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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
    • Travel
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

        Yuji Hirayama’s Urban Base Camp Opens in Shinj...

        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Surf the Snow

Surfing powder is nothing new, but custom parks bringing the waves to the mountain is the latest craze. Enter the Surf Ride culture. The trend is rooted in surfing and a definite wave goodbye to the extreme snowboarding scene. The surf riding style can be categorized as fun, yet safe and easily approachable, for surfers and those of us considered more “young at heart.”

Innovative park designer Soichiro “Ichigo” Tanaka, has been riding as a professional snowboarder for more than 10 years and began pioneering “Surf Ride” culture in 2004.

“The idea was a result of the snowboard scene in Japan becoming too difficult for the average snowboarder to follow,” says Ichigo. “The image of snowboarding being imported into Japan by DVDs and magazines is strictly backcountry, cliff jumping, rails and/or endless rotary tricks in the halfpipe.”

These styles are awesome but, unfortunately, only a select few snowboarders can successfully complete tricks such as the “Kass Roll” made famous by U.S. Olympian Danny Kass. Without innate skills or extensive hours of practice, these disciplines of snowboarding can be too extreme, pushing people toward other sports more naturally within their limitations. 

Another problem is for the ageing snowboarder. Indeed it is fairly common to find that retro grandpa zipping by on a pair of skis, but there are few sightings of him weaving down the hill on a snowboard. Hats off to my father, the only older lone warrior I have ever witnessed courageously hitting the bunny slope on his rental board.

According to Ichigo, snowboarding has progressed into an excessively extreme sport. “The original professional snowboarders on the scene 15 years ago have now grown up and can no longer perform those wild stunts.”

Until recently, snowboarding has been overly focused on the halfpipe, big air and backcountry, yet the Surf Ride culture is the latest transition to enjoying snowboarding in a relaxed, safe and totally fun environment. In collaboration with two resorts in Japan, Ichigo has designed and built Surf Ride Parks based on the terrain of these two resorts. It is here where riders can easily join this new, simple yet expressive, trend. There is no additional cost to enter the parks and it is open to any skiers and snowboarders alike. 

The original Surf Ride Park at Kawaba Ski Resort in Gunma Prefecture made its debut three seasons ago. Dynaland in Gifu Prefecture followed suit and will be entering its second season this coming winter. At Kawaba, the Surf Ride Park covers the entire length of the trail.

Snowboarders can play freely and create individual lines on the inverted walls and various bowls. The park also covers an extensive area that allows for a combination of lines to be drawn run after run. 

The Surf Ride Park at Dynaland Resort is constructed in the shape of a halfpipe, yet the walls are lower and the width is narrower. The pipe is designed in a more playful shape. The walls can also be ridden continuously along one side, unlike riding a traditional pipe, which involves moving back and forth and hitting one wall at a time. In the middle of the halfpipe is a small section of bumps to glide over freely or hit with speed for some air time. The sidewalls of these bumps can also be slashed whenever desired for some more action.

For surfers who in Japan notoriously avoid the mountain and head to the warmer waters of Hawaii and Australia during the winter, these parks give the freedom to surf in the snow. Japanese professional surfer Hayato Maki rode the Surf Ride Park in Kawaba in early 2008. A surfer first and foremost, Hayato has become a big fan of the Surf Ride Park movement.
“They are super fun; just like surfing,” says Hayato. “Usual snowboard parks have quarter pipes, steep half pipes and rails, so you can’t really use a surf style in them.”

Surf/snowboarders tend to see the mountain in a different light; always looking for natural snow walls to lay down big surf-style carves and spraying powder out of a turn just like they would on a wave.
For a surfer, the traditional snow park is somewhat daunting, always carrying the high risk of injury. Surf Ride Parks, with their long wave-like walls, allow surfers to mimic surfing actions, whether it is a big bottom turn to slash off the top, carving up the face or just cruising down the line.

“When I am snowboarding, in my mind I am surfing”, says Hayato. “I see the snow walls as waves. These parks are so much easier to ride, for anyone. I think more surfers will want to get out there and try them. They are so much fun.”

Surf the waves or surf the snow.  It is all about expression and having fun in nature. The Surf Ride style doesn’t push us beyond our abilities; it jives with the snowy terrain and lets us glide freely. It is a fun and accessible snow culture, yet can challenge all levels of snow sport enthusiasts. So, go enjoy the mountain waves.

SURF RIDE PARKS IN JAPAN

Kawaba Ski Resort
Address: Kawaba Kogen, Kawaba-Mura, Tone-gun, Gunma Prefecture 378-010
Tel: (0278) 52-3345
Web: www.kawaba.co.jp

Dynaland Ski Resort
Address: 3035-2 Nishibora, Takasu-cho, Gujo-shi, Gifu Prefecture 501-5305
Tel: (0575) 72-6636
Web: www.dynaland.co.jp

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