Best ski movies: 5 hours of breathtaking skiing and snowboarding videos
There’s never been a better time to find the best ski movies from Japan. Many of us are confined to our living rooms, dreaming of the deep powder days, piping hot onsen, and bustling izakayas that await our post-corona lives.
In the meantime, we’ve compiled 23 videos and over 5 hours’ worth of Japan powder goodness to help you through lockdown life.
Put some beers in the fridge, turn the lights down and get the playlist started. If you watch them all twice (we reckon we have), that’s a full day sorted.
Without further ado, here are our best ski movies:
Wabi Sabi (TOP)
What the filmmakers say: Wabi-Sabi is the tale of two boys. A filmmaker and a handyman, united through the love of snowboarding and the mountains, who spend winter in northern Japan to satisfy their thirst for powder.
Japan: A Skier’s Journey
What the filmmakers say: Follow skiers Chad Sayers and Forrest Coots through Japan as they explore a world of contrasts. From Tokyo’s city lights to Hokkaido’s sacred hardwood forests, this episode explores spaces of simultaneous anonymity & intimacy, rigid tradition & an embrace for the future, finding epic powder each step along the way.
Jamie O’Brien snowboards “day of the year” in Hokkaido
What Ski Asia says: We’re used to seeing Jamie O’Brien scoring epic conditions at pipe on Hawaii’s North Shore, but it seems as though the snow gods are equally kind to him. O’Brien is on his annual snow pilgrimage to Hokkaido, where he has once again hooked up with Par Dahlin, a backcountry guide who has been based in the Niseko area since 1985. Read more.
KORUA Shapes – SUNŌKERU
What the filmmakers say: «SUNŌKERU» follows us on a pow-devouring journey to the land of the rising sun. Hungry for bottomless powder, our crew packed their bags and headed for the snowy hills of Hokkaido for a two-week adventure, boards and snorkels in hand. Seasoned veterans Nicholas Wolken and Atsufumi Mizuno were joined by the fresh energy of our new friend Spencer O’Brien and the young legs of Lars Popp. Christoph Thoresen, Markus Fischer, and Neil Hartmann rounded out the gang behind the lenses, and together we aimed to take full advantage of all the things Japan is known and loved for, consistent snowfall and ramen included. We hope it shows! Enjoy.
IKIGAI: The Shin Biyajima Story
What the filmmaker says: I was able to spend three years traveling and exploring the Japanese Alps with Shin Biyajima during the production of “The Fourth Phase” film. During that time I shared so many adventures and conversations with this new friend of mine. After our film released, I really wanted to capture a more authentic portrait of Shin and his process of living and riding as a Japanese snowboarder. I spent about six weeks over two years following Shin around his backyard in the Nagano Prefecture hiking, inquiring and immersing myself in Shin’s universe. Joined by film maker Justin Smith, we wanted to capture an intimate portrait of a lifestyle that is quite foreign compared to the norms of North America, yet still strangely similar to the principles that most snowboarders share around the love of the mountains.
What the filmmakers say: Patagonia Films presents Treeline: A Story Written in Rings, available in full for the first time. Follow a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists and healers to the birch forests of Japan, the red cedars of British Columbia and the bristlecones of Nevada, as they explore an ancient story written in rings. Watch the film, exclusively here starting January 27th.
Winterfox: a film by Lena Stoffel
What the filmmaker says: “I spent two months in Japan last winter and wanted to show everybody what Hokkaido means to me, through my eyes. I feel so content and calm in that country. It feels like a second home to me. But this was a big challenge as I am new in the field of filming.”– Lena Stoffel
DreamTrip – Salomon Freeski TV S9 E02
What the filmmakers say: On December 29th, 2014 10 winners were selected from a list of thousands, then one lucky fan received a phone call giving him the opportunity to live out his ultimate skiing fantasy in Japan with Mike Douglas, Cody Townsend, & Kaj Zackrisson.
What the filmmakers say: JYOSEI is a ski film project created in Japan entirely by women and of women.
What the filmmakers say: A project by Marcus Rönne featuring skiing by Olle Regnér & Carl Regnér.
Suijin 水神 is the Shinto god of water in Japan. The term Suijin refers to the heavenly and earthly manifestations of the benevolent Shinto divinity of water.
Follow us in to a world where dream becomes reality and everything is possible.
JAPAN HAS THE BEST SNOW IN THE WORLD!!! | Jon Olsson
What Ski Asia says: Youtube’s favourite ex pro skier continues his love affair with Hakuba in the latest instalment of his Vlog. Jon Olsson and his crew hit up Tsugaike Resort, getting very lucky with a rare bluebird powder day and minimal crowds. In Olsson’s words:
“It was good here yesterday, but we came back in here with a ton of unridden powder and perfect blue sky, and it’s just … really, really good.”
