Riding with Daisuke and the crew, completely blinded by the contrast of the bright sparklers in the dark night air.



ABOARD THE ICEBOX: A Hokkaido Staycation

What drives our desire to explore the unknown? To travel and experience new lands? It’s a beautiful craving. There’s a deep, instinctual voice telling us to continue moving forward. The pull toward the next horizon is as old as humanity.

When Daisuke Watanabe told me he’d never been to the northernmost point of Hokkaido—Wakkanai—I was shocked. It’s only a nine-hour drive from where he grew up in Niseko and just four-and-a-half hours from Central Hokkaido, where he loves to ride. But he quickly reminded me that, in Japan, nine hours is considered a very far distance to travel by car.

Daisuke has been immersed in the mountains and snowboarding community his whole life. He began snowboarding at the age of 5 on the very same mountain that his grandfather and great uncle pioneered. Back in the 1960s, Daisuke’s elders hiked Mt. Hirafu/Annupuri and began creating detailed topographical maps matched with photos of the sasa (broad-leaf bamboo) covered slopes. In 1961, Daisuke’s grandfather was on a construction crew setting the first lift tower poles for Niseko Tokyu Grand Hirafu, which is now the largest of the four resorts that make up the Niseko United ski area…

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