For the past two seasons, Evan Wilcox has found a way to live and work in Japan to satisfy his deep desire for fresh powder. Despite not speaking Japanese, Wilcox found a job, secured housing and lived the life many of us dream of. Check out his recap from his seasons in Japan, along with a few of his favorite photos from the season.
Words: Evan Wilcox
Photos: First Image- Eric Sales, all others- Daniel Honda
Japan: That legendary snowboarding destination that we all promise to make it to "one day"
Through a little bit of luck and a lot of persistence, I was able to score a job in the land of the rising sun for two winters. I applied to about 30 positions, and all but one would not hire an American due to the extra effort it takes to get a sponsored visa. — Arigato Niseko Sports! I didn't know anyone, I had no idea what my living situation would be, and I definitely did not speak Japanese. All I knew was that I wanted to travel and ride powder. Lots of powder.
Since graduating college I have been extremely successful at avoiding a "real" job, and after three lackluster snow years in the western United States, I was hungry for deep days. Thankfully, that hunger was satiated these past winters. It snowed essentially everyday from late December to late February. If the snow wasn't good, it was REALLY good. The amount of easy pow turns, bouncy pillow lines, and incredibly fun natural hits I was able ride completely surpassed my expectations.
Aside from the amazingly consistent snowfall, Japan is a wonderful country. The people here will go out of their way to help you in any situation. Sometimes the level of politeness is overwhelming. The respect they have for you just because you are another human is immediately evident, and I think that is something the rest of the world can learn from. The food is delightful as well. From huge bowls of steamy ramen and never ending sushi trains, to homemade curries and inexpensive platters of tuna sashimi and the local supermarket (my favorite).
The uncertainty I had when I arrived in Japan was quickly diminished. I was lucky enough to fall into a lively group of friends, fantastic work crew, and a comfortable place to live at the base of Niseko, the mountain that gave me my best winter to date. What I am certain about now is how Japow lives up to its name, and that I will most definitely be back.
Among these, are a few of my favorite images from my time in Japan. It's hard to illustrate a season in a few photos, but trust me, it was a good time.
Thank you to my wonderful family and friends who helped me make it to Japan, the skilled photographers who snapped these shots, Niseko Sports for being my new Japanese family and making this trip financially feasible, and anyone else I missed. Also, thank you to these rad companies who support my snowboarding addiction: Rome Snowboards, Vonzipper, Bonfire Outerwear, Blackstrap Inc., Bern Unlimited, and Yama Plus.