Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom kumaki


The Gokuraku Banked Slalom is a grassroots snowboarding event at a small resort in Toyama prefecture, Tateyama Sanroku, made up of the Gokurakuzaka and Raicho Valley ski areas. Far from the famous resorts on international go-to lists, local rider Daisuke ‘Dai-chan’ Mizuma and his supporting crew of local riders kept their annual banked slalom stoke alive for the seventh year and Japan Grabs was there to capture it and share some turns.

Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom Dai chan
Daisuke Mizuma running things on the mic
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom next generation coming strong
Haru Sakaguchi is still in Junior High School but it looks like he’s passing “stay low and look ahead” class. 

Live DJ and drum collaborations from the geodesic shred tent kept the stoke high and vibe relaxed around the start gate. 

Form this good usually comes with age and experience, but Jiei Aoi is another one still in Junior High School. He might not have been the fastest, but with turns this clean it’s no surprise he’s attracting support from the likes of Gentemstick.

Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom how to ride a banked slalom gentemstick

Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom banks sun

Moss demo fleet for testing alongside K2 and Secca boards, and Mori store serving coffee too. Local events like this bring together the brick-and-mortar shops, brands, riders and regular weekend warriors. 

Mori store boss and K2 rider Masato Morikawa takes a break for a snowskate lap (below left) and Takayama-based K2 rider, Ryuji Takai spotted with next year’s K2 Special Effects (below right)…

The women ripped too, with a competitive open class and a welcoming “enjoy” class to encourage participation without race-face vibes. 


Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom moss rider
Yudai Hirano took a break setting up boards in the Moss demo tent to lean it over in the banks into 6th place.
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom ski run life
Rider-run event alongside and family ski time: Keisuke Miyata looking ahead to his next turn, while kids and grandparents do the same in their own way (above). Both great parts of small-resort riding in Japan, with mellow vibes and affordable tickets. As is the chance of someone turning up to ride in a Pikachu costume… Gokuraku local ‘Oyabeen’ doing the cosplay duties (below): 
Representing Korua and local Toyama shop, Jenny, Daiki Nakagawa was ripping all day. Jake would approve…

Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom tsugaike kogen park shaper
Takuya Maekawa can normally be found in Hakuba, working as head digger is the Tsugaike park. He put his Nitro banker to its intended use, blasting round all the way into second place…
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom digger impressed
…and he even impressed the digger, holding speed across the flats.
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom winner
Ryo Igarashi, older brother of Gentemstick ripper Rei, doesn’t need to shed layers for speed. Casual style while smoking the field. He was equally stylishly attired but things didn’t go to plan in the snowskate race though…
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom snow skate through next gen watching
The snowskate class put on a show for the next generation.


Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom snowskate craig kelly style
Craig Kelly-esque smooth style on a snowskate is an impressive feat
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom can't impress everyone
…but you can’t impress everyone.
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom pause before dropping in
A moment of stillness. The start gate focuses your mind, no matter how old you are.
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom junior winner
Kids are leaning ‘stay low, be powerful’ early, and it’s great to see. Aoi Tezuka taking the win the Junior category (above) and little first-grader, Azumi Nakano, taking it in the kids class and also the kids snowskate event (below)…
Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom Dai chan start
Dai-chan feeling the love after putting in all the work, before dropping in for a run to sign off on the event.

Japan_Grabs_Gokuraku_banked_slalom Dai chan last run

Special thanks to Daisuke Mizuma, and the Gokuraku Banked Slalom event sponsors who help keep events like this on the map: Mountain Hardware, Moss Snowboards, Secca Snowboards, along with Union, Deeluxe, Spy Optics, Tadpole Craft, Toko Wax, Hertel Wax and everyone who helped dig and run the event. 

Daisuke Mizuma on crowd control
An event organizer’s work is never done. Dai-chan back on crowd control for masked-up prize giving.
Japanese manners
Postscript: When the banked slalom was over, people just started taking down the banners to help the organizers break down the event and get everything off the hill. A small detail, but revealing of the community spirit at local events in Japan.