Wabi Sabi is a belief that motions us to constantly search for the beauty in imperfection. It reminds us that all things, including us and life itself, are impermanent and incomplete. Perfection, then, is impossible and impermanence is the only way. Japanese concept
Tokyo. Well almost. November. Sunday. Early morning. The smell of cold air cutting through sunshine and waves in the rather touristic Sagami Bay. An area facing the often hidden Mother Mount Fuji, considered the cinematic backdrop of the capital. The weekends get highly crowded.
In almost a blink of an eye disappearing in the grey crowd and probably barely recognised by the commercial surf world, you will find a filigree woman with a broad-brimmed yellow hat. Her name is Saya(ka) and she is 50 years old.
Manoeuvring her longboard between her studio and beach, work and leisure, decades and changes, we were happy to share an average Sunday exchanging about Japanese society, women in surf and her values.
What do you like about your country?
Japan is clean and safe.
What do you dislike about it?
Oftentimes it can be too square close-minded, people are watching and judging each other.
What does your typical week and weekend look like?
Busy, hectic during the week, catching the train at 5.30 am and only getting back at 7 pm working as a Psychiatrist in a mental hospital. During the weekends just surfing and relaxing, pretty much enjoying nature and parks.
How did you get into surfing?
When I moved to Tokyo from Nagasaki, I was missing the ocean. One day I took a train down to the bay and observed people in the water wondering what they were practicing. Colleagues of mine were surfers and introduced me to this sport. Time passed and I got more regularly into the water. They lent me their whole surf gear saying « Don’t buy anything until you really decide to start surfing because everything Is so f**** expensive.» Too late, I was already hooked. By now this is 24 years ago.
What kept you going?
When the Fukushima disaster happened in 2011, I quit my job as I saved enough money and thought « ok, that kind of stuff could happen tomorrow. Everybody could die tomorrow ». I moved to Hawaii, surfed, studied massage therapy and English and ended up spending two years on Maui. I felt in love with the warm water, the people, their styles of surfing, the Aloha spirit. Their way of being was caring and sharing, and it was so much fun!
After moving back to Japan, nowadays you surf more locally. What are your observations about women surfing in Japan?
Well, many changes since I started surfing over two decades ago. Early on, I did not see (m)any women in the water. It was a strong patriarchy of surfing, which I still feel is - actually comparable to Japanese society. There have already been some improvements and changes in lifestyles and norms bringing more equality to the gender differences. Nowadays happy to see many more surfing women from all kinds of age ranges. And believe me, there are also women way above 50 years surfing here.
After exchanging some of our first questions, we went to Tokyo by train to ponder through the Sunday streets talking about concepts of society and ending up lying down in a park between beautiful yellow Ginkgo trees.
What is your mantra in life?
To be a strong and gentle human being. Strong enough to help others. But gentle enough to be kind to myself.
The purpose of your life?
That’s the eternal question. I believe there is actually no purpose in life. We just live. Everyday. Human beings would like to have a reason, a purpose to something but actually there is no purpose or anything. It’s just being for no reason.
Do you sometimes worry about what society or friends think about you?
To be honest I'm not concerned what society thinks about me. My real friends truly know me and the values I am standing for, not of what I've done. I'm just a normal human and it's good enough. I wanna enjoy life and be happy to help people when I can, with what I have..
Could you put down the things you need in your everyday life?
Just me, my heart and head.
Those are magic binoculars, to see further. What do you see?
Just white, very white. Like a strong spotlight in my eyes.
Like a bright future ?
Well, nothing is planned yet. No one knows what will happen next, because everything is impermanence.
Super Arigato Saya.
We are waiting for you to come and catch some Portuguese waves with us.