courses Base Elevation: 1,010m

15%

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 1,590m courses Base Elevation: 1,010m

8

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2014

47


NAGANO N

agano is the traditional center of the Japan snow scene, and at the heart of it is the Japan Alps. The prefecture is home to some of the finest, steepest and biggest resorts in Japan, and boasts arguably the most breathtaking scenery. Within Nagano, the sheer volume of ski areas is due to the jagged spine of rugged natural beauty known as the Japan Alps slashing through the prefecture. This area is as much a Mecca for photographers as it is for skiers, with its many onsen, snow-swept valleys and bristling peaks. Backcountry fun here is limited only to your preparedness and daring. Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa and the Iiyama areas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

HAKUBA GORYU

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-2101 www.hakubagoryu.com/e/index.html 8:00 - 21:30 (18:00 - 21:30) Late Nov. - May 6

Nozawa Onsen

Togakushi

Okushiga

Madarao

Hakuba Cortina

Yakebitaiyama Shiga Kogen Area

Tsugaike Hakuba Iwatake Hakuba Happo

Hoppobundaira Higashitateyama Nishitateyama

Hakuba 47 Hakuba Goryu Norikura Kogen

HAKUBA 47

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 75-3533 www.hakuba47.co.jp 8:15 -16:30 Dec. 10 - May 6 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Park

Park

35% 1

40% 3

25% 9

30% 1

4

Longest Course: 5,000m Longest Hakuba 47 is a relatively new resort (opened Hakuba Goryu is not the largest resort in 16 Top Elevation: 8 Top Ele 1,624m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced in 1990), and they’ve been trying to take some Hakuba, but it is one of the most scenic and courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 950m Base E fresh, progressive steps to making a better pleasant places to ski. Soak up the view as resort experience. There are loads of activities the Japan Alps soar behind you, and then 40% 25% and events, an extensive snow park with lots of jibs, kickers 35% 40% 30% 30% head down to the Escal Plaza, one of the best base lodges in and things to launch off, and a great half pipe. The resort Japan. There is a ski/snowboard rental shop, a nice selection 1 9 1 4 3 1 also has some excellent intermediate courses, a challenging of restaurants and even a bath open until 9 p.m. daily. If mogul course and a shared ticket with Goryu, so no shortage you’re on a tight budget, there is a “resting room” where you of courses from which to choose. If you were wondering can wait for the lifts to open. It’s a common space that fits Longest Course: 5,000m Longest Course: 6,800m about the name, the goal of the resort is to offer a great up to 100 people (no reservations required). Serious skiers 16 8 Top Elevation: 1,614m Top Elevation: 1,624m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate mountain experience “4” seasons and “7” days a week. Advanced courses can challenge themselves on the Champions expert run, and courses Base Elevation: 950m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 820m Goryu also shares a common lift pass with Hakuba 47. Park

Park

Park

Park

ACCESS By Train and Shuttle: Shinkansen to Nagano Station and the direct bus to Hakuba. A shuttle service runs between Goryu and Hakuba 47

HAKUBA HAPPO

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 72-3066 www.hakuba-happo.jp Nov. 23 - May 6 8:00 - 17:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour, 45 minutes), then an Alpico Bus to Hakuba (60 minutes)

HAKUBA IWATAKE

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 72-2474 www.tokyu-hakuba.co.jp/english/winter/iwatake/ Dec. 20 - Apr. 23 8:00 - 17:00 1 DAY Adults ¥4,600 TICKET Kids ¥2,300

1 DAY Adults ¥3,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,200

Park

Park

Park

30% 1 14

50% 5

20% 3 Park

30% 1 12

5

South Side North Side Longest Course: 8,000m Longest If the crowds at Happo are too much for you, Happo is a huge resort that is heaven for 13 Top Elevation: 15 Top Ele 1,831m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced head over to nearby Iwatake. The base of the skiers who enjoy well-groomed, long courses. courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 760mup at Hakuba’s highest peaks for Base E resort looks There are many runs, good challenging terrain a spectacular view while you enjoy the slopes. and a nice park and the Hakuba Banks Park 50% 20% The resort itself is surprisingly big, making it a great place to 50% 30% 20% 30% opens on Feb. 1. Happo hosted the downhill races during the go to get away from the crowds and explore the 24 courses. 1998 Olympics and, if you want to test your meddle, head to 3 1 5 1 1 1 It’s mostly beginner and intermediate runs, but there is a the top of the men’s downhill course. While advanced riders nearly four-kilometer cruiser and a small terrain park. Lift will love Happo, beginners may get frustrated with the many 14 12 1 lines are relatively short by Hakuba standards, and you can narrow paths leading down the mountain. If you need a South Side Longest Course: 8,000m Longest Course: 3,800m often find some pockets of powder here after it has been North Side break, there are plenty of restaurants to stop for a bite. Note 13 Top Elevation: 1,831m tracked out at other resorts nearby.Beginner Intermediate Advanced 15 Top Elevation: 1,289m Intermediate Advanced the resort’s popularity means it canBeginner get crowded, especially courses Base Elevation: 760m courses Base Elevation: 539m Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola on long weekends. Park

Park

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour, 45 minutes), then an Alpico Bus to Hakuba (60 minutes)

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station (1 hour, 45 minutes), then an Alpico Bus to Hakuba (60 minutes)

For more Nagano information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

48

T R AV E L E R


HAKUBA CORTINA

Hakuba, Nagano

(0261) 82-2236 www.hakubacortina.jp Dec. 14 - Apr. 6 8:30 - 20:00 (17:00 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥3,300 TICKET Kids ¥1,700

If you are looking for a place to spend a quiet, romantic ski weekend in the Hakuba area, head over to Cortina. The massive Green Plaza Hotel with northern European architecture is impressive. If your ski partner is just starting out, the course right outside the door of the hotel is a gentle slope and great for beginners. Although most of the runs are in the beginner to intermediate range, there are some steep courses, and they have adopted a progressive approach to tree skiing and power areas in which guests are responsible for themselves if they get into trouble. The Hakuba Cortina Resort also offers a convenient shuttle from Nagano Station (one-way, 1,000 yen).

Park

40% 2

Beginner Lifts

Advanced

30% 5

30%

40% 2

16 Beginner NaganoIntermediate Station Advanced courses ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station toLifts Gondola (1 hour, 45 minutes), then a shuttle to Hakuba Cortina (90 minutes, 1,000 yen)

16

courses

30%

Longest Course: 3,500m Top Elevation: 1,402m Base Elevation: 872m

Longest Course: 3,500m Top Elevation: 1,402m Base Elevation: 872m

HAKUBA TSUGAIKE KOGEN (0261) 83-2515 www.tsugaike-kogen.com Nov. 23 - May 6 8:00 - 20:50 (18:00 - 20:50)

Intermediate Gondola

30% 5

Otari, Nagano 1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Tsugaike is actually located in Otari Village, just up the road from Hakuba. The resort could be considered one of the most underrated, considering it has some huge bowls, a big gondola, terrain park, cross-country course, good night skiing and some interesting runs. There are even heli-skiing tours in spring and good places to hike to get fresh turns. The Children’s Square is great for kids just starting out on the slopes. Most of Tsugaike’s runs are in the intermediate range, but there are a few expert areas as well. To finish off a great day, head over to Tsuga no Yu hot springs, just 100 meters from the gondola. Park

Beginner NaganoIntermediate Station ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station toLifts Gondola (1 hour, 45 minutes), then a shuttle to Hakuba Cortina (80 minutes)

MT. NORIKURA

Advanced

Park

50% 1 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

30% 1 9

50% 1 1

15

courses

30% 1 9

20% 10 2

Longest Course: 4,630m Top Elevation: 1,704m Base Elevation: 800m

20% 10 2

Longest Course: 4,630m Top Elevation: 1,704m courses Base Elevation: 800m

15

Norikura Kogen Onsen, Nagano

(0263) 93-2645 www.norikura.co.jp Dec. 7 - Apr. 6 8:30 - 16:20

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

The base of Mt. Norikura (not to be confused with the smaller Hakuba Norikura) starts at 1,500 meters, meaning the snow quality is excellent, and you’ll spend more time riding than in lift lines. It is a relatively small, local resort, yet the dedicated locals have created a progressive and challenging terrain park and good facilities for beginners to learn to ride. There is no ATM, so bring cash and make sure to pack chains or have a 4WD, since Norikura is nestled deep in the Northern Alps. After a day on the mountain, don’t miss the great rotenburo at Yukemurikan.

Park

35% 1

45% 1

20% 6

Park

Beginner Lifts

35% 1

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

45% 1

20

Longest Course: 5,000m Top Elevation: 2,000m

courses Base Elevation: 1,500m

20% 6

Park

Longest Course: 5,000m 20 Top Elevation: 2,000m Beginner Intermediate Advanced (2 hours, 37 courses ACCESS By Train: Super Azusa Express train from Shinjuku to Matsumoto Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 1,500m minutes. Transfer at Matsumoto, then on to Shin Shimashima (30 minutes)

PEOPLE GET READY JAP A N

Feb. 8

Snow Splash Party in Minakami

Mar. 1

Snow Splash '14 in Hakuba (Official After Party for Red Bull Kick & Shred)

www.outdoorjapan.com/snowsplash More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2014

49


SHIGA KOGEN Shiga Kogen, Nagano www.shigakogen-ski.com

Okushiga Kogen

Shibutouge Terakoya Yokoteyama

Yakebitaiyama Yama no Kami

Ichinose Family Tanne no Mori

Hoppo Bunadaira, Higashidateyama, Nishidateyama

Diamond

Kumanoyu Giant

Kidoike

Hasuike

SunValley Maruike

If you include all 19 interlinked ski resorts, Shiga Kogen in northern Nagano is Japan’s largest ski resort area. Surrounded by 2,000-meter mountains, Shiga has good elevation and is a great place to get in some early or late season runs, as the season stretches from late November to early May. Shiga Kogen hosted the women’s downhill, slalom, the super giant slalom and both snowboarding events for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games. With more than 80 accommodations scattered around the area, there is no shortage of places to stay, although it has retained an “old school” feel with most restaurants found inside hotels; some serving Shiga Kogen’s excellent microbrew. There are many onsen in the area to soak in after a day on the mountain, yet the most famous in the area is off-limits to humans. Jigokudani Yaen Koen is a sanctuary for resident snow monkeys that lounge in their own hot springs, while visitors snap away with their cameras. Shiga Kogen has limited ATM access (ATM is available at the Shiga Kogen Post Office in the Hasuike area), so bring some cash. One common lift pass allows you to ride 66 lifts on 21 slopes with more than 80 unique courses as well as access to the free shuttle bus, so you can get around to the various resorts. If you plan to try all the ski areas, you’ll need to give yourself at least a few days to explore the various terrain.

