Hokkaido Shimbun ‘hito’ Article Translation

Posted on May 12, 2020
Posted on May 12, 2020
7 2
The Hokkaido Newspaper (Hokkaido Shimbun 北海道新聞) interviewed Hokkaido Wilds' Rob Thomson recently, and today published this story of how and why he founded https://hokkaidowilds.org, in the 'Person' column (ひと - see original article here). Many thanks to Hokkaido Shimbun reporter Keiji Sato for reaching out. Here's our translation of the article.

Robert Thomson. Providing Hokkaido outdoor information in English.

In winter, he’s backcountry skiing deep snowy mountains. In summer, he’s hiking, cycling or canoeing. Based in Sapporo, he runs Hokkaido Wilds, a website where he shares route information from trips he’s taken through Hokkaido’s great outdoors. “I hope that the site will be helpful for individual travelers to Hokkaido, who use the Internet to find information,” he said. He launched the site two years ago. Between November 2019 and March 2020, the site had 37,000 visitors. Over half of those visits were from overseas.

Rob is from New Zealand, a country blessed with a strong outdoor scene. In his late 20’s, he set a Guinness World Record by traveling 12,159km from Switzerland to China only using a skateboard for transportation. Finished with this challenge, he moved to Hokkaido nine years ago, seeking cultural stimulation. He studied Japanese at his university back in New Zealand, and he said that “Hokkaido, with it’s easily accessible nature, really suited me.”

He became obsessed with the nature in Hokkaido, traveling far and wide. He launched the website to share those experiences, and along with help from others who share the same interests, such as his wife and friends, he continues to run the site. To date, they’ve posted 146 winter and summer mountaineering and hiking routes, as well as 42 cycling routes.

“To the extent that we’re sharing information about Hokkaido, therein lies a responsibility to make sure people come home safely,” he said. In addition to including notes on route safety, they post topographical maps for free that users can print out. Last summer when Rob was hiking Asahidake in the Daisetsuzan Range, he met an English couple who had printed information from the site. “Perhaps the site is being useful for people.”

Rob’s day-job is assistant professor at Hokusei Gakuen University, specializing in social psychology.  “I’d like to do research into the mindset of foreigners who enjoy the Hokkaido outdoors, and try to apply those findings to increasing the popularity of tourism in Hokkaido,” he said. He’s 39 years old. The website address is https://hokkaidowilds.org.

Article written by Kenji Sato.

Original article here: https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/article/420027?rct=s_hito (requires free Hokkaido Shimbun account to view)

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2 thoughts on “Hokkaido Shimbun ‘hito’ Article Translation”

  1. Just wanted to say thank you for the site, in my opinion it’s on of the best on the internet. The information is just so useful and well prepared! Hope you keep on going for a long time

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REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at rob@hokkaidowilds.org with your suggestions.

Hokkaido Shimbun ‘hito’ Article Translation Difficulty Rating





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GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.