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Archive for December, 2007

Sun Sun Sun

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 30, 2007

Sun sun go away and come again another day!  I hate to be picky, but what we really need here is some snow and a lot of it real quick!  The snow was supposed to come in today, but it never appeared.  The sun came out in the morning and basically hung out in the sky all day.  Not that I hate the sun, I took advantage of the nice weather and cleaned all my windows both inside and outside so as to better enjoy the view.  Then did a major house cleaning, dusting and vacuuming etc.,  Traditional end of the year activities.   

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Shinya, Yaguchi Kaoru and husband dropped by on their way back from Rusutsu.  They told me it was hard and crusty out there.  A lesson in carving as Shinya put it!  Sharpen those edges and get ready to lay down some deep carves for the next few days until something happens up there in the sky and a bunch of flakes start falling on us.  As for me I am going to be chilling at home watching some snowboard movies and working on the computer.  I have started the editing process for Car Danchi 3 already so there is always something to do.  Enjoy the last day of the year! 

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Rain Rain Rain

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 29, 2007

What kind of crap weather is this? Rain rain go away and come again some other day! Someday in spring or summer or fall, but not winter! Well the rumor about a big storm came true as it moved in over the island this morning. Things started off ok with some snow falling, then sadly it turned into rain all day long. I hear that Niseko was closed due to high winds and the same for Sapporo Kokusai. I am sure a lot of other resorts were closed as well. Just as good, who would want to be out there slopping around in the slush.

Unfortunately this is what has been happening the last few years here in Hokkaido. More and more warming trends throughout the winter. Seems like this only happened in November and early December before, but now we are getting rain in late December and into the new year. Hopefully the temperature will drop and stay low for the next few months. Keep those fingers crossed. In the meantime lets all listen more carefully to Al Gore. Lets keep our winters cold!

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Sapporo Kokusai Today

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 26, 2007

Went up to Kokusai International today to shoot with Freestyle Skiers Shimo, Yasu and Yuuta. Was a beautiful morning, great blue sky and low temperature. There had been a few cm of new snow at my house overnight so I knew it would be good at Kokusai. The courses are all groomed nicely and there was some light dry Hokkaido powder in the trees. Not super deep, but the blue sky and the nice views made up for it. I am enjoying shooting with skiers for a change of pace, it is fun to see how they look at the mountain differently. I feel like such a slow loser always having to strap in and taking so long. They are more patient than snowboarders though, in fact they actually wait for me. Some of the locals were complaining about the lack of fresh snowfall, but I am sure it is going to come with a bang in the new year.

Here is the view all the way to Shokanbetsu mountain across the Ishikari bay.
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There is always powder, you just have to know where to find it!
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The North Face Premium Powder Hunting

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 25, 2007

What a great name for an event in Hokkaido! Premium Powder! I love it so much that it made me want to join the event. I went to The North Face store in Sapporo Factory the other day and saw this big poster for an upcoming event.
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They are using my photo of Shimo as the image of the event. This photo was shot last season at Teine Highland resort while shooting with Miura Yuichiro. This is a tree stump or rock that is a local favorite jump spot. I love the view you get from this angle on a sunny day. Wish I had my flash set up with me that day, but I was packing light that day, so Shimo is a little dark in the image. If you are interested in joining the event, please contact the Sapporo Factory store staff. The number is on the flyer, click for a large version. Enjoy your Premium Powder in the new year!

