tales from japan
I had lived in other countries but they were English speaking and I hadn’t felt the need to seek out mates from Ostralya. Anyone who could drink beer, handle a boisterous argument or two and hopefully indulged in surfing would do. This time things were different, I had moved to Japan.
I wont bore you with how or why I got there. I’m still trying to figure that out myself. Suffice to say I had been going out of my tiny mind living with the natives until I bumped into a couple of clowns – Mark and Matt from Perth,WA.
It was winter. It was cold. I had just moved from living amongst the yakuza and prostitute filled streets of Bandobashi in Yokohama to a place near the ocean.
I had found a house owned and inhabited by an older couple whose kids had left the nest. The house was older than them by a considerable margin. There were a couple of rooms going. I chose the top floor one. A room at the end of some long narrow wooden stairs. It was an attic really.The old dame played the harp. She had three of the things. Lovely sound except when you are hungover or trying to get your legover.
So anyway. I knew about the surf in Japan. I had always bought Tracks and half-inched the odd surf magazine. I still have a clear image of a photo in one such mag of Reno Abillera squeezing himself into a 1.5 foot tube 10 or so feet from shore at the annual comp in Chiba Japan. So when Mark offered to sell me a board now that I was living by the ocean I cacked myself and gave him the two finger salute. “You will want it mate” he said. Yeah right.
Mark was a wiry blond happy go lucky fellow and a persistent bastard. True blue Ostralyan. He had what used to be known as character. Example, he would later show the video Bunyip Dreaming to a bunch of Japanese and pointed out Munga Barry as being him and Luke Egan as being me. Give him an inch, he would take a mile.
Unbelievably, my new lodgings were near a stretch of some fantastic reef breaks. I didn’t know that until a run along the beach one morning. Long period groundswell decorated the reefs in 4feet plus of offshore splendour. Swell from a rare March typhoon many kms away. As I ran along the beach, that board loomed large in the cavity behind my forehead. I could think of little else.
Later at work that day the cheeky sod came towards me with a big smile on his face. Did you get out there today mate? he asked. GetFcked! the usual aussie response from moi. Tell me about that board then I ventured. Aloha. Red. Used just on two years. 50,000 yen. At the time that was 800 bucks. A custom from Bean at Balin surfboards was $400. You can imagine my response. A board sourced locally was 120,000 yen he reminded me. He worked on me all day. A synoptic chart he grabbed from the newspaper showing another typhoon helped me decide.40,000 yen! Done, he said. Shit that was easy I thought.
How do I get it? I didn’t have a car, nor bicycle. Mark had a car. He named a restaurant carpark where the handover would take place and arranged a local gal with a car to take me. The meeting would be at night. My alarm bells were going off but he wouldn’t rip me off would he? Not a fellow aussie. Not a mate!
As I said earlier, I wasn’t always an idiot. I was once a fcking idiot.
Later in the day he asked if I had a wetsuit. I didn’t. Night time temps around 3/4degrees. Mark would throw one in for an extra 15,000 yen.You know it made sense! A suit from home new was $150! In for a penny, in for a pounding! The deal would be done.The meet was on.
A girl I had never seen before picked me up. She could speak some English and spent 30 minutes telling me that Mark was a good surfer.We got to the carpark and it was dark.No Mark. 15 minutes later Mark turns up in a hurry. I handed over the dough, he handed over the board and wetty. He threw in a leggy and we were sweet.What a mate!
The next day arrived and I could take a good look at my new board. The red colour was deep and dark. The stringer seemed to go horizontally across the board about 3/4 of the way up. You know what that means! The nose resembled that of the concord. Maybe ok for flying but not much chop for surfing.Something had chewed the arse off the tail. It had been taped up and the tape painted red.You can imagine my newfound happiness.
The next day, I got picked up by the same chick to join Mark and Matt for a surf. As soon as M&M saw my face they burst into laughter. Not to worry mate! Mark said he would give me back 10,000 yen. I felt a little better. He really is a mate! They paddled out as I wrestled to get my bargain wetty on. As I pulled the zipper up the cord came right of in my hand and the zip broke and slid all the way back down to my arse.