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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.
        Mountain Biking in Japan

        Guide Lines: Autumn Mountain Biking in Japan

        Check out these mountain biking parks throughout Japan.
    • 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
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • 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...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

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

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

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

        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

        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.
    • Travel
      • 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.
        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.
        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.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Food and Drinks
      • 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.
        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.
        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.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

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        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

A Decade of Danchi

Neil Hartmann looks back at more than a decade of Car Danchi adventures and his latest film, “Car Danchi #10: Arigato.”

Car Danchi #1: The Hokkaido Story

The year was 2004 when I picked up a video camera and set out to document the unique lifestyle of the snowboarders around me here in Hokkaido, Japan. Traveling across the island for weeks at a time, living out of our cars, cooking in the back seat and doing our best to stay warm in the deep cold winters. We broke out of the ski area boundaries and discovered an endless world of powder, backcountry and good times with friends. I named the movie “The Hokkaido Story” and the wheels were in motion—the Car Danchi crew and movie series were born.

Car Danchi #2: The Day

The second movie in the series was a long one—two separate DVDs—one about our season in Hokkaido and the other about a month-long trip through Honshu. We took our skill of living the mobile lifestyle to the main island and found success exploring new resorts and sidecountry hot spots. The crew solidified and so did the word “Car Danchi.” People started calling us the Danchi Crew and we made new friends wherever we went. It also happened to be a big snow year in Hokkaido and this movie captures places like Niseko before the tourist crowds arrived.

Car Danchi #3: A Powder Celebration

The global snow scene was in the process of making a big shift from snow parks and freestyle to freeriding and backcountry that continues even today. We were riding the front of that wave and I dedicated the movie to the movement with the title “A Powder Celebration.” We focused on better filming techniques, more exploration of Hokkaido’s backcountry and a higher quality of riding. We were progressing as a film crew and fine tuning our skills! I had originally planned to end the series at number three, but decided to keep on going as the popularity of our fun, free-ride, backcountry movie had been established.

Car Danchi #4: Rent

The global economy took a turn for the worse and times were starting to get really tough. A recession became a spring board for the progression of our Car Danchi lifestyle. Gas prices were high, but we found ways to save and continue doing what we love. This era also became the beginning of a more spiritual vibe amongst the crew with several members becoming full-blown yogis. This led to a more soulful style of riding with long-flowing lines becoming the norm. We all started to realize that our bodies needed love and care if we were to continue our lifelong mission of riding. As always the powder was deep and plentiful!

Car Danchi #5: Dream Cars

The massive earthquake off the coast of Tohoku created a disaster of massive proportions on March 11. Japan was knocked off its rails and struggled to recover. We had a great season filming, but I debated whether it was right to release a new movie at such a time. In the end I decided to release the movie in hopes that it raises the spirits of the many people affected by the tragedy. I also slipped in an anti-nuclear power message on the cover for good measure. I decided it was time for a more story-based feel for this film. We followed the riders as they wove in and out of “reality” and a dream state filled with powder, blue skies and big lines. Although things would never be the same again, there was a feeling of unification amongst the snow community. Ride on!

Car Danchi #6: D.I.Y.

The do-it-yourself era of filmmaking was upon us in full force now! I acquired wearable action cameras and sent them out to the crew. DIY style, we captured snowboarding and skiing from a new and fresh angle. The editing process was time consuming, but it became a fresh way to observe the Car Danchi lifestyle up close and personal. There was a new feeling of intimacy in the movie that can only be captured when everyone works together towards a common goal.

Car Danchi #7: 7th Gear

The movie series has now reached the point of no return! We had a new goal of reaching ten editions and it felt like we were in high gear, cruising speed—7th gear. By this point, the Danchi lifestyle had now become quite commonplace in Japan. Parking lots that used to be empty were full of vans and cars with people camping out waiting for the next big storm. We saw ourselves become leaders of a new culture as what was once considered “crazy” became the norm. The cinematic quality of the movie series changed as well with high-vision 16:9 camera work and better editing technique.

Car Danchi #8: Forever Ride

New younger faces appeared in this film alongside original cast members: the Danchi family is certainly growing! The freeriding and backcountry moment became center stage and snow tourism reached dizzying proportions in Japan. However, the goal of blazing new lines and creating an original culture and style remained unchanged for the Car Danchi crew. Although snowboarding is a young sport for young people, I put out a strong message that we can all ride forever or forever ride.

Car Danchi #9: “Drives”

A play on the words “nine lives,” “nine drives” suited the mood for the ninth edition of the series. It felt like we’ve been given a new lease on life. This was released in 2015, marking a decade of making these movies. Our dream has been realized and we can continue to ride powder and have fun as a group and a community. Many members of the crew received a strong international following. Board design changed dramatically from when we started in 2004. A sense of returning to the roots while continuing to progress is very evident in this edition.

Car Danchi #10: Arigato

A thank you note, a look back, a new direction and three years in the making, Car Danchi 10 is many things. I took an especially long time to put this one together. Obviously this tenth film was a big one. Although many would be happy to stop at ten, I feel like the Car Danchi series is a never-ending project that will continue to grow, change and reflect what is happening in the snow scene here in Japan. With a new English narration, the movie is more accessible to the global audience who have a high interest in the Japanese snow scene. The continuing return to the roots can be seen clearly with a strong section on the yuki ita (binding-less snowboarding) snow surf movement. The exploration of far-reaching areas of Japan like Nozawa Onsen and even Japan’s southernmost ski area—Gokase Highland in Kyushu—is the start of a new, more travel-oriented path. Let’s keep this fantastic snow journey going and enjoy it together. Many thanks for the support over the last 15 years. Arigato!

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