Words & Photos: Ed Blomfield
It’s on a chairlift in Niseko that the penny drops. Looking down, I spot a Japanese guy learning to snowboard. Back in Europe, beginners typically skid gently across the slope. Just a second or so at the end of each sketchy traverse will be spent nervously engaging their edge. But even though this guy clearly couldn’t link turns, he was //carving//. Or at least, he was fully committing to a rail and drawing fast, clean lines through the sidecut – only to faceplant at the end of each arc because he didn’t know what to do next. No falling leaf. No speed checks. It was a whole other way of learning.
Japan is funny like that. It’s a parallel universe where people have figured out different solutions to the same problems. Knife and fork? Chopsticks. Bed? Futon. Bog roll? Electric toilet with retractable ass spray. Alphabet? Kanji. Pasta? Ramen. Salt? Soy. Left and right? Right and left (//migi hidari//). From time to time, the Japanese will see something cool for which they have no equivalent, and in a magpie fashion they’ll do the exact same thing themselves – but better. Like motorbikes, or pizza*, or whiskey (sorry Scotland, but the best ‘scotch’ I’ve ever drunk was an 18-year-old blend from Suntory).
Take it, study it, perfect it.