For the past two years I have traveled to Japan for the sole purpose of touring around the country side promoting one of my biggest sponsors Underground Products, or to most people UGP. And for the past two years this has been the best part of my year. Japan is a beautiful country filled the nicest coolest people I’ve ever met. The wake scene in Japan is huge and everywhere I go I’m surround by crazy different riding spots, eager riding partners, and good times.
This year was a little different then last because we had a winch. So we spent more time driving around looking for unique spots that only the winch could allow us to ride. This year instead of giving the footage to ESPN Japan we kept it so I could make a web vid and show some highlights of my trip.
My trip started by flying to Fukoka, Japan from Manila, Philippines where I was for the CWC wake park worlds. (You can read more about this trip on my gatorboards blog). I had had water in my ear for a few days and I could feel and ear infection coming on when I got on the plane. Kaz, the UGP distributor for Japan, tour guide for the next two weeks and all around super good guy picked me up form the airport with a smile and extreme hospitality everyone in Japan seems to possess. We went to Andre’s house (the guy driving the winch in the opening shot of the vid), had a few beers and crashed.
The next day I woke up and my ear infection had gotten so bad I couldn’t move my mouth without pain shooting through my head. Kaz insisted on taking me to the hospital. I don’t like or go to hospitals too much but Kaz did all the talking and the doctor cleaned my ear out put some gel goop in there and told me to stay out of the water for 4 days, I was so bummed. We spent most of the day chilling at Andre’s shop watching videos and playing Wii Fit. We went across the street and checked out this rice patty spillway spot to winch. As soon as I saw it the doctor’s orders went out the window. It was perfect we wheeled the grinch across the street I stuck an earplug in my ear and walked out the line. I don’t winch that much and when I do I usually am hitting rails. So to get to jam on a mellow drop down was one of the funnest sets of my life.
The spot Kaz and I hit was Shiga, Shimizu City. We met up with Kanzawa at the largest fresh water lake in Japan. Unfortunately it also had the largest rollers in Japan. The only calm water was in the sailboat-parking bay…. So we took out the winch and hit it up. Hahahahaha so much fun. The next day the wind was not so bad so we hit up this little rail Kanzawa made to end out my stay in Shiga.
We spent the next three days in this beautiful little town in the mountains where a local wakeboard tournament was being held. We met up with Kazoo, a UGP wakeskater from Kyushu set up the winch and jammed on this little rail that Kaz had set up. Everyone was stoked to try the winch and it was something cool to watch in-between riders. Next we went to Kagawa to Takamatu City. There I met the TONTONOTN wakesk8 crew. They run a seaport and ride in the channel out front. These guys are what wakeskating and riding is all about. Super into the scene, into learning new tricks and helping each other progress. It was fun riding in the salt and I love talking about and teaching wakeskating to riders that are really into progressing.
They had built a little up flat hub rail so the last day I was there they put it in the sand near shore and we set up the winch and I didn’t realize it until they started hitting it that none of them had ever hit a rail before. So the rail coach in me kicked in and by the end of the day they where killing it. Before I left for Osaka they made me an honorary member of TONTONTON and gave me a shirt, I was stoked. Osaka was our last stop and the one I was looking forward to the most. My really good friend Matsukawa lives there and we where going to stay and ride with him. The first few days it was the Japanese armature nationals so we went there Kazoo and Matsu ended up getting 1st and 3rd. I was not allowed to ride in the comp but I got to do a little demo and that was really fun everyone pumped me up.
My favorite day in Osaka was when Kaz, Matsu and I went to the Yodogawa River. Kaz filmed and Matsu and I took turns busting lines under and around this crazy bridge. After all the winching it was nice to “just ride”.
The support for UGP in Japan is always overwhelming thanks to everyone that hooked us up and a huge HUGE thanks to Kaz for taking such good care of me and setting up such cool spots for me to ride and chill at. So go check out the vid I made of my trip or if you watched it first then that’s it…until next year.