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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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        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

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    • 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 Knights in White Lycra

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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
      • video

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

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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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        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

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    • Article Map
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      • 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.
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        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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        “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
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        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

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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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        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.
        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.
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        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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        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.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        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.
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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.
        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.
        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.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        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.
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      • 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.

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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.

A low grumble and sounds of furious scrubbing fill the ice rink, followed by a solid thunk and cheers. In the world of winter sports, curling gracefully glides onto the icy stage, where precision, teamwork and the artful sweep of a broom converge in a game that challenges the traditional boundaries of athleticism.

sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

One athlete stands out, not only for her prowess on the rink, but for overcoming barriers that transcend the game itself. Meet 28-year-old Sayuri Matsuhashi, a national level curling athlete who has been deaf since birth. In a sport where communication is as crucial as strategy, Matsuhashi defies expectations proving that the universal language of dedication and skill knows no bounds. 

Born in snowy Aomori in northern Tohoku, Matsuhashi is no stranger to winter sports. When curling was introduced in the American Winter Deaflympics (an elite international competition for deaf athletes), the then-12-year-old Matsuhashi and her father and brother, all non-hearing, were inspired to give it a try. Curling seemed fun, and it looked like a sport Matsuhashi’s father could continue to play even in his advanced years. The sport strengthened the trio, even during a painful period in their lives when Matsuhashi’s parents divorced. 

sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

Matsuhashi continued curling through boarding school, participating in her first beginner’s tournament in her second year of middle school. In her 20s, she moved to Kanagawa for work yet curling was a refreshing escape from her day-to-day life. 

Curling is played between two teams, each comprising two or four players. The objective is to slide heavy granite discs, known as “curling stones,” toward a target area that is segmented into concentric circles. The players use brooms to sweep the ice in front of the stone, influencing its speed and direction. The ultimate goal is to position the stones strategically within the scoring circles, earning points based on proximity to the center. 

Even though it looks simple, curling requires physical strength and endurance while engaging the mind, due to its long duration of play. It’s challenging and Matsuhashi is constantly learning. She even credits curling as a cure to her morning sickness when she was pregnant. 

Today she lives in Tokyo with her husband and toddler, working as a sign language instructor while training for her next competition whenever possible. The working mother is faced with a challenge. While she and her husband are deaf, their daughter is hearing, otherwise known as “CODA,” or child of a deaf adult. As a result, their child is fluent in both Japanese and Japanese sign language. 

“My parents are deaf, so I was raised in a non-hearing environment at home. So when my daughter was born, I was really surprised!” says Matsuhashi. 

In 2021, Matsuhashi and her brother started competing professionally in mixed double curling competitions to prepare for the following year’s national Japan Curling Championships. 

“While the basic techniques are the same as four-player teams, I think mixed doubles might be less challenging as there are fewer people involved,” explains Matsuhashi. That’s not to say that it’s easy, because the duo have to communicate concisely and quickly on the rink with both hearing and non-hearing people. It was a learning experience for her as she was unfamiliar with certain curling terms. 

After winning a regional tournament, Matsuhashi and her brother became the first deaf people to qualify for this championship. Although they aimed to compete in 2022, it was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic. However, they went on to Banff, Canada for the World Deaf Curling Championships and came in second. 

sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

“Ukraine placed first; this was just when the Ukraine-Russia war broke out. It must have been an uncertain time for them, and they couldn’t even get uniforms, but the focus and determination they put into the game was inspiring,” says Matsuhashi in awe. 

This year, Matsuhashi has her eyes set on entering the 2024 Winter Deaflympics in Turkey, taking part in two events: the women’s four-player team and mixed doubles.

Matsuhashi’s successes are an inspiration to the local deaf community, even inspiring a documentary called Double Role that was released in 2023. In curling jargon, a double is a takeout shot in which two other stones are removed from play. A roll is the movement of a stone striking another. The aptly named title incorporates these terms while signifying Matsuhashi’s dual role as both a mother and deaf curling athlete. 

sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

“I had worked on a film with hearing and non-hearing staff prior to this, and was learning about the history of deaf people in Japan at the Kyoto Prefectural School for the Deaf,” says producer Megumi Ikeda. “Initially I wanted to make a film that followed the life of someone who couldn’t hear.” 

After receiving numerous applications, Ikeda was drawn to Matsuhashi’s spark and personality. “The film was going to be about Matsuhashi raising her hearing daughter, but then I found out she’s this curling athlete as well!” 

Filming during the pandemic was a challenge as shoots were constantly cancelled. However it was especially rewarding to Ikeda as she gathered an all-female team to make the movie. The project took a year to complete, but has been met with positive reviews, winning several awards and even premiering at the Yokohama International Film Festival. While unavailable online, the film continues to be shown at several theaters throughout Japan. Learn more here.

Matsuhashi hopes that awareness will be raised through all this. “There is an increasing number of deaf athletes, but unfortunately, many people don’t know about the Deaflympics. As a result, the support is relatively low compared to the Olympics and Paralympics, so I hope to spread the word about it,” says Matsuhashi. 

“In Japan, there are places where sign language laws have been enacted, but actual changes are still limited and there is inadequate information and accessibility for hearing impaired people. Change will take some time, but it’ll make me happy if everyone can learn even simple sign language!”

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