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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
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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

        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.
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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

        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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        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
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        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

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        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.

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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.
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      • 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

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Remembering Jake Burton

This article was originally published in Spring 2010.

Outdoor Japan contributor Neil Hartmann sits down with Jake Burton in Niseko for a casual chat about travel, life lessons and the current state of board design. After 30 years at the helm of snowboarding’s biggest corporation, Jake continues to be down to earth, easy-going and always looking for a good time.

Seven years ago, I spent a week with Jake and his family as a local guide in Hokkaido. At the time they were in the middle of a year-long around-the-world trip, and we started our conversation by revisiting that tour.

Neil: The last time I saw you was seven years ago during your around-the-world trip. You were on the road for a year and spent a month in Japan during the trip; how did that affect your life?

Jake: Well, it affected my whole family’s life; it changed our perspective of the world. We had an incredible time everywhere, surfing and following winter, but I think going to third world countries and seeing how people live without any of the trapping we have is pretty. It just makes you think a lot about what you have and what is important in life, because some of those people are happier than we will ever be and they don’t have anything. So it is pretty eye-opening in that regard.

I have never come to Japan for more than a week to 10 days, so to have a month here was a phenomenal experience. To really see what the people do in the company and see what goes on in the whole riding scene. I felt as if we were part of it. When you go to a place for a month, and your family is there, you just really slide right into the lifestyle.

N: It stops being travel and starts to feel like home, right? What about the experience of actually going home? How was that?

J: One of the reasons I wanted to do it, was the fact I had gotten pretty bitter about my travel routine. I would go to ISPO and maybe get in a few days riding or go on a surf trip, but it was starting to become a routine. I wasn’t appreciating the travel a lot. Then after being on the road for a year, we got home, and I realized what a great lifestyle I have to start with.

Like this trip now, I am so stoked to be here this time. Before we went around the world, I had sort of done the same routine over and over for 20 years, and it had gotten to the point where I had lost sight of how fortunate I am. So it really opened my eyes to that. Getting home, we all felt different, just so lucky to have been through something so unique and special.

N: Has all your travel always been action oriented? Do you need a specific goal to travel?

J: Pretty much. Donna, my wife, always gets one trip a year that is just chill. This past summer we went to California for sales meetings, then with the whole team to Mexico to surf, then to Chile to snowboard and surf, and then finally we went over to Europe and took a barge trip. This was in central France, and you spend four days on a barge drinking wine on the river, sometimes jumping off to cycle around a little bit. I thought I was going to shoot myself before the trip, but it was super fun.

On the around-the-world trip, I was afraid to do an African safari, sitting in a 4WD watching animals. I mean, I love animals but I was like, “I don’t know,” but again it was super cool. So even though we don’t do many trips like that, I can totally appreciate how people can travel just to experience cities and cultures.

N: Do you know how many times you have been to Japan, and what your first trip here was like?

J: Probably like 25 times. I came over in the very early ’80s with Doug Bouton. That was way back in the day. We were just showing people how to snowboard back then. I remember one thing we did was a live TV show. The boards back then were not easy to ride on hard-packed snow. So we had to ride down this icy packed run, right up to the camera and balance there, it was…stressful.

N: Japan is certainly not a third world country, but I know a lot of people get frustrated with the culture or maybe the food. Did you ever have any problems here?

J: When I first came here, I was not very appreciative of the food, nor was I very adventuresome. But Donna is a freak about food, and she really opened my eyes to a lot of things. When we went around the world, I really got into the sushi. I am not that big on cooked fish, but I will eat raw fish all day long, and I have Japan to thank for that. I used to only eat yakitori at Japanese restaurants in the U.S., but now I go straight for the sushi, I love it. You just have to be open-minded and try new things.

N: If someone asked you for advice before going on a trip to Japan, in what direction would you point them?

J: I would say go to Tokyo first; you are going to get a dose of one of the most interesting cities in the world. Tokyo for me is right up there with New York, you know, a must-see city. Then I would say, take a trip to Tenjindaira (in Minakami, Gunma) or come here where we are now, Niseko. A combination trip to Tokyo and Niseko is the ultimate without a doubt.
I have my 13-year-old son Timmy with me on this trip. So yesterday morning we had to get up at the crack of dawn and drag all our stuff to the airport, wait for the plane, then ride in cars and buses to get here. It feels like a struggle, but then we arrive and it is snowing so hard. It is just magical. It takes a second to forget about all the travel stress.

N: That seems to be the essence of snowboard travel, just getting through the stress of getting there.

J: Yeah, it is the same with surf and snowboard travel, dealing with airports and different cultures, and then you get that first wave or first powder turn, and it makes it all worthwhile. Your memory seems to wipe clear any of the pain trying to get there.

N: Where do you do most of your snowboarding now?

J: Home in Vermont, western Canada, a little Japan and some Europe, but home is my favorite spot. It doesn’t snow there like it does here in Niseko, but I still love an epic powder day with my friends near home. Then stopping by my wife’s food store on the way home, maybe watch a (American) football game or whatever. Riding at home is special for sure. I think all the traveling I do makes me appreciate home even more. Everybody needs a home mountain; for some people it might be 500 miles from their house, but you have to have your “spot.”

N: Tell me a little bit about the board you are riding right now.

J: Right now I am riding a board called the Whammy Bar. I have been riding reverse camber boards and rocker boards for a while, and I like “loose” boards. I don’t mind drifting into a turn at all. I love camber boards, I like locking into a turn, but there is something about the reverse camber. I have a 2010 model “Joystick” with me, and I really love that board too.
(Editor’s note: Boards with camber, or a concave sole, are designed to carve through the snow holding an edge at high speeds. Reverse camber or “rocker” boards have edges raised off the board slightly, so the ride is “looser.”)

There is something about that feeling of being loose on the board. I have so much experience riding, I can let the board drift in a turn and know I am not about to hit that tree. I think enjoying that looseness comes a lot from surfing; I also do a lot of tree riding at home, so I want a board that is quick and light. It is a different quickness from a camber board that goes edge to edge quickly. The reverse camber gets sideways quickly and is so responsive. It is also forgiving for trying jumps and tricks.

N: If the Whammy Bar was a car, what model would it be?

J: I think it would be more like a boat, you know what I mean? With a boat you have to anticipate your turns a little earlier, you set one in motion and then just kind of drift into it. I think it rides kind of like that. There are times when it is fun to be in a sports car and have super grip, but there is something I like about drifting. Of course, I don’t do super technical tricks. I am just cruising around having fun.

N: It seems to be an interesting time in board design right now.

J: Oh yeah, it has finally gotten three-dimensional. I mean you talk to Al Merrick about surfboard design, and he talks about “fitting a board into a wave.” Surfboard shapes are so far ahead. Now snowboards are starting to come into the third dimension. We have had the ability to pump out designs on computers for a long time, but adding this third dimension with a shape to the base, a base contour I think it is totally going to open up the sport.

There is a base shape called the “Flying V.” Danny Davis rides that in icy half pipes and does double corks—so amazing to watch. He is a guy whose riding I really look up to. He is fun and loose. He is technical because that is what it is about now, but certainly rooted in fun and style.

I think we have just scratched the surface with board design, but if I had to choose one shape to ride for the rest of my life, it would be the Flying V.

Jake continues to talk animatedly about the latest in board design. I try to listen attentively, but my mind drifts for a moment. Here is a man who has dedicated more than half his life in the pursuit of making a better snowboard yet still talks about it with the passion of a student just out of college. It is inspiring to see someone so dedicated to a single purpose and so high on life. Ride on Jake, I’ll be following your tracks.

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