Two Friends, a Tiny House and a Big Adventure.

Pals Japan is a documentary film project about a builder, a filmmaker, their kei-truck and a whole lot of Hokkaido powder.

This past winter film maker Charlie Wood and Henry Johnson, a self confessed ‘hack of all trades’ embarked on a mission to ride the best powder in Hokkaido. The difference between their adventure and most others? They built their own tiny house and brought it along for the ride on the back of a Kei-truck. By combining their passion for crafts and love for snowboarding, Charlie and Henry created a unique short film that will surely bring out the adventurous side, and potential DIY skills, in anyone who watches it. Here’s what they had to say about their trip…

Rhythm: Congratulations on your film, we loved it! Were you happy with the end result?

Henry: Thanks a lot! Charlie and I are super stoked with the outcome. It was an amazing project for both of us, not only creating [our van] Sabi-chan but also the experience of the road trip and the process of making the film!

R: Tell us more about sleeping in the van. Looked a little cramped in there! Were you getting a good sleep every night?

H: That is true! It was a little cramped in there, although I think we had just the right amount of space for the two of us. In the evenings the chair folds down and creates a bed about the size of a double! We could also stash all of the extra things we didn’t need overnight in the front. The main problem was the cold, we didn’t have any sufficient heating and there were a few nights that we were a little frozen!

R: Were you happy with the handiwork you did on the van?

H: The build came out great, it was so enjoyable to make such a quirky looking design. It held up better than expected, it was quite heavy so that made for a slow speed on the road and cornering was quite wobbly! In the back of my mind, I had kind of expected the cabin to fall off or tip over. My building skills must be better than I first expected ha. Next time, a heater is a must-have for the temperatures for Hokkaido winter!

R: It was a low snow winter in Japan but you guys still scored great pow. Did the riding live up to your expectations?

H: The timing of our trip couldn’t have been any better, the day before we left a big storm cycle hit central Hokkaido and we were blessed with great conditions. We were lucky to get some deep days before Charlie dislocated his shoulder. I still managed to ride some great lines and Charlie could film from the side of the road near the van.

R: Where is the Sabi-chan now? What’s the van’s next adventure?

Henry: It’s parked up in my shed, I’ve still been driving it around quite often, it’s a fun little truck to drive! Certainly will be taking it to explore more of Hokkaido once the green season properly arrives. 

R: Do you have any more film projects lined up?

Henry: Most definitely. Charlie and I had an amazing time working on this project and I love to share projects like this with others. I’ve already started brainstorming new ideas for next winter and would love to be able to produce something similar in Summer too. I’ve always been interested in making videos and Charlie is a very talented filmmaker. Working together was great as we could bounce ideas off each other and grow creatively together. 

Thanks again for Rhythm’s support for this project! I hope we can work together again in the future to produce something even better! 🙂

Now, if you haven’t already, watch the movie!

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