Saturday, February 24, 2007

Omaezaki, Oh My! Sapporo Beer And A Beach On Fire...

Omaezaki Windsurf Report:
Omaezaki is famous for the area's consistent side shore westerly winds during the winter. The season is November through April. Summertime will see occasional wind too, especially if a typhoon passes in just the right track to bring sailable conditions. A typical winter windsurfing day at Omaezaki will be sunny with small-to-head high waves, barefoot-warm water with air temps in the 40's to 50's (F). Wind can range from 5.8 to 3.7 Check the forecast at WSF Iwamoto.

You might also catch NE wind under probably cloudy conditions on the Shizunami side. Beware the shore pound!


Well, I am not so sure about the Shizunami side shore pound, but I know what pounding surf sounds like to a hang over, especially when waking up wearing some guy you don't know's wetsuit in a tin portable shed between windsurfing sails where you slept for three hours, a half hour before sun-up on a beach in Japan you had lit on fire the night before because everybody thought you were famous and wanted to trade you your autograph for a beer and you thought "Sure, I'll sign for a Sapporo!"

And my friend David felt the same thing, too.

When you are young, the best way to cure the head pounding and cotton ball tongue of a morning after, is to take a swim before the sun is up in a cold body of water. And I don't mean just an in and out dip and run, either. No. You have to actually swim, getting your blood really moving, while the cold water does its job of dampening down your headache by freezing your brain.

When you are older, I suggest a coffee and a sit and think about a swim, or perhaps, sleeping in till tomorrow- and no bright lights...

And doesn't wind surfing look like a lot of fun?

OK. Let's see if I can get this tale running in a straight line, chronologically, so it makes some sense.

I was living in Tokyo. My friend David, who loved watersports and snow sports, was living in the Japan mountains, and he had come to visit me in Tokyo. He mentioned that Robbie Nash (famous in those days for his windsurfing skill) was going to be in a regatta of world class windsurfers in a place called Omaezaki, and I said "we should go."

Neither one of us had any savings, and so we decided to hitch hike and hostel it for a few days.

We were out early in the morning and standing for an hour with no luck. We had made a sign that said "Omaezaki" in kanji and were being passed and obviously ignored.

A police approached us and asked us what we were doing. We told him in broken Japanese that we were trying to get to Omaezaki to see the windsurfing regatta, and he smiled and said "Robbie Nash?" while miming a fast ride in a good wind.

"Yes." we said. "Robbie Nash"

The cop went out and started flagging down trucks. After three had stopped and gone, the fourth opened his door and the cop motioned for us to grab our stuff. This guy was going through Omaezaki, and since the cop asked so nicely, he was willing to take us.

The trip out there was one of chain smoking hell. The driver lit a cigarette with a cigarette, and David and I kept a window down for hours, even though it was fall and quite chilly out.

But we got there, and we found the hostel, and we found the hostel, of course, was full.

So were all of the cheap motels. So were the cheaper hotels. There was an international windsurfing event being held in this relatively small community, and young people had come from afar to witness it.

David and I were a day late and a Yen short, and we thought "Crap! Now what do we do?"

It was nearing six o'clock in the evening. We had small packs with us that were tiresome to lug around. We needed to eat, and we needed to find a place to sleep. I suggested we head over to where the beach and event was going to happen, and see what we could find out there? Sometimes, I have found, you can get caught up in an event and be one of its participants- in other words- you can crash the party.

We found no party. The beach was quiet and deserted. David and I hid our packs on the beach in an odd place nobody would look, and walked back toward town to find a place to eat. The sun had set on us, and the moon, thankfully, was reasonably full.

Japan is full of restaurants and bars. It is a cultural thing to eat and drink and have your face turn crimson and then get on stage and make a fool of yourself with a microphone and then stagger home to face the wrath of the missy...

It's done that way all the time.

So finding an open bar with food was easy, and we turned in and of course, all eyes fell on the two tall, young, athletic-looking guys who had just walked into the bar.

"Robbie Nash?" someone asked in our direction.

We shook our heads no and smiled.

If not Robbie Nash, then we must have been SOMEBODY!

The drunker men approached us and tried out their English.

"You berry berry tall! Takai n da ne?" (Most drunks who tried the English backed up their statement with Japanese. One of the reasons why talking to drunks was the best way to learn the language, though you had to be careful about picking up drunken mannerisms and pronunciations).

Our first round of beers was bought for us, and then we ordered, and somebody paid for that, and all David and I had to do was be entertaining and a novelty, something we both had learned how to do already, and the next thing you know, we're singing "Yesterday" and throwing darts and having a great time. People are coming up to us with sheets of paper and a felt pen, and we are signing autographs and a few of these are being pinned up over the bar (mine was upside down, but I didn't care) and as evenings such as this normally go, standing at the urinal and realizing I could no longer stop myself from swaying meant it was time to go.

David was there too, and we both staggered out of the bar happy and then started walking down the road, heading toward the beach where our small packs were hidden, and neither of us felt cold or even thought about the fact that we had no place to sleep.

I mean, the afterglow of a great night will follow you for awhile and keep you insulated from the facts of the matter, which in our case, were pretty grim.

The boys at the bar had been kind enough to send us on with a care package too. Two 1 litre bottles of Sapporo in a plastic bag. That was very kind of them, and we clinked while we staggered back to the beach, as I changed the lyrics to "Yesterday" and sang them horrifically, with David simply grinning and weaving alongside...

