Photo : Katsuhide FUJIO
Gerry LopezSurfer / Surfboard Shaper
“It was love at first sight when I saw the TT model sitting in the showroom. I guess it was all my years being a surfer and building surfboards that drew me to the sleek outline shape especially in the nose that made the TT look more like a surfboard than a snowboard.
I had no idea how the board rode but I had a strong feeling it was for me. Snowboarding is a lot like surfing in many ways even if they are different sports. I have seen many surfer friends take to snowboarding with exactly the same style and body language they have when riding surfboard.
My first day on the TT was in hard pack snow conditions on groomed runs at a resort. I was amazed at how fast the board was, this a result, perhaps, of the flat rocker and no camber design. I was even more amazed by how well it held an edge in the hard snow. My snowboard career began on carving boards and hard boots because I loved the idea of laying into the turn and railing it around in big arcs on the wide, open mountain areas. Yet, here with soft boots and high-back bindings, I almost felt like it was almost the same with the TT. I was able to get low on the snow as I pressed all my weight into the edge into long, high-speed turns across the hill.
It was, however, in fresh powder snow that my mind was completely blown in how well this board performed. I felt the TT was as complete a powder board as anything else I had ever rode before. Again, it was the speed that seemed to make the difference for this appeared to be the main factor in staying on top of the bottomless snow that I naturally assumed I would sink and bog into. Instead, I felt I was floating and turning was effortless. I did have to be careful riding in the trees because the spray thrown up by these high-speed turns often blinded me and it was necessary to already have my 2nd and 3rd turns plotted before hitting my 1st.
The construction of this board and, if fact, every board in the entire Gentemstick lineup was impressive. The boards are built to last in every respect. I remember reading that Japanese swords [katana] 500 years old still were as sharp as when the were made and the edges on my TT seemed to be in the same vein, able to slice into snow and ice with ease. The P-Tex bottom was of high-grade quality that waxed easily, was extremely durable and very fast on the snow whatever the conditions. The wood cores were not only beautiful in appearance but functioned equally as effectively as they looked.
It is, however, the design of this fine board that stands out the most. Taro Tamai has obviously put a tremendous amount of time, effort and expertise into not only how this board looks but into how well it performs. I felt this board to be a versatile design for most snow conditions as well as rider ability levels. Once I had witnessed some of the Gentem team as well as random boarders of varying degrees of skill riding the TT in both powder and groomed snow, I knew it was a board for all levels. I rate myself as a mid-level rider and I love the TT. Ironically, the TT is the 1st and oldest of the Gentem designs and seemed completely appropriate that I would start with it. ”
“I will never forget my first trip to Niseko, The Gentem Showroom and my first night session on a Rocketfish following O-M, Waji and Ken through the misty runs of Annupuri.
It was a time in my snowboard career after 25 years of riding the same kinda of board and terrain I was starting to look for something different, a new feeling and way of riding to reinvigorate my love of the snow.
After that night and many other epic days to follow, diving deep into the Niseko snowsurf culture, I returned to the states with a completely new perspective on my own snowboarding, choice of gear for certain conditions and a new whole way to look at riding the mountain. Seeing how these guys live and Taro's philosophy, photography and sense of design is something I always will enjoy following and drawing inspiration from year after year and trip after trip help me draw new lines and perspective into my own riding and photography.”
Beau YoungSurfer / 2x Longboard World Champion / Surfboard Shaper
“I have had the honour and privilege to ride Gentem stick boards.
Their snowboards are a combination of things that in my opinion make them the best boards in the world! History through the master boarder Taro and his complete understanding of snowboarding through the generations, and his attention to every detail in overall board performance.
Taro being an avid surfer and incredible Snowboarder make Gentem the greatest Snowsurf board! With T-tune by his side making everything just right and an incredible team of staggeringly amazing boarders....Gentem are the perfect snow surf vehicle. From snow surf origins where the Winterstick began, Gentem picked up the flame and ran, true in every way to the core of the snow surf feeling !”
Bryce KlosterKarakoram Owner
“Seeing the Rocket Fish for the first time I assumed it was a short fat pow board, I didn't believe Taro when he said it carved really well.
When I finally rode the Rocket Fish I was blown away at how easily I could drag my hip on a heelside turn. The Gentemstick Rocket Fish changed my perspective on what a snowboard can be. Each Gentemstick board has a unique feel and it has been really fun learning how each board should be ridden. ”
Chris ChristensonSurfboard Shaper
“In a fast paced world where craftsmanship has taken a backseat to profit margins and image, Taro Tamai has stayed true to his craft by keeping performance and quality in the front seat.
