“Today, the conditions are average. The wind blows in the direction of the waves, which makes them soft ”Kanako Tanaka sighs, looking at the coast. In front of her, the Pacific Ocean stretches as far as the eye can see, with silhouettes of surfers attempting to ride a wave. Passionate about surfing for fifteen years, this Tokyoite decided to rent a second home here, in the town of Ichinomiya, 60 km south-east of the capital. “We surfers are unable to live far from the sea”, she jokes.
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Japan has several great sites for surfing, but the Tsurigasaki coast is one of the most famous spots. “The waves, we have them 300 days a year. They are between 1 m and 1.5 m high. It may not be enough for the J0s but if you are a surfer, you can have fun, whatever your level ”, says Shingo Nakamura, owner of the CHP surf shop.
In Ichinomiya, sport is now the heart of the local economy. On the departmental road that runs along the coast, line up trendy restaurants and surf shops, all giving the area a little Hawaiian town air.
An anti-depopulation remedy
According to the town hall of Ichinomiya, the number of surfers present here now stands at 600,000 per year. Some even choose to settle there, especially since the health crisis and the spread of teleworking. “There are two three times more people requesting information, and now I receive between 400 and 500 per year”, says Makoto Sasaki, a surf enthusiast who set up a real estate agency for surfers in Ichinomiya in 2007.
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The influx of neo-rural people is a boon for the town hall of Ichinomiya which, without surfing, would have suffered from accelerated depopulation like most towns in the region. “Thanks to the families who have settled here, the number of students in one of our two primary schools has increased by 60% in fifteen years”, says, all smiles, Katsuyoshi Takahashi, an employee of the town hall.