"Yesterday, when my momma was on holiday,
I brought my girlfriend home to play,
Oh I bereave, for yesterday...

Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be...
There's a switch-blade slicing through wee wee...
Oh how I bleed, oh yesterday..."

And so on and so forth... (Lorena Bobbit had had a profound impact on the psyche of us guys, and it came out in unusual ways and under unusual circumstances) as we walked back to where the wind blew constantly straight down the beach.

Sobering was the sand and the realization that it was a very cool night, and the wind was going to strip us of all of our warmth and after-bar glow in a hurry. Crap! Now what do we do?

This beach had an area of fairly high beach grass, and we headed for that to get out of the wind. It was a starry night, we had nothing to keep us warm but two bottles of beer, and we attempted to huddle down beneath the grasses and pretend that we couldn't actually freeze to death out here if we fell asleep. The pretending didn't work.

We needed to get up and make something happen, like a fire, if we were to finish our beers without dying of shivers.

David got up and started looking around. He spotted some metal storage sheds down the beach a ways, and suggested we go explore.

Sure. Anything was better than sitting here and shivering.

The first one we came to was open. Holy Moly! It was full of windsurfing gear, THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars worth of the best gear in the world. This was the gear the top riders were provided by their sponsors. This was the Neil Pride sails. The hand-sculpted boards. The Holy Moly of all windsurfing stuff and we had stumbled drunkly into it. If you want to know how crazy safe it is in Japan, here is some proof.

David was a big fan and windsurfing participant, so this stuff was like gold, to him. He wanted to run his fingers through the sails, caress each board, wiggle each tail fin.

I wanted to get the hell out of the shack, before someone saw us and called the cops. David finally saw my point, but as we were leaving, he found a green Coleman can of propane meant for a stove and took it, saying that it was justified because we were going to use it to save our lives.


David was going to make a fire. He had bar matches. He had ignition fuel. We headed back to our sheltered spot where we left our beers, and settled in while David commenced to build a small pyre and then tried to dump liquified gas on the pile, while I drunkenly failed to object to his methods, though I certainly knew better, having grown up with a pyromaniacal brother.

He jammed something sharp into the ball valve and shook out some contents, then struck a match.

Can anybody here see the problem with this?

A can full of propellant, with a tiny leaking hole and a flame?

Can you say ROCKET?

I think I yelled "ROCKET!"

Maybe I just screamed it in my head.

The green Coleman can turned into a rocket and shot and bounced and careened its way around the large stand of beach grass that we sheltered in, lighting everything in its wake on fire.

Grass and wind are a pretty nasty combination, and pretty soon, the entire hundred foot stretch of grass was burning, and David and I were running for the next stand over, hoping to have someplace to hide when the fire trucks came and the cops showed up.

Holy Crap! We were gonna get in some trouble.

But the thing is, beach grass like this flares up, the wind whips it into a hot scorching flame, and then it is gone. Within two minutes, there was no fire. No grass either, just blackened tufts of what looked like burnt hippy sage stuck in the sand. An area of grass about a hundred feet long by thirty or forty feet wide, simply gone...


Now we were drunk, cold, and scared of going to Japanese jail...

David and I hid there for over half an hour, but the shivering wind was crawling inside our fears and chasing us back to those tin buildings where shelter could be had. I was so cold I traded my clothing for a wetsuit, and then put my clothes back on, and then crawled in between layers of windsurfing sails and passed out. David did something similar, and that's how I found myself a few hours later, as my self-preserving subconscious woke me up early, and I looked around and put my location into a category I could understand in my still drunk and foggy mind. Oh yeah. Beer and a beach on fire... I remember.

A swim in the cold waters and I was in a mood to find a restaurant for breakfast.
David and I were gawked at and made to feel "special" again.

Sure, I'll sign for those eggs...


Nikky said...

Omg, this is so funny... what makes it weird is that as I was reading, I was listening to my iPod, and the song "Yesterday" came onin the middle of the paragraph BEFORE I read about you singing it, so it was a multi media event for me, eerie and cool at the same time! LOL
You better watch on Ebay, your autographs may start showing up there for sale... famous American pyromaniac that you are!LOL

Anonymous said...

I told you that I wanted one of those shirts with your pic on I want it autographed too!!

Lizza said...

Haha! That was a crazy night. You destroyed foliage and stole stuff and were treated like celebrities.

And yeah, I want an autograph too.

slaghammer said...

I’ve never been mistaken for a celebrity, but a junkie mistook me for a guy who owed him money a good while back. It was a sad story actually, the guy crashed a car years before and his little brother died at the crash site while he held him in his arms, so the story went.

Cheesy said...

Man I was seeing the equiptment catching fire... glad I was wrong!

Free stuff tastes purdy sweet eh??

CSL said...

Looks like you never outgrew your childhood pyromania. Fire and celebrity - you hit the jackpot that night!

tkkerouac said...

A great read!

kario said...

You lead a charmed life, Scotty-boy. What an adventure! BTW, how was the windsurfing?

Leesa said...

Just a quick note to let you know that Battle of the Blogs has started. Round One will last until Sunday evening.

Leesa (

Leesa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tammie Jean said...

You tell a great story! Thoroughly enjoyable!

Bernita said...

What a great story.

Steven Novak said...

Holy shit!

That was a hell of a story!


Irene said...

I bet you look hot in a wetsuit. ;p

Jean said...

Wow... your life seems to be one adventure after another... no fear. Until after the fact, anyway... :)