Okushiga Kogen is known as “Skiers Paradise” as it remains a skiers-only resort, (along with Kumanoyu), while Yakebitaiyama is a Prince Resort with excellent facilities. The Hoppo Bunadaira area is great for beginners and families with small children while Higashidateyama is best suited for advanced skiers, although there is a gentle woodland course as well. The resort hosted the men’s and women’s giant slalom in the 1998 Olympic Games, and it boasts an extremely challenging downhill course. The restaurant at the summit of Mt. Higashidate boasts incredible panoramic views and is the starting point to get to other ski areas such as Terakoya. ACCESS By Train and Bus: 110 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station, then bus (70 minutes) to Shiga Kogen resorts

HOPPO BUNADAIRA - HIGASHIDATEYAMA - NISHIDATEYAMA (0269) 34-2301 www.shigakogen.in Nov. 21 - Mid Mar. 8:30 - 16:30 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,400

50% 1

Park

ACCESS By Train: 110 minutes from Tokyo Stn. to Nagano Stn. By Car: 300 minutes from Tokyo

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 4

10% 1

Longest course: 3,500m Top Elevation: 2,030m

7

courses Base Elevation: 1,325m

YAKEBITAIYAMA (0269) 34-3117 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/shiga_kougen.html Dec. 7 - May 6 8:30 - 16:30 (18:30 - 20:30) 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,400

35% 2

Park

35% 3

30% 3

Park

ACCESS By Train: 110 minutes from Tokyo Stn. to Nagano Stn. By Car: 300 minutes from Tokyo

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

15

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 2,000m

courses Base Elevation: 1,550m

OKUSHIGA KOGEN SKI FIELD (0269) 34-2225 www.okushiga.jp/information/ Dec. 15 - May 6 8:30 - 16:30 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,400

45% 1

Park

ACCESS By Train: 110 minutes from Tokyo Stn. to Nagano Stn. By Car: 300 minutes from Tokyo

Beginner Lifts

For more Nagano information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

50

T R AV E L E R

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

35% 5

20%

Longest Course: 2,200m Top Elevation: 2,000m courses Base Elevation: 1,460m

9


MADARAO KOGEN SKI RESORT

Iiyama, Nagano

(0269) 64-3214 www.madarao.jp Dec. 14 - Early May 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids <12 FREE

Located in northeastern Nagano just above Iiyama Town, Madarao Kogen features 16 lifts and 22 courses across a bowl-shaped terrain on Mt. Madarao (1,382 meters). The resort has a nice variety of courses, groomers, a tree run area, free ride park, wave courses and kids park, and the resort is free to kids under 12. They claim 60 percent of the course is ungroomed so, if you like riding powder, there should be plenty in which to play. There is also a joint ticket available for Tangram Ski Circus, a small, pretty resort. Backcountry tours can be arranged through the resort. Park

Beginner City (1 Intermediate hour, 28 ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Lifts Gondola minutes) then by bus to Tangram Madarao

Advanced

Park

30% 2 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2 1

40% 3

Advanced

18

courses

40% 3

30% 5

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 440m

30% 5

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 440m

18

courses

TANGRAM SKI CIRCUS

Madarao, Nagano

(026) 258-3511 www.tangram.jp/foreign/english.html Dec. 20 - Apr. 6 8:30 - 16:30 (17:00 - 20:30)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥3,200

Tangram Ski Circus sounds like a great place for kids—and it is. The ski-in/out Hotel Tangram sits right at the bottom of this family-friendly resort. Facilities include hot spring baths and a heated indoor swimming pool. The resort features 14 courses on the northwest side of Mt. Madarao, with well-groomed runs, great for mom and dad to get in some leg burners with the kids. The trees look tempting, but beware the ski patrol is vigilant here. However the resort is connected to Madarao Kogen, giving you 30 courses to explore if you get bored with the runs right outside your door.

Beginner City (1 Intermediate hour, 28 ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Lifts Gondola minutes) then by bus to Tangram Madarao

Advanced

Park

30% 2 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2

18

courses

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Togakushi is an interesting, medium-sized resort. The name “Togakushi” means “hidden door,” and the resort is owned by Nagano City and managed by Tokyu Resorts, yet it is still relatively unknown to people outside the area. The best way to describe Togakushi is pleasant. The conditions always seem to be pretty good, and there are often great powder days. Best of all, it never seems to get as busy as the more popular Nagano resorts, and it has retained a very local feel. Togakushi Village is in itself an interesting place. It is famous for soba, and there are some beautiful shrines, temples and onsen nearby to finish off a great day on the mountain. Park

Beginner NaganoIntermediate Station ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station toLifts Gondola (1 hour, 45 minutes), then less than 1 hour to Togakushi by bus

Advanced

NOZAWA ONSEN

Address Nozawa

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,350m Base Elevation: 440m

30%

Togakushi, Nagano

(0262) 54-2106 www.togakusi.com Dec. 18 - Apr. 3 8:30 - 16:30

30% 5

Longest Course: 2,500m Top Elevation: 1,320m Base Elevation: 800m

14

courses

TOGAKUSHI

40% 3

Advanced

40% 3

Kawamotoya

Park

30% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 2

40% 5

Advanced

19

40% 5

30%

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,750m

courses Base Elevation: 1,200m

30%

new!~

Kawamotoya’s Onsen

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,750m

19

courses Base Elevation: 1,200m Nozawa Onsen, Nagano

(0269) 85-3166 www.nozawaski.com Nov. 30 - May 6 8:30 - 20:00 (17:00 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,600 TICKET Kids ¥2,100

If you’re looking for the quintessential Japanese ski experience, Nozawa Onsen is hard to beat. This traditional hot spring village sits at the base of a great mountain (Mt. Kenashi, 1,650m). The resort is one of the oldest ski grounds in Japan, getting consistent snowfall. There are two gondolas and a large selection of courses to choose from. The town also features 30 hot springs scattered around the village (including 13 free baths in town) and the Dosojin Matsuri (Fire Festival) held on Jan. 15, which is a spectacle to behold. Park

Park

Park

40% 2 10

Park

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 2 10

By Train: Tokyo Station to Nagano Station by Shinkansen (1 hour, 45 minutes), 36 BeginnerandIntermediate Advanced ACCESS then Iiyama Line to Togari-Nozawa Onsen Station (60 minutes) taxi or shuttle courses Lifts Gondola bus to Nozawa Onsen

Intermediate Gondola

30% 5 1

Advanced

30% 3

Longest Course: 10,000m Top Elevation: 1,650m Base Elevation: 565m

36

courses

30% 5 1

30% 3

The View Hotel’s Onsen

Longest Course: 10,000m Top Elevation: 1,650m Base Elevation: 565m

Book Now:

www.nozawahospitality.com res@nozawahospitality.com Japan : +81 (0)269 85 2064 Singapore : +65 6412 0128

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2014

51


NIIGATA O

ne day in 1986, the good people of Joetsu, a coastal city in Niigata, were deluged by 232 centimeters of snow—in one day. That’s roughly enough to bury a one-story building. Although this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day, Niigata gets some of the heaviest snowfalls in Japan. The town of Yuzawa was where Yasunari Kawabata penned his award-winning novel “Snow Country” (Yukiguni). It is also Niigata’s most popular of winter sports areas, due to the easy access from Tokyo (77 minutes) and the variety of ski resorts a snowball’s throw from the station. Just over the border from Nagano Prefecture, in the southeastern part of Niigata, the Myoko Kogen area is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets. This scenic, mountainous area stretches all the way to the Sea of Japan coast and features some great resorts in its own right.

Joetsu Kokusai NASPA Ski Garden GALA Yuzawa

Iwappara

Charmant Hiuchi

Seki Onsen Akakura Myoko Suginohara Kagura Tashiro Mitsumata

GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT YUZAWA KOGEN GALA YUZAWA STATION

NUNOBA

Mt. NAEBA KAGURA • MITSUMATA

Naeba

NUNOBA FAMILY IPPONSUGI SKI RESORT

Mt. NAEBA KAGURA • TASHIRO

ECHIGO YUZAWA STATION

NASPA SKI GARDEN

IWA-PPARA WINTER RESORT

KANDATSU KOGEN LUDENS YUZAWA SKI

YUZAWA PARK SKI YUZAWA NAKAZATO KAYAMA CAPTAIN COAST NAKAZATO SNOW WOOD Mt. NAEBA

Mt. NAEBA • SHIRAKABA Mt. NAEBA • ASAGAI

GONDOLA ROPEWAY

MT. NAEBA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 89-2211 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/mtnaeba/index.html Dec. 7 - May 6 8:00 - 21:00 (16:00 - 21:00)

KAGURA - TASHIRO - MITSUMATA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 88-9221 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/mtnaeba/index.html Nov. 23 - May 25 (Tashiro May 8) 8:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥5,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥2,100

