The past several years have been challenging for everyone. For travelers it’s been frustrating, especially so for those accustomed to chasing winter storms around the globe. Over the last decade, Japan has risen to the top of the wish list for powder hunters keeping a watchful eye on Siberian storms that crash into Japan’s mountains leaving deep powder behind. Beyond the snow, the rich culture, unique traditions—coupled with the amazing hospitality and delicious food—just add to the draw. Unfortunately during the pandemic Japan had some of the tightest border restrictions meaning the outside world was locked out–until now.
Before the Covid curtain closed inbound tourism to Japan, Snowledge founder, Eric Lee O’Brien, had been working with Outdoor Japan to bring his Snowledge App to Japan as well as some top ski and snowboard athletes over to explore some lesser known mountains and resorts.
Travelers and the travel industry in Japan were impatiently waiting for an official announcement that travel restrictions would ease, and in October 2022 it finally came. It just so happened Outdoor Japan was working with Tohoku Tourism to showcase some great resorts in Northern Honshu and the stars aligned to bring the Snowledge team over to hit some of northern Japan’s deepest terrain.
O’Brien, a free skier who competes on the Freeride World Tour, has brought together an all-star crew of skiers, snowboarders, filmmakers and storytellers to capture and share the essence of what makes Japan such a special winter destination. In Eric’s words, “Return to Japan will be a pow-filled skiing and snowboarding film highlighting a return to the cultural experiences and some of the lesser known corners of Japan’s mountains reopening for the first time in years.”
His crew includes fellow Freeride World Tour athletes Audrey Hebert (Canada, Snowboard) and Brian Stenerson (USA, Snowboard), as well as American Skier—and Skida founder—Corinne Prevot, plus award-winning Australian filmmaker Sam Levings to capture all the action.
This year’s project will take the crew to some of the best powder zones in Tohoku, as well as the Hokushin Region of Nagano, home to the traditional Olympic ski and hot spring village of Nozawa Onsen, nearby powder resorts Madarao and Myoko and finally over to Hakuba’s peaks for the Freeride World Tour stop. They will be posting on their socials, so follow their adventures and keep an eye out @outdoorjapan for updates from Jan. 18 onward.
Eric Lee O’Brien | @ericleeobrien
4FRNT | TREW | Hestra | POC
Audrey Hebert | @audreysnowclimb
TREW | Hestra | UNLTD | Swix
Brian Stenerson | @instasteny
Weston | TREW | Zeal | Pret