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A handful of years ago Black Crows co-founder Camille Jaccoux and shaper Julien Regnier were traveling and skiing around the US, looking for new storytelling concepts to represent the company's touring collection. Then a tip came from one of the company's brand ambassadors to go check out an abandoned ski area nearby. The visit to the ruins did more than inspire some new backcountry skis, it led to the exploration of so-called "Ghost Resorts" all over the world, and an accompanying mini-documentary series. Following projects in New Mexico and Alberta, Black Crows just released the series' third entry: Japan.
"Having stumbled upon numerous abandoned ski areas whilst traveling Japan in years past, this opportunity to uncover the history of these places was truly a dream," says Black Crows CMO Giorgio Saviane. Japan's resorts are well-known dream destinations for skiers and snowboarders, but few who are lucky enough to visit them know that there used to be nearly double the number of them in operation during the economic boom the country experienced during the '80s.
With archival footage and interviews with locals, the new episode provides a glimpse of what Japan's ski scene used to be like and also delves into what happened. "It’s not always a linear story and one reason that caused the resort to close. We have seen in our experience a context of history, culture, and economics that influenced the fall," says Saviane.
Finding and filming at these once-were locations isn't as straightforward as producing the typical Japanese pow-turn supercut. Saviane explains that discovering locations is very much a collaborative process involving the Black Crows team, ambassadors, and fans of the Ghost Resorts series. A lot of research is required to pin down local support and logistics and access isn't always easy. "Not all the resorts still have functioning roads next to them," Saviane says. Securing permits to film is another matter, he notes, saying that it's "sometimes tricky or impossible to identify the person or company in charge of land/resort."
The payoff? Meeting the locals and discovering the community that still exists around these places, getting to explore abandoned buildings and architecture that's been frozen in time, and, of course, the untracked snow.
To commemorate the release of the Japan episode, Black Crows has also created a limited-edition Ghost Resort gear capsule that includes the Draco Freebird touring ski, Duos Freebird adjustable ski poles, and the Dorsa 27 X-Pac backpack. All are united by a white and gray digital camo print that includes little Pac-Man-esque ghosties, and all are ideal for exploring abandoned ski runs for yourself.