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Shonan – the birthplace of Japan’s modern surf culture

ITN News Editor
By ITN News Editor July 23, 2019 13:01

Shonan – the birthplace of Japan’s modern surf culture

Surfing makes its Olympic debut next year at Chiba’s Ichinomiya beach but for many Japanese it is the Shonan coast, 50 kilometres south of Tokyo, that will be regarded as the birthplace of the country’s modern surf culture.It is here that the modern style of surfing was first brought to Japan in the 1960s by American servicemen based at the nearby Atsugi military base during the Vietnam War, who would head to the coast with their boards during downtime.Before that, locals would surf the waves using wooden boards known locally as ‘itago’.American surfers would leave their boards with local families or in beach huts when they returned to base.

Locals would often sneak into the huts, use the U.S.-made boards to practice, and make sure they were back in place before the soldiers returned.Tenji Oda, known in Shonan as a local surfing pioneer, also remembers the feeling of wonder at the sight of the new, longboard-style American boards.

ITN News Editor
By ITN News Editor July 23, 2019 13:01

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