第3回 竹井達男 Total Dedication〜シングルフィン・ロングボードを追い求め

No. 3 Tatsuo Takei Total Dedication ~ Pursuing the single fin longboard

A revival of classic longboarding that began in Southern California in the late 1990s. Tatsuo Takei and I met in San Diego, California at a time when longboarding was more minor and anti-mainstream in Japan than it is now, and we have both experienced the deep culture.

This guy has always faced single fin logging without worrying about trends, and after living in a car called VAN LIFE on the West Coast, he has released a photo book AUTHENTIC WAVE, which is a compilation of his work in Japan and the United States. Five years have passed since the coronavirus pandemic. As a re-import, he has once again established himself as a base in Japan and is starting a new activity. I wanted to know what he was thinking about right now, and where and what he was doing, so I contacted him for the first time in a long while via ZOOM.

(Aomori, Japan. Photo: Kaori Sasaki)

Where are you currently and what are you doing?

I'm in Aomori, facing photography and myself!

Where do you base your life?

In the past, it was a 50/50 split between Osaka and Encinitas (in San Diego). I sold my car in California in February of this year, and I was able to stay in Japan for almost a full year before coming back, so it feels like I've set up a new environment.

I'm currently in Aomori, where I have an environment where I can focus on my photography and surfing, so I'm thinking of repeating my two-month stay there twice within the year. I'm thinking of staying in May and June this year, returning to Osaka once in July and August, and returning to Aomori in September and October. Autumn is the time to take some serious photos. Right now, I'm more focused on surfing than photography.

After returning to Japan from California, why did I choose Aomori again? It's really cold, isn't it?

Yes, it's definitely cold. The water was colder than I expected, and the wind was colder as well. Winter is unimaginably cold (lol). But the reason I went to Aomori was because I could be alone. I have friends and acquaintances, but I don't have to go out of my way to meet other people when I go to the beach. I think there are a lot of problems with leashes in Japan, where you can surf by yourself, but if you're careful enough, no one will make a fuss about not wearing a leash. I think there are many different places for longboarding, but the place I live in Aomori Prefecture has waves that are suitable for longboarding. I went out of my way to find such a place, and after going back and forth during this coronavirus, I thought, oh, this is it. I thought the waves were a little similar to those in California.

Is it more about surfing? You said you were facing the photograph, but it wasn't the place you ended up in in search of the subject?

As you can see in the photos, the surfing level of the people living here is increasing year by year. I noticed it the first time I saw it, but each time I came back, everyone was getting better and better at single-fin longboarding. When the waves are good or the conditions are suitable for photography, you can have a local session and take some sharp photos. It's been two years since I've been going, and I've been bringing my camera for about three years now, and I've been able to take quite a few photos of longboards that are a little different than anything you'll find in California, so I think that's fulfilling in itself.

But even if the current season is good, the winter season will be harsh.

It's definitely not possible in the middle of winter. The end of October is my limit.

It's Japan, so it's not like you live in your car, right?

At first, I lived in a hotel, but I couldn't cook even if I wanted to. During my third year at the school, I made new friends and was able to rent a room in my house, and now I rent a room on a monthly basis.

It's not like they're going to bring in pro surfers and take pictures, right?

Most of the time, Seitaro Nakamura comes over from time to time. I guess that's part of the fun for me. After all, I'm surfing like oh.

Other than that?

It's not that famous, but there are local surfers in Chiba, and the furthest I can go is around Shonan. I come here every now and then. I think people in the underground are starting to notice the surf scene here. We had Troy Elmore, Gaitare, and last week Andrew Kidman.

Please tell me about the study sessions you are currently holding in various parts of Japan.

Previously, I had American children come to my house and show them videos. When there was a kid who wanted to see just Rance Carson, I said okay, and showed him a movie that looked like a Rance Carson collection that had been dubbed over and over again. The kids came on Saturday and whew! I was saying things like that, but the kids with good taste were like, ``I want to see David Nuiva next.'' Japanese screenings are an extension of that, as in the past there was a focus on surfing over the Sixties, but now that's no longer relevant.

In particular, we have moved past California in the 1990s, but we thought it would be a good idea to suppress that, so we started a study group for adults.

In the 1990s, 30 years after the Sixties, we in America were really excited. A lot of things have happened, and now it's been 30 years since the 1990s. So my experience is that it's going to get more exciting again, and that someone will start a movement again. Maybe a group of women will say whether it's California or Europe. What I started this year was to try longboarding properly, try single fin riding, and prepare early.

In this age of YouTube, the Internet, and SNS, who dares to stick to analog methods?

Well, if you do it on the internet, it will spread, but I still want people who like it to come and see it, so I think it's a good idea to connect with people who really like it and do it in various places, which suits my pace. Kanato. After all, you may be surprised. Oh, it's amazing that there are surfers like this in such a place.