Park

Park

To Naeba

30% 3

40% 7

30% 15

Kagura Area Park

Tashiro Area To Naeba

45% 3 1

3 5

Longest Course: 4,000m Longest These three connecting ski areas form one Mt. Naeba calls itself "The Station Moritz 27 Top Elevation: 23 Top Ele 1,789m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced big resort. If you count Naeba, the total rideable of the East" and is a popular choice for Kanto courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 900mhectares. From Naeba, you’ll be Base E area is 368 trendsetters wishing to get away for a convenient lifted above Lake Tashiro to wider and less ski weekend. The crescent-shaped Prince Hotel Kagura 40% 35% 30% crowded slopes and better snow quality, but the area closes 20% 30% 45% cuts an imposing figure at the base of this classic ski-in/skiArea at 4 p.m. and the lift line back to Naeba can be long, so beware. out resort and features all the trappings you would expect from 14 3 3 15 7 5 A better option is to access the Tashiro Ropeway on Route a Prince-managed resort hotel. Off the mountain, there are To Naeba Tashiro Area 17. You can then traverse across Tashiro in about 40 minutes children’s services, hot springs and other amenities and, on the 1 to Kagura, a popular backcountry zone and a great option for mountain, a terrain park, kids park, family snow park and more. To Naeba Longest Course: 4,000m Longest Course: 6,000m early and late season skiing. The Mitsumata area has a small Naeba is connected to Kagura, Tashiro, and Mitsumata ski areas 27 Top Elevation: 1,789m boarder's park, a few jumps and twoBeginner 23 Top Elevation: 1,845m Beginner Intermediate Intermediate Advanced good slopes for learning. via the "Dragondola," which travels 5.5 kilometers in just 15 Advanced courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 900m Base Elevation: 620m Accessible by the Mitsumata Ropeway on Route 17. minutes, so there are 44 trails explore if you have the time. Park

Park

Park

ACCESS By Train and Free Shuttle: Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo to Echigo Yuzawa Station (77 minutes) then free shuttle bus to Naeba Resort (50 minutes)

ACCESS By Train and Shuttle Bus: Take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa Station (77 minutes) then shuttle bus to the resort (approx. 30 minutes)

For more Niigata information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

52

T R AV E L E R


GALA YUZAWA SNOW RESORT

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 85-6543 www.galaresort.jp/winter/english Dec. 21 - May 6 8:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥4,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,200

If you want a quick, convenient day-trip from Tokyo, you can’t get any easier than GALA Yuzawa. The ski resort has its very own bullet train and train station that doubles as the ski lodge. The amazing efficiency means you won’t be alone on the hill. However, get up to the mountain, get in a few runs with friends and be back in time to buy your favorite designer goods in Harajuku. The resort is geared toward recreation and families with kids, but it does connect to other resorts, so there are more options for serious skiers. And if you just want to have fun in the snow for a day with friends, you can’t beat the convenience. Park

Beginner Station Intermediate ACCESS By Train: 77 minutes from Tokyo Station to GALA Yuzawa Lifts Gondola By Car: 5 minutes from Yuzawa I.C. (Kanetsu Expressway)

Advanced Descent Course

Park

35% 1 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Advanced Descent Course Gondola

35% 1 2

16

courses

45% 1 3

16

courses

45% 1 3

20% 4

Longest Course: 2,350m Top Elevation: 1,181m Base Elevation: 358m

20% 4

Longest Course: 2,350m Top Elevation: 1,181m Base Elevation: 358m

IWAPPARA

Yuzawa, Niigata

(0257) 87-3211 www.iwa-ppara.com Dec. 7 - Apr. 6 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

Although Iwappara looks like a relic of Japan’s bubble era, with big pink apartments along the course, it is still one of the more popular resorts in the Yuzawa area. It’s super convenient from the station (seven minutes) by shuttle bus, so it is quite possible to do a day trip from Tokyo. The main course is very wide open, making it a great place for beginners to practice their turns without fear of being run over by a speedy skier (or vice versa). The views from the top are nice, and the village area around the ski area has a nice selection of restaurants.

Beginnerto Echigo Intermediate Advanced Yuzawa ACCESS By Train and Shuttle Bus: 77 minutes from Tokyo Station Lifts(7 minutes) Gondola Station then shuttle bus from Echigo Yuzawa Station

Park

40% 2

Beginner Lifts

40% 2

Intermediate Gondola

Advanced

40% 6

11

courses

Snow-Country

20%

Super Pass

Yuzawa, Niigata 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

NASPA is a relatively new ski resort (opened in 1992) whose claim to fame is being one of the last skiers-only resorts left in Japan. The ski hill is behind the deluxe New Otani Hotel. The resort definitely caters toward families who ski and want to stay in luxury. Guests can enjoy the excellent hot springs, Jacuzzis, a swimming pool, fitness center and a selection of restaurants. Its location near the station makes for a quick, convenient ski weekend from Tokyo, if you want to get in a few turns (on skis) with the family. Park

(025) 782-1028 www.jkokusai.co.jp Dec. 7 - Apr. 6 8:00 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

38% 2

Park

38% 2

8 BeginnerYuzawa Intermediate StationAdvanced (77 courses ACCESS By Train and Free Shuttle Bus: Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo minutes) then free shuttle bus to NASPA Ski Garden (5Lifts minutes)Gondola

JOETSU KOKUSAI SKI RESORT

YUZAWA;

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

37% 1

Advanced

20%

Longest Course: 4,000m Top Elevation: 985m Base Elevation: 400m

Longest Course: 4,000m 11 Top Elevation: 985m courses Base Elevation: 400m

NASPA SKI GARDEN (025) 780-6222 www.naspa.co.jp/ski/ Dec. 21 - Apr. 6 8:30 - 17:00 (17:00 - 19:00)

40% 6

8

courses

25% 2

01. NAEBA 01. NAEBA-ASAGAI 02. KAGURA 03. LUDENS YUZAWA 04. NAKAZATO SNOW WOOD 05. YUZAWA NAKAZATO 06. YUZAWA PARK 07. IWAPPARA 08. NASPA SKI GARDEN Longest Course: 2.2km 09. IPPONSUGI Top 10. Elevation: 690mKOGEN YUZAWA Base 11. Elevation: GALA430m YUZAWA 12. MAIKO

37% 1

25% 2

MINAKAMI; 13. NORN

MUIKAMACHI; 14. MUIKAMACHI 15. HAKKAISAN

TOKAMACHI; 16. MATSUNOYAMA-ONSEN

SAKAE VILLAGE; 17. SAKAE CLUB

Longest Course: 2.2km Top Elevation: 690m Base Elevation: 430m

Minamiuonuma, Niigata 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

To the north of Yuzawa Town is a 634-room, European-style hotel that anchors the Joetsu Kokusai Ski Resort. The runs are relatively short here, but there is a long 6K trail and a 38-degree “Daibetto Slope” that will challenge anyone’s courage. The resort also has an extensive terrain park and two half-pipes; one used for the World Cup, and regularly hosts events such as the Nippon Freeskiing Competition. It’s also a great place for kids featuring the Kids Paradise areas with snow tubing and air slides, Sori Land (Sled Land), the Sponge Bob Kids Park and a “day nursery.” Park

Beginner Intermediate Echigo Yuzawa ACCESS By Train and Bus: Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo toLifts Gondola Station (77 minutes) then train to Joetsu Kokusai (15 minutes)

Advanced

Park

30% 3 Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 3

Intermediate Gondola

50% 4

Advanced

22

courses

50% 4

20% 18

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,017m Base Elevation: 200m

20% 18

Longest Course: 6,000m Top Elevation: 1,017m courses Base Elevation: 200m

22

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow WINTER 2014

53


MYOKO SUGINOHARA

Myoko, Niigata

(0255) 86-6211 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/myoko_kogen.html 1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000 Dec. 21 - Mar. 30 8:30 - 16:30

Myoko Kogen is simply one of the naturally prettiest ski areas in Japan. Suginohara is part of the Prince Resorts family (although there is no hotel here), and the facilities are well maintained. The runs above the gondola are where advanced skiers and powder hounds will have the most fun, and there are English backcountry guides available. The resort has 16 trails, a terrain park, kids sledding area (ask about kids skiing free), hot springs and six on-hill restaurants. Suginohara also boasts Japan’s longest top-to-bottom, an 8.5-kilometer thigh burner that will test anyone’s meddle if left for the last run of the day. The stunning view of Lake Nojiri below from the gondola makes it worth the trip alone.

Park

40% 1

4 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2

40% 1

Advanced

16

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E

20% 1

Park

Beginner Station Intermediate ACCESS By Train: 120 minutes from Tokyo Station to Myoko Kogen Lifts Gondola By Car: 160 minutes from Tokyo

Advanced

AKAKURA ONSEN

Skiing & Snowboarding

MINAKAMI GUNMA Alpine Lodge Ski & Snowboard Lessons Backcountry tours Snowshoe tours

Longest Course: 8,500m Top Elevation: 1,855m Base Elevation: 731m

Akakura Onsen, Niigata

(0255) 87-2125 www.akakura-ski.com Dec. 14 - Mar. 23 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 22:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥3,900 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

Akakura Ski Resort is located at the bottom of Mt. Myoko and is the largest resort in the Myoko Heights area. The resort has a nice variety of courses as well as powder stashes and some challenging courses on the old “Champions” side of the mountain. The town’s hot springs date back to 1814, and there is no better way to finish off a day on the mountain. The Akakura Resort & Spa sits majestically on the slopes. It’s a great place to stay if you want ski in/ski out luxury. The area averages about 13 meters of snow annually, so there is plenty of fluffy stuff, and it has a pleasant natural beauty. Akakura has a nice variety of courses, but the most challenging runs are on the old “Champions” side of the mountain.

A little-known place awesome for

16

courses

Park

50% 2 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 4

50% 2

Park

15 Beginner Advanced (1 hr., 45Intermediate min.), then take courses ACCESS By Train: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station Lifts10 minutes Gondola the JR Shinetsu Honsen Line to Myoko Kogen Station, then by bus

SEKI ONSEN

Advanced

15

courses

3 4

Longest Top Ele Base E

20% 8

Longest Course: 3,000m Top Elevation: 1,200m Base Elevation: 650m

Seki Onsen, Niigata

(0255) 82-2316 www.sekionsen.com Dec. 14 - May 6 9:00 - 17:00

1 DAY Adults ¥3,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,800

Seki is the highest ski area in the Myoko Kogen area and, even though there are just two lifts, there is access to many powder runs. This is a locals mountain, and they check the weather reports and know when the storms will hit, sometimes dropping one or two meters of new snow overnight. It pays to get up early if you want first tracks. Don’t expect groomers; this is natural terrain and free riding at its finest: tree runs, natural pipes and some good hits.

