Backwash Surf Anthology travelled to Japan for Issue 2 and Chris Nelson was commissioned to pen a piece on the surf community of Hokkaido.
“The sun has dropped below the hills. Shadows stretch from dark factory buildings: over the tarmac, across the dunes and onto the beach. It’s 1981, grey days of a grey era; Reagan in the White House, Thatcher in Downing Street and a Cold War turned frigid. But here on Hokkaido’s Itanki Beach, a small band of surfers are savouring a fresh autumn swell, the coconut aroma of surf wax and the feel of salt crusted hair. A cluster of cars huddle at the southern end of the beach road, three dark silhouettes float serenely on the glassy ocean, fading into the burnt pink canvas. Voices rise and fall against the background of spilling white water; a bonfire sends a spray of sparks into the blue black of the advancing night. A collection of figures laugh, hoot and jostle as they relive the days adventure, re-riding waves as they stand around the dancing flames. Candy coloured boards lie scattered on the ground, one is pushed nose first into the sand, the MR superman logo inverted on a white foam tombstone. Damp wetsuits have collapsed in exhaustion, black neoprene dusted with a fine velvet of wet sand. Beer caps are popped opened, the gold star of the Sapporo Brewery glimmers in the firelight. The city surfers will soon be making the drive home, but the Muroran locals will linger a little longer, talk story, stoke the fire and fire the stoke for tomorrow’s coming swell.
“It was like the film ‘Big Wednesday’”, remembers Kazuhiro Miyatake with a broad smile. “There were about twelve or thirteen of us who were friends. We would come together after surfing, drinking beer on the beach here at Itanki. But now it’s very strict: if you drink you can’t drive. But back then it was not so strict – it was not good – but not so strict. So after surfing we got together, we barbequed, we drank beer and then we drove home.” …” CONTINUES