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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
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    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

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        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

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        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

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        Niseko flying Hokkaido

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        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

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        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

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    • Travel
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        Kawazu

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        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

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        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

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        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
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        Kawazu

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        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

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        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

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        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

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    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

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        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

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        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

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        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival

It’s not every day you get a chance to play your favorite sport with—or against—some of the world’s top athletes. Yet for more than two decades, the Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival has been inviting some of the top international and Japanese beach volleyball pros to the island of Saipan to play alongside amateur players in a friendly pro-am competition. A raffle is held the night before the tournament, and a few lucky players get to go into battle with a pro at their side.

This year, the organizers moved the beach volleyball festival to neighboring Guam. The Beach Bar at beautiful Gun Beach hosted the weekend tournament, which included round-robin pool play on Saturday and a double elimination winner’s bracket on Sunday. The atmosphere at the event is fun and festive, but it gets more serious the more you advance into the tournament; winning teams take home US$3,000 cash and a free trip to next year’s event.

The Marianas Cup, however, is more than just a pro-am tournament. The organizers have worked hard to include a number of grass roots events to help grow the sport. This year a Junior Cup was held in Saipan, and kids events on both Saipan and Guam. This year’s pros, from Japan, USA and Canada, visited local schools and held clinics to promote the sport to the next generation of volleyball athletes.

There was also an exciting exhibition match with the men and women pros from North America taking on the Japanese teams. The American men and the Japanese women each won decisively.

The setting could not have been better for the pro-am tournament – there was plenty of sun, sand, spikes and saves, while the crowd sipped on cold drinks and enjoyed the action.

On the women’s side, former teammates, and cup champions, Miki Oyama and Miyuki Matsumura squared off in the final, with their new partners. It was a tight, hard-fought final but, in the end, Miki and partner Angela Ishida proved too strong, winning 21-18 and preserving their undefeated run in the tournament.

Guam local Manny Guarin paired up with American pro Tri Bourne and carried one loss into the men’s final against the undefeated Japanese team of Yoshinori Nakatani and Yuto Watanabe. Bourne and Guarin needed to beat the Japanese twice to take home the trophy.

As a beautiful Micronesian sunset faded into the evening, so did the hopes of the Japanese team. Bourne seemed to get stronger as the matches wore on and, with Guarin finding his groove, the pair walked off the beach with the win and the cash.

“The Marianas Cup was really cool. I love that there are so many people who care enough about the sport here and keep it alive, for themselves and the younger generations. I feel fortunate to have been invited and I hope I can help to promote the sport in the same way once I’m done playing,” said USC graduate Bourne.

While the crowd enjoyed the high-level of competition of the final day’s matches, what makes the Marianas Cup special is the fun, friendly atmosphere of the event. The tournament attracts a wide range of players, from weekend warriors, high school and college kids, to more seasoned veterans.

Spectators and participants equally enjoyed the weekend, with parents cheering on kids, teams cheering on one another and lots high-fives and smiles all the way around.

The Marianas Cup is the longest running beach volleyball tournament in the region, and it is put on with the support of United Airlines, the Guam Visitor’s Bureau, the Marianas Visitor’s Authority, Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, The Beach Bar & Grill, Docomo Pacific, Miller Lite and many local sponsors.

The organizers would love to see more teams come from Japan to enjoy a fun, active weekend in the sand. Next year’s event will head back to Saipan, so grab a partner and practice those sets and spikes this summer, so you’ll be ready to go.

LINKS

Northern Marianas Volleyball Association: www.nmivolleyball.org
Marianas Visitors Authority: www.mymarianas.com
Guam Visitors Bureau: www.visitguam.org  
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