Park

20% 1

3 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 1

20% 1

Advanced

Longest Top Ele

6

courses Base Ele

50%

Park

+81-278-72-2811 www.canyons.jp

Longest Course: 1,600m 6 Top Elevation: 1,620m Beginner(1 hr., Intermediate Advanced 45 min.), then courses ACCESS By Train: Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station Gondolaby taxi Base Elevation: 1,000m take the JR Shinetsu Honsen Line to Sekiyama Station,Lifts then 20 min.

CHARMANT HIUCHI

Itoigawa, Niigata

(0255) 61-4588 http://charmant-hiuchi.jp Dec. 6 - May 14 8:30 - 16:30

1 DAY Adults ¥3,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,800

Charmant is a locally owned and operated ski resort most of your friends do not know about but may wish they did. The resort is literally right on the Japan Sea (you can see it from the top lifts) and gets some of the heaviest snow dumps around. It is also a healthy drive from Tokyo (four hours), but is worth the trip if you enjoy short lift lines and uncrowded slopes. There are lots of ungroomed areas and advanced terrain including a 1,000-meter powder course. The proximity to the sea means there is some excellent seafood nearby as well, and you can ski straight through Golden Week.

Park

20% 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 1

45% 2

Advanced

35%

Park

17 Beginner Intermediate From Advanced is inconvenient. courses ACCESS Car access is recommended: Train and bus serviceLifts Gondola Tokyo it takes 4 hours by car, depending on traffic and weather At Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort Below Hikage Area Mos Burger

54

T R AV E L E R

www.shirakaba8.com/rental

4 2

Longest Course: 2,700m Top Elevation: 1,009m Base Elevation: 501m

For more Niigata information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com)

17

courses

Longest Top Ele Base E


Minakami Houdaigi

Kawaba

GUNMA

Okutone Snow Park Tenjindaira Tanigawadake

Oze Iwakura

Norn Minakami Manza Onsen

W

Kusatsu Kokusai

hile neighboring Niigata gets most of the attention, Gunma quietly has some great snow resorts of its own. Located in northeast

Gunma near the border with Niigata, Minakami has 10 ski resorts and is just 90 minutes from Tokyo. Oze Katashina is another quality area that flies under the radar. Katashina Town lies in the shadows of mighty Mt. Hotaka and Mt. Shirane and features nearby resorts such the popular Oze Iwakura, Hotaka Bokujo, a boarder’s park, and Oguna Hotaka, a nice midsized resort. Manza, to the east of Katashina, the popular ski and onsen areas of Manza and Kusatsu Resort & Spa are great places to relax before or after a good day on the mountain.

MINAKAMI HOUDAIGI

Minakami, Gunma

(0278) 75-2557 www.hodaigi.jp Dec. 14 - Apr. 6 8:00 - 16:30 (17:00 - 21:00 Jan.only)

OKUTONE SNOW PARK (0278) 72-8101 www.okutone.jp Dec. 20 - Mar. 30 8:00 - 22:00 (17:00 - 22:00)

Minakami, Gunma (weekends & holidays 6:00 - 24:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥2,500

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids Free for children <12

Park

Park

40% 2

30% 5

30% 1

30% 5

4 1

Park

Minakami Houdaigi ski resort is the largest in the Minakami area. The resort, due to the higher elevation, also gets good quality snow. Although there are many beginner and intermediate runs, there are a few advanced courses as well, including a killer 40-degree slope and a 2,600-meter cruiser. Parents can let their kids have fun safely on tubes and airboards in the “Kids Land,” and older kids can enjoy the “Action Land” with tabletops, waves and banks. Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate

Advanced

Park

Longest Course: 2,600m Longest C If rails, pipes and jumps are your thing, 16 Top Elevation: 10 Top Ele 1,400m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Beginner Intermediate Advanced Okutone ski area is the place to go in courses courses Lifts Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 830m Base E Minakami. The park staff takes good care of guests who come to perfect their style at the 30% 30% resort’s park. The night sessions are popular, since they keep 40% 40% 30% 30% the lights on until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights 1 2 5 5 1 and before national holidays. The north-facing courses have nice snow quality, and you can enjoy some turns on the 3,000-meter long course. Okutone is just two hours from Longest Course: 2,600m Longest Course: 3,000m making it super convenient. They offer free tickets to 16 Top Elevation: 1,400m Tokyo, 10 Top Elevation: 1,083m Intermediate Advanced kids under 12 and free coffee if you Beginner come before 10 a.m. on courses Base Elevation: 830m courses Base Elevation: 550m Lifts Gondola weekdays. Park

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) then bus to Houdaigi (70 minutes)

NORN MINAKAMI

Minakami, Gunma

(0278) 72-6688 www.norn.co.jp Mid Dec. - Mar. 30 8:00 - 16:30 (16:30 - 22:00 / 24:00)

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) then bus to Okutone (40 minutes)

TENJINDAIRA TANIGAWADAKE

Minakami, Gunma

(0278) 72-3575 www.tanigawadake-rw.com End of Nov. - Late May 8:00 -16:30 1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥3,400

1 DAY Adults ¥3,500 TICKET Kids ¥2,000

Park

Park

30% 2

50% 2

30% 1

20%

4 4

Park Park

Longest C Longest Course: 2,000mTenjindaira is better known to Although Situated just three kilometers from the 10 Top Ele 5 Top Elevation: 1,220m Beginner Intermediate Advanced most for trekking in summer, when the tram is Beginner Intermediate Advanced Minakami Interchange, Norn Minakami is the courses courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Base E Base Elevation: 820mhikers, the resort is a popular stop packed with most convenient of the Minakami Resorts if on the backcountry trail. The resort itself is you are coming by car. The resort is great for 40% 30% 30% 30% relatively small, but lift lines are usually short and the snow 20% 50% families. They’ve created “family zones” where the average quality can be excellent if it’s not too windy up top. However, slope is just 13 degrees and a Day Care Center where parents 1 4 2 2 the secret to “Tenjin” is off the main trails. Those who like can drop off the little ones and enjoy some time on the their riding steep and deep head for the backcountry. This mountain themselves. Norn is open from 7 a.m. to midnight is “enter at your own risk” territory and not a place to go on weekends, so you can enjoy a long day on the slopes and, Longest Course: 4,000m Longest Course: 2,000m avalanche gear (and the knowledge how to use it). like all Minakami resorts, it is not far from some great hot 10 Top Elevation: 1,500m 5 Top Elevation: 1,220m without Beginner local Intermediate Beginner Intermediate Advanced Better yet, hire one of the knowledgeable guides andAdvanced courses springs. courses Lifts Gondola Lifts Base Elevation: 750m Base Elevation: 820m enjoy some "Japow!" Park

Park

ACCESS By Train: 150 minutes from Tokyo Station to Minakami Station, then free shuttle. By Car: 90 minutes from Tokyo (Nerima IC) via Kanetsu Expressway

ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Takasaki Station, then change to the Joetsu Line to Minakami Station, then 20 minutes by bus to Tenjindaira

For more Gunma information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com) WINTER 2014

55


KAWABA

NOZAWA ONSEN

Kawaba, Gunma

(0278) 52-3345 www.kawaba.co.jp/snow/ Dec. 13 - Apr. 13 8:30 - 16:00

1 DAY Adults ¥4,200 TICKET Kids ¥2,700

There’s something different about Kawaba. You’ll notice it the first time you pull into the covered parking area of the eight-story Kawaba City center house. There are six floors of parking and the seventh and eighth floors are filled with restaurants and ski/board shops. On the mountain, Kawaba is progressive as well with a nice balance of park and powder. Within the 10,790 meters of skiable terrain is the “Powder Zone,” a section of the mountain left ungroomed for powder lovers. There is a good mogul course, the Free Ride Park (back by popular demand) and a 3,300-meter trail for cruising. Kawaba City also includes a ski school, kids corner and locker rooms.

ENGLISH SKI & SNOWBOARD LESSONS

Park

20% 3

4 1

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

20% 3

40% 1

Advanced

10

Longest Top Ele

courses Base Ele

40% 1

Park

Longest Course: 2,000m 10 Top Elevation: 2,020m Beginner Intermediatethen Advanced (75 minutes), a courses ACCESS By Train and Shuttle Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen Lifts Gondola Base Elevation: 1,290m 50-minute shuttle bus ride to Kawaba

KUSATSU KOKUSAI

Kusatsu, Gunma

(0279) 88-8111 www.kusatsu-kokusai.com Dec. 14 - Apr. 13 8:30 - 21:00 (17:00 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,200

Although Kusatsu is famous as one of the country’s best onsen resorts, the area also features a quality ski resort that has been around since the Taisho Era and is open nearly six months out of the year. Kusatsu Snow & Spa has an eight-kilometer downhill course, one of the longest in Japan (along with Myoko Suginohara), a Kids Square where the little ones can enjoy activities such as snow tubing, and a variety of Heliport courses for all levels. However, the best part of being at Kusatsu is the fact you can enjoy some world-famous hot springs after a great day on the mountain.

+81-80-9083-2172 www.nozawaski.com

Park Heliport

30% 1

5 2

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

30% 1

50% 2

Advanced

Longest Top Ele

9

courses Base Ele

20% 8

Park

Beginner Intermediate from Tokyo (72 ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Karuizawa StationLifts minutes), then 55 min. by direct bus from Karuizawa Station Gondola

NOZAWA

Ski goods,Ski Rental

Advanced

Longest Course: 8,000m Top Elevation: 2,171m courses Base Elevation: 1,245m

9

MANZA ONSEN

Tsumagoi, Gunma

(0279) 97-3117 www.princehotels.com/en/ski/manzaonsen/ Dec. 14 - Apr. 6 8:30 - 17:00 (Sat.17:30 - 20:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,000 TICKET Kids ¥3,000

Manza Onsen is another of Prince Resorts signature properties, and the hotel’s buildings command an imposing presence at the bottom of the hill. The resort features a lot of good beginner and intermediate runs and is a great place for families. There are not a lot of challenging runs for advanced skiers, but the scenery is beautiful, the snow quality excellent as it is one of Japan’s highest resorts and the hotel has a nice rotenburo (outdoor bath) for after-ski soaking. The facilities and amenities are on a par with what you’d expect from Prince Resorts, making for a stress-free ski experience.

