Japan's Best Kept Trails by Van - Video

Oct 12, 2017
by Jonathon Wade  
In late 2016 I got in contact with my riding friend Tyler Van Gils after hearing he was keen to travel Japan. After pestering of other mates to join us, we decided to hire a van and see where we ended up. Prior to flying out, a few friends recommended I get in touch with Paul Chetwynd from Freeride Adventures Japan. With limited video footage or maps on where we'd be able to ride, needing a guide was vital to finding some of Japan's best trails. After receiving a plan for the first few days of our trip, we landed in Tokyo in late July, catching the train to a van rental place near the airport.

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From here we drove towards Nagano, where some of Japan's best trails are kept. We discovered the riding and trail building culture to be nothing like what we'd experienced in Australia or Canada. Riders were secretive with trails that had been built, and very protective. Paul explained to us the sensitive nature of trail building in Japan and that we'd have to be careful how we rode with absolutely no GPS tracking of the rides that we did.

Japan s Best Kept Trails by Van

Japan s Best Kept Trails by Van

The first few days we camped out at Fujimi Panorama Bike Park, either going on trail riding day trips to locations that Paul showed us, or riding the bike park. Unfortunately, specifics of the trail locations can't be disclosed but I strongly suggest that if you're interested in riding Japan that you make contact with Paul to show you around Japan.

Japan s Best Kept Trails by Van

Japan s Best Kept Trails by Van

From here we drove further North to meet some Australian trail builders, Evan and Jimmy, along with Japanese trail builder Mucky. From here we rode a bunch of locations around Hakuba Iwatake with some of the most amazing scenery and incredible trails ever. The trails comprised of incredible flowing descents with perfectly loamy dirt. We had the pleasure of staying at Evan and Jimmy's lodge at Hakuba, giving us a good few days break from being cramped in the van with the bikes.

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Japan s Best Kept Trails by Van

Evan and Jimmy's mighty trail van, Shin.

From here we drove back South towards Tokyo, taking in the sights along the way and exploring Tokyo. Thanks to Paul for making our trip an incredible one, I couldn't recommend him more highly. Also thanks to Evan and Jimmy for their hospitality.


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Jono-wade avatar

Member since Feb 7, 2010
11 articles

  • 6 0
 Excellent! This is exactly the way to ride in Japan; bike park (first trail of second video) plus using guides like Paul who can both tell you what to do (and not to do!), but more importantly, make sure you get to ride the best trails.

Paul is so right about being secretive and no sharing of GPS. Someone I went with on some of those trails in the videos did GPS some rides (we were with the builder), and it was nice to be able to see where we had been. But would we ever go back there by ourselves without going with the trail builder? Absolutely not, we'd never even consider it. It is great living in a culture where there is so much mutual respect, and when you live here for long enough, it just becomes second nature.

Honestly, if you visit and don't use a guide, you are probably better of going somewhere else. As Jonathon says, the culture is different, you have to do things differently to most other places, but the advantage is that if you do come to Japan and use a guide like Paul, you will ride some of the best trails in the country.

Great piece Jonathon, I really enjoyed it, and personally, I think you have made the most representative piece I've ever seen about riding in Japan on PB. Thanks.
  • 2 0
 Thank you very much for the kind words, stoked you enjoyed the piece!
  • 8 1
 Sure, feel free to go ride Japan. But if you don't hire a guide you might get stomped by Godzilla...Just sayin
  • 4 0
 So great! I rode with Paul when I was in Japan last year. Great guide, amazing country! Nice job!
  • 3 2
 Don’t want to be rude but gosh, japan has soooo many rules; can’t you get loose a little sometimes ? I understand that their culture is different from ours, but reading this made me think, ok I’ll pass, too complicated. I’ve been in Japan once and was ok with how to behave and all, but I’d expect more relaxed attitude towards riding trails. Unfortunately not.
  • 2 0
 Good vids and pics, looks like some great trails and man that's a small van! Music selection didn't fit too well with the vids though.
  • 1 1
 Hip-hopsters. Some Sakamoto 'Plastic Bamboo' might have been more respectful, but it was published at least a decade before the OP's birth....
  • 1 0
 You guys need to go to southern Japan. Check out my vids on gbwilliams profile. We made some good stuff. It is also on trailforks.
  • 1 0
 Did similair in 2016 with Paul. Cant recomend the dude enough. Great trip. God i miss Panorama..
  • 1 0
 Looks how riding in the Surrey Hills used to be before Trailforks showed everyone where all the trails are
  • 1 0
 Japan is amazing, I would love to live their forever.
  • 3 2
 Enjoyed those. Trails in the second one looked awesome.
  • 1 0
 are you allowed to skid on these trails?
  • 3 0
 Some you can, some you can't. It's an interesting rule, as long as you're not skidding ridiculously and causing lots of damage, they don't really mind. They've got some really sweet/wide trails at fujimi panorama bikepark that'd be perfect for your bike i'd say. Fujiten had some good wide flow trails too.

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