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Surf -

KNOW-THE-FEELING-JAPAN-MEET-NATSUMI-TAOKA

 

During the first session in the once-in-a-few-decades typhoon swell we chased in Miyazaki, Natsumi Taoka snapped her longboard and came to the beach with a smile. Washing over slippery boulders, in storm surge, tied to half a board, with a smile. This says a lot about Natsumi.

 

 

Born and raised in Chiba, home to the laidback surfing just outside of Tokyo, Natsumi was brought up in a family of ocean-lovers and surfers. Competing originally as a shortboarder, Natsumi gradually shifted towards competitive longboarding—something about the grace and finesse seemed to call upon her natural ability to maintain poise in even the most challenging of conditions.

 

 

Whether it’s two foot or ten foot (and beyond), Natsumi is always keen to paddle out. Faced with one of the biggest typhoon swells in years battering the eastern coast of Japan, we were concerned that the waves wouldn’t be as accessible to a longboard. Natsumi brushed off that worry pretty quickly—always the first to paddle out, and often the last to come in, she made it clear that any wave was worth riding, no matter what size. 

 

 

Natsumi’s goal is to be the world champion of longboarding, and as she stylishly makes her way to winner’s podiums around the world, it doesn’t seem too far away. It’s hard to say whether her smile is bigger on land or in water—the girl’s got a grin that’s infectious, and a warm personality that helped us feel even more at home during our visit in Japan. Stylish, daring, and agile, she combines all her skills into a dance among the waves that is truly a gift to observe.