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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.

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    • Summer
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        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

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        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

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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
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        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

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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.
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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.
    • 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

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        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
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        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

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        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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        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.
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        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.
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        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.
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Nordic Charm in Hakuba

Private rooms with traditional Japanese architecture make Kayabuki a relaxing place to visit, but the location and access to great activities make this old farmhouse the perfect escape.

For more than a century this farmhouse rested on a quiet lane in the Kirikubo area of Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture. A few years ago it was renovated into the Oyado Kayabuki Chaya – a rustic lodge with three guest rooms just a stone’s throw from the Nagano Olympic Nordic Course, and only a 15-minute stroll from the Iwatake ski area.
With this kind of location considerably lesser accommodation, say, a lean-to or a blue tarp, would be appealing, but Kayabuki is equal to its setting.

Yoshiyuki Watanabe, the manager, makes sure guests feel at home, and during our stay we took him up on a special offer of kashikiri – renting out the entire lodge for two couples (and one child) – resulting in space nearly unimaginable to Tokyo residents.
The dining area at Kayabuki is large enough to handle three groups and features a horigotatsu, a heated table with space underneath for your legs, and an irori, an open, sand-filled fire pit, for cooking and relaxing after dinner. The Kayabuki dining experience was featured in a TV Tokyo gourmet special with good reason – the food is personally prepared and each item presented with an explanation about the preparation and ingredients, such as locally grown vegetables or fish caught from a nearby river.

On our first night, we had a duck nabe with vegetables, sashimi and oyaki, a steamed rice bun with vegetables such as nasu, kabocha or nozawana inside. After dinner, we moved to the irori firepit to relax. Watanabe-san made a charcoal fire and brought out jizake atsukan, which my German friend and I indulged without hesitation or personal regard.
The next morning, we got a late start while my friend paid his dues to the stern god of Nihonshu, then rented cross-country skis from a shop at Iwatake.

My friend’s wife chose to snowboard, and my wife played with our 13-month-old son at the kids’ area. After skiing away the day, we went straight back to Kayabuki. There is a large public hot spring, Iwatake Onsen, just beyond the ski area parking, but the wooden ofuro (bath) at Kayabuki is much more peaceful.    

We stocked up on supplies at the local liquor store, and Watanabe-san graciously allowed us to bring in our off-site purchases. In return, we repaid him with a second, though more prudent, late night study of jizake.

Going Cross-country

The best part of cross-country skiing is the scenery. We had spring conditions and, from the Nordic course, skiers can take in the long vistas of the mountains in the Hakuba Valley. The course is well-groomed and has a competitive layout – long, steep climbs followed by descents that require cornering skill at the bottom. These characteristics make it a favorite of many university Nordic ski teams, and they pass the average skier often – all Spandex and hunched shoulders, huffing out kilometer after kilometer.

For the less ambitious, the course has several detours, so you can stay on a relatively even plain. It starts on a broad field near the base of Iwatake Ski Resort, then the trail moves into the trees, rising in a series of short, but steep, climbs until in opens on another wide area. Here you can leave the competitive trail for short climbs and easy down hills, or make the long climb to the top of the course and ride a series of descents along the backside.

The final section involves a hill, followed by a quick descent and a quick climb over a bridge spanning a road, then a glide and tuck as you come out of the trees and into the clearing for the final loop. If the conditions are good, especially if you are skating rather than kicking, you can take the bridge in a tuck – even get a little air – and rifle across the flats all the way to the finish, imagining you are fighting for the Gold against the defending world champion.

If the snow is heavy and you are slow, you can just sit back and cruise, enjoying the scenery and thinking about the ofuro and dinner that awaits at Kayabuki.

PRACTICAL INFO

Oyado Kayabuki Chaya (かやぶき茶屋)

  • Address: 〒399-9301長野県北安曇野郡白馬村字切久保
  • Tel: (0261) 72-5454
  • Web: www.kayabuki.jp

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