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Otari Backcountry Snowboarding

The village of Otari is not only a 豪雪地帯, or "heavily snowed area" as mentioned in our last blog post, but its land area is more than 80% forests, contains portions of two national parks and is home to innumerous 里山, or "local mountains" of various heights that have the type of snow, slope angles and spacing between the trees that is perfectly suited for backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Otari Backcountry Snowboarding, Nagano, Japan
Fresh snow, blue skies, beautifully frost-covered trees and wide-open terrain all came together on this particular day to provide a stunning backdrop for the perfect lines in the Otari backcountry.

One of the best locations is... never mind, I think I will keep that bit of information a "secret" for now. But what I can tell you, is that it offers incredible views, amazing powder snow, the opportunity to see local wildlife and plenty of other reasons to keep going back again and again.

One thing I found fascinating after moving here was that most villagers have no interest in hiking or trekking during the summer season, despite the abundance of excellent trails and stunning scenery this area provides. However, most will quickly and passionately profess a love for skiing and snowboarding, specifically 山スキー, or backcountry. In fact, a disproportionately high number of Japanese backcountry pioneers, guides and enthusiasts make their home within the village.

I recently had my first foray into the forested slopes in search of fluffy, freshly fallen snow, and I was not disappointed. The original plan was to hike up to the summit, and board back down before calling it a day, but 7 hours later we had maxed out both daylight hours and our leg muscles with 4 tough climbs and subsequent exhilarating rides down different routes, and I finished the day dreaming about the next chance I would have to do it again. So much so, that I quickly returned home and bought a split board. ;)

If you are into backcountry, or have never given it a try but would like to see what it's all about, it doesn't get much better than Otari village. 


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