Summer of Summit, Vol.1 - Is Nagano, Japan The Next Best MTB Destination?

Mar 17, 2017
Japan - Nagano

Views: 14,317    Faves: 72    Comments: 10


Nagano An Adventure on Bikes
Nagano

Japan - Nagano
Japan - Nagano
Japan - Nagano

Japan - Nagano

Japan - Nagano

Japan - Nagano
Japan - Nagano

Japan - Nagano
Japan - Nagano

Japan - Nagano

Japan - Nagano
Japan - Nagano

Nagano - Japan



Video:
Mitch Gulliver & Dylan Forbes | | One Antler Productions

Photography:
Jinya Nishiwaki
Mitch Gulliver

Made Possible by:
Nagano-Niigata Snow Resort Alliance
Classic Resorts Japan
Evergreen Outdoor Center



Special Thanks: @Evergreen Outdoor Center / @Classic Resorts Japan / @RockyMountainBicycles / @raceface



Must Read This Week

40 Comments

  • + 56
 Suggests that Nagano is next best MTB destination. Posts article compiled of site-seeing spots and a dirt jump.
  • + 43
 Hey Dylan can I get that 25 buck for Internet?
  • + 18
 Dylan's Nagano...nagano...nagano pay you for last month.
  • + 2
 Dylan Freeride Forbes at it again
  • + 36
 NO! DO NOT start with the clickbait articles dont let pinkbike become Facebook.
And if you are going clickbait at least make a case for it why is it the next best thing?
  • + 23
 There are rather a large number of snow resorts in Nagano; if you have contacts and a budget for a shoot, you can experience some of the best riding there is.

Weekend warriors and the rest of us mere mortals generally have to stick to the handful of carefully managed and commercially run resorts that are open to bikes in the "green season"; good they are too but honestly, a BC bike park like say, Silverstar is just on a different level.

My adopted home is a fantastic place; please be respectful of land access issues and if you have the chance.....
  • + 5
 Visited Nagano just before winter and didn't see 1 single mtb around the city.
Did manage to find Ninja museum and sake producers tho Smile
  • + 15
 Stoked to see a greater representation of mountain biking worldwide, but how about some of the local riders!? The trope of successful white riders traveling abroad, shredding the local trails, taking pictures of bizarre (to them) foods and reminiscing the novel culture is...frustrating.
  • + 5
 We've got two more videos to come in this series, both are packed with local shredders!
  • + 2
 @mitchgulliver: Tremendous! I appreciate the forethought
  • + 0
 what do you mean you people?
  • + 5
 I was hiking these mountains 20 years ago and everywhere I looked I wished I had my old chromo v-brake hardtail with me!
Japan is such an amazing country on so many levels: food, people, landscapes, culture. Thanks for the great video, photos, and article, brought back some of the best memories I've had in my life. Kudos to pinkbike for posting quality material from all over the world!
  • + 1
 i hear they don't even cook their fish before they eat it. craziness
  • + 3
 I was in Japan on vacation last year with the fam and spent some time in Hakone (but mostly Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka). If you're a Westerner and thought about visiting this wonderful country... do it! By far the best foreign country visit yet (culture, cleanliness, safety, people).
  • + 4
 I'm excited! Anyone who knows skiing/boarding knows about the secrets of the Japanese hills, and in particular, Hokkaido, (not just Nee-say-ko)
  • + 2
 I find all videos of trips to japan very deceiving in their editing and portrayal of the scene here. Japan is a wonderful place to visit. Clean, safe, amazing transportation systems, endless culture, a lifetime of food that exceeds any adjective praise. But the trails here leave a LOT to be desired. Of course, you can find a little line here, or a jump there, but I feel that by not accurately representing how far behind they are here as far as progressive, mountain bike specific, new school trails go, it actually does a disservice to the riders here. Most riders here have no idea that a place like say Rossland B.C. or Rotorua NZ could have so many world class trails all within city limits, and that this could be emulated here in Japan, as there is a lot of stunning blank canvass to work with. But I feel visiting pros need to be more vocal, not saying that it is already amazing, but saying that it could be amazing, and push to have the industry help with the enormous task of securing land and creating a culture of trail network building, raising awareness and mountain bike advocacy. Everything North America went through in the 80`s/90`s has to be done here, and Japanese bureaucracy is not easily moved forward. Things are getting started, but we really need a huge helping hand. We need help building the next SMD or Mr Black here to help lead the way.
  • + 10
 Luke,
There is potential in nearly every country in the world and I agree with many of your sentiments about Japan, especially when sold to the PB crowd.

I am sure you know this place well enough to be able to imagine the permanent damage that could be done to the very delicate balance struck between landowners and MTB advocacy groups here if someone turns up and brings a "Let's shred that gnar dude" attitude to the heart of the Japanese countryside.


MTB sports are minor within the group of sports known as "minor sports" here and the harsh reality is that, unfortunately, I doubt that will ever, and I stress the "ever" there, change.

Let me explain my thoughts if I can. The key to developing any tourist based industry (because that is what MTB riding is, regardless of how much the PB audience may disagree) is purely and simply "bums on seats"; in other words, the numbers of riders (tourists). And the latest figures available from the Japanese MTBA (www.japan-mtb.org/jma-info/gaiyo ) shows that out of 126 million people, there are 2,490 registered members. 0.002% of the population. Just by comparison, the MTBA in Australia's 2014 report states (www.mtba.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2014_mtba_annualreport.pdf ) there are over 12,000 members in a population around 23 million. There are just not enough people here advocating access.