Park

40% 1

5 7

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

40% 1

50% 7

Advanced

14

Longest Top Ele

courses Base Ele

10%

Park

OPEN 8:00~10:00/15:00~20:00 TEL 0269-67-0224 www.compasshouse.jp

English Ski & Snowboard Lessons Snowshoe tour

Longest Course: 1,500m 14 Top Elevation: 2,008m Beginner Intermediate Advanced Manza-Kazawaguchi courses ACCESS By Train & Bus: Takasaki Line from JR Ueno Station to Lifts Gondola(50 min.) Base Elevation: 1,646m Stn. (160 min.) then change to the Seibu Kogen Bus to Manza Onsen

OZE IWAKURA (0278) 58-7777 Dec. 14 - Apr. 6

Katashina, Gunma

www.oze-iwakura.co.jp/ski/ 8:00 - 21:00 (16:30 - 21:00)

1 DAY Adults ¥4,600 TICKET Kids ¥3,600

Oze Iwakura is the largest of the Katashina ski resorts. It was also one of the longest skiersonly holdouts. The mountain itself has a timeless, genteel feel to it, where visitors enjoy breathing in the fresh air and taking in the views. This year Oze Iwakura celebrates its 40th anniversary, and with the new Shisaka Tunnel, access from Numata I.C. has never been easier. If you get tired of groomers, you’ll find some nice powder on the fringes while some areas outside the lines will be tempting. Yet Iwakura remains a skier's mountain at heart, and skiers will enjoy the long, cruising runs, moguls and some challenging steep terrain.

Park

30% 1 Park

Beginner Lifts

30% 1

Intermediate Gondola

40% 2

Advanced

30% 10

Park

+81-80-9083-2179 www.canyons.jp

56

T R AV E L E R

Beginner then byIntermediate bus to Oze ACCESS By Train and Bus: Shinkansen to Jomo Kogen (75 minutes) Lifts Gondola Iwakura (90 min.)

Advanced

4 2

Longest Course: 3,200m Top Elevation: 1,703m courses Base Elevation: 1,006m

18

More information online at www.outdoorjapan.com/snow

18

Longest Top Ele

courses Base Ele


GIFU Takasu Snow Park Dynaland

A

s far as resorts in central Honshu go, Gifu gets much less attention than Nagano, Niigata and Gunma. Nonetheless there are a number of quality resorts in the region that primarily service the Nagoya and Kansai region. Less than a couple hours from the main Gifu ski resorts is the Edo-style town of Takayama, known as “Little Kyoto.” Takayama’s master carpenters built some beautiful shrines and temples here at the base of the Japan Alps. Also in the region, along the border of Gifu and Toyama prefectures are the World Heritage villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokoyama, known for the thatched roof houses built in “gassho-zukuri” (praying hands) style. These A-frame farmhouses are constructed to withstand the heavy snowfall that blankets the region each year. If you are looking for good skiing and mixing in some great cultural experiences, Gifu is a great winter destination.

TAKASU SNOW PARK

Takasu, Gifu

(0575) 72-7000 www.takasu.gr.jp Dec. 7 - Apr. 6 8:00 - 16:30

1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 TICKET Kids ¥2,000

Takasu is well known to park riders. The resort has a large free ride park that includes kickers, rails, boxes and one of the biggest super pipes in Japan. There is also a 600-meter professional boarder cross course and a mogul course. The resort is the training grounds for many of Japan’s rising stars and has hosted a number of competitions including the FIS Snowboard World Cup. Aside from the amazing pipe and park, winter sports enthusiasts of all levels can enjoy the openfaced free ride terrain including a 4,800-meter trail, one of longest in western Japan, and several other 4,000-meter trails. There are even some backcountry tours through Dainichi Valley.

Park

35% 1

35% 3

30%

Park

Beginner Lifts

Intermediate Gondola

35% 1

35% 3

Advanced

12

courses

Longest Course: 4,800m Top Elevation: 600m Base Elevation: 950m

30%

Park

BeginnerTakasu Intermediate and ACCESS By Bus: A bus leaves Nagoya at 8 a.m. stopping at both Gondola Dynaland. The trip takes about 2 hours, 45 minutes Lifts

Advanced

12

courses

Longest Course: 4,800m Top Elevation: 600m Base Elevation: 950m

DYNALAND

Takasu, Gifu

(0575) 72-6636 www.dynaland.co.jp 1 DAY Adults ¥4,800 Dec. 7 - Apr. 6 Weekdays 8:00 - 16:30, Weekends 5:00 - 16:30 TICKET Kids ¥2,000 (18:00 - 23:00) Dynaland is the largest of the Takasu ski resorts. There are 19 runs; the longest a 3,200-meter thigh burner. There is a shared ticket to neighboring Takasu Snow Park and two places on the mountain that connect the resorts. If you want to get out on the slopes first thing in the morning, the Hotel Villa Mon-Saint is right in front of the resort, and there are 5 a.m. openings for first tracks on selected dates. The resort has featured a resident DJ who will take music requests, and you can do some good for Mother Nature while having a lunch break since the Dynaland Eco Project collects proceeds from resort restaurants to support a Gifu tree planting project. Night skiing runs until 11 p.m.

Park

40% 3

32% 3

28%

Park

Beginner Lifts

40% 3

Intermediate Gondola

32% 2

Advanced

18

courses

Longest Course: 3,200m Top Elevation: 1,430m Base Elevation: 983m

28%

Park

Beginner Intermediate Takasu and ACCESS By Bus: A bus leaves Nagoya at 8 a.m. stopping at both Gondola Dynaland. The trip takes about 2 hours, 45 minutes Lifts

Advanced

Longest Course: 3,200m Top Elevation: 1,430m courses Base Elevation: 983m

18

For more Gifu information visit OJ Online (www.outdoorjapan.com) WINTER 2014

57


Grandeco Alts Bandai & Urabandai Nekoma Listel Ski Fantasia

Inawashiro Inawashiro Lake

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Beyond

震災・原発事故を乗り越えて 福島でのマウンテンライフ

Fukushima By Bill Ross

Travelers who can get beyond the name will find the mountains in western Fukushima filled with beautiful scenery, excellent ski resorts, appreciative locals and lots of great snow to enjoy this winter. よく知られたエリアを越えて旅をすれば、福島西部は美しい景色と最高のスキーリゾートで 雪を楽しみ、気さくで親しげな地元の人たちに出会うことができるエリアだ。

58

T R AV E L E R


I

t’s a late fall day as I drive north from my home in Myoko toward Niigata City. The row of volcanoes that make up the Kubiki Alps and other widely spaced mountains have long since given way to the vast rice fields of the Niigata Plain. For many kilometers, only the peak of 634-meter Mt. Yahiko rising off to the northwest, and a distant line of mountains to the east, break the even, flat stretch. Turning east, just south of Niigata’s capital, things begin to change. As the land slowly begins to rise, formations of swans from Siberia fly in overhead; others already on the ground gather as white speckles across the still-brown fields. The mountains continue to climb, but sharper than at home; angular, heavily wooded. I’d been in the area before in early spring. I knew the valleys between those steep mountains contain rustic wooden buildings, beautiful winding roads and equally twisting streams and rivers, often accented with flashes of color from descending kayaks. This is a beautiful, natural part of Japan, and I am thoroughly enjoying the drive. The only dark note to the trip comes from the area’s name: Fukushima. What’s in a name, anyway? Well, unfortunately for the prefecture, a lot. It’s become infamous because of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. The facility is down the coast and more than 80 kilometers to the east of my destination in the Urabandai area. Because of what happened in 2011, and the problems that continue, for many “Fukushima” means one thing: nuclear disaster. Approaching from the west, it’s a much different experience than when I was in the prefecture months after the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. On that trip, I drove up from Tokyo, north along the ocean, and the devastation was unending. Here, everything seems…well, normal. Untouched, not at all scary. I would hear this echoed from everyone I met at the ski resorts here. “We weren’t damaged.” “We didn’t see a rise in radiation.” “We were lucky because of the wind direction and the landsape.” (Especially those protective waves of mountains.) Also universally, “We’d like to welcome more visitors.” From what I could see, it is well worth a trip to the beautiful winter resorts around Mt. Bandai and Lake Inawashiro, Japan’s fourth-largest body of fresh water, in winter when these beautiful mountains are covered with light snow.

The White Elephant in the Room It’s not an unqualified recommendation, of course. On the very day I finished this article, TEPCO, the (often deservedly maligned) Tokyo Electric Power Company, began the tricky task of extricating spent fuel rods from one of the damaged reactor buildings. Radiation is a very scary thing for the average person; you can’t see it, it does nasty things if you get too much of it, and it makes possible very big bombs that knock out whole cities in a single boom. It’s also hard to get any sense of balance about the situation, with TEPCO being dragged into releasing information, hysterical blogs and few sober, scientific sources to make sense of it all. Time to talk to the locals.

