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    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
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        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

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        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

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    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

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        Ark Hills Marche

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        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.

        Tokyo Escapes: Summer Camping

        Tokyo summers can be stifling—luckily it’s easy to escape the city for a cool break from the heat.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Cycling Awaichi

        “Awaichi” is sh...
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • River and Lake
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        There is no bet...
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        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
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        All-Season Outdoor Playgr...

        Enter the all-season world of Shinetsu Shinzekyo in Nagano and Niigata with outdoor professionals
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
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        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        The Reemergence of Arai

        Lotte Arai Resort will definitely become a hotspot for western skiers and boarders over the next few years.

        Tohoku Storm Chasing

        Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures.
    • Travel
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

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        Return to Palau

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    • Food and Drinks
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

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    • Races and Events
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

Car Danchi 6: On Location in Kusharo

The Car Danchi filming style has always combined searching for new locations and the unwritten rule we must have fun wherever we go.  Over the last seven or eight years we have made some great “discoveries,” opening up new areas for backcountry riding.

The search generally starts over dinner in someone’s car.  We look at maps and check weather reports.  Wind speeds, rumors, and second hand speculation play into the mix as well. By the time we crawl into our respective sleeping bags, we usually have a short list, and the excitement starts to build.

Hokkaido is a big island, and it starts to feel even bigger in the winter when the roads are covered in ice and snow, easily causing drive times to double. Living near Sapporo, for me the far eastern “Douto” area has always felt very far away.  The central Tokachi Mountain Range is one of our regular hangouts, but we seldom make it past there.

The Douto area is known for being very cold and not having much snowfall; not great selling points for the Car Danchi crew.  This past year, however, was a turning point, mid March winter decided to take a break and the Sapporo area found itself in a thaw. We rolled the dice on a short three-day trip to an area called “Teshikaga-cho. “ It’s famous for the two crater lakes, Kusharo-ko and Mashu-ko found here, as well as the more than 70 individual natural hot springs.  In the summer it can be a tourist magnet with great camping, canoeing and other outdoor activities, but in the winter it is desolate.

Although it is the same island there is something very different in the air this far east.  The Ainu (Hokkaido’s indigenous people) presence can be felt everywhere; the development has been very minimal and the landscapes and views have a primal, wild feel everywhere you look. To say the area is picturesque would certainly be an understatement.

Although our trip was short we came back with more than we had hoped for. There were free hot springs next to our “danchi” and golden sunrises over a misty frozen lake Kusharo; perfect powder runs from the top of Mt. Mokoto and views of the Okhotsk Sea filled with ice flows; wild deer grazing on the hill sides, natural steam geysers spewing sulfur gases into the air and much more.  Every turn in the road brought a fresh view and the photo ops made frequent stops a must.

Driving home, the shared feeling among our crew was we had only touched the tip of the iceberg and we needed to return. The Douto area, it would seem, will become a regular destination on our winter filming mission.  Wild, unexplored, undeveloped, and under populated—our next frontier!

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