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This Snowboarder Was Lost for 2 Nights in the Snow, But It's His Hair People Can't Stop Talking About

Categories: East Asia, Japan, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Ethnicity & Race, Good News, Media & Journalism, Sport
niigata hair main

Screenshot from ANN News Japan

A Japanese snowboarder and his two companions were rescued from a snowy mountain by helicopter after spending two freezing nights outdoors without any shelter. The Tokyo man has not only had to apologize on national television for getting lost, but he's also endured speculation online about whether he wears a wig.

The three got lost after snowboarding out-of-bounds [1] during a blizzard:

The three snowboarders from Tokyo—Koju Neriko, 45, his wife Manami, 44, and their friend, Aki Yamamoto, 40—were reported as missing after failing to return to their lodge on Friday afternoon. They arrived at the ski resort on New Year’s Eve. Police and rescue personnel said the three were found on a mountain slope about two kilometers from the ski course, NHK reported. A helicopter picked them up just after 9 a.m. Other than frostbite, the three had no injuries.

After their rescue, the trio answered questions from journalists about their ordeal and then apologized for causing the nation any worry and inconvenience, saying they couldn't resist the attraction of snowboarding out-of-bounds in fresh powder. Those weather conditions, subsequently, made the group's two nights in a cave especially uncomfortable.

Disappearing and being rescued during the New Year's break, a traditionally slow time for news, Japanese television networks nationally broadcast the snowboarders’ press conference and apology. 

One question above all others seemed to interest users of 2chan, Japan's biggest (and usually roughest) Internet forum: is that Neriko's real hair?


Screenshot found on 2chan

Says one 2chan commenter (all quotes taken from this post that curated 2chan discussions [3]):


Dude, your hair is a mess!

Some commenters described the rescued snowboarder's hairstyle as being “Islamic” or “resembling a turban.” Other commenters jokingingly asked if Neriko perhaps belongs to ISIS.

Others have asked if Neriko in fact sports a wig. Indeed, some intrepid 2chan users took the initiative to track down the blog of the man's hair stylist in Tokyo [4], which, besides providing helpful tips on how to grow dreadlocks, includes a photograph of Neriko carefully rolling what appear to be real dreadlocks:

Upon discovering this “proof” of genuine dreadlocks, comments online softened:


Despite his outward appearance, he looks like an honest guy.

The trio's apparent remorse and chagrin after being rescued also appears to have softened the public's attitude:


As soon as they were rescued they apologized to every with deep bows. They seem like decent, considerate folks.

Another 2chan commenter said:


He seems like a totally nice guy… totally reminds me of classmate from middle school the teacher was always getting mad at.

For another commenter, seeing the hairstyle brought back memories:


Back in the 90's during the snowboarding boom, all you would see back then were hairstyles like this. It's like time has stopped.