Taros connection to both the past and the present of snowboarding have pressed him into the future of avant garde snowboard designs of today. I have been riding and collecting Gentem Sticks for 10 years now and I have never let one go.
As a designer and sideways slider myself, I feel that Taro's approach to his craft and snowboarding makes him one of the most important people in snowboarding today.”
Greg JohnsonMountain Guide
“Gentemstick snowboards are a critical guiding tool for me because they handle all kinds of terrain and snow conditions with precision and flow.”
“Gentemstick made me start snowboarding again"
Jake MackenzieSurfer / Drifter Surf Shop (Bali) Owner
“Having surfed most of my life, and also found snowboarding at a young age. I have always looked for the surf style vibe in the mountains. When I first rode a Gentemstick I felt I had found the answer...
the perfect representation of surfing snow waves!! snowsurfing.. I will be riding gentemsticks for life”
I am also the owner of Drifter Surf shop in Bali. we stock specialist surfboards and premium brands Boards from Dick Brewer , gerry Lopez , Reno abbelira terry fitzgerald , Dick Van Straalen and many more we have a sweet little selection of Gentem sticks on offer for the surfer/snowboarder with discerning taste... they fit perfectly in our selection of gourmet boards...”
Jeremy JensenFounder of Grassroots Powder Surfing
“The Gentemstick boards are beautifully designed in both shape and aesthetic, providing a ride and feel that is all their own.
This is what Gentemstick has been doing this since the beginning and they remain true to their roots today. Riding these unique boards has breathed fresh life into my undying love for riding mountains.”
Joe CurrenSurfer / Photographer
“I first heard of Gentemstick snowboards while on a surf trip to Hokkaido in the fall of 2007.
Taro’s finely crafted snow surf designs, and surfer in the mountains lifestyle made a big impression on me. I had recently gotten a taste of riding powder in backcountry Whistler and Jackson Hole and loved it. As the lineups of the world were getting more and more crowded it was nice to find another outlet.
It was fun to look for wave features in the snow, and I especially liked the quiet moments spent in a beautiful natural setting. When I moved to Northern California and started to frequent Mt. Bachelor and it’s gullies and wind lips, I reached out to Taro, expressing my growing interest in snowboarding and his designs, in particular the fish. I was fortunate enough to acquire a Big Fish and later a Hornet.
In short, Taro’s boards are not only a thing of beauty, they are really fun to ride and have elevated my enjoyment snowboarding, especially riding powder, and taken it to another level.”
Jussi OksanenMizu Founder / Pro Snowboarder
“I’ve spent 20 years chasing the best conditions, but when I got to Japan last year to spend 5 days with the Gentem crew the conditions were less than great.
You know what — no one cared! The passion these guys have for snowboarding and how stoked they were just to be there no matter. the snow/weather was awesome to see and totally refreshing. With a crew like this and some snow surfs in the mix, you start looking at riding from a totally different perspective. It’s all about the good times...”
Kohl ChristensenBig Wave Surfer
“Surfing is my life. Chasing storms and meeting its energy in the Ocean.
Hoping for conditions that allow me to slide and trim down large wave faces. Occasionally finding that magical instant where the whole mass of energy surrounds you, only to let you go on your way again as you slide out of her womb. I share moments with the sea, riding its mountains, gliding up and down its long liquid lines. I believed this to be the limit of my expression until the Gemtem family found me.
Through my connections at Patagonia I was introduced to Taro Tamai and was given the gift of Mountain Surfing. The transition from liquid to snow was easy. The board is balanced and the lines are identical. Now I can follow the same storms from the Sea to the Mountain, experiencing that moment of extension where the lines blur between water and snow and they become the same. Surfing just got better.”
Mark HealeyBig Wave Surfer
“Being that I come from a surfing background, it takes a little time to adjust to the dynamics of snowboaring.
When I switched from a traditional snowboard shape to a Super Fish, it was so much more intuitive, fun and easy. I think the best part about it is that the Gentem shapes work great in deep pow and groomers.”
Max HoutzagerCreative Director / Terasu
HP Rocket Fish
“Gentem Stick is what re-enlivened my love for snowboarding. Between injuries and lack of snow for a few years in California surfing took over my side stance cravings.
