Japan is a nation filled to the brim with sports lovers. Whether it’s baseball, Sumo, or Rugby, Japan seems pretty darn efficient at it. Snowboarding is one of those sports!
I’ve spoken many times about how fantastic Japan is for skiers and snowboarders. They get around 30ft of the white stuff per year and are home to some of the world’s best ski resorts (Niseko being a favorite of mine that I visited in the 2023 season!). As such, they’ve learned a thing or two about creating some incredibly proficient snowboards over the years. Let’s take a look at 11 of the best Japanese snowboard brands that you need to know about before your next trip!
Does Japan Have Good Snowboarding?
Japan is the snowiest place on the planet, and with that comes some once-in-a-lifetime snowboarding opportunities like skiing on Mount Fuji. In fact, snowboarding is vastly more popular in Japan than skiing is. If you go on holiday to one of the resorts, snowboarders will likely outnumber skiers on the slopes.
This has to do with Japan’s extremely deep champagne powder, and how fun it is to ride on a snowboard. Sure, there are skiers out there with fat planks on their feet (like me!), but surfing through deep snow is a feeling like nothing else. Either way, you’ll probably need to know these 10 things before you go skiing or snowboarding in Japan!
The Five Snowboard Factories
- Ogasaka (In Nagano)
- Yonex (In Niigata)
- Uchiyama (In Niigata)
- Act Gear (In Niigata)
- Blue Morris (In Aomori)
Japan has five snowboard factories that allow them to produce equipment internally. Not only does this help provide more people with the chance to try out snowboarding, but also ensures Japan’s high-quality production on each and every unit.
Can I Purchase Japanese Snowboards Online?
The vast majority of snowboard brands (bar a few) only sell their boards in shops. Some of those make it over to the USA and Europe, some don’t. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about that unless you want to buy second-hand or potentially from a reseller.
To be fair, I would always recommend seeing your equipment in person before buying it if you have the chance. As most of these shops are in Japanese ski resorts, you may even get the chance to ride a board before buying it, so you can be absolutely sure it’s for you.
If you happen to be in the country before your holiday for any length of time, you could even purchase some second-hand snowboard gear from one of the ‘Off’ Stores. Take a look at that article to learn about the wonderful world of thrift shopping in Japan!
Scooter is a well-known and reliable snowboard brand from Japan. It features an extensive catalog of boards that are able to cater to all abilities and any discipline you need them to.
Scooter has its boards produced at the Ogasaka ski factory like a lot of companies on this list, but their boards are still of extremely high quality and a fantastic option for anyone who needs another (or their first) board.
Unlike many brands we’ll talk about today, Scooter has a fairly extensive online shop that allows you to buy a selection of products without visiting a retailer. Of course, it’s always best to see your kit in person and, if possible, try it out beforehand to make sure you’re making a good investment.
I understand that can’t always happen, and luckily it seems Scooter does as well. So whether you actually buy your board online or not, it’s certainly nice to have the option.
Next, we’re moving on to the little brother of SCOOTER, and that’s NOVEMBER. However, just because they’re considered the little brother, doesn’t mean for one second that their boards are any less incredible. Just look at that snowboard in the photo above, it’s a flipping work of art!
Once again, these boards are made by the Ogasaka factory and so they keep that high-quality build as well as cater to a range of different level snowboarders, making them the perfect boards for just about anyone.
Having said that, since the company started in 2002, most of its products have been heavily based on the freestyle scene, but they still sell all types of boards. If you’re especially looking for a Japanese freestyle board, though, this might be the company to go with.
They also benefit from the Ogasaka online shop which sells a range of apparel and a few snowboards from time to time. However, if you’re looking to purchase a new board, you’ll have more luck searching in one of the shops in Japan.
Say hello to the parent company of both Scooter and November. As parent companies go, this one is pretty cool in that it actually makes its own brand snowboards too, it doesn’t just ship them off for others to brand them.
This snowboard brand has been around since 1987 which means it’s almost always at the forefront of developing innovating snowboard technology. Better still, as it creates boards for November and Scooter, they get to see those improvements on a regular bases as well.
Yonex is probably the most well-known sports brand in the whole of Japan. It was not until recently when I did an article about all of the Japanese sports brands that I realized as well as tennis and golf equipment, Yonex makes genuinely fantastic snowboards.
It’s also got its fingers in many different sports-related pies. As such, it has an extremely large reach in the sports industry and so could single-handedly change the face of any of those sports in Japan for good.
Being such a big company, its products are available not just in Japanese stores, but also online. So no matter where you are in the world, if you want to purchase a Yonex snowboard, you can do so.
