Words by Seigo Akado. Slingshot Importer, Japan. Photos by M. Endo.
I had wished that Slingshot would send a team rider to Japan so that we could show them just how stoked we are about kiting. One day I got an answer that Christiaan Brower was headed our way. When we heard the news there was much rejoicing in the streets because Christiaan Brouwer is BIG IN JAPAN!
Our first stop on the tour was Okinawa . It is located in the south of Japan close to Taiwan . We visited Okinawa for a festival which is organized by a Tomaru-kun, a National Slingshot team rider, and his shop Kite Club. This was my first visit to his shop and it blew our minds at how cool it was.
After we set up our boards at the beach we went to have dinner together. This was Christiaan’s very first time using chopsticks. The food in Okinawa is very different from main land Japan . They have special sake, they eat raw goat meat and special soba noodles. We ordered tons of stuff for Christiaan to try. Baptism by fire is always fun.
We had practice on the next morning and had competition on the days following. He and four Japanese national team riders showed off their best tricks. Christiaan’s talent was truly remarkable. He was throwing down anything and everything that we could come up with. Sometimes he nailed it sometimes he didn’t. In the end he left with a smile. What a sportsman! He really impressed the crowds at this event and re-enforced the good things people already thought about him.
We had two parties between the days of competition. Christiaan was shocked because Japanese competitions were more like parties without the dancing and music. I guess he had fun.
The next few days we moved around a bit. We drove from Yokohama to Chiba via the under water tunnel. He was totally impressed because Tokyo is way bigger than he thought. We arrived in Futtu on time and in one piece. Luckily the wind started picking up just as we got there. I forgot how cold it gets there…Burrrr. In the end riding, even though it’s cold, is better than no riding right?
Christiaan puked about 10 times during the drive. I hope it was due to a cold and not my driving. I thought to myself maybe he is tired from the traveling with the big Japanese guy, the cold water, the un-known food and having to negotiate chop sticks. We had to cancel dinner with Japan ‘s Real Kite owner Kaneko-san and his customers and decided to call it an early night. Christiaan was happy with the extra sleep. I was happy not to have to listen to him on the phone to his girl friend. That reminds me I have to invoice to Christiaan for the big telephone bill. Christiaan says love is beautiful; I say love is blind.
The next venture was to find snow for a bit of snow-kiting. We met up with some of the locals to test the virgin snow. Most were hesitant about snow-kiting maybe even a bit nervous but 15 minutes into it they were trying moves they normally reserve for the water. This was Christiaan’s first time snow-kiting as well. He figured out soon enough that all you need is kite / board skills and a great attitude to make it happen. Once Christiaan figured it out he was soon to help the others get into it as well. He obviously has a great love for the sport as I saw when he was rallying everyone for a tips and tricks clinic. It was all good. We even had a little competition towards the end of the day where one of the locals took first place.
A few days, some demos, clinics, parties, competitions and more partying later I dropped Christiaan off at the airport and bid him a fond farewell and thank you. He replied…arigato…sucka! I guess that Dutch for “thanks I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me, see you soon” …right?