第6回 池田 潤 Smoothn Casual〜90'sロングボード・リバイバルと共に

No. 6 Jun Ikeda Smoothn Casual ~ With the 90's longboard revival

He became a professional when JPSA Longboard was established in 1991, and since then has competed all over the world in world championships and ASP contests. He is widely known as an entertainer even overseas, and JUNBUG, commonly known as JUNBUG, is still world famous as one of Japan's leading surfers. In addition to writing for specialized magazines as a journalist, he produced the Smooth Casual series of movies that became huge hits.

Seven years ago in the summer, he suddenly suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, but he did not give up and continued his rehabilitation, and on waves in Shonan, you can always see him with a bodyboard in hand. Continuation is power, and learning from the past means newness, so the key figures who led the Japanese scene along with the global longboard revival of the 90's are making their long-awaited appearance on Beached Days.

(Junbug is back. Katase, Fujisawa 2023.)

Jun is a surfer who was born and raised in Tokyo.

yes. Born on July 6, 1965 in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. But I only recently found out about it, and when I happened to look at my registered address, I was born in Shibuya. Until then, I had been calling it Setagaya (lol). The current JRCS Hospital is no longer the maternity hospital in Hiroo where I was born. I grew up in Akatsumi, Setagaya Ward. Now that I have sold my house in Setagaya, I am now living here (Shonan Fujisawa).

When did you move from Tokyo to Shonan?

After graduating from high school in Setagaya, I started working at Betty's surf shop in Kugenuma, and lived in Kugenuma Kaigan 3-chome from about 18 to 21 years old. After that, I went to Australia, went to Bali, and did some traveler-like things.

Were you doing BMX at first?

When I was a child, I played baseball and was completely normal. But for some reason, I picked up a skateboard, so skateboarding was my first choice. So, when I went to Yoyogi Park when I was in 5th or 6th grade, my parents were kind enough to buy me a decent skateboard when I was around 6th grade. I bought my first pair of Vans shoes when I was in the 6th grade of elementary school or 1st year of middle school. And of course the trunks are KATIN. Even back then, I was so cocky that there was a kid like that (laughs).

So, I've been skateboarding for a long time, but the skateboard boom just stopped. At that time, all the skate parks were gone, so I was wondering what to do. Actually, I wanted to surf, but since I was in high school, I ended up doing BMX for some reason. A friend of mine was doing it, and it lasted two or three years. I was pretty fast in the race and ended up finishing around 4th in the rankings.

Our sponsor at the time was PRO KEDS, and when I went to Niijima to take pictures with that team, there was a guy named Kaoru Ohno (Betty's representative professional surfer) who was also part of the PRO KEDS team. So, I went to Niijima Secret Point for the shoot, and there was no one in the sea. I used to swim when I was in elementary school, so they asked me if I could float off the coast. I think that was the first time I rode a real hard surfboard.

After that, around November of my second year of high school, I went to Betty's and became a club member. Luckily, I was given a surfboard, but I bought my own surfboard. Back then, when you went to a photoshoot, you were paid because you were a high school student but you were an athlete. So I was able to buy a surfboard. And from then on, I started living a life that was no good (lol).

Why did I become so passionate about surfing? When I go to parties, there are a lot of girls, so it's not glamorous. There are no girls in skateboarding or BMX. So I thought, oh, let's do this, and jumped off the bike (lol).

(Northshore Hawaii 1984. Photo: Gordinho)

For several years, you worked at Betty', a shop run by Kaoru Ohno, a representative of Shonan's beach culture.

yes. Normally, surf shop clerks can't give you tickets to go overseas. I worked hard in the summer, managing the store by myself, and somehow ended up getting tickets to Hawaii in the fall. I had everything set up with the place I was staying, and I stayed there for about two months starting in November. That's when I saw the difference between it and the real thing. I thought that what I was doing in Kugenuma wasn't surfing.

Then I thought I wouldn't be any good if I stayed here, so I decided I had to go on a world tour or travel around the world. I had always thought about that in my mind, and I needed money for that, so I worked normally in Tokyo during that time. So, I paid off all my debts from Hawaii, borrowed money from my parents, and went to Australia for a little training, and when I went, everyone there was really good at it. I wondered why he was so good at it, and I actually thought I should quit.
Then, a while after I came back, I broke my bone skateboarding, and for some reason I started riding a longboard that I had at home when I was around 22 or 23.

Then, there was a longboard revival boom in Japan, so I entered the competition. I used to play shortboards properly, so naturally I'm good at riding them and I'm fast at paddling. So, I entered the professional trials and became a JPSA professional in 1990 at the age of 25. In his first year as a pro, he also won Rookie of the Year. But I quit the Japanese tour once after about five years, and after that I went to all the PSAA and HLSA tournaments around the world. You wonder how I was able to travel around the world, right? At that time, my father passed away and received his inheritance in cash. So I used it all up (laughs).