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Niseko day trip

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 24, 2007

Decided to take a day trip to Niseko today, no snowboarding just wanted to meet some friends and pass out some DVDs etc., Also wanted to get some of that great Niseko spring water! The snow conditions are not the greatest right now, rather warm today, the courses are good for carving on the groomed runs I am sure, but I did not see a lot of pow on the streets. So it was a perfect time for spending a day meeting old friends and some new ones too. Check it out.First went to see Tomoki
tomoki.jpg at the Powder Company  powcom3.jpg in Moiwa. We chatted for awhile about the scene in Niseko. They have made the store into a cool cafe with good coffee and nice lunch menu until 6:30pm each day.
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If you go riding in Moiwa (which you should) then stop in after the morning session and have a meal. Real friendly staff there as well. They have a video monitor and they were also playing Car Danchi when I walked in. Nice to feel the love everywhere! I gave them a copy of UE_snowboarder to play this season. Then in walks Nobu from Loaf cafe in Kutchan.
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He was there to bring a copy of the new Nagano based film “Live Naturally”live-naturally.jpg
Filmed all in 8mm film and three years in the making this is the new movie from Yone! Nice package design and from the little I saw it looks like a good Japanese freeride/mountain ride film. Lots of good vibes and good music soundtrack. Might not be easy to find this movie for sale as he does not use a major distributor, but you should be able to pick up a copy in Niseko, at Loaf Cafe I am sure. Then went to NAC for lunch.
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Good food as always. There were a bunch of white faces in there eating and drinking wine, ahh must be nice to be on holiday drinking wine in a foreign land!

Then dropped by IXSM travel
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My friend Yoshimura asked if he could sell some DVDs in the store.
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If you have any travel needs in Niseko area or maybe need a prepaid telephone card or want to buy one of my DVDs drop in and check them out.

Then I hooked up with friend Ryan in the parking lot and he hooked me up with a copy of the new magazine Powder Life Niseko.
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This is the first issue of a biweekly magazine all about Niseko. It is free so pick one up in Niseko. Ryan is on the cover of the first issue! Yeah cover boy! So all in all it was a good day in Niseko.

The vibe in the Hirafu area is crazy hype as always and the real season for tourists has not even started yet! Lets just say if it were a western movie then the cowboys have taken over the Indian village! The amount of construction that has been done in the last year alone is pretty amazing and more is coming. There is a Lawson open 24 hours a day now so the old Seicomart has lost the monopoly out there. Lots of new bars and restaurants to choose from. I hear there are a lot fewer places for Japanese people to stay cheaply though…. all the pension owners are selling out and in their place condos are being built and marketed to the foreign clients. Interesting situation out there. I also heard that a big storm is heading this way, said to arrive right at the end of the year. So that means Niseko should be the powder heaven it is known to be from the New Year! Enjoy!

Posted in News, Stores and Shops, Travel | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Cool shop in Sapporo

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 23, 2007

Went downtown today for the Christmas shopping like the rest of the population in Hokkaido! A lot of people out and about, but the roads have no snow on them so the driving is easy! Anyway stopped by a shop I had been meaning to visit for some time.

“Concept shop by Garage 69″
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Loved the shop. A great selection of clothing, snowboards, surf boards, outdoor gear and interesting items. They were actually playing my movie Car Danchi 2 on the screen when I walked in so it was a really nice welcome! Check out this crazy snow/surf board by Gentem stick that was on display. This is a one of a kind item, not for sale but worth going in for a look. They also sell the whole Gentem line up of snowboards. Best surf style snowboards made anywhere!
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There is also a cafe inside the shop so make sure you stop in and have a coffee next time you are downtown Sapporo, tell them I sent you.
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While I was at the shop I also picked up the DVD “Crystal Voyager” by George Greenough. A classic surf film that I had been wanting to get ahold of for awhile. Here is a little bit about the film taken from a good web site you can see here.

Synopsis
A surfing biography about legendary design innovator and photographer George Greenough, shot largely in California. Greenough’s search for uncrowded waves drives his construction of a 37-foot ocean-going yacht that he claims is virtually unsinkable. With his surfing friends Richie West, a Californian, and Nat Young, Australia’s world champion surfer, Greenough takes to the cold Californian water, searching for undiscovered waves. The last 23 minutes of the film contains his legendary short film Echoes, composed entirely of extraordinary slow-motion footage shot inside the curl of the waves, the camera in a waterproof housing strapped to his back, with music by Pink Floyd.
Here is the package artwork so you can find it in a store.
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All in all it was a good day of discovery in Sapporo. Hope you are all enjoying the Christmas weekend! Pray for a gift of snow on Christmas Eve as we need some fresh powder!

