As part of the Healing Power of Nature series, we’re exploring the rich stories of the Yamai family and several Snow Peakers.
After spending his childhood in Tsubame-Sanjo, Tohru moved to Tokyo after college and began working at a foreign trading company. He performed well there but was also growing uneasy about life in Tokyo. He’d grown used to the natural environment he’d had in Sanjo through high school, and he felt cut off from it. Nevertheless, Tohru tolerated his commute on packed trains to Shinjuku. Upon arriving, he joined lines 10 yards wide full of silent people heading to their office towers. It struck him that the individual seemed meaningless here, and this realization was difficult to bear. Snow Peak’s mission is to restore the human spirit, which is what Tohru desperately needed during this period. Then one day, Tohru got a call from his father. Yukio's tone was direct and left no room for refusal: “You promised you’d come back in three years; now, come back.” Tohru could not recall such a promise, but it still unsettled him. He had always gotten on well with his father. On trips home once a year, he would tell Yukio about his job in Tokyo. Yukio would nod and listen. When Tohru was 10, Yukio had ordered him, “Never climb a mountain!” Now Yukio was giving Tohru a new order, only the second in Tohru’s life. Retrospectively, Yukio’s request couldn’t have come at a better time for Tohru. It allowed him to leave the crowded city behind and again live in an area surrounded by natural beauty.
Tohru did everything he could to leave his current job on a positive note. He brought in record sales during his final year. His efforts followed a Japanese proverb about the natural world: “A bird does not foul the nest it is about to leave.” As an outdoorsman, Tohru followed that rule to an extreme]Tohru’s return to Niigata signified a significant turning point in his life and Snow Peak’s trajectory. Yukio gave Tohru an open-ended position, encouraging him to run the marketing department and try new things. As a result, Tohru flexed his creativity, eventually leading Snow Peak into new markets such as car camping and overseeing the development of new products that became an iconic part of the company’s collection.