Togari Sohei deep in Omaezaki
Photos, Video, and Texts by Pedro Gomes/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Japanese version by Nana
Every single surf trip is unique and unforgettable, but Omaezaki is different for me. Having lived there for almost 10 years, I feel that I am going back home every time I go there. Even not going there so often as I would like, some of my best friends live there, and we keep in touch very often by chat messages or long phone calls.
I took these photos/videos during the Typhoon season 2020, on a road trip next to my good friend Jeff Cheney. We knew a typhoon was approaching Japan, but we had no clue where to go, so after few calls and study the wind and the swell direction, Omaezaki got a place on our checklist. I called my brother Ken Higuchi asking how was Omaezaki, and he answered, "Pedro, it is pumpiiiinnng, hurry up."
Ken Higuchi getting ready for action
Around 10:00 in the morning, when he told me that I was still in Chiba, and Jeff was inside the train from Tokyo to Shizuoka to pick up a surfboard he had left somewhere there. After several calls and messages, I finally met Jeff in a place I have no idea where it is, in the super countryside of Shizuoka in front of a Seven-Eleven store. He jumped in the car, and we headed straight to Omaezaki. We got there in the middle of the afternoon, but it was dark already because of the typhoon approach followed by the heavy rain.
Ken in the barrel
Ken in the biggest set of the swell
Once we got in Omaezaki, Ken was the one who guided us to the best sandbar that day, and after the greetings, we all jumped in the water. The current in Omaezaki is insane. Shooting in the water there is one of the hardest things I have done in my life, and I have no idea why I still do it, to be honest.... probably because I like to challenge myself or maybe because I am stupid. The waves were on fire, but to get in position for the shooting was hell; strong current, dark, shallow, and tired from the driving, definitely it was a good day to stay safe and dry, but I ended up scoring a couple of good photos, and that made my day, and we all went to sleep happy.
On the next day, we went to the beach early in the morning, the rain was not so strong, but the waves were bigger and the current ...... well, you know, super-strong as always. This time I decided to accept my limits, and I shoot from the back of my Van, safe and dry as my mother would like me to do every time. The good thing about shooting from land is that you can have a wide view of everything and all the surfers. It was nice to see the guys from my old times in Omaezaki still ripping; Ken Higuchi a warrior and still the best in town, pro longboarder Morikawa san longboarding that hollow waves, Gen Ichiro still charging just before dress his doctor coat and take care of his patients, Togari Shohei another crazy guy from my time there, Mr. Miwa Kazunori and the new generation Hiroya Miwa, Taichi Hagita and Cooga Harada who scored the wave of the swell and got featured at Surfline.
Gen Ichiro just a few meters away from his office
After 2 long days of surfing and countless barrels, everyone was stoked and exhausted, the typhoon was already very close, and the wind was blowing strong. Everyone was back home when the typhoon gets really close; that's the right thing to do. But of course, thinking about safety is not my strong point, and even with the typhoon being so close, I stay on the beach, waiting for a little window and a chance to score a wave, shooting from the water or body surfing. After spending all morning watching the waves from inside of my car that swayed endlessly in the strong gusts of wind, I saw a window. Probably this window happens when the typhoon was above us, in the eye of the typhoon. I called Ken straight away and only him because this situation is not for everyone, and I don't want to put anyone at risk, especially the young ones.
Jeff Cheney checking the spot
Jeff in his first wave of the trip
Ken came really fast and Togari, the crazy charger, came too. We got ready in few minutes and jumped in the water in a 30 minutes session that I will remember for the rest of my life. The waves were bigger than the day before, and the tied was really low, with no room for diving when the waves break and super calm between sets, which makes things scarier. In this kind of situation for surfers and photographers, timing and positioning are everything, bad timing or be in the wrong spot can cost you a lot. Togari got a sick one in the very beginning, and I could shoot it, stretching my right arm with the camera much as I could with my face already under the water and swimming against the wave for don't get caught and be smashed by the wave in that shallow sandbar. Ken got 2 waves, one intermediate one and the second one a super deep barrel easy 6 foot plus, big enough to scare me and make the 3 of us go back to the shore because the wind started to blow super strong again. The waves started to get bigger and bigger, and the situation got out of control.
Strong current is the trademark of Omaezaki
Omaezaki is always a challenger, it was never easy, and it will never be. Being a professional adventure/surfer photographer is very hard to spend time where I would like to. I always have to keep moving for different shootings and follow the swell, never mind where it goes. But when there is always a chance to go back to Omaezaki, I will be there. It's the place I spent 10 years of my life and for sure a place I have learned a lot about Japan and its people. Thank you all the locals for the continued support, and I hope to get back soon, hopefully in the next good swell cheers.
Kazuo Morikawa still charging hollow waves in Omaezaki on his longboard