If you've just come from "Mountains" you'll see some familiar faces here. Doug, Todd and Steve, Canuks in their element. In this case at my favourite mountain resort Minakami, three hours out of Yokohama.

Kitahara first took me here in the winter of 1991. That year most people had never seen a snowboard.




Early Days

1st. Apt.



Yoko - Fuk





S. Kyushu


UK 1998



Kites & Balloons

99 Islands

Sue / Japan

UK 2000

N. Japan




The following year the snowboard boom hit. One year later, due to the plague of dangerous beginners on the slopes, 90% of hills banned the sport.

Today, boarders often outnumber skiers, which means less people moan at the likes of "Megumi-Why-Should-I-Turn?-It-Slows-Me-Down".

This pic. taken in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

Another mountain, another year, but still in Miankami.

The trails in the virgin snow bottom left were made by the intrepid explorers in front of you, after we'd hiked a couple of hundred feet up from the top of the lif, for some off piste boarding.

Meg demonstrated why it's a bad idea to fall down in deep snow beautifully by not getting back up for 20 minutes.


A lot further afield this time. Yamagata Zao in Tohoku. The gate is the entrance to a natural outdoor hot spa, which is "closed in winter."

How exactly do you "close" a piece of nature? Needless to say, we had a couple of luxurient baths in the open. Luxurient that is until it was time to get out.

See the same spot in summer in Tohoku.


Futher down Mt. Zao. The top of the mountain is famous for its Snow Monsters - trees get totally covered in snow and ice and look like dinosaurs, or at least like white Brimham Rocks.

The hand bag just isn't quite right in this setting, is it?

The other end of the country. Shimane, just outside of Hiroshima. A look at the surrounding mountains gives a good idea of the snow quality, but Fukuokan beggars can't be choosers.

James Llewelyn lived in tiny Akagi Cho (pop. 6,000 anf falling rappidly) for 2 years. This was his first outing on a snowboard, but years of surfing in Brisbane paid off and he avoided the usual first day bruised knees and bum.

Below is the main drag of Akagi (Click here for the same view in summer). The snow on top of the van (and in the driveway) all fell over night.