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JAPAN GRABS - Hakuba 2014-2015 : A Season Exploring the Japanese Alps


Awesome review mate!! Such a sick looking board. Would love to add that tooy quiver. Will stick with my 420 and give that’s good whirl first. But like the sound is this too with the big nose!
Cheers bud


Great review, Marc. Looks super cool!


Great review Marc! I notice the sidecut of the board goes all the way to the end of the tail?


Loved the review. Great stuff.


Happo Banks just released the second part of their 2015 promo video, entitled ‘Riders’.
Check it out:


That’s so cool. Seriously, you have no idea how much I want to go for a rip through there!


Hi there.
It’s not all just endless powder in Japan. There are a lot of really good events in the winter calendar too.
On Saturday I decided to switch it up and check out one of these instead of racing for powder before Sunday’s rain. With my family visiting Japan at the time, I had missed the Nagereha banked slalom over in Gifu the weekend before which is always good times, so I decided to make the trip up to Suginohara in Myoko for the ‘Stoken’ event. I was not disappointed that I did.

The course was sick. Props to Takafumi Konishi and the Rome crew for delivering a banks / tranny finder park that everyone could have fun on, from pros to kids. It was like a BMX dirt jump course, challenging but super fun to ride with steep transitions and many different lines possible. The first hit was a volcano which you could get head high over… while only going over a 2m table… great fun! There were hips, gaps and quarters and it made use of the natural features really well with tree jibs and a gap air over a low hanging branch. 

Event mastermind, all-round ripper and good guy, Takafumi Konishi playing in his own creation with a smooth front 3… lofty back one tranny finder:

Course overview in a quiet moment… everyone must have been off sampling the free beer:

The day was perfect for it… more mid-April than mid-February. After getting a prize token, I picked out a camo bucket hat (Austin Hironaka style) with a wide brim that may have actually saved my day. It was so hot in a beanie the sweat was starting to drip down inside my goggles! I’ve never felt that comfortable shredding in sunglasses (quite possibly I’m just not cool enough!)… but with that hat I could ditch the goggles altogether. I had already ditched gloves to dump heat… no gloves, no goggles, sunhat… it was as close to a summer skatepark session as you could get. A big change from all the powder, but just as much “this is snowboarding”.




Stoked on ‘Stoken’ (PART 2)

The format was simple. Shred a fun course together with the Rome riders, when they see anything rad that gets them stoked, they give out a token which you can trade for anything you want from a big box of T’s, hoodies, gloves, hats, etc.. After registration (free! How rad is that!) the next step was to be given FREE BEER and told to have fun! That’s a format I can live with! The welcoming atmosphere included everyone from local park shreds to kids, girls, and even… foreign people! I’m just kidding. But the welcome was genuinely warm, and one Australian Jon threw down some creative shredding that got everyone stoked, like one-foot footplant rewinds on the tree jib. It turns out he is a Japan Grabs reader too! (I didn’t get his details so we’ll see if he replies below the line!)

Man of Mystery and Fun Shred, “Jon”... to keep his mystique intact, a looking-away shot:

Jon with a back 1 tail tap escape over the branch:

The event is put on by Rome snowboards, and their Japanese distributor. Snowboard ‘teams’ can be a bit of a strange concept in this day and age… contest guys do their thing, freeride guys do theirs, the female riders tend to band together and their own thing… You’re more likely to have a film project crew spending time together, so it can seem a bit artificial when a sponsor gets a their team together. Rome Japan somehow don’t follow that program though. They had a skatepark tour in the autumn, with all their riders shredding together (whether they were good at skating or not!) just to have fun and hang out with the kids at the parks. This event was the same. Get together, shred, have fun, get everyone there stoked on snowboarding. Just the way it should be. It was pretty much the perfect park shred event – and had the weather to match!

Did I mention FREE BEER! Oh ...okay.

As if the sun wasn’t bright enough… this was the MC!

Happy people getting prizes… This guy picked up a set of outwear for being the first person to land a McTwist. The less said about my first ever attempt the better wink

In a nice twist on the board giveaway, this kid won a board by being the first person to catch the teenage pro Daiki Hara running away through knee deep heavy powder. I almost called Patrol to come and get me after my attempt. It was apt as the Rome guys had noticed how he had been hiking the park all day non-stop so fast. Don’t smoke or drink kids!



Hey guys, check out this commercial by Nissan and Pizza-La (a Japanese pizza chain) called The Xtreme Delivery.
I only noticed it when it showed up in my Facebook feed, due to one of the Hachi riders, Masaki Kitae, being in it. Hachi is a Hakuba local crew and I hope to bring you more of their media in the next few weeks.
Anyways, Japan Grabs doesn’t endorse Nissan or Pizza-La in any way, it’s just a cool little ad that’s got some good shredding in it.


That was a really sick video though smile


Here a some more shots from Rome’s ‘Stoken’ event last Saturday:

There was hanging curtain banner, that you could air through…

After mystery Japan Grabs reader “Jon” sparked a one-foot session on the tree job, this Suginohara local got fully extended:

...and this girl got her tail chop rewinds on:

Is this next year’s big style? You saw it here first…

Good times hiking a sweet set up:

Quick, get upside-down!