I suppose that’s what you get when a company has so many resources. However, unlike some of the bigger companies, the quality of their boards is consistently good. This may partly be because they own a snowboard-making factory in Niigata so they are able to implement a very precise quality control procedure that’s up to their high standards.
RICE28 is another Japanese snowboard brand that benefits from an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) relationship with Ogasaka through their factory.
From the looks of their website, they’re looking to attract the freestyle snowboarding crowd, or at least heavily push that vibe. Take a look at their website to understand what I mean, it’s almost like you’re looking at one of those old skate magazines from the late 90s / early 2000s, it makes a nice change!
They also have their own online store, but tend to focus on selling accessories and apparel rather than a wide selection of their own boards. As I’ve said before, they seem to be trying to sell a lifestyle and a board, rather than just the board on its own. As such, I’m kind of ok with seeing so many accessories, though it would have been nice to see a few more boards.
Gray snowboards have been around since 1998 and split their unit production between their factory in Nagano, and China. This does help improve production and distribution rates, but sadly doesn’t seem to make the boards accessible to those living outside Japan.
A lot of the OEM production snowboards are all the same. The company simply takes the pre molded board and adds its own graphic to it to make it look unique and branded. Gray snowboards do things a little differently.
While they do still work with factories, a lot of their board shapes are completely unique. This does make the price of them a little more expensive, but you know you’ll be riding something unique, rather than widely mass produced for several companies.
A relative newcomer to the world of snowboarding, READYMADE first came onto the scene in 2008 as the little brother of Gray Snowboards. It’s a very trendy-looking brand and clearly, once again, goes after that freestyle kind of vibe to attract its customers.
Readymade does have a website, but it’s not particularly great so I thought I’d screenshot their Instagram instead. Plus, they’re followed by powder life magazine so that’s reason enough to give them my seal of approval, right!?
Moss snowboards grab the gold medal for being the oldest Japanese snowboard brand still around. Despite their age, they’re constantly reinventing themselves with the times and showing they are just as relevant now as they were 50 years ago.
The majority of their manufacturing comes from the Ogasaka factory, but some of it comes from overseas which, as we know, helps with production and distribution.
They don’t just build boards for snowboarding, they also have a dedicated branch of people who design and build custom surfboards for their customers. They have, over the years, been able to combine the technology and lessons learned from both these disciplines and create snowboards that are perfect for surfing through the extremely deep and famous Japanese champagne powder. Click on the link above to go to the website and watch the video that’s in the screenshot here. It shows just how incredible some of these boards can be.
One of their most famous creations, the Snow Stick, is loved the world over and has a cult following. It might not be the way a lot of people like to ride, but there are enough people who swear by it for the company to keep innovating and creating it year after year.
As you can read from the image above, Secca snowboards started off as a brand designed for women, by women.
While boards made for women may need to be more flexible due to less weight and pressure being applied to the board, the main differentiating factor is in the deck design. Each board is specially designed by collaborating with local artists to produce stunningly beautiful and zen-like artwork that is not so often seen in the snowboarding industry.
Whether they market their boards for women or not, the quality of the artwork really sets them apart from the rest and would be ideal for any snowboarder.
Atirom-avs are a luxury Japanese snowboarding brand with an extremely minimal portfolio of snowboards. With black being the color of every snowboard it sells, it’s no wonder why its mission statement is “Simple is best”.
All of its snowboards are made within Japan, and clearly, they’re targeting a very niche market with the design they’ve gone for. However, don’t let that put you off choosing one of their boards.
atirom-avs might not be the biggest or most well-known Japanese snowboard brand, but that doesn’t stop it from keeping up with the big dogs. According to its website, it has produced the world’s first “AVS” or anti-vibration stick material. Basically, it should give you a smoother, more ‘luxurious’ ride.
Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say, but what I do know is that you won’t be disappointed if they become the next snowboard brand you purchase from.
11. GENTEM STICK
Last but by no means least, we have Gentem Stick. This is a brand that priorities backcountry and powder skiing, and sparing no expense when it comes to the technology and materials used on their boards.
Unfortunately, all those luxuries come with a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay anywhere from ¥100,000 to ¥200,000 ($780-$1500) for their snowboards. That said, they do actually have an online shop fully stocked up with loads of snowboards. That’s a much better customer experience than a lot of the brands on here have.
If you’re looking for something luxury, don’t have a strict budget, and need to ship your board to somewhere like America, this is the brand to go with. Or, if you just love looking cool on the mountain you won’t go far wrong with Gentem Stick. Just look at that board!