Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Nick– Click-drag, click-drag, view, click-drag, grab-impale. With 3700 separate video clips and 4,000 GB’s of blood, sweat, and tears, organizing the edit is a tax audit with visuals. Numbers, reels, in points, out points, date– sorting the month of March took 9 hours alone, and it is a game best handled with a good soundtrack and some cold suds.
While I work on my carpal tunnels, the kind tune shop guy next door has been working day and night polishing, shaping, sharpening, and waxing boards sent in boxes from Hokkaido to Toyko. At $150 a tune, this Ferrari-worthy service is the craft of Gentem-guru, Hideki Takeda. “Most customers are presidents,” he explains, but from my perspective this kind of board love is not unusual here in Japan. It’s rare to see a dull edge or a scuffed topsheet, and Gentem rides are always carried around in cases like $100K cellos. They spend more time tweaking their boards than they do riding them, all in the name of the perfect turn.
The Japanese locker room
When Takeda and my hands and minds tire, we catch up for a coke– he brings the Japanese coconut cookies, and I supply the maple peanut butter from back home. We talk about life, we talk about riding, and, on this rainy June day, we talked about women. With Signatures rider, and freshly married, Ken Miyashita in tow, we asked each other questions echoed in the wax rooms of Jackson and Chamonix: how do you balance your riding and a life outside? There is a purity to a simple life, fueled by deep powder turns in quiet woods, and a desire in most of us to keep pushing further into that silence, where there are fewer friends, and even fewer women. The Silverton’s and the Pemberton’s: these are places where people have sacrificed vegetables and more to live in riding brilliance. But bad cases of “the crusties” creep up on the best of riders, and no one wants to be the 55 year-old trolling the Miner’s Tavern bar with ski boots on at 10pm.
As Taro explains, “There are places with steeper terrain, bigger mountains, maybe deeper snow than Niseko. But here there are friends, family, artists, musicians– there’s a real community.” Married at 44 and currently riding waves in Sumatra, Taro might be the model of efficiency, balancing 3-year-old Tenma, the Gentemstick business, marriage, and a 6 -day-a-week snowsurf/surf habit.
That said, stay tuned for Japanese pick-up lines from the tune shop for the trolling 55-year-old in us all.
MUSIC NOTES: The National, Boxer EP & Brushfire Records Holiday Album