Thanks Dad

Got a great gift from my Dad yesterday in the form of a cool book simply titled mountains.  Photos and short captions and storys from mountains all over the world.  Will take awhile to get through this book and even longer to visit all the amazing spots covered in this edition.  Thanks Dad!





Tomamu wrap up

Wrapped up Tomamu last night with a quick visit to the Ice Village to shoot some portraits with Shun.  The Ice tunnel leading into the Village this year is great.  The warm temps have lowered the roof, but visually it is really cool to shoot inside.  Didn’t have time to set up a flash unit, so just shot these with the avalible light.   The last portrait is was shot with just the fire light.  D700 does a good job in those situations.  Crank up the ISO to 1500 or so and snap away.







Winter arrives in late February

The now world famous Hokkaido winter snowfall has finally arrived. Huge back to back storms have hit this week and the city is covered in snow. The roads suck, driving around or through the city is not fun, especially when pulling a trailer with a snowmobile. Bumpy, icy, ruts, accidents all kinds of stuff to watch out for.

Anyway, just got back from a three day trip to the northern areas. It started off with meeting Ue in Asahikawa, you can see more pictures on my blog

We explored the Tenninkyo area that we had been to with HF and the Script crew less then a week before. The snow was good and the views were amazing. I can’t believe I have been in Hokkaido this long and never explored this area. There are cliffs and pillow lines in there that you would expect to see in a dream, or maybe a nightmare…. Anyway, if you go there in the winter and want to see the big waterfall “Hagoromo” you will need to be prepared. Snow shoes and poles are highly recommended, also the bridges are heavily loaded with snow so make sure you walk dead center.

That night we drove to Furano and met up with local legend Okita-san at his house just south of the ski hill. We had been invited on a two-day snowmobile mission and training camp. Ue, Okumura and I would be joining from day one and then Yatto for day two. Meeting our guide Okita-san was an amazing experience. This guy is one of the strongest characters I have ever met in Japan. He could be a scene straight out of a movie. He lost his left hand in an accident many years ago and it really completes the pirate-like character he has. For the last twenty years he and his family have been exploring and playing in the mountains right across the road from his house. He knows every valley, ridge and tree on the mountain like the back of his hand. Incredible to watch the crew move effortlessly through the terrain, and this is not easy ground to cover. There are no logging roads up into the hill. Every inch of vertical is earned the hard way, by finding a line up through the trees. I have to say a big thank you to the whole crew for guiding us up into their private playground and helping dig us out every time we got stuck, which was quite often.

The legend in Furano, Okita-san, chopping wood at the mountain hut.  We ate like kings on both days.  Ramen, Udon, Genghis Khan,  home made Mochi and more, all cooked over a wood stove.

Back in the office after the first day we ate Yakiniku off the stainless steel wood stove.  The stove was also handmade by our host.

Fire pit in the woods to keep warm while everybody was practicing.

As you can see the big storm was starting to hit and it was snowing hard.  Ryuji, Okita’s son, and his buddies showed us some of the most technical sledding I have ever seen.  The trees are tight and the slopes are steep but they made it look so easy.  It was an amazing learning experience to watch these guys perform.  Look for a good section in the next edition of the Car Danchi series.

Delicious snacks made by Okita-san’s wife after day two.

Oku-chan stoked to be alive after two days of the hardest sled riding we have ever done.

Back home at 5am the storm is peaking in Sapporo.  Gale force winds are whipping snow everywhere.  The airport was closed, the lifts were closed and even Kokusai near Jozankei had to close on Saturday.

Deep deep deep.  Enjoy it while it lasts there are only a few more big storms left this season.

North Face party comes to Sapporo

The second edition of the North Face party “Mixed Emotions” is coming to Sapporo on the 1st of March. If you have not been to the Filmore North venue this is a great chance to check it out. One of the best, if not the best sound system in Japan. Based on the Loft/David Mancuso theory of sound systems, Filmore North is my favorite place to hear good music. There will be three live acts including Sapporo’s own Kuniyuki and DJ’s as well. Hope to see you there.


Click on the image below for a full size if you want to read the details.