Our favorite Kiwi pro checked out the area where the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will hold the surfing event
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 June, 2017 - Globetrotter Paige Hareb landed in Japan to compete in the WSL QS3000 Ichinomiya Chiba Open held at Shida Point, the future site of the world's first Olympic surfing competition.
Paige was fortunate enough to explore some of the surreal contrasts of Japan, mainly neon Tokyo with the laid-back coastal towns on the Chiba Peninsula. Hareb hopes to return to this spot as part of the New Zealand Olympic Surfing team in just three short years.
Heading back to Japan for only my second time ever, I was still very excited. Partly to do with the fact that Tokyo City is a crazy, different place that a small town girl like me loves to get lost in for a day of shopping, eating and a bit of a culture shock. Also the fact that this competition was going to be at the exact same beach where they are hoping to have the surfing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. So with my big goal in mind of representing New Zealand at the Olympics, I was pretty keen to get a sneak peak at the place.
Before heading there, a few of the girls sent out a group message warning us about the leaking Nuclear power plant still unable to get under control after the major earthquake and tsunami there years ago now. Of course before going I was a bit wary of it but after talking to local people about it, they said the water is checked three times a day and that it has be fine for ages. I was happy to be reassured but not that happy about the water almost being colder than home in winter!
We were in an area called Shiba on the Chiba peninsula. About an hour and a half drive from Narita airport. It’s a complete contrast of Tokyo. A cool little country like surf town with many surf shops along the main road that runs parallel to the ocean. Rice fields and lots of tiny houses, some even where they sleep upstairs and just open up their little cafe or restaurant downstairs it seemed like whenever they felt like it. Not many people spoke English very well, if at all; so we had to hope the food menu had photos to point at.
The wave ‘Shiba point’ is actually a beach break between two man made rock and concrete piers or like a groyne. It was super small the whole time I was there so only saw it breaking at a max of 2ft but did have some nice, clean and fun conditions and could definitely see the potential although I’m sure to make the Olympics more exciting a wave pool may be better in a country like Japan unless we are lucky enough to get a typhoon. Unfortunately I got knocked in the quarter finals against a local Japanese girl who went on to the final. I had another amazing time here because of the great combo of weather, food, heated toilet seats and how friendly, helpful, nice and gracious the Japanese really are. The nicest people I’ve ever come across on my travels, even their little ‘thank you and goodbye’ nods and bowing rubbed off on me, finding myself doing the exact same thing when I was getting off the plane back home! Arigato Japan!