It's partly the inconvenience that we feel when the world is affected by the coronavirus and we can't move, but as a reaction to that, we're trying to move around and have fun little by little.

At the current study session, we're mainly introducing the Sixties, but once we're done, we'll be studying the 90s, so we've already got the material ready. Joel Tudor, Tyler Hadzikian, Matt Howard and Brittany Quinn, those are the ones holding it down. Even other longboarders of my generation, like JJ, said they grew up watching Matt and Brittany surf.

(Robin kegel Photo: Tatsuo Takei)

Are you working with Robbie Kegal, who is an outlaw similar to Matt and Brittany?

I think I'll grab Robbie from now on and take some good videos and photos. I heard that your body has gotten a little bigger now, but have you seen the video of Morocco? After all, it's cool surfing.

He's been doing a lot of work in France, and he's currently in Ojai, California, so I'm looking forward to his next project. I hope you come to Japan soon (lol).

You've had a long relationship with Seitaro Nakamura. He was at Cardiff at the same time in the late 90s.

Yeah. At the time I was at the Pipes and Kevin Connelly took me to Cardi Leaf. After that, whenever we happened to meet each other in Japan, we were both in a hurry and would only say a word or two and then see each other again, but a few years ago we happened to meet again in Aomori. They come here at least once a year, so I make sure to take time to take pictures of them. I feel like the things we both have and the things we see are a little similar.

I want to make a decision about this year, and we're talking about having another session in early fall, maybe during a typhoon swell. He is one of the subjects I would like to photograph over a longer period of time. In my mind, I think he's a person with just a little bit of brilliance.

Also, since about last year, I've been taking pictures underwater, and Seitaro-kun is also getting excited. Now that I'm older, it's quite tight, but the water housing is also heavy. I do it while feeling dizzy, and I'm learning every time (lol).

There is no doubt that Thomas Campbell's The Seedling, in which Seitaro appears, was an epoch-making work that introduced the world of single fin longboards to the younger generation of Japanese people, but it was released at the time before VHS was released. , I remember that the only Japanese people at the premiere at San Diego Encinitas' La Paloma Theater were me, Tatsuo-chan, and Seitaro, and my friends were the only Japanese people there.

it was. I still remember that. Also, Andy Davis was selling The Seedling VHS and T-shirts in the lobby of the theater.

Thomas was hanging out with Jimmy Gamboa and others in LA, and at the time I had the impression that he was a skateboarder photographer making his next surfing movie.

Thomas had a black and white photo in SURFER magazine, and then he shot a 16mm movie in Cardiff and introduced himself. Then he told me that you were taking pictures with a Century lens. So, I was asked how I was developing my photos, and I said that I was doing it at school, but I was graduating soon so I wasn't sure what to do with it, and he asked me to share his photo darkroom with him. Then Thomas and his girlfriend Michelle (now Michelle Kidman) shared a darkroom in Encinitas. After Seedling, I went to Australia for four months, and when I came back, the two of us had already broken up, so it was very difficult (lol).

The 1990s were like that, but Seitaro and I sometimes talk about how we haven't changed at all since then, or rather, we've only been doing the same things.

What is the reason for sticking to classic single fin surfing for so long?

It's really deep and interesting, and I don't think there's anything else like it. It's like having eaten all kinds of ramen but always ending up at the same restaurant.

Actually, I don't really want to do this or that, I just keep going round and round about this one thing, but I feel like it's deep.

When I met Seitaro-kun for the first time in a while, I thought, ``He's even more polished than he was in the 90s, and the way he's polished is incredible! "and.

I've been doing photography for a long time, but I want to go deeper into it, so this time he gave me another opportunity to revisit photography.

(Cardiff by the sea Photo: Julian Martin)

In the photo book AUTHENTIC WAVE, you wrote about van life, but what was it like when you actually tried beach life? It's something that normal people can't do. How long have you been doing it?

I think I've changed two cars and been doing this for over 10 years. That's exactly what I've been doing since before it was called VAN LIFE, and I've seen a lot of people's beach lives and what they really look like. I've lived the beach life, and there have been good times and bad times, but I guess I forget the bad times over time (lol). There are many times when I think it's the best.

In an environment where it's cold or hot and you can't really adjust the temperature, you can't live without hope and work, and that's why I've been living in a car. I think this would be the least wasteful option without buying a house. Although I can't have a family, I was able to do it because I had a goal of releasing my own photo book.

If you live a normal life, your possessions will keep accumulating, but when you live in a car, there are things you have to throw away or give up.

I agree. Honestly, I want a wife and family, but if I don't go this far, it will be rude to the other person, and I might end up depending on them too.

The same goes for things. If you don't pay attention to it, it will keep increasing. As I get older, I want this and that less and less. Even if I don't have anything, I can now have time for myself, and I think it's the culmination of everything I've done so far. Well, I guess it's kind of like Touji. After going surfing today, I went straight to the hot springs. Prepare your body and go to bed early. It's like something my grandpa would do (lol).

