Taro Tamai is not only the most iconic Japanese freerider, he is also the founder of Gemtenstick snowboards and the father of snow surf culture.
I first met Taro in San Sebastián –in the Spanish Basque Country- in 2015 during his visit to the 13th edition of Surfilmfestibal with a Japanese film crew. We talked about surfing, snowboarding and his dream of traveling to the Pyrenees to ride our mountains, then crossing over to the Atlantic coast to surf the Basque Coast and the world-class beach breaks in Les landes, France. I also shared with him my longtime dream of riding the iconic Japanese powder, so we agreed to get in touch as soon as any of our dreams were on their way to come true. And so I did: last January, I arrived in Hokkaido on their best winter in 10 years, I had the chance to taste the epic Japanese snow, which met and exceeded all my expectations, and also to chat with Taro in his beautiful brand new Gentemstick shop located in Niseko.
Our conversation took place in their showroom. An awesome, minimalistic space on the top floor of the shop, with just a couple of seats in the center and all sorts of beautiful custom made snow surfs and Alaïa like surfboards leaning on the walls.
Domi Churiki, his right hand and global Gentemstick person was there to translate when Taro answered in Japanese, making sure we didn’t miss a detail in his explanations about his powerful philosophy & lifestyle.