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        Last winter, the three of us, three young ladies – Marei, Alison and I flew to Japan with snowboards in our luggage. The plan was a five-week snowboard road trip across Japan. Japan is known for its huge amount of powdery snow, and beautiful “tree runs” – we only knew this from snowboard movies, and now we wanted to experience it ourselves. I recorded the whole trip in a film and with photos as I had my Canon 5D miV and Olympus OMD mII in my luggage. Marei had her Gopro with Gimbal.

        With two snowboards each and winter equipment in the board bags, we went to the nearby Narita after landing at Tokyo airport to pick up the bus we had booked. The bus, an older generation Nissan, was also our sleeping place for the next five weeks. It was quite comfortable to live in as we were equipped with auxiliary heating, a small gas cooker and washbasin. Only the cooking was not always easy, because the gas bottles did not spit enough flames, as the cans were mostly almost frozen.

        From Narita, we first headed towards the Japanese Alps. Nozawa Onsen was our first stop, and it was just like we had imagined — steep deciduous forests, perfect for tree runs. Only fresh snow hadn’t been there yet. After snowboarding, we went to Onsen almost every day. That was our daily body care program. By the way, Onsen is hot volcanic springs, which can be found almost everywhere on the island. After Nozawa Onsen, we went north to Geto Kogen. The weather in the Japanese mountains is sometimes so uncomfortable there that Japanese ski resorts often build huge indoor halls at the valley station to protect the visitors from cold, wind and snow. These halls look quite funny, from colourful amusement-park-like rooms to futuristic sci-fi locations. Of course, I captured all this with my camera, like for example here in this gallery. The gallery shows photos of Japanese winter landscapes and their surroundings. Taking pictures and filming in the cold and stormy weather was not always easy. But I’m glad that I was able to take some photos anyway, which could capture the whole thing a bit, even though my fingers hurt from the cold.

        What I usually noticed compared to Austrian ski resorts is that there were a lot more snowboarders. It seemed to me that the Japanese set a high value on their style and outfits. You can find pictures of them, for example, here in this portrait series.

        After Geto Kogen, we drove further up north, towards Fukushima and after some days snowboarding there, we took the ferry to Hokkaido. Hokkaido was icy and fresh, meaning filming and photographing became harder and harder for the fingers. The landscapes and the vast amounts of snow made us forget the cold halfway, and I got into the habit of taking pictures and filming with gloves. There is also a film of our snow adventure, but here I cut the film material that we took with the Canon, Olympus and Go Pro to a 5 minutes film. I think it’s easy to see that there are three quite different cameras and that the conditions were not the easiest. Note to self: When travelling with already heavy luggage – better take lighter cameras and fewer lenses. Sooner or later, I will probably have to buy a system camera instead of a single-lens reflex camera. I am already flirting with Sony Alphas.

        Back to the road trip: After Hokkaido, we went down south again, this time towards the Japanese Alps. There we discovered a small, heavenly ski resort – whose name I won’t mention now so that it stays small and hidden. In this small area, with only two chair lifts, there was almost half a meter of fresh snow nearly every day. We stayed there longer as we often got stuck with the bus in the snow-covered streets. The rear-drive and the old winter tires were not necessarily an advantage there given that a snow chain even broke down. Thanks to Marei’s excellent driving skills, everything went well. Thank God she always drove and did well in left-hand traffic with icy roads (one had the impression that in Japan the roads are not gritted). Meanwhile, I filmed the snow-covered, slippery roads.

        After about five weeks, our road trip through the Japanese mountains was over. After we returned the bus in Narita, we went to Tokyo with our heavy board bags. We spent another 3-4 days in the big city, and that was a slight culture shock. After five weeks in the Japanese winterly wasteland, we arrived in one of the busiest metropolises in the world. Sleeping in a real bed for the first time was nice. In Tokyo, we did the full tourist program. For example, we went to the fish market, to the Tokyo Tower, Shibuya (the famous quarter with the dense zebra crossing) and the traditional Asakusa quarter. I then found Tokyo to be particularly great for taking pictures, especially the fish market, which is excellent scenery.
        After almost six weeks in Japan, the trip came to an end. I was deeply impressed by the island, the culture, the beautiful landscape and the good food. I would make such a trip again in future, but with a lighter camera and fewer lenses in my luggage.