However, in America, no matter how tired you were from living in a car or filming, there were no super public baths, and you wouldn't have been able to take a relaxing bath, so it must have been tough.

That was tough! I was using the shower at the fitness center, but the boiler was old, so it took a long time to heat up, and the shower was a bit slow. It was especially difficult during the winter. I experienced a lot of things in my car life, including things like that.

(CA VAN LIFE Photo: Julian Roubinet)

Having been following California's classic longboard scene for a long time, what do you think of the recent trends?

To be honest, I think it's a bit silly (lol). Because ever since Joel did the duct tape contest, more young people and older people want to try longboarding, but it's not the only kind of longboarding. I'd like to see more old men surfing, and even if someone mentions the Sixties or David Nuiva, I don't think they'll understand. I would like the generation of longboarders, regardless of their nationality, to learn more about the 1960s and 1990s.

It's been 30 years since you first studied abroad in California in the early 1990s, but how do you think the atmosphere and the people who gather at the beach have changed?

It's changed a lot. Nowadays, there are a lot more tech people on the beach, like Amazon and Google, and they come to the beach in Teslas. It accelerates so fast, you'll be surprised how fast it will hit someone in the parking lot. I think it's strange that the fins are attached upside down (lol).

Which surfer would you like to photograph as a subject in the future?

As I mentioned earlier, in California there are Robbie Kegal and the young Zach Florest. In Japan, I would like to photograph people like Seitaro Nakamura and Yuta Sezutsu if I have a chance.

What kind of surfboard do you like? What is your favorite break?

I like longboards that are a little heavier, ones with pointy noses like the Phil Edwards or Mike Hinson models.

My favorite breaks are waves that are suitable for longboards, such as Cardiff and Sunno. In Japan, such breaks are rare, but at Shichirigahama in Kamakura, Kashima in Shizuoka, Onjuku in Chiba, Hirai in Ibaraki, Irago in Aichi, and Misawa in Aomori, I encountered such classic waves that I thought they were from California.

(Upnorth Photo: Masato Sato)

How many surfboards do you own now?

One longboard and one single fin short! The ultimate two.

Both his board and his lifestyle are minimalist.

Yes, I don't want to get lost. They sell it all over the place, and the only one left is in California. My longboard is a heavy 9'4" Davenport Tatsuo Special. After 4 or 5 years of improvements, I am currently riding a Japanese model. The short one is a Surfboard that I asked Noah Shimabukuro to make for me. By Donald Takayama's 70's gun. It's 7'6", but it's quite wide and thick, and I sprained my wrist on a dolphin while surfing in Aomori the other day (lol).

Please tell us about the visual films that influenced you. If our readers were to watch, which work and parts would you recommend?

``The Endless Summer (1966)'', ``The Hot Generation (1967)'', ``Evolution (1969)'', ``The Five Summer Stories (1972)'', ``Big Wednesday (1978)'', ``adrift (1996)'', Fine Flow (1999), The Seedling (1999), Zinfandelz (2013), Forbidden Trim (2017).

When do you think the movie will be completed?

Hahaha (lol), you're talking about 16mm. Please wait for a while! I've been filming since 2000, and I have about 25 minutes of footage, but rather than making it look like a documentary, I think it would be nice if I could shoot the rest with a different touch and complete it. It's a method of putting movies within movies, like a 16mm film can was found somewhere in America, and a Japanese guy called Takei shot it. I think it doesn't have to be a surf movie no matter what.

16mm is still expensive. Each film is two and a half minutes long, and there are 25 of them, but I can only film them when the weather is good. When I first started, the video was a bit shaky because I was just trying it out, but there are some interesting things like Joel's single fin shortboard. After that, I took a break for about 5 years, and when I restarted filming, I discovered that Joel's surfing style had changed, and I realized that I was able to shoot much better than when I started.

Where will the screening be held and what style will it be?

I think a style like a study group would be good, similar to the current caravan style. I would like to show it to a certain extent by narrating it myself. If I'm invited to any part of Japan, I'll go anywhere, and I think it would be great if I could travel to various regions with a projector. I'm not thinking about showing it online for the time being, but after that I'll probably do it in America. I've never been to Europe, so I definitely want to take my photo books and movies with me. At that time, I would like to include Japanese footage as well.

Thank you for today. I'm looking forward to your next work!

(Authentic Wave | Surf Photography by Tatsuo Takei 2018)


Interview/Mio Kawazoe ● Born and residing in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from California State University, San Diego, surfing club. The son of a 1st generation Japanese surfer, he encountered foreign culture from an early age. For 10 years starting in the early 1990s, he lived between San Diego and Malibu, California, experiencing the longboard revival. After returning to Japan, he became the editor-in-chief of ON THE BOARD and worked on GLIDE and other magazine media. Until now, we have introduced real California log and alternative surf scenes to Japan through our own network.

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