After the tournament, I trained in California and returned to the JPSA tour, but I started writing a column called El Style for Surfing Life magazine, which is how I became a journalist. My dad was a car critic, so we had a word processor at home. I was able to compile a portfolio of magazine clippings, so I was able to get good sponsors pretty early on, so it was a fun life (lol). Looking back now, it was a good time.

(World Longboard Championship, Hawaii 1993. Photo: Manabu Nomoto)

This was around the time when I was running a surf shop, 81 Production Warehouse, in Setagaya, selling boards for people like Tyler Hazykian. That was over 20 years ago. Takuji Masuda's TYPHOON team also included Mitch Abshire and Trace Marshall.

What I've been doing since then is doing everything to create synergies. In addition to tournaments, I've been involved with ON THE BOARD magazine since its inception as a supervisor, and I also produce surf movies. I imported surfboards from California and was able to make a good living doing all sorts of things, but young professional surfers today are saying that they can't get any sponsors at all...

Jun's SMOOTHN'CASUAL series longboard movies were checked out not only by Japanese longboarders but also by California longboarders.

Why did I start making videos in the first place? Before that, there were only two companies in the industry: Harvey Fletcher's Fletcher Media and a company run by Ira Opper. That's because editing equipment is expensive, and without an editing studio, production would not have been possible. That's why the young Joe Scott (J.Brother, who produced Adrift and Longer) also had a hard time making it.

Around 1998, the editing software Premier came out after Windows 95, and then the iMac was released, making it possible for anyone to do non-linear video editing at home. It's still full of bugs and can't be used at all, but I think that was around the time of Smooth Casual 3. I also made 1 and 2 in the studio. In the days when 1 gigabyte cost 10,000 yen, buying a 100 giga hard disk would cost 1 million yen. After that, the distribution changed from VHS to DVD. I think that was the turning point.

Masuda started a company in Malibu, and he owned half of my company, 81 Productions, so I often had him stay at his house in Malibu and I started filming surfers in California. Matt Howard, Josh Farbrow, the stars of the single fin longboard revival. What I thought was amazing when I actually saw it was Kevin Connery, who was overwhelmingly surprised. The same goes for Tyler Hadzikian, who rides a heavy single fin and does a surfer shaper movement, which is a very old, rootsy movement, and I think that's changing. I also liked that Seitaro Nakamura went to Kevin. Seitaro is the only person who has gone out of his way to study abroad on a longboard since high school.

At the time, Oceanside and Venice were dangerous places, but when I went there recently, I was surprised to find that they had become much more fashionable places.

(Tavarua, Fiji. Photo: Bill Parr)

It may be due to the historical background, but Japanese professional longboarders used to compete internationally, right?

His first world war was in Biarritz, France in 1992, where he fought on his own for 10 days. The members were Mikio Kawai, Seiichiro Nakamura, Toshiya Omi, and Norihiko Okano's cousin Ken Tanaka, who wanted to watch the game. Before, I had a lot of magazines, so I had thoughts like going to Tavarua or riding the waves in Malibu. Actually, when I go to Malibu or San Onofre, it's a fun place to longboard.

I went to California because I wanted to see all kinds of things, and I wondered why people in California in the past went to Makaha, so when I went to Makaha, I really understood the roots of surfing. You can do everything from body surfing to surfing. I won't be convinced unless I try stand-up myself or see it for myself.

People of my generation didn't do that much, but moving to Shonan and focusing on the sea lifestyle was a big deal. I'm also an immigrant. I want to surf every day. So I guess it was a dream. I think that with two or three generations of surfing, Japan will continue to change.

(Super legends at Minami Cup in the 90's. Photo courtesy of Jun Ikeda)

What do you think about the current scene?

It's going in a direction that's completely different from its surfing roots, towards professional sports. Longboarding has its roots, so it's a lifestyle, and what's interesting about it is how cool it is. There are things about the surfer lifestyle that I don't really understand. After all, it doesn't come from that side. When I was a kid, we didn't go to the beach and drink a cup of coffee in the car. That comes from culture.

In America, there are club contests all over the country, and I don't really remember where I entered, but I was able to enter every once in a while. It wasn't just surfing, there was barbecue and people were staying in vans. I want people to get into it through that, not just by looking at magazines or the internet.

Also, I think it would be better to come to the beach and relax more. People only surf in the morning and don't go down to the beach afterwards. I told them to grab a blanket, spread it out, and laze around on the beach. And you'll know what's good if you try it. What happens when you go camping while surfing? Why is it so fun doing something so inconvenient? Beached Days is tapping into this very difficult area, and that's the culture.

Jun Ikeda

●Born in 1965. Born in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, lives in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture. He turned professional at the age of 25 when the JPSA Longboard Tour was launched in 1991. Participated in the ASP Longboard Tour in 1992, ranking 19th in the world for the year. He also participates in domestic and international competitions such as the PSAA and the Hawaii Buffalo Contest. As a beach culture journalist, he writes for surfing magazines and supervises ``Jun Ikeda's Longboard Clinic.'' In terms of video, he has long produced Smooth Casual, one of the best longboard movie series in Japan.

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 logs and alternative surf scenes to Japan through our own network.

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