Chin Deep in Japan

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We just wrapped up Japanuary and yes, it was everything a skier dreams about. Day after day of skiing blower pow, so deep that it’s more light falling through whiteness. Waking each morning to find the mountains completely refreshed by the constant storms blowing in from Siberia. Experiencing a level of hospitality that makes you want to be a better person. Eating great fresh food prepared with pride and drinking sake that’s actually very good (and dangerous). Paying thirty bucks for a lift ticket. Yep, the land of the rising sun is a skier’s paradise.

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The schedule had us shooting three projects during our month-long tour. Right off the bat, we got together with the Montbell crew and one of their sponsored Japanese riders. We headed out for a few days to shoot some new work for their catalog and advertising in the super-deep Shirakawa-gō backcountry. With no ski resorts in the area, these mountains have remained off the radar to most westerners. We’re fortunate to have been able to tag along with the locals on this one. We ended the month getting out with the Montbell crew again for some backcountry days around Myokokogen followed by meetings with the marketing team in Osaka. Always a good time there!

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The other two projects we shot were based around the traditional onsen baths found all over Japan. For American equipment and apparel brand Black Diamond, we produced an online feature about how ski and onsen culture come together for an après scene very different from what we’re used to back in North America. Some of the ski work is also slated for their online advertising. The ski work showcases their latest ski apparel and women’s powder boards (Elements) in some of the deepest snow on Earth.

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Last up was a shoot for travel and outdoor brand PackTowl from Cascade Designs. Their RobeTowl got a stellar review in the last Backpacker Gear Guide and they were in need of photography for upcoming advertising. Our access to the onsens of Japan seemed like a perfect opportunity. We scheduled a day of commercial work in Nozawa Onsen; a small village where Japanese visitors regularly sample a couple dozen springs, moving around town in little more than robes and sandals. As with any topic steeped in tradition, we had to be courteous shooting around the onsen. But once the locals got an understanding of what we were doing, they were eager to help make it happen or insist that we include them in a picture or two.

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