A Trip to Japan with the Wildcard Crew

After the gruel of SIA, which is the annual Ski and Snowboard Industry gathering, we decided we wanted to take a break from the norm and go snowboard in Japan. Andy Stern bought tickets on the spur of the moment and we were off to Hokkaido 5 days later. The crew was Andy and myself Filmer/Photog Jeremy Dubs. We planned to meet up with Luke Thorington and Seth Hill later on during the trip.

We’ve been jealously watching video footage out of Japan for years, anxiously awaiting a chance to see this far off land that has more annual snowfall than Mt Baker, which is saying a lot..

We wanted to do something unique that nobody else was doing

We arrived without a place to stay or any plans, except that we heard Niseko was the place to go for the resort experience and good pow.

The Running of the Bulls

El Encierro, the running of the bulls from their corrals to the bullring for the afternoon bullfight, takes place in Pamplona, every morning during Sanfermines. Six bulls are let loose from the Coralillos de Santo Domingo to charge across the square of the same name (a good vantage point).

Andy Stern handplants mushrooms before he eats Japanese pizza.

Andy Stern handplants mushrooms before he eats Japanese pizza.

Every year, the Festival of San Fermin, including the “Running of the Bulls”, attracts thousands of visitors to Pamplona, Spain. Lasting nine days, the festival kicks off with massive crowds at the Chupinazo in Pamplona town square, followed by a carnival, fireworks, the running of the bulls, and many bullfights. Held since 1591, San Fermin remains a popular, if also dangerous and controversial, event — dozens of people were injured this year.

The Big Picture

A fighting bull stands alone surrounded by a crowd of runners on the second day of the San Fermin Running Of The Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain (photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez). Four people have been injured so far in the nine day festival that takes over the whole town.

  1. A third rocket goes off when all the bulls have made it to the ring, and a final one when they have been rounded up in the stalls.
  2. They can become isolated from the herd and are then always dangerous.
  3. A very treacherous stretch comes towards the end, where Calle de la Estafeta slopes down into the final turn to Plaza de Toros.

The 2006 event passed without serious injury to any of the runners, but with even greater demands on the authorities, including 145 fire alarm call outs and four stray cats collected; no stray bulls reported. For dedicated Encierro news check out www.sanfermin.com

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