How To Do A Surf Trip To Japan

th_DSC_8120Insert yourself here. Photo: Mitsuteru Kamio

This year’s Typhoon season has yielded stunning images like the ones seen above and below, which were shot just last week. With another swell set to saunter in sometime in the next few days, the time is now to get yourself a plane ticket and say sayonara to your friends and family. Japan has a reputation to be on the luxurious side of surf trips, so we put together a guide to tell you how to travel to Japan cheap and easy. —Jake Tellkamp

On getting there…

Here’s a hint: a lot of the Asian airlines don’t charge for board bags. Do your research, because that four-hundred bucks you just saved can now be better spent on sushi, sneakers and samurai swords. You’re welcome.

Speaking of sushi…

It isn’t cheaper because it’s from there. Fish and seaweed will still set you back some Yen. But here’s a secret: gorge yourself on the ready-made delicacies at 7/11, like the beef and rice bowls that you’ll always long for. And if you can’t find a 7-11, instant ramen dispensaries can be found on the beaches of Shonan. Still, be sure to go for one big pig-out on your trip. It’s almost sacrilegious to travel to The Land Of The Rising Sun without a trip to a Kaiten sushi joint. (You know, the conveyor belt of every glutton’s dream).

Shun Murakami-Mitsuteru KamioA_1Shun Murakami. Photo: Mitsuteru Kamio

If you think you are turning Japanese in anticipation,

Know a few words before you set sail. One word in particular has gotten me more than a few discounted meals and instantaneous friendships. No, it’s not domo arigato. The magic word is oishii which means delicious or very good. I traveled through Japan singing oishii to every chef I met and they probably thought I was a kook but they appreciated the effort. The Japanese are some of the most generous and caring people I have ever come across.

Make some friends, Chiba is a good place to start!

As I said, the Japanese surfing community are some of the coolest folks around and are pretty keen to show you a good time. If you are an anti-social jackass, renting a car isn’t cheap and is nearly impossible — all the signs are in Japanese, which I’m guessing you don’t read. Before your new friendship is forged, the best way to get around is by public transport. Japan has the best system in the world. Traveling by train will cost you about two hundred bucks a week in USD, so plan accordingly. Chiba is a good place to base yourself if you’re trying to budget. Shidashita has fun wedges and Malibu, where Andy and Kelly went at it like Godzilla and Mothra in 2004, is only a short jaunt up the coast.

And if the waves go flat…

Tokyo is a futuristic wonderland infused with ancient culture that hasn’t been diluted by outside influence. Do yourself and your memory bank a favor and hop onto a Hatobus and tour the city. For 100 USD (12,000 JYN), you’ll be able to see the Tokyo Tower, tour The Imperial Palace and even sip green tea made by kimono-wearing women. While you’ll definitely be sharing the bus with the dreaded tourist type, you’ll quickly forget about Pam and Bill as you become lost in your appreciation of Japan’s unique architecture and foreign intrigue.

Shun Murakami-Mitsuteru Kamio_1Shun Murakami. Photo: Mitsuteru Kamio

If tour busses aren’t your thing, you are in luck!

If you visit a bar or a cocktail lounge, getting drunk in Japan is expensive. But guess what. You can drink legally in the streets here. Grab yourself a beer from a vending machine and stroll the streets with your road soda proudly. Just make sure you don’t get roaring drunk and piss off the Yakuza.