fbpx
    • 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.

        Spring Skiing in Japan 2022

        It may be spring in Japan but you can still ski in select ski resorts open all the way to Golden Week.
    • Summer
    • 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
      • Spring Skiing in Japan 2022

        It may be spring in Japan but you can still ski in select ski resorts open all the way to Golden Week.
        Indy Pass Outdoor Japan Tohoku

        The Resistance

        The Indy Pass arrives in Japan to bring avid riders to local resorts that punch above their weight class and offer varied terrain.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
      • 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.
        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.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
    • River and Lake
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kan...

        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.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Spring Skiing in Japan 2022

        It may be spring in Japan but you can still ski in select ski resorts open all the way to Golden Week.
        Indy Pass Outdoor Japan Tohoku

        The Resistance

        The Indy Pass arrives in Japan to bring avid riders to local resorts that punch above their weight class and offer varied terrain.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
    • Travel
    • Food and Drinks
    • Races and Events

MontBell Makes a Difference

Outdoor manufacturer and retailer MontBell is one of many companies directly affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“We had three shops in Sendai, with the one in the Sendai Port area completely destroyed by the tsunami,” says company CEO Isamu Tatsuno. “Luckily all our employees safely escaped. The store in the Izumi area was also destroyed by the earthquake, but our flagship store in Aoba-dori in the center of Sendai was safe.”

Rather than work first on rebuilding the shops, MontBell did what it had done 16 years earlier during the Kobe earthquake: employees immediately mobilized to provide relief to those affected by the tragedy.

“We at first thought we could use the Sendai flagship store as a base for supporting the people,” Tatsuno said. “But we found it just wasn’t large enough.” Concerned with the nuclear plant situation—with little reliable information coming in—the efforts were shifted to Tendo City in Yamagata, just 40 to 50 minutes from Sendai and, as Tatsuno says, shielded in part by Mt. Zao.

During the Kobe earthquake in 1995, MontBell was a much smaller company; still, it donated 2,000 sleeping bags, 500 tents, a lot of other gear and willing hands—both employees and volunteers. This time the effort was a lot larger.

The company established a kind of base camp in the city, gaining access to a large, unused electronics factory.

“Then we started taking in goods donated by customers at our 75 stores around the country,” he said. “The government wouldn’t accept donations from the general public, but we would. Blankets, instant ramen—anything was OK at our stores.”

Keeping with his climbing analogies, Tatsuno says they then set up their “attack camp” in Tome, Miyagi, inland from the hard-hit city of Ishinomaki. In the first month, more than 300 tons of goods were sent through Tome and on to people throughout the area.

“We also collected more than ¥35 million which we used to purchase things such as heating oil, underwear, hygiene products and diapers,” he says. “But we also handed out cash—¥10,000 per person to anyone, babies to seniors, with a message from us.”

But MontBell is thinking longer term as well. “When I was in the area last week, I made the decision to purchase 2,200 tsubo of land in Tome,” Tatsuno said. “We’re going to use local wood and local carpenters to build a group home there. It will use solar power, biomass wood chip heating system and will be supported by the local community.”

What he and his employees have found is that people living alone in government-provided housing are very lonely. The target tenants, he says, will be orphans, children with just one parent or people living alone.

“Living with children will help motivate seniors and others who are alone, while the children also gain from the affection of the older people. We thought this would be the best combination.” He adds that, after the building serves its purpose for housing those displaced by the disaster, MontBell plans to use it as a sansonjuku (nature school).

“This is only the first step, though,” Tatsuno adds. “We’re only building one home now, but as a next step we’re thinking about building a community of 200 to 300 homes. They won’t be dependant on nuclear energy but will use solar and other natural energy sources. I have the support of the mayor of Tome, and we’re talking with both local and international organizations for support.”

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Latest posts

Categories