The bottom line is, as you say, this; you cannot ride out from your house and expect to be anywhere near a trail unless you live in one of a handful of places and even then, don't imagine any more than "the odd short trail or two". Hell, most of the time I am not on a road ride, the MTB has to go in the back of the car for a couple of hours to get anywhere with a trail or two.

The next generation might change things? I hope so, but.... As you know, kids here go from all day at school to all afternoon at school club to all evening at cram school to falling into bed. And unless their parents are bikers, the wishes and desires of the next Japanese Jackson Goldstone will fall on deaf ears at weekends too.

So, I am with you; Japan is a fantastic place, I will be here until I get thrown out, just if you are the average aggressive trail rider, don't come imagining you will be able to emulate Hunter on that pipe trail or anyone else you see in an edit on PB.

Instead you will need to come to Japan with a bucketful of patience, a swimming-pool-ful of willingness to get off your bike and push it on any shared use trail should you meet absolutely anyone, and a truck-ful of deference to the locals, who trust me, won't say anything to you about your behaviour to your face, but who will eventually have their voices heard by those that matter, and then there will be even fewer places to go riding here.

On a positive note, go here if you get the chance; best day out I have ever had on a bike here. trail-cutter.com
  • + 2
 @orientdave: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they seem profound, would deserve a hundred +1!
  • + 3
 I live in kobe and Seattle. In japan since 1994. Mt biking in japan is virtually non existent. I've spent many a days exploring trails everywhere in japan...... Lots of potential but mostly disappointed. Beautiful, yes...... But cannot even come close to be claimed as a mt bike destination. I absolute do NOT recommend going to Japan specifically to mt bike.... You will have wasted your time and money. Go to New Zealand or even Chiang Mai if you can believe it. The mountains around Chiang Mai have more to offer than all of Japan.
  • + 3
 @orientdave: Thanks for telling it how it is...
Personally - call me pretentious - I find the cliched extreme sports culture of jackass lewd behaviour coupled with "shred the gnar" simple minded mentality really grates, also I feel there wouldn't any place for it in somewhere like Japan. Sometimes I see evidence of emerging scenes in Asia where the locals are emulating the western stereotype extreme sports advocate and it makes me cringe. Please just be yourselves your cultures are beautiful and aspects of ours really aren't.

Plus I'd love to see what natural forest trail single tracks and proper rugged downhill race style trails there are in Japan instead of these increasingly dominant bike park flow trails. When I saw this clip it really disappointed me as these types of trail can be found in any generic bike park anywhere in the world, but more natural trails are unique to the landscapes they're built on thus creating i unique feel and vibe. Obviously the flow trails appeal to the masses and that's what the clip as a tourist advert is about.
  • + 2
 @DirtyLove: "I'd love to see what natural forest trail single tracks ..... there are in Japan "

Take a look at Jinya on his Chromag HT riding on the TrailCutter trails in Nagano. The trails run through private forest land and are only open to riders using the TrailCutter group, but I have been on a day tour there and for me, they are the best I have ridden.

www.pinkbike.com/video/314569
  • + 1
 Thank you everyone for the deeper insight. Much appreciated
  • + 3
 Looks amazing but people will not travel in numbers high enough to make it a viable tourism venture. But maybe thats a good thing, keep it special.
  • + 1
 I think that's definitely a good thing, I'd be worried about the effect high levels of mtb tourism might have on any historically significant things in the area.
  • + 2
 I agree there probably won't be a big international market, but "people" will not travel? Admittedly I don't know much about gravity bike culture in Japan, but there's tens of millions of Japanese people within a few hours of Nagano. Depending on which resorts you look at it's even day-trippable from Tokyo using public transport. I've been there for the snow the last two years (even sat in the very same Evergreen bus pictured in the article to get the kids to their ski school) so I won't be going to Japan for a summer trip any time soon. But if they get a hire fleet sorted it would be a worthwhile day out for a MTBer who is on a Japan trip.

Given the huge amount of winter tourism in the area, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a lot of local support for bringing some more tourists in summer to fill all the empty hotels and chalets, and keep some of the businesses running that otherwise shut down when the snow melts.
  • + 1
 "....will not travel in high numbers....." It is an excellent thing....!
  • + 1
 The place they shot in is just starting out. There are far better trails South of there in Fujimi and Trail Cutter. Fujimi for example has a 6km long 800m decent. Love the place and go there every year.
  • + 0
 that video was fucking shitty can you please stop with the slow-mo... it's alright on a replay of a semenuk's fucking mindblowing trick but it's getting way over-used I can't even watch videos anymore let's see the raw speed and fuck you thank you
  • + 2
 My first experience of 'real' MTB was at a downhill park in Nagano with my host family. I was completely sold and never looked back, such an amazing experience.
  • + 4
 Jinya was there, and yet no hardtail chromag was seen shredding,
  • + 4
 There are two more videos in the series, and there is some serious Jinya shredding in those in both!
  • + 2
 Great work to everyone involved. Going out and opening our eyes to yet another incredible place that is setting itself up for bikes.
  • + 1
 Now to doop my wife into a trip to Japan for a culture and site seeing trip and figure out how to sneak my bike into the luggage... BikND jetpack is kind of a big giveaway.
  • + 2
 Are there trails there that don't look like they were made for a mountain bike video?
  • + 2
 I've seen a lot of doco's and videos on Japan it seems like such a beautiful and amazing country!!!!
  • + 1
 they should do Crankworx stop in Japan
  • + 1
 Respect the culture, smash their berms
  • + 1
 ....which, interestingly, would mean everyone rebuilds and cleans up the berm afterwards until it outshines the original.
...and then everyone thanks everyone for their tireless work and efforts Wink
  • + 1
 Best looking no hander I've seen
  • + 1
 Those trails look sick...

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