After the Line Traveling Circus crew made its first trip to Japan last year, it was a unanimous decision that we had to return this year. Our main goals: ski some powder and see the wild Japanese macaques (or snow monkeys).
With the help of Line Skis, we managed to pull together a last-minute trip to the Land of the Rising Sun with skiers Cole Drexler, Garrett Russell, Will Wesson, filmer Shane McFalls and myself.
We flew into the Tokyo airport and over dinner that night, we made plans to travel to as many attractions as we could on Japan's main island, unlike last year when we only visited a few places. So the next morning, we packed our stuff into the van of Line skier and our new friend Mikya Tanoo and drove north.
After a long drive and many stops at 7-11, we made it the base of Mount Zaō in the Honshu region, where we'd be accessing backcountry terrain via snowcat. The landscape featured snow-covered trees the Japanese call Juhyo (or "snow monsters") and a centuries-old shrine caked in feet of cemented snow. After some sightseeing at the top of Mount Zaō, we moved into the Juhyo Forest to find some features to build. The unique trees made for some interesting filming and some great shots.
After a sunny day of filming park skiing at Ikenotaira Ski Resort, we said goodbye to Tanoo for a few days, rented a van and headed to Nagano to fulfill our primate dreams. From the Jigokudani Monkey Park, we made the short hike to the macaques hot springs, where the main valley was crawling with monkeys swimming, playing and fighting. They had no fear of us and acted like we weren't even there. It was by far one of the coolest places I have ever had the chance to visit.