Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NZ has RIGHTS, too!

Famed for corduroy lines and the long lefts of Raglan(pic; the Valley looking out to Indicators. Courtesy of Raglan Surf)

The endless point break, Shipwrecks/Ahipara, from Endless Summer(Pic; first headland, behind are more exposed left points! Courtesy of Surfr)

And the Whangamata Bar at the mouth of the harbour which is controversially being dredged for a new marina(Pic; Occy slotted. Courtesy of Cory Scott, NZ Surfing Mag)

It is often overlooked and forgotten that NZ has RIGHTS, too

(Pic; Above Stent Road in Taranaki, host of the first Women's WCT event in NZ 2010. Below a secret Hawkes Bay rivermouth not to unlike the one I surfed recently in Japan.Courtesy of NZ Surfing Mag)

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Here's the inspiration. A Volcom advert for a new Surf DVD, BS!, run on the back cover of "free surf", a free surf mag published monthly in Hawaii. Ever since I saw it the other day, I've been craving it.
So...yesterday, when Aiko was away with hula, I set about making one. Without a recipe to speak of, I searched on the net and got a basic concept of the core ingredients required. From there it was off to Jusco for a quick shop and then to work!
While it may not have turned out as good looking as the one in the ad, it did come out tasty as!!!! I think it may become a regular on the menu this winter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1,486 km's to the beach and back

Well, autumn is upon us and to celebrate we had a 6 day holiday, aptly nick-named "Silver Week" which incorporated 'RESPECT THE AGED DAY'. At this time of year it's a common sight to see rice crops harvested and the golden yellow fields of mature rice paddies covering the countryside like a patchwork quilt.After spending the "Obon Holiday" in Kamogawa, I was super keen on hitting the road and exploring some new coastline in the north while it was still relatively warm. I talked good friend SHINYA into joining me as he had not surfed north of Chiba and was also keen to explore. We were obviously not alone in our thinking and every man and his dog were driving north. At one stage we went 30km in just over 2 hours!!! That is even slower than top level marathon runners!!!One of Shinya's co-workers from the hospital originates from IWATE Prefecture and had some inside info on a few spots that break well in typhoons. So, our first stop was in the far north of Japan, Iwate. Iwate is well known for it's apple orchards and I found this awesome 'ringo-pan' or apple bread in the local convenience store.Unfortunately, the typhoon path meant that a lot of the promised swell was hitting the coast at the wrong angle to light up some of the reefs we had been informed of. Shinya was constantly on his phone checking the typhoon updates and surf point reports providing tons of up to the minute information. He was also checking on Maruki and Kamogawa non-stop (already homesick?) which, as luck would have it, was firing. Bugger!!We did finally manage to find a really beautiful spot after 12 hours on the road with a few fun gentle waves rolling in to wash of the road dust and enjoy a great sunset.
After enjoying our little surf it was off to find an Izakiya. We found a nearby town with a huge port and Nippon Steel factory which had exactly what we were looking for. The Sanma sashimi and grilled Hoke were particulary delicious and the beer went down a treat.
As you'd expect of a port town, there were a few 'snack bars' and this street was solely 'snacks', each with a 'mamma-san' to listen to your problems and entertain you as she pours your drinks. I was on a tight budget and without much to worry about, steered clear of these establishments.Next morning was game on. The swell was hitting the coast a little south of where we were so the decision was made to head for MIYAGI Prefecture. First stop was Koizumi River, where Rich, Nadia and I went a few summers back and camped. the right in the corner off the rivermouth was looking good but had quite a few on it and I was after something more challenging and perfect!!So, back on the road, we headed for a semi-secret rivermouth the Jun, Dave, Naoki and Shu scored over the last couple of years. We were in luck, and despite it looking smallish from the carpark it was head-high and building!!! It was a super long paddle but the waves were perfect!! On my third wave and I took-off late, bottom turned and pulled in high to get a stand up barrel and spat out clean as a whistle!!! So stoked!!! I couldn't resist a double fist pump claim even though no-one saw it. That one wave alone made the whole trip worthwhile and memorable.
After about 30-40mins the wind changed and came onshore, but not too strong and the swell pulsed in the head-and-a-half range with the odd bigger one making for super fun rippable waves but decent beatings on the inside and energy draining paddles to make it back out if you got caught inside!!As conditions deteriorated, the call was made to check Sendai Shinko.
Reasonable waves, but bad winds meant that we pulled the pin and headed home. The Delica went smoothly without any trouble in what will probably be her last decent roadtrip as she is laid to rest in the end of October as rust waits for no-one. It's a real shame as that car has been fantastic, served me extremely well and will be sorely missed. Thanks AKIHITO for the deal all those years ago!!. Mahalo Bra