“I feel like I’m losing credibility when I say things are mega, epic, but I just don’t know how else to put this.”
Fountain Of Youth with Mike Douglas | Salomon TV
What the filmmakers say: Aging pro freeskier, Mike Douglas, travels to Japan in search of the secrets to perpetual youth and longevity. Between powder skiing sessions, he explores the Japanese diet, fitness, onsens and temples. The most profound advice, however, comes from a day spent with Mt. Everest age record holder, Yuichiro Miura and his son Gota.
Tohoku Magic featuring Cody Townsend
What Ski Asia says: In one of the most breathtaking edits we’ve ever laid our eyes on, Cody Townsend discovers the ski areas of Tohoku and so much more. Heading to the resorts of Hakkoda and Nekoma and touring in some of the surrounding areas, Townsend is transfixed by the quality of the snow, the kindness of the Japanese people, the rich culture and the Japanese food.
The lost craftsmen
What the filmmaker says: A journey into Japan’s rich maker culture and legendary powdery winter. A look at the past, present and future of craftsmanship intertwined with the search for carving the perfect turn.
Cold Transmission: Hakuba
What Ski Asia says: Sammy Carlson, Karl Fostvedt, and Lucas Wachs meet in Hakuba as one of the biggest storms of the season rolls in.
Climbing up and skiing down Mt. Fuji
What Ski Asia says: Over 300,000 hikers shuffle up Mount Fuji every year. The volcano, famous for its perfectly symmetrical cone, is one of Japan’s most recognisable landmarks. Little known is that Mount Fuji is home to two ski resorts, Fujiten and Snowtown Yeti.
Both resorts are found towards Fuji’s base. Fujiten is serviced by 4 lifts and offers 7 km of slopes. Snowtown Yeti is comparatively tiny.
But skiers willing to brave off-season conditions might opt to make the trip up top instead. The hike to Fuji’s 3775 m peak can be done in colder months, provided you’re properly equipped. Of course, lugging skis and boots to the summit is no easy feat!
Horizon Lines: Japan
What Ski Asia says: This episode of Horizon Lines follows Forrest Shearer, Kael Martin and Griffith Seabert, who have set out to travel the Car Danchi path through Hokkaido, drawing inspiration from the instigators of the snowsurf movement – Taro Tamai, Osamu Okada and Kazushi Yamauchi.
The Fourth Phase with Travis Rice: Ep. 3 JAPAN
What Ski Asia says: Travis Rice and co hit the Hakuba backcountry in this release from The Fourth Phase – a film inspired by the iconic American snowboarder’s desire to follow the hydrological cycle around the north Pacific.
The Japan footage is nothing short of incredible, and features the deep dry pow, pillows and steeps that Hakuba has built its reputation on. As Rice puts it, “they have everything for any snowboarder’s dream”.
5 Niseko Stories
What Ski Asia says: Award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker Shane Peel has clearly fallen in love with Niseko, Japan. 5 Niseko Stories is his second project filmed in Japan’s snowiest and most internationally recognised resort, and it features the epic conditions that have put Niseko on the map as one of the top global destinations in snowsports.
The Rising Gaijins
What Ski Asia says: Niseko, Japan is once again in the spotlight, the destination of choice for filmmaker Jake Munro and his crew of Kiwi skiers and snowboarders. With plenty of deep Hokkaido powder and backcountry booters, it’s a familiar recipe – one that will whet the appetite for a big winter ahead.
This is Japan
What Ski Asia says: Mattias Evangelista spent two winters skiing in Japan and this is the result. Rather than a pure focus on the skiing and deep snow (and there is plenty…), Mattias endeavoured to capture the essence of Japan, a country – as he describes – “where old meets new, where tradition clashes with modernisation and where beauty meets chaos”.
Yummy Yuki | #theSearch by Rip Curl
What Ski Asia says: It’s almost even too much.” It’s a familiar sentiment for anyone’s who’s been to Hokkaido in search of snow … and discovered that there’s more than enough to go around. That was the verdict from the Rip Curl team that featured riders Nate Johnstone, Emilien Badoux, Raphaël Webhofer, Mitch Reeves, who travelled Japan’s northernmost island in search of the best lines, the tastiest Japanese food and the most relaxing onsen hotsprings.
The Shadow Campaign / The Space Within
What Ski Asia says: This one is shot on location in Kiroro and Naeba, Japan. The filmmakers say: “Exploring the tidepools of a deserted tropical beach, a young boy finds a mysterious treasure washed upon the rocks. The space within whispers of another world, holding magic unlike anything he has seen before.”
That “world” referred to by the DPS Cinematic creators refers to Kiroro and Naeba, two of the biggest powder magnets in Japan. The edit is the lastest in DPS’s Shadow Campaign series, a collaboration between the ski company’s founder Stephen Drake and filmmaker Ben Sturgulewski.