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    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
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        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

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        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

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        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
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Perfectly Norway

 “You know America was discovered by the Vikings, not Christopher Columbus, right?” says Bjørn.

We are sitting by the fire talking to Bjørn. Last night he invited us to pitch our tent next to the red brick barn near his century-old family house he is renovating. He has stopped short of building a new balcony, because he would need to excavate to do it, and the probability of encountering an arrowhead or other Viking artifacts is high and unwelcome.

“The paperwork needed to dig is a pain and, if something turns up, it would become a nightmare,” he says.

Gazing out upon the Norwegian Sea, we see the coastline is shrouded in an eerie fog. It feels as if Erik The Red might make landfall at any moment. Norway’s history is long and fascinating, yet no period has captured people’s imagination more than the Viking Age (793-1066), back when Norsemen navigators explored seas and rivers for trade and conquest.

It was a time of expeditions and adventures, the mark of which has been left on Normandy, England, Scotland and Ireland, Russia and Ukraine, Turkey, Iceland and, of course, Greenland and Newfoundland.

For the best part of a month, we have been on a journey of our own, cycling north from Stavanger through Norway’s Fjordland. The idea to cycle between Nordkapp, in Norway, and Cape Agulhas, in South Africa, was born during our previous trip around the Pacific Ocean following the active volcanoes of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which included cycling through Japan’s many seismic regions. Adding a theme to our expedition was so yielding, we knew future cycling adventures would follow a similar path. After some reflection during our nomadic travels, we turned our attention to other nomadic peoples. Eventually we were drawn to one particular group that had marched between the northernmost point of Europe and the southern extremity of Africa. Inspired by their explorations, we decided to follow their journey and call our latest expedition “Nomads²–From cape to cape, a cycling odyssey.”  

So we found ourselves packing our purple Surly Troll touring bikes and flying to Stavanger in southwest Norway. We needed a training camp, so we decided to ride north toward Sápmi, traditional territory of the “reindeer people,” the first nomads on our list. We’d continue pedaling during the nightless summer months toward Nordkapp, through Norway’s fjords and highest mountains.  

Since drilling started in the North Sea in the late 1960s, Stavanger has been known as Norway’s oil capital, and it has made Norway one of the richest countries on the planet. The geography of the city is dominated by water; the sea, fjords and lakes surround it. So, it is not surprising our journey here begins on a ferry. National Road 13 (RV13) awaits, and we follow it to the famous flat top of Preikestolen, the steep cliff that rises 600 meters above Lysefjord. We had picked up a free Norway road map which points out designated scenic roads and National Tourist Routes (NTR).  

These 18 routes are carefully selected by the Public Roads Administration based on the spectacular natural beauty infused with bold Scandinavian architecture. We start with NTR Ryfylke, excitedly knowing many more great roads await.  

Looking for a place to rest for the night, we test the Outdoor Recreation Act—a freedom to roam legislature that allows access to uncultivated land—and we are camping on the Suldalslågen, a salmon river running through sand. A municipality employee on a lawn tractor finds us having coffee in the morning. He does not care that we have slept here but wants to know, “Do you like it?”  

He is pointing at Høsebrua, the cubical pedestrian bridge newly installed across the river, a striking example of the NTR’s innovative designs. We offer a polite, yet impartial, answer when the young man throws in, “Well, everybody in town hates it.” So much for Norwegian restraint.

We make every pedal stroke count during the four-km/h slog from the Sauda fjord into the mountains via road #520. The strip of narrow pavement snakes through the towering mountain landscapes to the 965-meter pass, a poetic ride into Valhalla. The road opened just a week before on the summer solstice and was thankfully free of snow.  

The descent is steep into Røldal Valley where we reconnect with RV13, and it is an arduous climb to Røldal Skisenter. Fortunately, the old road is well maintained. It goes over the pass and was the main route before a 4,657-meter long tunnel was dug in 1964. Norway has more than 900 tunnels; some of them cross entire mountain chains, some are underwater and are some the world’s longest road tunnels such as the 24.51-km. Lærdal Tunnel. Some are closed to cyclists and none are enjoyable. In fact, while bike touring in Norway, tunnels will be your main hurdle—possibly the only one—and you will need riding lights even though the sun never sets.  

Between Hardanger and Sogne fjords, we begin to see signs the summer holidays have begun, as we ride along small motor homes sporting various European license plates—though Germany is overwhelmingly represented— and countless motorbikes with neon riders.  

Most carry items they need to survive from their home country, as Norway has a reputation for being prohibitively expensive. Fuel and toll roads are the main expenses and difficult to avoid. We cautiously navigate the supermarkets along the way in search of deals—and expired goods. We come to rely on oatmeal, pasta, canned corn, fish cakes, cod roe, bread, cheese (including the traditional Norwegian brown cheese) and tyttebær jam.  