Monday, September 21, 2009


Snuck in a quick couple of sessions with long time friend Takei before heading north on the roadtrip. Take now has a place up the coast so we met in the middle and surfed Onjuku before the tide messed things up and then hit Malibu in Katsuura once the crowd thinned a little. Fun waves but sick of getting dropped in on!!!! Argh!!!!

(pictures from top to bottom: Take @ Onjuku, Malibu in Katsuura, Matsube in Katsuura)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Typhoon CHOI-WAN

Typhoon CHOI-WAN has been in the process of intensification. The size grew to a large typhoon, and clouds at the core got even thicker. The eye is now clearly visible, and the typhoon is forecast to keep intensification for a while. It's forecast to track north and skirt the Eastern coast of Japan over the weekend.

Good mate Shinya and I are planning a roadie up to to Fukushima and maybe Miyagi Prefectures to the north leaving after work Friday. It looks like we'll either score solid perfect waves or get skunked with everywhere closing out. I don't think there will be too much much 'middle-of-the-road' stuff, but you never know unless you go!!!

A little surf exploration goes a long way to re-energizing the soul and body and I can't wait!!!.

Kenji Sasahara

Great chef and all round good guy Kenji Sasahara, a long time friend of ours, features here in a short clip made by another friend, Alex (the wandering Aussie), during his stay in Kamogawa several years back.
Ken-san runs Donya restaurant, now situated behind Kameda Hospital at the North end of Kamogawa, with his wonderful wife Masami and two kids Kaho and Hiromi. He makes an assortment of killer dishes ranging from fresh local Sashimi, Avocado and Tuna Sushi Rolls and Deep Fried Oysters to Hawaiian-style Poke Salads, Pork Cutlets, Teriyaki Chicken and Smoked Cheese done on the smoker out back.
The guy is always up at the crack of dawn and hitting the surf. He's so much fun to share waves with and rips too!!
He's also super keen on doing a trip to NZ sometime and surfing the famous lefts of Raglan among other spots. I hope one day I'll be able to show him the ropes and cruise the NZ coastline for a bit together. Until then we'll both be putting our coins in jars as we save for the ticket!!!
Thanks always for everything Ken

Kamogawa Matsuri Festival 2009 video link


This is a video someone posted on "youtube" of some of the Matsuri festivities. Worth a look if you have the time

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kamogawa Matsuri Festival 2009!

Well, unfortunately the weather put a bit of a dampener on the festivities planned for the Saturday night with many calling it a day earlier than they would have otherwise. But, things cleared up Sunday and loads of people turned out. It is always a really good chance to rub shoulders with those that are from or live in your neighborhood, and this year was no exception. We ran across lots of friends and students as the various 'DASHI' and 'MIKOSHI' crossed paths as they circle town.(photo of me with one of my students, Arisa)
DASHI, as they are called in Japan, are large floats which are pulled around the neighborhood by local residents, young and old, while 'TAIKO', traditional Japanese drums, and 'FUE', traditional Japanese bamboo flutes, are played continuously with the players, riding on the DASHI, tag in and out throughout the course of the day. (photo of the DASHI that I helped lug around all day with the TAIKO drummers doing there thing)
Kids as young as 7 are taught by seniors and elders the traditional tunes which are unique to each shrine in the area. The school desks are often put to an alternative use during lapses of concentration in class as they are more or less brainwashed the rhythm over a period of 2~3 weeks prior to Matsuri. It's really quite amazing how they keep a rhythm so well over such a long period of time. I don't think I could do it!(photo of some of the younger kids playing TAIKO)
The highlight of the Matsuri festival on the second day has to the gathering of all the DASHI in the local area in front of the station for a 'playoff / battle' of sorts where each team tries to out enthuse each other, which, as you can imagine, has an infectious effect on bystanders and performers alike creating a fantastic party atmosphere.(photo of some guys cutting loose and showboating to the crowd of gatherers)
Once the DASHI start to disperse things begin to wind down a little as every group begins there final lap of the block on the way back to their respective shrines.Of course, none of this would be possible without a little social lubricant/pain killer/ thirst quencher boozing. At Matsuri the drinks are flowing freely and there is a huge amount of beer and sake downed. I guess it is the only time that most people really get to let there hair down and party without inhibition in what is usually quite a subdued and socially inhibited society. Even so, it is remarkable how peaceful and smooth things run. There is none of the usual bravado that often accompanies large groups of young men out on the turps as you would find in most other developed countries and in fact, it's a very family orientated event with kids participating actively.
(photo of some of the young lads getting a top up at a drinks break)
Back at the shrine I plucked up the guts to lend a hand with the 'MIKOSHI'. These things are H-E-A-V-Y!!! I'd tried it once before and had bruised my shoulders so bad that the skin had all peeled off..NASTY stuff. Never again I said, but I'm a sucker for punishment. Actually it wasn't so bad this time around, although I only joined in at the end as one poor fellow looked set to collapse from exhaustion. As you can see in the photo above, I'm about 15~20cm too tall to fit in and as a result it is perpetually awkward.

