Mirte van Dijk is a Dutch snowboarder, content creator and professional nomad. She most recently set off to Japan for a few months and has been taking FULL advantage of the unreal season they've been having there (and we seriously mean unreal- it's been dumping there since December!) We could not resist reaching out to her to get to know more about her. Could you? Read on to see what it's like living out of a suitcase, and never knowing where you'll land next.
Hi Mirte! We’ve been seeing some of your travels lately and they are looking AMAZING. Those little bits are making us really want to know more- how you do it, why you do it and where you’re going next.
So, tell us! Spill the beans!
What initially drew you to travel to Japan?
I think Japan might be the only country that is on the list of every snowboarder, because of the massive amounts of snow, exotic culture and g-o-o-o-d food. It’s been on mine for years! And now I’m here, I leave it on my list, because one visit is really not enough!
Why Hakuba? What exactly are you doing there?
Two friends who run a lodge in Hakuba Valley needed some extra hands this season, only a few hours a day. Before I knew it me and Sébastien (the boyfriend) were on our way to paradise. And besides the great snow, beautiful landscapes and being surrounded by funny animal noises while riding, it actually turned out to be the classic ‘lodge life’. Friends became bosses and we were working way more hours than promised. Sébastien needed to take a break (and a beer), went out and found a new job while still zipping his glass in the bar that appeared out of nowhere. We packed our bags the day after and moved to the coolest riders lodge of Cortina: Hakuba Cortina Lodge (re-opening next season). From the first time since our arrival all the pieces finally came together.
How long have you been in Japan for?
I touched base eight weeks ago. Wasted my time a bit by staying so long on one spot though. If you ever want to come over to Hakuba, make sure you rent car and explore this whole valley! That’s what I would do different next time.
Where have you ridden there? Do you have a favorite spot or mountain?
The lodge is located between Hakuba Norikura and Hakuba Cortina, the last two ski resorts of the Hakuba valley. Cortina is a bit more famous for her treeruns and her massive amount of snow. I have never seen so much snow before! My favourite spot is the backside run of lift number five in Cortina. Not many people know it, so make sure you’re not followed 😉. The forest on this side is not that dense, plus the run is super long. You can ride down all the way to the small village Otari where you take the bus back to Cortina. We call it the “bus run”.
What’s been a stand-out moment to you since getting to Japan?
It is great to ride every day, to meet adventurous people and explore a new culture, which always makes it difficult to pick only one moment that stands out every trip. In the end it’s always the moment I arrive at my destination; that gives me the biggest smile. That’s where all the doubtful questions to live this life are answered with the beauty of not knowing what is next.
Who have you met along the way? Locals or other people on the road like you?
Working in a lodge and being involved with snowboard media for several years has the advantage that you meet people all the time. I met interesting explorers from the other side of the world and local Takashi who welcomed us in his home and has leftover board rentals from the nineties (even some old Sims boards!). But I also spent nice small talk moments with some of the competitors of the Freeride World Tour, Travis Rice, Gigi Rüf, Terje Haakonsen and JP Solberg.
So, we've heard legends of, "Japow" and how unreal it's supposed to be. What do you think? Does the real thing stand up to all the hype?
All stories about Japow are true. I have nothing useful to add, haha! But yes, it is a bit different than the Alps, even when they have some really good powder this season. The base on Japanse grounds is built up more steady and the snow is light like a feather. Every turn you make is face shot style.
Sometimes a Kamoshika - a goat antilope - is gently walking through the deep powder, making the first tracks. I’m still waiting for the monkeys to jump in front of me and steal my goggles.
You're painting an amazing picture in our minds right now 🤤