In Vikøyri, Hopperstad Stave Church stands straight as a rocket, even though it was built in medieval times. Its wooden structure is believed to have been erected around 1140, just at the closing of the Viking Age. Most will argue Christianity stamped out the pagan Viking culture in Norway, first championed by England-raised King Haakon The Good in the mid-10th century and later more efficiently by King Olaf I (995) and Saint Olaf II Haraldsson (1015).  

Norwegians are still ocean champions at heart. A prime example is the old man in Leikanger who gets excited over our bikes parked in front of the Kiwi MiniPris supermarket. “I know about Quebec, the French colonies; I navigated on the St. Lawrence. We would go to Duluth, Minnesota, and get rice to bring back to Germany,” he says.  

Leikanger is on the Sogne Fjord, the largest fjord in Norway. It stretches 205 kilometers inland from the ocean to the small village of Skolden where the road starts to ascend on Sognefjellet.  

The National Tourist Road leads steeply to Northern Europe’s highest pass (1,434 meters) and a surreal view upon mainland Norway’s largest glacier, the Jostedalsbreen Glacier, and Galdhøpiggen, at 2,469 meters, Norway’s highest mountain. Its notoriety as one of the world’s top bike routes is richly deserved, and we see a good dozen loaded bikes on the way up.  

At the top, overweight bikes are replaced by bony road bikes driven by neon-green riders. We have come face-to-face with Tour de Jotunheimen, a 430-km., two-day road race, and Tour de Sognefjell, its more approachable 137-km. long little sister. The smell of freshly cooked dough in the icy air gets us excited, but security is tight at the waffle station. Up the wild and lush valley west of Lom, we reach NTR Geiranger-Trollstigen. Since tourism was in its infancy, tourists from all over the world have visited Geiranger and Trollstigen…and they still do.  

From the viewpoint at Flydalsjuvet, we count no less than five cruise ships floating on the narrow Geiranger fjord. Buses buzz on the tight switchbacks leading down to the fjord and up the northern route out of it. By now, we have grasped that Norway is a spectacular place throughout, so there is no point in lingering in the overcrowded fjord, UNESCO World Heritage site or not. The sun is scorching as we slowly climb up road #63 at the bottom of the Valldal Valley, our noses tickled by the smell of fresh strawberries. These gigantic berries are bombarded by the restless midnight sun and sold at roadside kiosks.  

At the top of the verdant pass, among the jagged Romsdal mountains, are a few sheep and some keen mountain bikers enjoying the alpine. We postpone our descent of Trollstigen until the next morning and join them for the night. We’ve been warned about trolls—the small shaggy creatures with supernatural powers inhabiting Scandinavian forests and mountainsides, but we have yet to meet one.   Trollstigen—The Trolls’ Ladder—is a road built on a rock face, an engineering masterpiece with 11 sharp hairpin bends. It is a hair-raising slide down to the Isterdalen Valley.  

Upon reaching the waters of Romsdal Fjord in Åndalsnes, we note the high mountain section of our tour is over. We’ll be closer to sea level on our way to Trondheim and, for a while, we will be riding by the sea. National Tourist Road Atlanterhavsvegen contains seven bridges linking islets that scurry along the ocean’s edge. The day after staying at Bjørn’s house, we are eating by the Fastad Coop when an excited road cyclist interrupts a tranquil breakfast. “Canadians? You have to meet my friend Suzy from Toronto; she lives close by,” she insists. Dressed in cycling gear, she adds, “The Atlantic Road is great but road #680 along the coast of Nordmøre, via Kyrksæterøra and Aure, is just as good and not as busy.”

We look forward to two great coastal roads to Trondheim. Norway does not disappoint.   The bustling city of Trondheim was founded by the Viking King Olav Tryggvason in 997 and remained the capital of Norway from 1030 to 1217. Coronations have been held at its gothic Nidaros Cathedral since 1164; the last time in 1991 when Harald V climbed on the throne—although since 1906 the democratic country refers to the ceremony as a “consecration.”  

It is a lot of history around which to wrap our heads, as we ready ourselves to push further north. Our training camp is over. We feel strong and excited about what’s lying ahead as we ride into the never setting sun.  

Janick Lemieux is originally from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, but moved to western Canada in 1991. Since then, she has traveled the world, first with a backpack, then from the saddle of a mountain bike.   Pierre Bouchard was born in Quebec City. He left Université Laval’s Faculty of Philosophy classrooms in 1990 to undertake what Descartes called the study of “The Great Book of the World” on his bicycle. Follow their adventures at www.nomadesxnomades.com.

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Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

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Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

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