Friday, 26 December 2008

Surfing Tokyo Subway

Arriving at Tokyo airport was possibly a sign of things to come, but nothing could have prepared me for Japan.Recently Japan has become known for its surf culture with articles in several National newspapers and brief but never the less - intentional remarks made in films such as "lost in translation" to its ever growing surf culture. Having never been here before, all I could do was absorb the streams of advice from friends and books and hope for the best.Tokyo is by no means the best representation of Japan and with little experience of rural Japan I find myself still making sense of this outrageous but phenomenal country.As far as a race, the people of Japan do tend to be trend followers. It is evident with so many people dressed in similar fashion or hoards of people making their way to English lessons after work.
It was, however, my intention to write this article having spent a little time on the East coast of Japan and having sampled the waves that so many people have told me about.
Unfortunately the four hour train journey from Tokyo was made in vain as when I arrived I witnessed the first flat spell for some weeks according to a local surfer. "I could have told you that", I remarked with a somewhat disgruntled girlfriend having made the journey with me. The industrial look to the beach in the prefecture outside Tokyo called Chiba, was not enough to deter business men from Tokyo as literally hundreds of them make the trip daily to catch a few waves before the sun sets. One surfer said there can be as many as five hundred surfers in the water, the beach is not a lot bigger than Godrevy.
This area is not known for it's clean water and subtropical surf, but the powerful swell pushed up from the Pacific can produce some world class waves.
On my return to Tokyo and after some advice from a few locals, I visited a surf shop near where I was staying that sold the most ridiculous array of surf gear. Better than most Cornish surf shop I struggle to understand why this place needed a shop so well stocked. From the standard Surftech that appears to have taken Japan by storm to some incredible custom made boards by Japanese shapers. I had also been told about the brilliant quality of Japanese wetsuits but even these surpassed my expectations. The two old Japanese men repairing a board wearing hats saying "I love surf" told the whole story.
Anyway I head for the southern islands tomorrow where warm tropical waters await and I am informed that the swell is on it's way.

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