shinichiro nomura
Shinichiro Nomura on "Gakido," V16

Big in Japan: Shinichiro Nomura Sends ‘Gakido’ V16

The Japanese boulderer said the problem is an ‘old project’ and ‘one of the biggest Japanese routes.’

We don’t think “Gakido,” V16, seems big because it’s in a country with a reputation for small statures. The block looks about 20 feet tall no matter how you measure it — water streaks cascade from a lip that’s as stark and steep as a cottage roof.

To a boulderer’s eye, it’s one of those things that begs to be climbed. Until Monday, March 21, 2022, the marginal holds on the overhanging face — and an athletic huck near the top — had repelled every attempt.

That day, Shinichiro Nomura finally put the big rig down. Then, he made it one of a lineup of V16 boulder problems that numbers in the double digits worldwide.

“Finally, I sent the old project, known as one of the biggest Japanese routes,” Nomura said on Instagram. He appears to have summoned a mercurial physiological quality similar to The Force for the send.

“In addition to bad holdings, I struggle with the worst positioning that I’ve [ever] felt, compared with some [other] V15 projects,” he wrote. “However, I managed to send by my sense that I found.”

He then called the problem “short,” but it looks like he’s referring to its business end. The few visible chalk spots on “Gakido” don’t appear to correspond to holds that would offer much purchase at such a steep angle. And footholds seem notably absent.

But if you want to be a V16 boulderer, that’s the dance you gotta dance. Just a few dozen sets of moves worldwide produce bonafide V16 difficulty, and the ones we’ve seen are exacting.

With “Gakido,” Nomura cuts into Ryuichi Murai’s reputation as Japan’s hardest first ascent boulderer. Previously, Murai’s “Floatin” and “United,” both V16, were as hard as Japanese boulder problems got.

“Gakido” is Nomura’s first V16. If confirmed, it will sit atop multiple V15s on his tick list, including one other Japanese first ascent, “Loka.”

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Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson is a staff writer at GearJunkie, and several other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about climbing, cycling, running, wildlife, outdoor policy, the outdoor industry, vehicles, and more for 2 years. Prior to GearJunkie, he owned and operated his own business before freelancing at GearHungry. Based in Austin, Texas, Anderson loves to climb, boulder, road bike, trail run, and frequent local watering holes (of both varieties).