Christian Fletcher | Japan

Japan is one of the coolest places and one of my favorites in this crazy place we call a world. It’s the only spot where every imaginable trend and subculture can be seen on Tokyo’s busy streets and where doing everything to the extreme is in their nature (which I can more than relate to). Whether it is their job or just a hobby, everything they do is done with dedication and efficiency. When the Japanese do stuff they go all out, and I mean all out! For example, something I’ve always found impressive is how prepared they are when they go surfing. I mean they have plastic tubs prepared for wetsuits and changing, a shower with warm water and completely decked out mini vans with all the bells and whistles needed for a surfer. Their methods are just smart and convenient. It made me feel like the most unprepared surfer in the world because let’s be realistic here, it’s rare that I even have a towel or wax. Seeing how they did things I had to take out a pen and paper and start taking notes. And I have actually been learning, I got myself a surf wagon (still working on all the bells and whistles part). The Japanese are just cool.Words by Christian Fletcher, photos by YOGE

Nisi (Devil Man) in 93, Euro tour

The first time I went to Japan was in 1987 with Matt Archbold and Dino Andino. I was 16 years old. We were invited over by CHP to surf in the Hebara Beach APS contest. The first day I was there the waves were pretty small, but it was okay with me because Matt and I spotted Cheyne Horan who invited us to go skate. We were like “Fuck Yeah!” and waited for his friend to come pick us up. Next thing we know this white Ford Falcon convertible pulled up and out jumped this guy Nisi, who they called The Devil Man. We hopped in; next thing you know I was on acid skateboarding a white half pipe on the beach and that’s how my lifelong friendship with The Devil Man began.

THIS LAST MARCH WE LANDED IN CHIBA, JAPAN AND GOT PICKED UP BY YOHEY, THE RVCA DISTRIBUTOR IN JAPAN AND OUR VERY OWN TOUR GUIDE EXTRAORDINAIRE. WE HEADED FOR SHONAN AS YOHEY STARTED TELLING US ABOUT HOW HE’D RECENTLY BEEN TAKING CARE OF AN OLD FRIEND (AND NOT JUST ANY OLD FRIEND). WHO COULD HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS THE FRIEND I MET ON MY VERY FIRST DAY IN JAPAN MORE THAN 25 YEARS AGO. YOU KNOW, THE ONE WHO GAVE ME ACID AND TOOK ME SKATING, YEAH THAT ONE.

If you haven’t already assumed so between the heathen nickname and first impressions, yes, Nisi is one gnarly motherfucker. I mean people sure didn’t call him The Devil Man (or akuma) for just shits and giggles. Nisi was an extreme person and did everything possible until he could no more. He is fearless, but exercised the same motto and attitude towards life, “Live Fast, Die Last!”

Apparently The Devil Man had lost his leg while battling rival samurai clans in the dark of the night, or something to that nature, and I wanted to pay my respects before he headed to hell. Fittingly, I brought my old pal a present, something he needed most- a new leg! So we stopped by the hardware store, picked up a plunger and wrapped it up in a pretty blue bow. Not going to lie, the Devil Man couldn’t be happier as he unwrapped his new leg and sat down to reminisce.

True Japanese Gangsters

FROM THERE WE LEFT THE DEVIL MAN TO RECUPERATE AND STARTED TO MAKE OUR WAY AROUND THE COUNTRY STOPPING TO VISIT SURF SHOPS, BEACHES, OLD FRIENDS AND WELCOMING FANS. OUR NIFTY TOUR GUIDE YOHEY ALLOWED US TO EXPERIENCE THE SERENITY OF THE COUNTRY OF JAPAN WHERE YOU COULD SEE NOTHING BUT RICE PADDIES THEN THE EXCITING LIFE OF THE CITY WHERE NO ONE SLEEPS AND EVERYONE DRINKS. FROM THE HISTORIC AND TRADITIONALLY BUILT WOODEN TEMPLES AND SHRINES TO EXQUISITELY MODERN AND ABSTRACT SKYSCRAPERS, JAPAN’S HISTORY IS TRULY EVIDENT IN ITS ARCHITECTURE. THE ONE COMMON THING WHETHER WE WENT FROM CITY TO COUNTRY OR BEACH TO MOUNTAIN IS THAT THE OLD AND THE NEW SEAMLESSLY FUSE BOTH OF TRADITION AND MODERNITY. THUS, JAPAN IS A CULTURE AND COUNTRY THAT EXHIBITS A SORT OF BALANCE OF OPPOSITES, YOU COULD SAY.

When you go somewhere it's always a good idea to stop by and say hello to the local boss before you invade their waters.

Me and the beautiful Mrs Chhum

On Top if Treasure Isle team OGS

Small Frontside in Chiba

Jet Li about to fly over me

The big backside attack while I'm staring out the back

Hangin loose in Japan

The Asian Newport

Ollie Over Jack

Jet Li with a big Lien

It's good to be limber

On the outside looking in

Treasure Isle Bowl

4 years old and ripping

OGS 4 Life

What I do admire and appreciate about surfing in Japan is their support system and sense of community. There, the surf shops are more than just places to go buy your crap. They open the shops up to local kids and surfers so they have somewhere to change, wash off, store their boards and even learn from other surfers. It was really cool to see the kids have that available to them. I even saw four-year-old kids grinding and launching airs. Everywhere else surfers are too cool for each other.

If there was any doubts

They say it’s the small things in life that matter. Things like the pleasant feeling of a warm toilet seat in the middle of the cold night, not getting nervous when you realize the toilet papers out because you can just spray your ass clean with the bidet, being able to get caffeine day or night from a machine on the corner of the street (or any corner for that matter) and having the option to smoke a cigarette anywhere you damn well please. Sure you’ll be charmed by the much anticipated cherry blossoms as you find yourself participating in the traditional custom of flower viewing, but it’s the little things like that peculiar feeling of first witnessing a sea of surgical masks and the curious mystery behind their covered faces that make for memorable moments. Some may find reasons like these trivial but it is these things that are characteristic of why the Japanese culture is so rad in so many ways and why Japan was so damn difficult to leave behind and even more difficult to forget.




Back to Top