Ever dreamt of jumping on a plane to Japan, setting off on your very own unplanned perfect JAPOW adventure? Nikita Ambassador Summer Fenton stopped dreaming, started doing- and found herself a world away with no plans, lots of friends, and tons of great snow.
What made you want to go to Japan?
Ever since I could remember, snowboarding in Japan has always been a bucket list dream of mine. I’m so happy I finally got the opportunity to fulfill it!
Dreams: fulfilled p. Keith Rutherford
This was kind of a last-minute thing. How did you end up going to Japan?
I was back home in San Francisco and realized I had some rare spare time in between contests. My boyfriend and friends were in Japan and they kept telling me how awesome it was out there. I then got this gut feeling that I should go out there too and do some soul shredding for myself. No contests- just me and my board in Japan. I thought it was crazy that I was even thinking about hopping on a plane and leaving to Japan, especially since I had no actual agenda and knowing that I would be in a foreign country solo traveling, but then I got encouragement from my boyfriend and friends and knew in my heart that I needed to go and make this quick last minute decision for my own good. I packed my bags and left the San Francisco airport 24hrs later- it still gives me chills that I sent it out there.
Did you have a plan before you left?
I had absolutely no plan whatsoever. I really was just following my instincts and heart. I remember sitting there thinking to myself, “What am I going to do once I land?” I didn’t know where I was staying or even what mountain to ride. I didn’t even know how I was going to get to the mountain town of Hakuba because it is a five hour trip away from the airport nor do I speak or read Japanese. But in the end it all worked itself out.
Spots don't build themselves- Summer and friends putting in the work p. Keith Rutherford
Who did you meet up with there?
I knew I would meet with Taylor Elliot at the bus station in Hakuba (which was easier than expected). I ended up meeting up with some of the Too Hard/ Powanoia crew that included Taylor and Kendel Elliott, Fancy and Kieth Rutherford and Christine Savage. We met a bunch of local Japanese riders too! It was so awesome riding with a crew that was motivated and constantly in good spirits. I was so stoked to be filming with them! Love all my new tomodachis!!! <3 Don’t know what I would do without them all!
Where did you go? How long were you there for? I was there for one week. While I was in Hakuba, I received a last minute invite to compete in the Burton U.S. Open in Vail, Colorado for the following week so I had to cut the trip short.
Something else that Japan has no shortage of- delicious drinks! Just make sure you pay attention to the pictures on the packaging if you don't read Japanese 😜
What was the weirdest thing you saw and/or did? The weirdest thing that I did was drink some herbal lemon relax tea that had cat nip in it. I thought cat nip was just for cats haha…it did make me feel relax though Or the fact that you have to wear special shoes that are bright red and say toilet on them in the bathroom
What were your top three favorite moments while in Japan?
Ahhh there were so many to choose from!
1.) Obviously my favorite moment was riding that JAPOW! It is the fluffiest and just overall best powder ever! This one particular day was just magical- we went to a resort in the Hakuba area where it was only $32 to ride the mountain. Such a steal! There were only eight cars in the parking lot so we basically had the resort to ourselves for the entire day. So many endless face shots and fresh tracks all on the best snow I’ve ever ridden. Like- what?! Is this real life? Somebody pinch me!
Our last run of the day was the one to remember. The chair lifts were about to close and we found this one open area of untracked powder. I was in this unreal state of euphoria, peace, gratitude and presence. It was absolutely mind blowing! And then afterwards I ended the day with my favorite… RAMEN!
The goods were got. p Keith Rutherford
2.) I hit my first street spots! Street is scary and I loved every second of it from thinking creatively of what you can do and how you can hit the feature to having to go into the feature confidently without having any second thoughts. I think I liked that part the most because once you’re going you can’t chicken out and stop, you just have to go for it because if you don’t the consequences worsen. Hitting street has taught me so much about myself and I feel I have grown as a person. Landing tricks and lines in the streets were so rewarding and I hope to play in the streets more!
From the pipe to the streets- Summer's ready for whatever, wherever.
3.) Lastly- exploring Shinjuku, Tokyo. Once I got to Shinjuku, I meant to go drop my board bag off at the hotel. Instead, I got lost and ended up walking and dragging my heavy board bag around the very crowded Shinjuku. It kind of reminded me of Times Square with all the bright lights and billboards, it was a beautiful sight. One bright side of getting lost in Shinjuku was that I practically walked the entire town so when I did finally find my hotel I knew exactly where I wanted to go. In this exact order I went to: 7-11 to grab a quick snack, after I got my fixing at the 7-11, I went straight to the arcade. I decided to go to the one that had popping Japanese music and a lot of pickachu games. Once I was done playing at the arcade, I went to a 24hr ramen shop and ate my life away haha!
I know, I know, you’re probably saying, "why 7-11 when we have those back in the states?" Let me tell you that 7-11 in Japan is the best for snacks and drinks. I didn’t know I liked 7-11 until I went to Japan. The fried chicken and sushi rice balls are so yummy and cheap. Also, there is a huge selection of the most delicious gummies ever invented.
Summer Fenton is a Nikita Snow Ambassador, regular competitor in the halfpipe circuit and lover of sand and waves. If you don't already, see where this jet-setter ends up next by following her on Instagram @badgirlsumsum