Plunging Into Japan's Under-the-Radar Surf Scene
The founders of cult surf brand Saturdays NYC often explore hidden corners of the country, where surf culture burns hot. On their latest visit, they plunged into under-the-radar Shikoku.
Twice a year, Colin Tunstall, Josh Rosen, and Morgan Collett, the founders of the Manhattan surfboard- and-apparel company Saturdays NYC, visit their stores in Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya, and Osaka, always working in a surf trip on the side. Last fall, the trio headed to Shikoku, the most secluded of Japan’s four main islands, where they awaited an offshore storm that would produce ideal surfing conditions. When not on their boards, they took in the idyllic landscape around the fishing village of Kaifu. “In Tokyo, there are so many dinners, events, parties,” says Tunstall, who shares the stories behind his photographs below. “In Shikoku, it was all about exploring and being by the water.”
1. Our friends took us to Todoroki Falls (Aza Kareidani Hirai, Kaiyo-cho, Tokushima), deep in the woods outside Kaifu. The water was crystal blue and the vegetation was so lush. There were rainbows everywhere. We swam and felt the power of the place.
2. Here, I’m with Kohei Chiba. He owns 303 Surfboards, which we carry at our shops in Japan. He’s a god there.
3. Fishing is integral to life on Shikoku. The boats all had this aquamarine shade inside.
5. The wave at the mouth of the Kaifu River breaks for about 200 yards. There were some local pros just tearing it up, yet there was a real positive energy in the water—none of the negativity you sometimes find at a local spot.
6. This fire truck looks like it’s from another era. The colors, the Japanese characters, the pattern of the hose. It’s just so different from what we see in New York.
7. Here we’re over-looking the river and part of the town of Kaifu. One of the things I’ve noticed in my travels around Japan is the crazy amount of life that takes place on the water.
8. Part of our trip involved checking out Kohei’s operation. This is the desk in his finishing bay. There are posters he put up from the seventies, eighties, nineties. He’s been making boards for a long time. Instead of bringing my own board, I asked him to shape one for me.
9. That’s Shota, who works for our company in Japan. He also surfs competitively a little bit. He seemed very comfortable with his tan