Through the Japanese village of Myoko is only a short drive from the bustling slopes of Hakuba, it has stayed mostly off the larger ski world’s radar. Then, six years ago, photographer Grant Gunderson and professional skiers KC Deane and Adam Ü began making pilgrimages to its powder-filled streets. And while Myoko’s glories have seen recent publicity, the town remains quaint, quiet and as deep as ever.
Words: Sakeus Bankson
The first time I saw a pair of fat, rockered snow blades was in Tokyo Station, at the gate for the high-speed bullet train to Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, on the country’s main island of Honshu. I had been to Japan before, so I was only mildly surprised by the blade-toting Aussie’s choice of snow locomotion. In Japan, even the snowbladers need pow sticks.
There wasn’t a hint of English to give direction, and the writhing, buzzing crowds felt more like a beehive than train station. It was January2015, and I was waiting to meet up with Grant Gunderson, Adam Ü and KC Deane, after which we’d load onto the bullet train and begin our journey to the small town of Myoko, a pilgrimage this trio has been making for six years now. Few North American skiers have spent as much time exploring the area as these three gaijin—or revealed as much of its quiet, humble glory to the global ski community as a whole…