秋に、僕の家がある妙高から新潟へ車で向 かっていた。新潟平野の田んぼの景色に とってかわって、頸城アルプス (妙高連峰) を創りあげている火山帯と、ぽつぽつと点

在する峰々が見えてくる。634mの弥彦山の頂上が北西に、 東には遠くに見える山々が平らな景色に見え隠れしている。 新潟県庁のちょうど南側あたり、東のほうへ向くと景色が 少しずつ変化していく。シベリアから飛んできた白鳥が隊列 を組んで頭上を飛んでいる。すでに降りたった白鳥たちは刈 り入れを終えた茶色い畑に白い群れをなしている。僕の住 んでいる地域より急 峻な山々はさらに高くなり、森で覆われ ていた。 ここへ初めて来たのは春の始まりの頃だった。急峻な山 に挟まれた谷には、昔ながらの木の家があって、曲がりくねっ た美しい道に沿って流れる小川では、色とりどりのカヤックが 下っていくのが見える。 僕は美しい自然が残るここでのドライブを堪能していた。こ こで唯一暗い影を落とすもの、それはこのエリアの名前。福 島だ。 そう、あの、不名誉な福島第一原発事故によって有名に なってしまった場所である。原発があるのは、僕の目的地で ある裏磐梯エリアから太平洋岸へ80km東に位置する。2011 年のあの事故以来、いまだ続くその影響のため、福島といえ ば原発事故とつなげられてしまうようになった。 大震災後に福島へ行った当時を思い起こすと、この西か ら向かう道程はまったく違った経験だ。あのときは、東京から 海沿いを北へ向かいその被害はすさまじかったのに、今見え るのはいたって普通、怖さのかけらもない普段の風景である。 スキーリゾートで僕が出会っただれもが口をそろえてこう いった。「ここはまったく被害がなかったし、放射線量も上が らなかった」。「風向きと地形が功を奏した」 (とくに波のように 連なる山々がこのエリアを守ったのだろう) 。そして、そのだれ もが、「ぜひ、もっと多くの観光客に来てもらいたい」と言う。 磐梯山周辺の冬のリゾート、そして日本で4番目に大きい 淡水湖である猪苗代湖はぜひ一度訪れたい場所だし、雪化 粧した冬の山はほんとうに美しい。

無視されつづける事実 (It’ s not an unqualified recommendation, of course. )この 記事を書いている最中に、東電は壊れた建屋から使用済み 核燃料をとり出すという難しい作業をはじめた。放射線は僕ら のような一般市民にとってはひじょうに恐ろしい存在だ。この 見えない物体は、被爆すると健康被害を及ぼすだけではなく、 都市をまるごと破壊する爆弾が造れる。情報公開を余儀なく されている東電だが、巷には感情的なブログや比較的明晰 かつ科学的な情報など、さまざまな情報があふれていて、僕 らはなにが正しいのかを見極めるのはひじょうに困難だ。

WINTER 2014

59


Alts Bandai & Urabandai Nekoma アルツ磐梯と裏磐梯猫 魔

“I go surfing out here a lot,” says Kei Ishiuchi. “We went out first with a Geiger counter to see if we were safe. Every time we’ve checked, it’s been the same — the figures are the same as they were 50 years ago.” A self-proclaimed former snowboard bum who spent several years in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Ishiuchi takes things a little easier now, but surfing on the Fukushima coast, he insists, isn’t too risky. “I’m married now, and a father,” he says. “I want to know what is safe, and what’s not, because there are places that aren’t safe. But many people here make their living from outdoor things like surfing or skiing. It’s tough for them. So I’d just like to invite people to come and see for themselves.” He should know. Ishiuchi is the general

manager of marketing for Bandai Resort, which includes two ski resorts in the area, Alts Bandai and Urabandai Nekoma Ski Resort. We meet at the Bandaisan Onsen Hotel, and the loquacious Ishiuchi tells the story of his resorts. “After 3/11, it was terrible — nobody came. But for us, nothing really happened on March 11. Things shook, but there was no damage, apart from the onsen not working quite right for a while (a common post-earthquake problem). When the explosions happened at Dai-Ichi on March 14, we were concerned and took readings of the

「このあたりでよく波乗りしています」とイシ

イシウチ氏のスノーボード狂ぷりは今も健

ウチケイ氏は言った。「最初の頃は、心配

在だ。「支配人ですが、毎日コースに出ます

だったのでガイガーカウンターを持って海に

よ」と笑いながら話す。「お客さまが何を求

入っていたんですが、数値は50年前と変わり

めているのかつねに気になりますし、だから

ませんでした」

こそ、お客さまとの交流はひじょうに楽しい ことです」

自称元スノーボード狂の彼はワイオミング

麓の町から車で到着すれば、スキーエリア

のジャクソンホールにいたこともあり、のんび りした男ではあるが、それでも福島でのサーフィンは、思

「3月11日以降、だれも来なくなってしまいました。でも、

にはホテルなどがあり、ほ���のリゾート同様、アルツもまた

このエリアは、震災当日は被害は大きくなかったんです。

ここだけで事足りる。スキートリップで非日常を味わいた

「ぼくは結婚していて子供もいますから、何が危険で何

揺れはしましたが、以前の地震ですでにダメージを受けて

い方にはお薦めの場所だ。

が安全なのかを知りたい。明らかに危険な場所もあるわけ

いた温泉がしばらく機能しなかったくらいで、ほかにはダ

われているほど危険ではないと言う。

60

radiation. But there was nothing unusual. “Alts is the biggest resort in southern Tohoku,” he continues. “We’re like Montana here — the mountains are big and open, rather than steep, and our snow is really light. Most of Alts Bandai faces south, so it’s bright. Nekoma faces north, so it’s colder, and the powder can be great.” Ishiuchi remains true to his snowboard bum roots, though. “I’m out on the courses every day, even though I’m manager,” he laughs. “I’m really interested in finding out what people want, and I enjoy interacting with them.” Like the other resorts here, Alts is selfcontained, with a ski area and hotel at the top of a long drive from the town below. It’s great if you like really getting away from it all on a ski trip.

ですから。ここでは多くの人がスキーやサーフィンなどアウト

メージもなかったですし。原発が爆発した3月14日にはさ

ドアを楽しむ生活を送っていたので、それができないのは

すがに心配で、放射線レベルなどを計測しましたが、普

ひじょうにつらい。だからこそ、ここに人を呼ぶことで、じっ

段となにも変わりませんでした」

さいに自分たちの目で確かめてもらいたいと思っています」

「アルツは南東北でいちばん大きなリゾートです。いわ

彼が総支配人をつとめる磐梯リゾートには、アルツ磐

ばモンタナのような場所なんです。山は大きくてオープン

梯と裏磐梯猫魔スキー場がある。磐梯山温泉ホテルで

だし、急斜面も少なく、雪がひじょうに軽い。アルツ磐梯

取材に応じてくれた彼は、これらのリゾートについても話し

は南向きの所が多いので明るいのもお薦めですね。猫魔

てくれた。

は北向きなので寒いですが、最高のパウダーがあります」

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Grandeco グランデコ

At Grandeco Resort, manager Genta Kanemitsu is quieter than the garrulous Ishiuchi but no less passionate about the area. “I’m really a Tokyo boy (although he lived abroad as a child, and traveled to 22 countries as a backpacking student), but I was looking for a natural place to live,” he says. “I visited several places, but when I got here — well, it’s great!” He also cites the quality of the snow. “It’s cold, so the snow is good — we get a lot of repeaters. The hotel is at 1,040 meters, and the lifts go up to 1,590. From there, it’s just a short hike up to Mt. Nishidaiten, which has a great view of the whole area.” There are no restrictions on where you ski, he says, the patrol may warn about dangerous spots, but they won’t stop you for skiing in the trees. “We’re a nice, compact resort,” he says. “We have few international travelers now, so it’s a nice chance for those who do come.” The Hotel Grandeco, it has to be said, is the most

luxurious in the area — the Crown Prince and Princess stayed in the suite. Before the earthquake hit, the resort brought in about 200,000 one-day skiers annually. “After that it dropped to 110,000,” Kanemitsu says. “We’re back up to 150,000, so we could still use more guests.” Echoing something mentioned by Ishiuchi, he says the loss of school ski groups has hurt business for all local resorts. At the same time, this area was seen as a safe place to bring children relocated because of the radiation for some fun. “It nearly made me cry,” Kanemitsu says. “As soon as they got off the bus and saw the sand traps on the golf course, they just ran in and started playing. Kids are supposed to be out digging in the sand, but they hadn’t been allowed outside in months.” He gives one last tip for prospective visitors: “Come in spring,” he says. “As soon as Japanese people see

the cherry blossoms, they stop thinking about skiing, but our season runs late. In April the snow is still good, the sun shines a lot and the weather is nice.”

グランデコリゾートのマネージャー、金光弦太氏は前出

た」。ホテルグランデコはこのエリアにおける最高級の

のイシウチ氏にくらべて物静かではあるが、この場所へ

ホテルで、皇太子ご夫妻も宿泊されたことがある。あの

の情熱は変わらない。「僕は根っからの東京っ子で (とは

地震前は、年間20万人の日帰りスキー客があった。「地

言うものの、子供の頃には海外に住み、学生時代には

震の後は11 万人に減りました。現在は15 万人までに回

バックパッカーとして22カ国を旅した経験をもつ) 、自然に

復しましたが、もっと増えてほしいと思っています」

囲まれた場所で暮らしたかったんです。いくつかの場所を 見てまわりましたが、ここに着いたら、もうここしかないと」 さらに雪のクオリティの高さについても話してくれた。 「このあたりは寒いので雪質がよく、リピーターがとて

イシウチ氏も言っていたが、修学旅行がなくなってし まったのは、リゾートにとって打撃だった。このエリアは放 射線量が低いので、子供たちを安心して遊ばせることも できる。「子供たちがバスを降りた瞬間、ゴルフコースの

も多いですね。ホテルは標高 1,040mにあって、リフト

バンカーを見た子供たちがそこで遊びはじめた姿を見た

は1,590m の地点までつれていってくれます。そのまま

ら、泣きそうになりましたよ。外で土遊びをするのが子供

西 大巓山まで少し登れば、そこからの景色は最高です

ですが、それを何ヶ月もできていなかったわけですから」

よ」。警備員に危険なエリアの注意を受けることはある

今後、このエリアへ旅行を予定しているなら春がお薦

が、木々の間であろうが、どこでも好きな場所で滑ること

めだそうだ。「桜が咲きはじめるとスキーのことは忘れてし

ができる。

まう人が多いですが、ここはまだまだシーズン中です。4月

「コンパクトなリゾートで、最近では外国人も増えまし

は雪もいいし、陽射しも暖かく天気もいいです」

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Inawashiro 猪苗代

Right on the slopes of Mt. Bandai, overlooking Lake Inawashiro, is the ski area of the same name. Inawashiro is a big, well-established 11-lift resort that has hosted International Ski Federation (FIS) competitions. Resort president Hiroaki Higuchi takes head on the issues facing Fukushima. “For a couple of years now, we’ve decided we aren’t going to be depressed when we talk,” he says. “We’re not down. When we talk, we’re addressing individual skiers and snowboarders. Within the prefecture, people have gotten the message that it’s safe here. But I know families with young children are going to be concerned, so we just accept we can’t change that.” He is looking to the future and is happy to share his plans. “We’re now two large areas in one,” he says. “One is a real alpine setting, with runs that are at race level (Inawashiro will be hosting Japan’s national high school

Inter-high competition this season). The other is more open and gentle, so it’s great for families.” To attract those families, the area has created the “Re:born Club.” For ¥500, members receive a card that gives them reduced lift ticket prices, and two of the beginner runs are free. “Skiing is a sport that, once you do it, you’ll love

it,” Higuchi says. “So we want to get people skiing — especially kids.” He admits, as an older resort, they see themselves as a local resort. “Because of that, we haven’t really sold ourselves to the international market,” he says with a smile. “But when they’re ready to come to Fukushima, of course we'll be ready to welcome them.”