The first Gentem I ever rode was the Rocket Fish, and it was immediately a life changing experience. Every single turn became precious and the terrain began to look completely different than before. The mini shred / side hits and powder riding that were my favorite parts of snowboarding previously became even more fun, all on the same board. Plus I get excited for every single turn in between. Each one is new and part of a continuous endeavor to improve and learn. Before that was only the case in powder.
Once I learned how to really ride the Rocket Fish I got my own HP Rocket Fish. This model will amaze you if it’s your first Gentem and once you figure out that it rides best with your weight super low and with a pretty aggressive rear knee angle (like Alex Knost, Craig Anderson etc) to give you maximum drive and maneuverability. The board wants to make sharp aggressive turns, the more the merrier. When all of this clicks, the flex, drive, and maneuverability of this board will amaze you. At first the board felt like a mini simmons type surfboard (small but floaty in pow and super maneuverable/loose), but when you really start to go fast and make harder turns in powder or get lower/on rail on groomers it hooks up the way a semi aggressive fish does when you get it on rail.
The most memorable turns of my life have been on this board, including one front side turn on the lip of a gully and one backside turn on a bank, both of which I literally felt like I was transposed to a memory of the best turns I’ve made on a wave to date. All of the Gentem boards I’ve ridden have the ability to completely change how you see the terrain in both pow and groomers/sidehits, but the HP Rocket Fish will change snowboarding for you the most if you want to make the most ‘radical’ turns and are keen to be a bit aggressive with it (think snappy skate/surf style as opposed to more drawn out flowy turns and cruisy style).”
Mick MackieSurfboard Shaper / Mackie Surfboards
“As a surfer from the age of nine and shaper of custom surfboards since seventeen I have always been interested in the design of surf inspired craft since a very young age.
Taking in all the different shapes of surfboards was what seemed to be a natural thing for me as I surfed most days and still do when I can, the ocean has a certain pull to it like that and I find it very healthy for mind body and soul.
As I got older I found myself being pulled more and more to our winter snow covered mountains called The Snowy Mountains about four hours from my home on the coast as I had discovered Snowsurfing. This I found offered many new challenges and variables to respect and learn which I find inspiring and humbling.
Not long after I started Snowsurfing I remembered an article I had seen in an old Surfing World magazine about The Winterstick and its designer Dimitrije Milovich written and photographed by Richard Palmer. I dug up an old copy of the magazine and was super excited by what I saw, the first photo showed Dimitrije standing their displaying where his and Wayne Stovekens designs had got to after many years of trial and error. Upon seeing this shot again it was the same feeling I got seeing it all those years ago when I was young and thinking wow what a great design. This led me to put Sidecut through the tails of the Fish surfboards I was shaping for myself.
So I started having ideas of making snowboards and drew up a few outlines on paper and cut swallowtails into a few ex hire boards which worked well enough at the time but were not really what I was after.
In 2005 a friend visited Niseko Hokkaido and upon return told me about these great sticks he had seen while there. The next season I went there for myself and saw a few people riding them around here and there and was impressed by what I saw, surf style and surf style outlines and rockers way better than what I had seen anywhere.
There was no need to cut swallowtails into ex hire boards anymore I had found what I was looking for snowboard wise!
Over the next few years I went back to Hokkaido and Gentemstick many times riding with Taro and Co learning so much and picking up a few sticks along the way which I still ride here in Australia in all conditions.
I am very grateful for the feelings and sensations I have received in the mountains from Taros designs over my many years of Snowsurfing as I would not have had them from any other board.
I feel privileged to have come into contact with the Gentemstick Family, their ideals and passions are a pure line one that has direct links to two of Snowsurfings originals Shinzo Tanuma and Dimitrije Milovich.
“I have been gliding on snow for 22 years. In those years I have ridden many different snowboard shapes. My first time on a gentemstick is a day I will never forget.
I felt as if I was levitating over the snow as I effortlessly weaved through silver birch trees. Snowboarding felt new to me again, it was euphoric. These boards will connect you with the snow and the mountains in a new light. They will also forge new friendships whether in the lift line or hiking in the backcountry. You will fall in love and dreams will be fulfilled. Trust that gentemstick will take you there.”
“My relationship with Gentem started from day 1.
I could feel that I was seeing the mountain and felt the snow a different way from what I was seeing riding a conventional snowboard. I could instantly feel that I started to better interact and synchronize with the Nature, I was seeing more precise turns and smoother maneuvers ever since I strapped into the first Persimmon color TT prototype model.