One of the Rome Japan crew boosting. He had his stomping legs on for sure.

And finally… a shot of me… kind of… 

Talking of good events, this week sees the F-Stop Mountain Shoot Out kicking off in Hakuba. More on that soon….


2015 F-Stop Mountain Shoot Out

Today marks the beginning of the 2015 F-Stop Mountain Shoot Out here in Hakuba. This year sees four filmers vying for the Best of Show Honours. Last year’s winner, Neil Hartmann is back, along with ‘Jackie’ Nishio, Hiroaki ‘Yone’ Yonekura & Tomohiro Fujii.
The guys have from today until Saturday at 6pm to make a 6 minute video and we will be able to see the show from 8pm at The Pub in Wadano.

And as if the show itself won’t be amazing enough, the various sponsors of the event have provided some amazing prizes to be drawn. There will be five snowboards to be given away! Sounds awesome, right? Well, these aren’t your regular snowboards - they’re all super sick. Check them out:
1) Capita Spring Break 166
2) Green Lab YY156
3)Replant Blessing 155
4)Lib Tech Lando 157 ridden by Mark Landvik in Hakuba, and signed by him, Travis rice, Mikkel Bang and Shin Biyajima
5)Lib Tech Travis Rice 161, ridden by Trice here and signed by the same guys as on the Lando

If I was to win one, I honestly can’t tell you which one I’d like the most. 1 to 3 are unique powder boards and the two Lib Tech’s are collector’s items (and can be ridden too!).
If you go to the Facebook page of the event, you can see photos of all the boards, as well as interviews with the four contestants:

So make sure you drop by The Pub in Wadano at 8pm, this Saturday (Feb. 28th), it’s definitely going to be a great party!

ps. you can get a taste of the action by watching Neil Hartmann’s winning slideshow from last year:


Nice Review man! Looks like a sick board!
I recently got back from Hokkaido too and was riding my yes 420 152 (epic) and a Burton Pile Driver 140 demo from the guys at Burton. The Pile driver was super fun and very similar to the cool bean. The cool bean looks to be a bit wider so may
Float better in the super deep stuff!


2015 F-Stop Mountain Shootout

Once again, the F-Stop Mountain Shoot Out did not disappoint! This year, the contest featured four filmers each presenting a six minute video.
I say contest, but it was stressed by the organizers that “While the Mountain Shoot Out might appear as a contest, it’s not really about crowning the best photographer or filmmaker. It is about motivating the local community to ride harder and exercise creativity in the mountains.” This is such a rad concept. Two thumbs up to F-Stop!
I had the unenviable task of judging the event, along with Die-go, the editor of Diggin magazine, and pro rider, Noboru ‘Porno’ Konno.

The event began with a tribute to fallen Hakuba pro rider, Kyota Miyake.

photo: Millar
The crowd fell silent as the event was dedicated to him (he was one of the scheduled riders) but cheers rang out as his video part from Sol Food was played. I will link it in the following post.
Instead of a minute of silence, the MC called for a big ‘kanpai!’ to Kyota.

Following the moment seamlessly, the first crew was introduced. Filmer Tomohiro Fujii stepped up to the front with his riders from the Hakuba local crew, Hachi. Taking Kyota’s place, photographer (and winner of the first F-Stop Mountain Shoot Out), Tsutomu Endo stepped up as a rider and actually earned his place on the team after stomping tricks that the Hachi pros didn’t. In the video you can see Endo-san landing a backflip after Keita crashes.

I was blown away by the video and thought it was a clear winner straight off. However, the second crew led by filmer, Jackie, had a spoof of an old Japanese tv show that had the crowd roaring with laughter the whole way through. It was going to be a tight contest! This was followed by last year’s champ, Neil Hartmann with a classic ‘Neil’ video with all the great riding and high production values we are used to from his Car Danchi series. That vid had the biggest LOL moment for me, with the creative use of mosaic to hide the identity of someone jumping a boundary rope. Rounding out the filmers was local filmer, ‘Yone’ with another solid shred flick. I think he had the biggest challenge of all the filmers as he was filming with digital for the first time! He normally shoots 8mm for his movies, but due to the time restraints of this event he switched to digital and had a bit of a learning curve, narrowly meeting the deadline for the entries.

Choosing the winner was quite difficult but after long deliberation, we chose Tomohiro as the winner.

He won a beautiful handmade Yuki ita, made by Atsushi Gomyo of

and 50,000 yen cash! He announced that they were going to take that money and make Kyota stickers for everyone to put on their boards. Very cool.

The most amazing thing was that in the four days the crews had to film in, the weather was absolute garbage most of the time. One day even had heavy rain all day! It’s a true testament to their skills that all the crews managed to create such great videos.

Only the winning video has been released so far, but check it out - it’s definitely worth watching a few times. Keita’s style is insane! (blue outerwear, replant board)

Can’t wait til next year!


What a great film. Thoroughly enjoyed that. Thanks for the report, Marc!