磐梯山の傾斜にある猪苗代スキー場は同じ名前の猪

ノーボーダーたちと個々に話をしていて、彼らはここの安

苗代湖を見おろしている。11 基のリフトを持つ猪苗代リ

全性について理解してくれています。ただ、小さいお子さ

ゾートは国際スキー連盟の大会も開催されたことがある。

んがいるご家族の心配はよくわかりますし、それを変えよう

代表の樋口弘明氏は福島の問題に真っ向から取り組ん

とは思っていません」

でいる。

彼の描く未来は明るい。「ここは、ふたつの大きなエ

「数年の間は、この話をするときに落ち込まないように

リアがひとつになっています。レースレベルのコースがあ

しようと決めたんです。僕らはここにくるスキーヤーやス

る本格的なアルペンスキーのエリアと、家族でも楽しめ るオープンで易しいエリアがあります (猪苗代は今シーズ ン、全国高校のインターハイの開催を予定している)」 そういった家族のために、「Re:born Club」というサービ スを立ち上げ、500 円払えば、リフトチケットの割引や初 心者用のふたつのコースを無料で楽しむことができる。 「スキーは一度やったらやめられない。だからこそ、とくに 子供にはスキーをぜひ体験してもらいたい」 猪苗代は古くからあるリゾートとして、地元密着型のリ ゾートをめざす。「だから、海外からの旅行客にはとくに売 りこんでいませんが、福島へ来てくださるならば歓迎する 準備はできていますよ」と笑顔で話してくれた。

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Listel Ski Fantasia リステルスキーファンタジア

Heading further around the lake to my final destination, I am caught off guard when I get my first glimpse of Listel Ski Fantasia. The first thing I see is a massive pyramid of a hotel, snug up against the tight, triangular peaks, and with no apparent ski slope. I am met by communications manager Kai Hattori and mogul course shaper/staff and local booster Justyn “Jup” Brown. Soon things are in better perspective. There is one huge, gentle slope at the base, and some pretty steep slopes beyond. Listel is a regular stop on the FIS tour, hosting the moguls and aerials competitions. They too have stories to tell. “There was very minor damage to the building in the earthquake, but we could tell where the soft soil was — because it collapsed — and where it was firm,” Hattori says. Luckily, the hotel is on

very solid ground. So much so that it found itself completely occupied after the evacuations from the coastal areas. “We had 800 people living in the hotel, and we just shut down the ski area,” he says. The 370-room hotel feels like a throwback to the boom years: there is a whole series of swimming pools, outdoor onsen, a huge herb and sculpture garden just in front of the facility. When we climb to the top-floor lounge, Jup just smiles and says, “Nice, huh?,” as he gestures out to the lake stretching out almost to the horizon. “We have nice, easy slopes, so this is a great place for first timers, and there’s everything a family could want,” Hattori says. “There are steep slopes, too, with the mogul course 42° at its steepest. People can visit other ski

areas in the region with our shuttle bus as well.” Like elsewhere, school trips are down, but repeaters are starting to return. “We expect higher numbers overall this year; not just locals but also people from Tokyo and Osaka, so there are positive things going on,” Hattori says.

猪苗代湖をまわって最終目的地へ向かっていた時、ち

会って、だんだん様子がわかってきた。ベースには巨大

いのかはわからないわけですが、幸運にもホテルは固い

らりと見えたリステルスキーファンタジアには不意打ちを

で緩やかなコースがあり、その奥には急な傾斜のコース

地盤の上に立てられていました」。

食らわされた。 まず目に飛び込んできたのは巨大なピラミッ

が広がっている。リステルも国際スキー連盟の常連で、

ド型のホテルで、スキーのコースは見当たらなかった。

モーグルやエアーの試合がおこなわれている。

広報の服部界氏とモーグルコースのシェイパー兼ス

彼らにももちろん震災の影響があった。 「建物に軽度

タッフ、日本生まれのジャスティン” ジャップ” ブラウンに

のダメージはありました。地盤のどこが柔らかくてどこが硬

震災の被害が軽微だったので、海沿いの被災者の多 くがこのホテルへ避難してきた。 「ホテルには800人が避 難してきており、スキーエリアは閉鎖しました」

370部屋あるこのホテルにいると、好景気だった当時 に戻されたような気分になる。プールに温泉、ハーブと 彫刻のガーデンが施設の前に広がる。最上階のラウン ジへ行くと、地平線いっぱいに拡がる湖を指差しながら、 ジャップさんが笑顔で言った。 「最高でしょう?」 「簡単なスロープがあるので初心者には最適ですし、 家族旅行のお客さまが求めるすべてがここにはありま す」。勾配が急なスロープもあり、モーグルのコースは最 大傾斜が42度もある。また、ほかのスキーエリアへのシャ トルバスも出ている。 ほかのリゾートと同様に修学旅行客は減ってしまった が、リピーターがゆっくり戻ってきているという。 「今年は 全体的に数字が増えています。地元の観光客だけでは なく、東京や大阪からのお客さまも増えていて、いい傾 向だと思っています」と服部さんは言う。

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Hiromi Igarashi of NPO Network, an organization involved with tourism in Fukushima, agrees. “Things have pretty much recovered to normal levels for tourism in Urabandai — except for winter,” she says. “The earthquake and tsunami had very little effect in the Aizu/Bandai area. It’s a safe area, and we want to get that message out. Schools are reluctant to come, and we understand that but, if others come, the schools will follow.” They’re particularly targeting young people so, listen up, 22-to-24-yearolds. Twenty-one of the 24 ski areas in the region have become members of a group called “Yuki Maji Fukushima.” If you are between these blessed ages, you ski free on weekdays, so jump on one of the cheap, direct buses from Tokyo. It’s just one more of many reasons to visit Fukushima this winter. ✤

福島の観光推進に協力しているNPOネットワークの五十嵐浩美さんも 同様の意見だ。 「裏磐梯の観光は、冬の期間以外はだいたい例年通り に戻りつつあります。会津、磐梯エリアでは地震と津波の影響は本当に 少なくて、安心していただけますし、ぜひそのことを知っていただきたいんで す。修学旅行客がなかなか戻ってこられないのはわかります。でも、人が 戻ってこれば、学校も続いて戻ってきてくれると思っています」 とくに若い世代に来てほしいというわけで���22歳から24歳の読者に耳寄り な情報を教えよう。このエリアの24のスキーエリアのうち、21が 「雪マジ!ふくし ま」というグループに参加しており、22∼24歳ならば、平日のスキーは無料と なる。東京から格安バスなどで来てみてはいかがだろうか。✤

Web Connection

ウェブコネクション

Alts Bandai & Nekoma / アルツ磐梯 猫魔:www.alts.co.jp Grandeco / グランデコ:www.grandeco.com Inawashiro Snow Paradise / 猪苗代スキーパラダイス:www.goinawashiro.com Listel Ski Fantasia / リステルスキーファンタジア:www.listel-inawashiro.jp For more information on these and other ski resorts in Japan, be sure to download the free Japan Snow Guide Mobile App at www.japanskiguide.com

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TRAVELER’S JOURNAL

The 21-Day Story by Julie Nieuwenhuys Photos by Caroline Van’t Hoff

Wasabi Powder Diet Two Dutch powder junkies enjoy their first taste of fresh ‘Wasabi Powder’

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B

ig, white, fluffy snowflakes dance through a pitch-black sky as 1,287 light towers illuminate the deserted runs of Niseko. It is 8 p.m., and most skiers are enjoying frosty glasses of Sapporo or Asahi beer at one of Hirafu Village’s cosy pubs or restaurants. We are on a different high, however, getting our fill of Japan’s legendary “wasabi powder.” The massive light towers make the visibility even better than daylight, while the eerie, elongated shadows of birch trees appear to bring the forest to life. In this magical, three-dimensional dream world we fly through the feather-light powder. Niseko boasts an average of six days of snowfall a week, 15 meters in a season that lasts just three-and-a-half months. This is not roulette; you are nearly guaranteed to hit the jackpot here. Next up on our tour is Rusutsu. Clouds cover the valley like a woolly blanket, with imposing, steep mountains rising above. We drop into a large powder field where heavenly powder awaits. The snow is so dry that our spray remains visible like a cloud of smoke in the air. Euphorically, we ski toward the ski lift and, as always, we are hungry for more. In the afternoon, we head into Rusutsu’s famous Japanese birch forests which look like a wintry jungle with twisting branches covered in snow. We soar down in conditions that only seem to exist in the ski movies. The snow is so light, it’s virtually impossible to breathe. Our next stop is Asahidake, the famous powder playground situated in the heart of the north island, an area known as the Hokkaido Powder Belt, along with the ski areas Furano,