Still, good times and I made some new friends and renewed old friendships from previous years which was cool. Bring on 2010!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kamogawa Matsuri festival

This weekend is Matsuri. I'm working saturday so will check out the festivities after work and join in on Sunday. I'll try to get some photos to document it all as this year we have traditional wear to look the part. Here's a couple of pics from last year.

Happy (last) Sunday!

Jun was the instigator for this particular BBQ as he has been busy all summer with surf lessons most weekends morning and afternoon. The call was made a week out and as luck would have it, kids were all genki and the sun was shining. We BBQ'd at a spot overlooking the beach and marina in May with lots of grass for the kids to run around and play on which was great and so this was the location of Sunday's BBQ too.
A chilly bin full of ice cold beers and Alex's Vietnamese bottle opener that had been hiding in the picnic bag mum gave us.
Jun prepping the lamb chops and setting them on the BBQ!!
Jun's lamb chops rival anything I've ever eaten! Let alone off a BBQ!! Somehow I managed to get my hands on the plate and sample the first one!!! They were so juicy. If you're in town and like lamb, you have to request Jun to whip some of these up.
Of course lamb chops weren't the only things we ate. Here's Jun and Miwa's boy, Yashi, chowing down on some fresh corn. Dave had a bunch of marinated chicken he had prepared as well as okra wrapped in thinly sliced pork. Shinya made some awesome Tandori pork and chicken. Kumika had some okra and bacon lined up as well as some potato, onion, bacon and cheese wrapped in tin foil. Etsuko and Miwa made some salads. And Aiko and I brought some steaks and a bunch of squid and some sausages.

Below is Etsuko and Mahina, relaxing in the shade until the heat came out of the sun for her to play on the grass.
Check Dave's blog (link) for a slide show of the BBQ and some classic photos.

More Photos from Shu

Here are some pics that Shu took a month or so back and I got on a CD the other day. Always stoked when someone takes a pic and they turn out half decent. Even the ones where I look like a kook are great 'cause they keep it real! hahaha. Above: at Seaside in Kamogawa
Below: at Kakou (rivermouth) in Kamogawa
Thanks again Shu, Mahalo Bra

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fun @ Seaside

Thanks to Shu for the pics!! Check his blog HEREThe waves were super fun, the sun was out, the water was warm and the crowd mellow and manageable with consistent waves rolling through almost non-stop! It would have been nice to chill all day at the beach but, now........ it's off to work :(

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pimped Ride

The "shaken", or WOF/Registration as we call it in NZ, is due to expire come the end of October. But never fear! Your airport chariot pick up service has been upgraded. You'll just have to tie down any kids, baggage, wives, etc on the back as there isn't a whole lotta room!!

But seriously (Ferrari's are well outta my price range), I went down to a used car shop, Gulliver, in Tateyama (a friend works there) that specialize in finding cars to custom in auctions. Aiko has her eye on an early 2000 Toyota Estima Aeras, pretty nice cars with plenty of seats and space but I had better start saving and being a bit more frugal!