I was born and raised in Fujisawa, a city with a good atmosphere. Whether it is a good town or not depends on the residents’ comfort and feeling towards the town. Many expatriates and local settlers alike move to a place after making a choice based on whether or not they like it and know the local area well. The city is now in a position to accept young people, foolish ones, and, strangers.
I started surfing at the age of 16. My first flight was also my first overseas surf trip, and I went to G-Land, Indonesia. It was a company trip for a surfboard company and I went with a group of pro-riders and shapers. I’m very grateful to them for taking me. Thanks. But, it was a hard wave.
Two months of exposure to a foreign continent was meaningful. I felt the size of the continental plain when I took a flight on a surf trip within Australia. One weekend I stayed at a shaper’s house in Newcastle and was taken to a reef break. The gesture was greatly appreciated. On the way back, we missed the last train ride for the day, so we had no choice but to spend the night at a bus stop.
Winter arrives after three months of moving to the area. I had to leave early because the seawater temperature was too low and my hair froze after getting out of the sea. Local surfers took me to surf every day as I didn’t have a car. Thanks to them. Here I learnt that there are distinct regional characteristics within Japan.
In a period of two months, I rode my car and traveled to Miyazaki Prefecture from Kawasaki by ferry and went around Kyushu and the Sea of Japan. Afterwards, I returned to Shonan through Aichi and Shizuoka Prefecture. I traveled alone as a teenager and it felt great to have experienced the goodness of the regions I came across with. Japan holds a hospitable culture which leaves a sense of warmth, safety and consideration towards one another. Not to mention the delicious food culture. Understanding what shouldn’t be done in a certain moment, and what shouldn’t be done, but still done.
It’s been less than a year since I last experienced the winter season, and as soon as I did, I was hit by the cold seawater. At the same time, I started to become anxious of my own future and withdrawn myself from surfing. Through experience of traveling around my own country, I learned about the lifestyle of surfers who gathered all around Japan. It cannot be helped, but there was definitely a sense of locality.
I spent a month on the North Shore to see the world’s best of waves, surfers and surfing. I felt the difference between the population of 120 million people in Japan and the 6 billion people in the world at that time. I also felt the need to develop what I was good at, what I liked and what I was talented at. I liked physical activity, but I had no talent for it, so strategy was important to me. For example, I thought that surfing was an easy sport if you practised it over and over again, so I thought of ways to improve without surfing in the ocean as much as possible. From this time onwards, I began to feel uncomfortable with competing in short bursts of time based on skills and striving against evaluations by third parties, such as customers and judges. Perhaps it was because I began to realise a non-competitive path. In Waikiki, I stayed overnight in the field because there was no bus back to the North Shore.
I took a break from surfing after spending a long break for myself and opened an osteopathic clinic. Perhaps due to the location being in the heart of the mountains and on the tip of the peninsula, I got to feel the local feeling among the communities there. Unfortunately there are no photos for me to share here, I am sorry about that.
Short-term surf trips to several locations. Driving was rough on Jeju Island, South Korea. In the Philippines, I experienced firsthand of the religious and ethnic views. In California, I learnt about the intensity of surfing culture and racism.
This was my third time in Bali. The sea was full of surfers and the city was crowded and hot. Coming from a busy country, I am not used to a culture where people go out of their way to call you from behind and make you stop whatever you are doing in the moment.
I took the opportunity to go on a trip around Japan. Everywhere I went to, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, I learned that each place has its own attraction. However, it seems to me that Japan has not fully make use of its rich land. During this time, I also visited the areas that were greatly affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. There were small bays along the coastline and huge barriers are under construction. It seems that this will prevent future tsunamis. In a way, it gives a sense of peace of mind if anyone were to decide to live in the area. This judgment was purely based on what I witnessed of the people in this region.
There are big gaps when it comes to unspoken rules in Taiwan when compared to Japan. The differences among individuals with an open mind can be quite astounding. I left Taiwan after living there for 4 months due to conflicting perspective with the history, culture and language barrier.
Carlsbad is a place where the world’s leading surfing culture continues to grow. If I have the chance to travel to the States again someday, I would like to go there. However, it didn’t cross my mind to experience strong act of racism there.
To me, there was a clash of interest in terms of what is enjoyable in life. The influence of Western culture was strong.
Moved to a country where I felt the values and atmosphere were the most different from those of Japan among the countries I had visited in the past. Stayed for three years, trying to take advantage of the economic growth due to the youth of the people. For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to know a country other than Japan in depth. A realisation came upon me that the world is divided into two parts because of social systems with different values.
This was my first visit to an Islamic country. Brunei is a country which practices the monarchy system, with full of resources and holds a population of less than half a million. The people are quite similar to the Japanese, and personally, Brunei felt like a separate frame from other Southeast Asian countries.
I began an indefinite travel to explore Vietnam’s coastline. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances by the Covid-19 pandemic, the trip is now on halt.
With the world going through a global pandemic stricken era, Bali was the next place I settled into. Having spent my time with a partner who can speak Bahasa Indonesia, this time I get to know Indonesia without any language barrier. After living my whole life in Japan, and spent years living in Vietnam, it was evident that Bali was the third place that left a profound impact towards my perspective in life. As a result, it made me feel that I was able to capture the world in three different dimensions.
In Japan, it is easy to go forward with anything you put your mind into, taking one step a time in a steady pace. It is a common characteristic in a developed country. With an extremely high level of culture, it is no doubt that Japan is a cultural powerhouse.