I heard through the grapevine that Jess Kimura and Darrah Reid-McLean were going to Japan together on a Coal Headwear trip. This Canadian twosome have been snowboarding together for many years and have formed a relationship that is built on the true pillars of friendship: repartee, banter, acceptance, tolerance, and love. I just couldn’t wait to talk to them in person about it so I scheduled a three way call when they returned to see how it went. Here is the priceless conversation in text for everyone to enjoy:
So you went to Japan. Why did you go? What was the goal of the trip?
Darrah: We went to Japan to snowboard in powder and hit the onsens. We were with Coal Headwear.
What are onsens?
Darrah: Basically hot tubs and saunas but it's mandatory nudity. Illegal to wear bathing suits.
That was the goal of the trip, the onsens?
Darrah: No but that's an important part of Japan. It’s Jess’s favorite part.
Jess: That’s why I went.
Darrah: But we never went together. I was naked and afraid.
Who was a part of the crew?
Jess: It was me. Kevin Nolan, filming. Tyler Ravelle taking photos. Matteo Soltane, Darrah, Kazu, and myself were the riders.
Darrah,were you nervous to ride with Kazu?
Darrah: I was not nervous to ride with Kazu. I was mostly nervous to ride with him in the car because he is very quiet. And I felt like I had to fill that quiet space with nonsense and questions.
Jess: And then he left. He made an excuse and left. Because Darrah would be like, “Kazu, how many letters are in the Japanese alphabet? What does your wife do? Does she snowboard?”
Darrah: I did ask both those questions. But I was curious about the Japanese alphabet and I think that is a fair question to ask. But that’s not why he left us. He left us for Travis. I think he kind of enjoyed my company to be honest.
Jess: It’s true I saw him laughing a few times.
Have you ever been to Japan before?
Darrah: That was my first time. It was at least Jess’s tenth time.
Jess: Those are my people.
So was Kazu the tour guide or was Jess?
Darrah: Well, Kevin was our captain.
Jess: Google was our guide.
Did you go to zones you’ve been to before Jess?
Jess: Yes we did.
Were you like, oh Darrah’s going to love this spot?
Jess: Well, we were mostly going to roadside spots so they fill up differently every year. But we were looking for burgers for her to jump off. Specifically beyond burgers. A vegan in Japan, that was a thing.
This is an important question: What’s it like traveling in Japan with a vegan?
Darrah: Jess is going to try to say it was annoying but I think I’m the least high-maintenance vegan there is.
Jess: Yeah it wasn’t the vegan part that was annoying. Just kidding. Darrah is pretty self-sufficient and she showed up with a suitcase full of protein bars and we’d go to dinner and she would walk to a grocery store and read ingredients with google translate and try to find stuff. She’d get these bagged pickles in pickle juice. We are in the elevator at the hotel and she goes to grab her board bag and is fumbling and squirts one liter of pickle juice all over Kevin and the elevator. Another time she squirted the pickle juice all over my goggles and my back country pack.
Darrah: You are exaggerating but that did happen.
Jess: We had to clean my stuff with a wet towel.
Darrah: It was a worthy challenge for the vegan powder beyond burgers.
Oh yeah, what is a “burger”?
Darrah: It is like a big wide pillow that you make into a jump. I didn’t know that either.
Jess: It looks like the top of the bun.
Darrah, did you jump off any of the burgers?
Darrah: Successfully, one.
Jess: The question was did you jump off any, and you did, way more then once.
Highlights of Japan besides of riding those burgers?
Darrah: Probably the German men.
Jess: So, Tyler was like we have to go to this outdoor onsen. We drove 5 hours during the worst snowstorm ever there. Usually, onsens are in a building with structured pools. But this one was your classic Mammoth hot spring, it's in the wild. You’re supposed to go naked but these were co-ed so we had bathing suits because that's just weird. We get in and three minutes later, we see in the distance a line of ants walking up the path. But they are not ants, they are giant 6’5 German dudes. They are all freaking huge. I saw them coming down so I jumped out and changed. They come down, take off their snow pants, and are immediately naked. Right beside me. Darrah is still just in the back in the pool.
Darrah: It was me, Kevin, Matteo, Tyler and 12-15 giant naked German dudes.
Jess: The pool is only 15 feet around.
Darrah: We are right besides them. And I’m like do I talk to them, do I not talk to them? How do I get out of here? The entire time I was overthinking how to act and how to get out of there. I wish I had talked to them but I thought it would be rude because they were naked.
Have you traveled this far before together?
Jess: First time going this far. This is the farthest.
Darrah: And the longest.
What’s it like traveling with your close friend on a dream trip like this?
Darrah: I remember having thoughts while I was there like, this is crazy, this is basically a dream snowboard trip. But at times I wasn’t having the best time because trips can be frustrating, stressful, and there is a lot of pressure I guess.
Jess: Darrah was not in a space where she let herself have a vacation. There was stress on having to perform or pay for her trip with her snowboarding. But she just recently got into backcountry snowboarding, she's never been to Japan, she's never been to a place where you just walk around and find your own features. So I think she was learning and stressing at the same time. But she did really well. It will be cool to see her travel more and enjoy herself more. She should realize she deserves to be there and doesn’t need to earn it by landing tricks.
Darrah: That was really nice Jess, thank you. It's a weird thing to wrap your head around to be on these dream trips but you stress yourself out because you want to do well.
Would you go to Japan together again?
Darrah: I would for sure. But I want to hear Jess…
Jess: (long pause) Uh sure, yeah!
Last question: Jess, you notoriously capture and post some of Darrah's funnier moments. Is there any BTS that we should expect from Japan in your story?
Jess: I mean there should be. But, I want to put this out there publicly, things are approved. I could probably put things on my story that people would love but I won’t if it's not approved.
Darrah: That’s true.
So there is an unapproved folder?
Jess: Yes but I never go into that folder. Everytime I put things on my story Darrah gets followers. Let’s get Darrah to 20K. She’s not a victim, she's a vegan.