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Kamui Ski Links and Tomamu. This region is home to the driest snow in Japan, which suits our tastes just fine. We hop into the Asahidake gondola, built to bring hikers to this active volcano in summer. In winter, the gondola runs every 20 minutes, providing access to large quantities of fresh powder. The continually falling snow prevents us from seeing the volcano, but we find plenty of action in the back bowl, which we nicknamed “Mi-so deep.” Having worked up a ravenous appetite, we sit down for a bowl of steaming udon noodles, which we loudly slurp in keeping with Japanese custom. The healthy and delicious Japanese food has had a positive influence on our trip and, in no time, our diet consists of miso, rice, noodles and other local delicacies. Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan’s largest national park, is situated in the middle of Hokkaido, a relatively unexplored region. On a clear day, you can see smoke from the active volcanoes of Tokachidake and Asahidake, and you can even ski into the crater. We hook up with New Zealander Chuck

Olbury, the owner of Hokkaido Powder Guides, who has a delicious dessert in store for us: a tour through a 700-year-old spruce forest in Daisetsuzan National Park. We immediately understand why Daisetsuzan is known as “the playground of the gods .” The snow there is divine. After yet another day of powder, it’s time to soak up some après action. Although it is -20 degrees Celsius outside, we get out of our ski clothes as quickly as possible. My bare feet sting in the snow before stepping into the scorching onsen. Chuck is already comfortably sitting in the 48-degree Celsius water and drinking a beer. He takes a sip and laughs as we rowdily try to get used to the hot water. When we have finally acclimatized, Chuck tells us more about Japanese hot springs. “The Japanese believe onsen have healing powers because of the minerals they contain. It is physically and mentally cleansing and relaxing,” he says. We soak in the hot water and enjoy a cold beer. In my mind, I relive the day’s infinite powder and realize we’ve been spoiled by 21 days in a row of fresh snow. The Land of the Rising Sun and falling snow has endured its share of disasters over the years. Yet the Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki,” which literally translates to “Fall down seven times, get up eight,” expresses the great resilience of the Japanese people. This ability to bounce back when life knocks you down is an admirable quality of a culture that values personal responsibility, hard work, modesty and community. For us westerners, Japan is a country of quirky idiosyncrasies, such as heated toilet seats, adults with Hello Kitty clothing, funny “Engrish” signs and vending machines selling beer. For snow lovers, the culture, the cuisine and the wonderful people are icing on the cake of an incredible ski experience.


r u o t ha t y a r d e k o i s l is le b i w s o i . v n r s i s a e n i h e a T h t m e n r i y spra of smoke cloud

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We im media tely un why D dersta aisetsu nd z 'the pla an is k The sn yground of th nown as ow the e gods re is d ivine. .' 68

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TRAVELER’S TIPS ■ Places to Stay Most resorts offer a nice variety of accommodations to fit any budget and have great service. If you can, we highly recommend spending a night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and experience sleeping on futons and enjoying delicious Japanese cuisine. Here are some of our favorites. Niseko: Niseko Boutiques are comfortable, modern and luxurious apartments located in the center of Hirafu Village. Asahi Lodge is a tastefully designed, fully furnished chalet that sleeps 10, complete with its own car, sauna and spectacular views. Web: www.thenisekocompany.com

Rusutsu: Rusutsu Resort has a huge family style hotel right on the slopes, with a beautiful onsen, several restaurants and even a carousel in the lobby. Web: http://en.rusutsu.co.jp Tomamu: Hoshino Resort Tomamu has large corner rooms with Jacuzzi overlooking the slopes. Après-ski starts in the wave pool, the beautiful outdoor hot spring or with a stroll through the impressive Ice Village. Web: www. snowtomamu.jp Furano: Tsuru Apartments are brand new, western-style apartments located just a fiveminute walk from the lift. Web: www.tsuruapartments.com Kamui Ski Links: While there are accommodations here, the ski area is also easily accessible from Furano. Accommodation information available at www.furanotourism.com. Asahidake: Kamihoro-so is an authentic Japanese hotel with a beautiful wooden onsen and elaborate meals (breakfast and dinner). Great value for money. Web: http://tokachidake.com/kamihoro/ Daisetsuzan: The Northern Star Lodge near Furano serves as a good spot to explore the national park. Weekly rates for just $420. Web: www.northernstarlodge.info

■ Backcountry Tours Hokkaido Powder Guides can arrange oneday or multi-day guided tours to many of Hokkaido’s best powder zones. Web: www.hokkaidopowderguides.com

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Traveler’s Top 10 • The Naked Truth. Japanese après-ski must include a visit to an onsen (Japanese hot spring). Relax your muscles and mind with a peaceful soak. • Get Fired Up… at the Dosojin Fire Festival in Nozawa Onsen Village in Nagano (Jan. 15), when villagers fuel up on sake before burning down a shrine in a centuries-old battle of fire. • Monkey Business: Check out these human-like Japanese macaques lazily enjoying a bath in their private hot springs in Jigokudani near Shiga Kogen. • Hakuba Heli. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, jump in a helicopter just outside Hakuba and get dropped off above hundreds of vertical meters of fresh powder. • Unwind in Style: Unroll your futon at a ryokan and experience world-class Japanese hospitality. • Niseko Night Skiing. Experience this magical, threedimensional dream world full of feather-light powder. • Sapporo Snow Festival. Each year in early February, Sapporo turns into a frozen museum with hundreds of snow and ice sculptures made with Japanese precision. • Foodie Heaven. Indulge in the wonderful and healthy Japanese cuisine, such as sushi, gyoza, shabu-shabu, miso soup and noodles. If you are brave, try the natto, a breakfast food consisting of stinky fermented soybeans. • Extreme Skiing. Climb up and ski down one of Hokkaido’s active volcanoes. • Wasabi Powder. If you are looking to ski powder, Japan is the place to be. With 12-15 meters of yuki in three-and-a-half months and 12-hour ski days, you will not be disappointed. ✤

You can find more information about us on Facebook: Juulski & Caroline Van't Hoff Photography

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TRAVELER’S JOURNAL

Escaping Winter’s Venom in Snake Valley By Wes Lang

F

rom 10 meters above, atop a steep, ice-covered

ahead, we quickly abandoned this route in favor

collapsing into our futons in Kyoto at daybreak. We

ravine, I could hear my hiking partner’s voice

of burrowing a trail up toward the ridgeline on our

had survived, although not without a few scrapes,

calling down to me. “Yes, I’m OK,” I answered. “But

right, which we hoped would help us regain our

bruises and some minor frostbite on our fingers.

I’m bleeding, and I’ve lost my gloves.” Things were

bearings.

about to get a lot heavier.

Several mistakes got us into trouble that day, but

When this failed, we used a compass reading

a few good choices ultimately saved our lives. Here

Our saga had started nine hours earlier in Hata,

to drop to the west, entering another watershed

are some tips to keep in mind when you’re out in

a tiny rustic village nestled in a constricted valley

just as daylight faded and the blizzard began.

the hills this winter.

at the base of Buna-ga-take in western Shiga

With headlamps fastened, we eventually reached

Prefecture. It was the third day of the Year of the

a point where the gorge narrowed so tightly,

1) Be prepared. In addition to warm clothing,

Snake and, to christen the New Year, Ted Taylor

we could not continue. We made the decision to

bring an emergency shelter or sleeping bag, and a

and I had our eyes set on Jatani-ga-mine, which

abandon the canyon and ascend back to the ridge,

dozen or so kairo heat packs.

appropriately translates to “Snake Valley.”

but not before I took my costly tumble.

2) Know your terrain. Never attempt a mountain

We made incredibly good time on the ascent,

Barehanded, I was somehow able to climb up

you haven’t climbed before in winter. Knowing

reaching the 900-meter summit shortly after

the icy walls of the ravine and make it back to

the terrain and routes during the dry season will

2 p.m. and leaving enough daylight to retrace

Ted, who surveyed the damage. The bleeding had

help you make better informed decisions about the

our steps back to the car. The clouds had just

stopped and there were no broken bones. I foraged

winter options and may keep you from getting lost.

lifted, revealing unobstructed views of the

through my gear, pulling out two kairo heat packs,

3) Backtrack. Although this is a no-brainer,

flatlands surrounding Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest

clutching one in each hand before burying them

it’s always good to keep this one at the front of

freshwater lake.

inside my down jacket sleeves. I topped it off by

your thoughts, especially in winter. If you veer off

winching my outer layer tightly around the end of

course, double back until the terrain starts to look

my balled-up fists.

familiar again. Our failure to follow this simple rule

To the north, however, the crests of the Takashima Long Trail were enveloped in a menacing wall of

could have cost us our lives.

white; a low-pressure system was encroaching

The two of us struggled back up to the ridge,

from the Sea of Japan, threatening to swallow us

abandoned our fire-making attempts and called the

4) Don’t follow streams. In summer a stream

up in its path.

police. After they told us to wait until the morning,

or river can lead you safely to civilization, but in

After a short glissade to save time, we followed

we ignored their commands and searched for a

winter you are likely to find yourself trapped in

our path back to the meandering ridge until

way out. Neither of us would survive the morning

a steep canyon with no escape routes. Instead,

reaching a small creek neither of us remembered

if we waited on the ridge all night, as the snow

try following cedar trees. Conifer plantations will

on the climb. We had veered off the path, and a

wasn’t deep enough to make a cave.

almost always lead to a forest road, which nine times out of 10 will take you to a hamlet.

snap decision was made to follow the watershed,

Suddenly, the clouds lifted, and directly below

knowing it would lead to a village where we could

we saw lights. Acting on instinct, we blazed a trail

5) Don’t expect help. If you do get lost, don’t

simply backtrack to our car.

through a cedar plantation to the village, which

sit around waiting for search-and-rescue to find

The farther we descended, the narrower the

happened to be where our car was parked. It

you. Either hunker down in a snow cave until the

valley grew, until it entered a gorge lined with

was already after midnight, but we were forced

weather clears or head down toward civilization.

steep cliffs. Anticipating the danger that lay

to fill out paperwork at the police station before

Wes Lang is freelance writer and hiking enthusiast based in Osaka. In addition to climbing all of the Hyakumeizan (Japan's 100 famous mountains), he is the author of Hiking in Japan, a blog that provides comprehensive English trail descriptions for Japan's major hiking areas. Web: http://japanhike.wordpress.com

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Outdoor Japan Traveler - Issue 50 - Winter 2014