Shonan coast, Japan — In the summer, the action runs at 4 am. Men and women in black wetsuits begin to appear, pulling the board on foot or pushing it into a special bike rack.
Before the rest of the country awakens, Kugenuma Beach is already a sea of surfers and is probably the most popular coastal slice in the country.
The geography of Japanese islands means that beaches are rarely far apart. Hawaii is the undisputed birthplace of modern surfing and a global mecca, but Japan has its own fanatical surfing culture. In many respectsDebut, one of the oldest sports in the world. At the match on Sunday.
Masaya Uchida, a regular who commute here several times a week from his home in Kawasaki, radiated the cold, investigating a crowd that would put off surfers in other parts of the world.
“It’s crowded, but the ocean belongs to everyone,” he said.
“It’s really laid-back and welcome here,” he told CBS News. “Like being in California!”
By train, you can reach your surfing destination on the Shonan Beach in about an hour from downtown Tokyo, and surfing addicts can enjoy their passion for hours before work.It’s not uncommon to see office stiffness in the parking lot and quickly take off the wetsuit.
For business suits.
The Japanese have been bodysurfing since at least the 19th century and are floating on small wooden boards called itago. Placards were often decorated with advertisements for stores and soaps.
However, after World War II and the arrival of U.S. military personnel, longboard riding GIs from nearby U.S. bases such as Atsugi and Yokosuka began riding waves in Shonan-and the Japanese soon became obsessed. Also, Tokyo writer Kaori Shoji told CBS News.
“We are an island nation and the ocean is everywhere, so they saw the GIs enjoying themselves on the board and thought for themselves. That is, the boards are cheap.”
Shoji said surfing is more than just a new sport for the Japanese, who are still recovering from the tragedy of the war, and means liberation itself.
“Americans at the time represented a strong sense of freedom and relaxation, and a sense that you were not being monitored, monitored, or forced to be unprepared. That is the second. It was all about World War II, for the majority of Japanese, “she said.
“In the past, the oceans represented a livelihood and may have represented the travels of a few privileged people, but most of the oceans were where you made a living, and now these GI is a fun place for people, relax and catch
Waves or two. And I think it was really attractive to Japanese people. “
From Mecca’s cafes and gear shops on the Chigasaki coast to the artisan’s family industry, Japan’s Hanten obsession (with an estimated 2 million surfers here) underpins a thriving local beach culture. The Soeda Surfboard is a board that has been fine-tuned to suit the surfer’s skill level, body size and local wave conditions, and caters to infamous and grumpy customers.
For deuce wetsuits, craftsman Satoshi Fukuzawa requires customers to submit a long checklist of anthropometry — and pays almost twice as much as an off-rack wetsuit. “Custom wetsuits were originally handcrafted for Japanese pearl collectors,” Fukuzawa told CBS News during a cramped workshop in Odawara. “Then the craftsmen diverged into wetsuits for surfers.”
The gentle waves of Japan are perfect for complete beginners. In Redwood City, California, a native and now local surf instructor, Gary Barkarter, taught me how to stay more or less on my board.
“You can surf in Hawaii, in California, or anywhere in Bali … but surfing in Japan is really special. You can actually watch the sunset behind Mt. Fuji underwater. The water turns red and orange and is shining.
And these beautiful waves are coming. “
Hot dog surfers have to spend some time waiting for the typhoon to disturb the big waves. But because of the pure joy of watery communion, Japan’s Surfin’Safari is a real day on the beach.
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