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)