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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.
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        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
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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        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
      • 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.

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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.

        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.
    • 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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        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

The Landscape Hunter

Interview with Adventure Traveler Norio Sasaki

Adventure traveler and photographer Norio Sasaki is out to push his limits on solo travel. His expeditions have taken him from Prudhoe Bay, at the tip of North America, to “the end of the world” at Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America. He is a self-proclaimed fuukei (landscape) hunter, walking for miles across every type of terrain and weather, dragging along his nearly 80-kilogram bicycle-drawn cart—with a big smile on his face. Sasaki shares his unusual ways of travel and what adventure travel means to him.

What got you started in adventure travel?
I used to be in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, traveling around Japan and overseas. The biggest thing I discovered is if you have tairyoku (endurance) and konjo (guts), you can set your mind to do anything. I learned from my mistakes, gained a lot of experience taking on jobs such as lifesaving in Okinawa, ocean guiding, ski patrolling and outdoor guiding.

When I was 25-years-old, my mother sent me a book by Naomi Uemura, a famous Japanese adventurer known for his solo exploits. Uemura was the first person to reach the North Pole solo, raft the Amazon solo and climb Denali solo. The book really inspired me to question how I think about travel. One of the major benefits of travel is returning with lessons learned, not just fun memories. Humans learn through hardship and endurance, and adventure travel helps you mature.

We don’t know when we will die; I wanted to live a life with no regrets, so I set out on my own adventure. I also wanted to build up strength as I spent most of my career protecting people’s lives.

You are often seen traveling with a bicycle-drawn cart.
In my teens, I cycled around various parts of Japan. As an adult, I wanted to rely on human-powered motion, so I started off with cycling. I also wanted to be as self sufficient as possible, which meant bringing my own tent, food, supplies and more. That’s when I added a custom-made riyaka—a bicycle-drawn cart. Literally translated, it means “rear car.”

Was it custom made for your travels?
Yes, the cart uses durable, Tannus no-puncture tires from South Korea. I worked with a bicycle shop to put it together. It’s made out of aluminum so it’s light and I can carry it on the plane.

What was your first destination?
I spent two years traveling Japan, then wanted to go somewhere I couldn’t speak Japanese. I boarded a ferry from Yamaguchi Prefecture to South Korea. One experience that stood out to me was when I was going to ascend a mountain with my riyaka. This man tried to stop me saying it was too difficult, but I tried as much as I could to convey my passion. We weren’t speaking the same language, but he could see that and decided to support me, and even brought me food.

After that trip, I wanted to challenge myself further so I headed to the deserts of Australia. It was physically draining as I pushed myself in extreme heat and harsh conditions. I didn’t have reception for three weeks so there was no way for me to contact anyone. I spent lots of time talking to Toramaru, which is what I had named my riyaka, while listening to English conversation podcasts.

When the 2011 Tohoku earthquake happened, I immediately went to volunteer. It was a grim experience as I saw firsthand the effects of the triple disaster: pulling bodies out of the water, the nuclear waste that was leaking out and people being evacuated. I also photographed this journey and wanted to raise awareness about Tohoku while seeing what other countries were using for energy.

The next few years were spent traveling to Taiwan and New Zealand and then achieving my personal goal—to go from the top of North America to the bottom of South America. I would walk 50 kilometers in the summer and 40 in winter. Thankfully I achieved this before the pandemic in May 2019. Along the way, I met many people who were interested in what I was doing and my riyaka, and I could share with them my experiences about Tohoku.

What are a few of your favorite landscapes?
Definitely the famous Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. I also enjoyed the Yukon with its tundras, auroras and autumn foliage. In South America, the high-altitude lakes in the Andes Range were stunning, particularly in Huaraz, Peru. Monte Fitz Roy in Patagonia was also breathtaking.

Do you work while traveling?
Sometimes I write or submit photographs from my travels, but mostly I travel as budget-friendly as possible, work odd jobs where I can and save up, then go on to my next destination.

I also have sponsors who support me, like Streamtrail. They supply me with their durable, waterproof dry bags. They have protected my food and supplies from nosy grizzly bears while I was traveling through North America. I saw many but thankfully they couldn’t smell the food as it was really packed in there.

Have your travels changed with the pandemic slowing down international travel?
For sure. I’ve temporarily moved away from the riyaka and been exploring the waters surrounding Japan with my stand-up paddleboard. In my previous jobs as an ocean guide and lifesaver, plus my time in the defense force, I had to learn ocean navigational skills.

What are some challenges you face when traveling by SUP?
This goes for all solo travel, but you have to be responsible not only for yourself but also how you represent your community. Because stand-up paddling is generally an “easy” activity, there are many people who get stranded or hurt. SUP boards are very big, long, buoyant and light, so they are prone to getting caught by currents and it’s easy to lose your balance especially during strong wind. Mine is inflatable making it easier for it to get swept away.

SUPs are still relatively new in Japan and can’t carry as much on board. I try to avoid risk by planning, because it would be meiwaku (a bother) to other paddlers in Japan’s budding SUP community if I am irresponsible and get hurt or stranded.

While I’m at sea, all I’m thinking about is if the winds or currents change and getting to my destination safely before nightfall. If the wind is propelling you forward, that’s great, but if it’s working against you then you have to make yourself as small as possible and paddle hard. I use my smartphone’s GPS which works without reception, and also rely on wind direction and the clouds. At most, it’s taken me a full day to get to my destination, which means eating on board, and yes, going to the bathroom.

I avoid going to high-traffic areas, for example major ports, fishing or ferry routes, and waters near navy or defense force bases.

What’s in your bag?
I have to live as cheaply as possible, so I need to pack and make smart purchases. Food, clothes, sleeping bag, tent, solar panel to charge my phone and something announce where I am, whether that’s a whistle, rescue mirror, SOS reflection sign or smoke bomb.

What are some of your recent SUP expeditions?
Last winter, I visited the Shiretoko Peninsula in northeastern Hokkaido where you can see drift ice. It was freezing but really beautiful. Currently I’m on the opposite end of Japan at the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa, island hopping to mujintou (uninhabited islands). I recommend Okinawa’s Kerama and Hatoma islands.

What are your future plans?
As international travel eases up, I’d like to bring my riyaka to the Himalayas, Africa and Iceland. I’d also like to travel by SUP from Ilulissat, a coastal town in western Greenland, exploring the southern part of the country.

Follow Norio Sasaki’s adventures on Instagram at @sasakinorio.

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Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

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 ...

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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