For someone like me, who was born in Tokyo and grew up skateboarding, it was a shocking experience and I felt as if my life was more fulfilled than before. It felt like I got hooked to some kind of present progressive science that would take much more than my lifetime to master. It was different from feeling free to do whatever, but it was about paying attention to the logics of Nature, honing my senses, be in sync with it and experience Nirvana.
This was how I got introduced to a world in the complete opposite direction from convenient urban living and flaring show-off skateboarding lifestyle. It's been 20 years since I first visited Niseko in 1997, but every time I return I find something new. I think Gentemstick boards have some kind of energy that always goes beyond expectations and blows my mind. That's probably the reason why I'm still a fan and can't put my eyes away from it.
When you see something mind-blowing, normally, the image goes through your eyes, is processed by your brain then your brain sends signals to your heart to move your feelings, but I feel like Taro's boards have something that connects your feet directly to your heart. It provides something special that cannot be processed by your brain but directly reaches and grasps your soul.
In addition, Taro's boards are true to the riding feel and image, and their shape and appearance are absolutely on the mark. I think Taro's challenge of life is to obtain the one board design that allows the rider to interact with the Nature and its gift from Heavens at its most dense and purest form. The life-changing experience for me was, maybe, something that came in more naturally to Taro, or other people like him who grew up with Surfing and interacting with the ocean on a regular basis. I felt like I had unlimited things to learn from them as I couldn't swim and was afraid of the ocean.
When I got to learn to swim in 2012 and started surfing in 2015, I felt like I found the answer to my life. It felt like something a step further from hiking up the mountain and ride it down, like an activity that needed a little deeper understanding of the Nature. It was as if I got a better sense of understanding towards the essence of Gentemstick by experiencing the bliss of being in sync with the waves, the water and the wind, in other words, the heartbeats of the Natrue.
This philosophy is truly unique and is probably inherent to the soul of Japanese people. I believe it is my mission to spread this idea around the world in order to help my friends live a richer Life.”
Shane PeelDirector / My House Pictures
“In a maturing culture that is increasingly becoming aware of quality over quantity Gentemstick’s snowboard range is more relevant to the modern snowboarder than any other design format or direction.
The quality of construction, the Japanese attention to detail and precision and Tamai’s overall understanding of the snowboards position in the grander scheme of the mountains makes a “Gentem” a snowboard that will be with you for as long as you are able to ride and set an edge. There is only one Gentem.”
Takayuki TsujiiGeneral Manager Patagonia Japan
“Having not enough skills or knowledge about Snowsurfing, I do not know if I am really qualified to write a testimonial for Gentemstick's official website.
However, it was my memories of the deep conversations that I had in cafés and offices and the blissful times in the mountains that I shared with Taro-san, that pushed my wimpy back. More than a decade has passed since I first discovered the joy of riding a flat camber board. Although being trapped in the corporate ranks, I've tried to infuse as much of my passion as I could into this sport, and one thing I could say (or at least I believe so) is that Taro-san has always been watching over myself and that he has never segregated his friendship by one's fame or riding skills.
The ecosystem and vegetation of each and every mountain. The quality of snow changing from regions and climates. The three-dimensional conception based off of the gulley's size and shape. The most suitable outline shape for wide open alpine terrains. The safety performance allowing to thread through thick foot-hill forests. I've always admired how Taro-san would explain his board designs in a very careful manner to an amateur like myself, and I was amazed by how much depths and expanses could be felt behind his soft-spoken tales. Taro-san has been purely pursuing the essence of Snowsurfing and was never distracted by earning fame or status in this world of commercialism.
His thoughts, words and actions perfectly aligns with Gentemstick's philosophy. I was very fortunately to have had the chance to meet Taro-san and am very much looking forward to closely watching Gentemstick's hereafters.”
“I remember riding the Maxforce 164 for the first time back in 1998 when Gentemstick brand just started. It was natural for me to pick this board as I usually carry a good load on my back. I think a good metaphor for this board would be like driving a sturdy 4WD commercial van.
The edge hold feel provided by the 248mm waist width, which I think fits great with the average Japanese rider's boots size, the allowance for recovering after loosing balance, as well as the ease to ride backwards when there's need to change the shooting angle, provided by the well balanced nose & tail, are just a couple of examples that contributes to the reliability of this model.
It is my well trusted partner that I spent countless time with on "do not fall" type of slopes found in Alaska and such.”