Posted in News, Stores and Shops | 2 Comments »

Shooting Sapporo Back Country

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 23, 2007

Yesterday went out for a short photo shoot with local Freestyle skiers, Shimo, Yasu, Shouya, and Taisuke. We went to a local back country spot that is popular with film crews. Right away we saw a police car! They stopped and asked what we were doing, the cop seemed excited to be able to see some riding, but we were not ready yet. Then he told us there was another crew right around the corner. We went to investigate and found the Red Eye film crew! Yoshino, Fumio, Yuuta, and Takumi were all there! Small world out there in the back country. We ended up having a short sunset session and got in a couple of good shots. Here is Yasu with a cork 360.
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The back country conditions are still not that great. The snow layer in the Sapporo area is still pretty thin. We need another really big storm or two and then the “sasa” grass that is everywhere here in Japan will finally be covered. Looking forward to a big New Year storm!

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Mt. Fuji photo sale at Connect

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 22, 2007

My man K9 at Connect in Fujieda, Shizuoka just sent me these shots from the store. You may remember the “Nature Inspires Creators” Vol 1 project from this summer. We climbed Mt. Fuji and then held a series of art shows at North Face stores around Japan. Well the shows have finished but the artwork remains. So K9 has offered to sell my photos at his store in Shizuoka.
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If you are in the area please stop by and check it out. K9 and master wood worker Kodama-san are the creators of the great frames we used for these pieces. Made completely from recycled school gym floors, they look and feel great. Solid Oak! Here is the tel and address for the store Connect.
CONNECT
静岡県藤枝市駅前1-7-25
増尾BLD1F
054-646-2827
Please stop by and tell them that I sent you!

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Deshi goes international

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 21, 2007

The “In Short” filming trip to Japan in March of this year, which I helped guide and shot photos for is now featured in the new issue of Snowboarder magazine USA.
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The new issue arrived here yesterday and I was excited to see the story inside. Deshi from the Car Danchi crew was the only Japanese rider on the trip and I was so stoked to see he made it into the story! Check out a little sampling of the layout here.This is page 1 of the story which is titled “Endress Remember” by the way. The rider is Eric Messier riding a school fence in Otaru. We had it all set up when the school staff came out with an electric bullhorn and started yelling at us from a distance to stop and remove ourselves from the property. They had the school English teacher on the bullhorn yelling at us and it was really a funny scene to watch. The guy in the suit must have been the principal as he came out and tried to convince us to leave personally. Eric dropped in for this last try with the guy in the frame. After that the principal seemed pretty happy, he even clapped for Eric, but still kicked us out anyway.
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We were filming in Tomamu for a few days. Somebody suggested trying to jump over the tree branch in the shot on the right. After getting permission from the patrol(not easy) and spending a hour digging and setting up the shot, most of the riders decided they did not want to even try it. David Benedek tried it and went too big getting caught on another branch and was thrown into a crazy back spin to neck landing. It did not look pretty. Then Deshi stepped up and took over the show, he cleared the branch and landed with style. That is what you have to do to make it into the pages of Snowboarder magazine! Congradulations Deshi!
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And on the final page I was amazed to see a half page portrait of Deshi! He must have made a good impression because I am sure it is not that easy to get a half page portrait in a magazine like Snowboarder for an unknown Japanese rider. Good job Deshi and big thanks to Blank Paper studios and Ben!
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If you are in North America it will be easy and cheap to pick up a copy of this mag. If you are in Japan try and find it in Tower Records, they usually have the latest issues of all the snowboarding magazine. It will be expensive…. I guess you can just stand there and read though…..

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High tech items

Posted by Neil Hartmann on December 20, 2007

The world continues to get more and more high tech every day. Personally I am not a huge fan of some things like digital camera’s, but then again I love my iPod!. So I try to be selectively high tech. The outdoor product world has long been rather low tech, but recently I went shopping here in Sapporo at the local outdoor shop “Shugakusou” and found some very high tech items. Thought I would share with you today. First are these gloves by the North Face. With a technology called E-Tip the thumb and index finger let you use your iPod with the gloves on. The silver material on the fingertips conducts static electricity and that is want affects those devices. As more and more things convert to touch screen type systems this is going to be a more practical item.
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The second item is this water bottle / Lantern called Lightcap. A very eco-tech item as the LED lights are solar powered! Just put the water bottle in the sun all day and have either a white or red light at night. I thought this concept to be quite brilliant. I am using it at home now, save a little electric bill money. Will be great for camping too, as the less you have to carry around the better right?
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