Cool! Shiribeshi

We have invited people who have immigrated from abroad and are now living in the Shiribeshi region of central Hokkaido to contribute columns from a variety of perspectives. The columns appear in Japanese in the morning edition of the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper every other Monday. https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/series/s_cool_otaru
In this section, the columns are posted in the author's original text.

Special feature

【Column】Niseko’s snow influencing ski and snowboard evolution

Written by Kristian Lund; Australian 14-year resident of Niseko and Managing Editor of “Powderlife”

Niseko’s unique powder snow and international resort makeup are playing an interesting role in the evolution of ski and snowboard design. A growing number of Japanese and foreign residents are setting up boutique ski and snowboard manufacturing operations out of Niseko, all pioneering concepts that have, and could continue, to influence powder skiing and snowboarding around the world.

In the 1990s snowboards led the way off-piste and into Niseko’s now world-famous powder. At that time traditional skis were too narrow to negotiate deep snow, so skiers stuck to the groomed runs. The advent of wide new snowboards that were able to float through the powder opened up a whole new dimension to snow sports.

During this time Niseko unwittingly became a testing ground for modern powder snowboard design. Then recent Tokyo immigrant Taro Tamai, with the help of a small crew of powder pioneers, started playing with different nose and tail shapes and binding mount positions that best suited Niseko’s daily powder conditions. In 1998 Tamai-san formally established Gentemstick, whose shapes have gone on to inspire powder board design the world over.

In 2016, following a decade snowboarding in Niseko, Australian Josh Monin established a boutique snowboard workshop at the base of Moiwa Ski Resort, designing and handcrafting Niseko powder boards from a foreign perspective for the first time.

Last year, long-time resident Welshman and mountain guide Owain Bassett launched Island Snowboards in Kutchan following several years of testing. Island’s boards are designed for Hokkaido conditions, but with their European heritage, are also made to handle big mountains around the world. The cores of the boards are hand-shaped from Hokkaido honoki -wood.

Several years ago another long-time foreign resident, Australian Ross Findlay, together with a team of local Japanese skiers and craftsmen, embarked on a challenge to create the “perfect ski for Niseko”. Following extensive testing and prototyping, Roko developed three models that can be ordered with custom specifications to best suit individuals’ needs.

In 2018, one of Japan’s premier high-performance ski makers, Hideo Komori, moved his ski factory from Sapporo to one of Niseko Town’s old stone warehouses in the train station precinct. As well as his own innovative ski designs, Komori-san recently teamed up with long-time resident Scotsman Ian MacKenzie to develop a ski that moves away from recent “fat” (wide), floating powder ski design trend towards a narrower profile that actually allows skiers to sink into the powder for a deeper sensation.

Almost 30 years after Gentemstick revolutionised snowboarding, once again Niseko’s unique powder is helping pioneer revolutionary ideas that may influence snow sports design the world over.

Special feature

I’ve been in Japan since 2014 and if there’s anything I’ve learned since coming here it’s to stay open minded. After graduating from university with a degree in Japanese, I didn’t want to be limi...

In March I flew home to Australia to see family and friends for the first time in two years. Australia had some of the world's strictest travel restrictions through the pandemic, so I was expecting...

The most important thing in sports for me is for it to be fun. Sure I have been frustrated or even cried after losing. But overall, I was having fun and would be back training and in the next compe...

Makkari is where we call home. Like many people living in Hokkaido, we emigrated from elsewhere. And like many Hokkaido residents, we absolutely LOVE living here! However, arriving in Makkari wa...

At my workplace we have a long tradition of the so-called seminar, or abbreviated zemi. The term refers to a class at a university in which a small group of students gather to conduct their own res...

Otaru: population 110,410, households 61,914. This is what it read at the entrance of Otaru’s City Council a few days ago. A sign of many single-person households, a declining and ageing populati...

Empty lines at Kiroro and Hirafu for ski lifts that are normally bustling with international tourists. Socially distanced crowds in multipurpose rooms and town centers throughout Shiribeshi, everyo...

Sometimes Niseko residents ask me why their little potato farming towns have become so popular among foreigners, and why people are paying so much money to buy land and build homes here. The underl...

When I first visited Hokkaido years ago as a college student, I was surprised. I knew that the prefecture was far from places like Tokyo, but I didn’t expect it to feel so different. In my mind, Ja...

Today is the official Shiribeshi Hug your Husband day. It is very important that all wives in the Shiribeshi area give their husbands a big hug today.

In the past years, the towns of Niseko and Kutchan which are home to the world-renowned NISEKO winter sport resort, have experienced a rush of foreign investment in high-end condominiums and hotels...

Despite COVID, it is heart warming to see how some businesses are showing resilience and adapt to a world that is now very different. Since I wrote my first column on the potential of Otaru for t...

I can see Mt Yotei from my bedroom. The first thing I do after I wake up each morning is look towards it, and remember a quote: "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it...

When I was a kid, I was never inside. The kids in the street spent every free moment playing in the park, exploring the forest, climbing trees, swimming in pools or the river, riding our scooters, ...

The word ‘cool’ seems like an appropriate term to describe Otaru as a destination. In English, ‘cool’ has multiple meanings and here we will focus on two of them: the first meaning of ‘cool’ might ...

I find Niseko to be the easiest place to live in Japan. The reason is actually quite simple: Niseko’s large foreign population. And I don’t mean tourists; I am referring to Niseko’s long-term forei...

Why Hokkaido and why Otaru? We have loved this part of the world since we visited it for the first time over 10 years ago. Stunning nature, great local produce, four clearly distinct seasons, and...

I feel that there are not many establishments where foreign people and locals can interact naturally in the Niseko area. After the coronavirus pandemic has abated, and my company resumes working o...

In Hokkaido we think of winter sports as sliding on the snow or ice. But just half an hour away from the famous Niseko ski resorts, are several great surfing points. In winter the same weather that...

At the start of every course that I teach on international marketing, I talk about the topic of ‘control’. Businesses have control over how they develop and market their products or services, but t...

Over 1,000 foreign residents live and work in Niseko Town and Kutchan Town. Niseko Town alone has long term foreign residents from over 30 different countries, which gives it a distinctly multicult...

In English the word "lemon" is sometimes used to describe something bad. There is an expression: "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade". We say this when things are bad to try to help find of ...

このサイトでは、サイトや広告を改善するためにCookieを利用します。これ以降ページを遷移した場合、Cookieなどの設定や使用に同意したことになります。プライバシーポリシー