Sep 2, 2017
When typhoons save it for the weekend
The worst thing about surfing is those occasions when you can't do it. It sounds petulant (and is) but when other plans get in the way, or the weather doesn't play its part and a weekend surf is no longer a possibility I'm probably about as much fun to be around as an drunken ex. My desire to go surfing of a Saturday or Sunday is such that I can only bring myself to check wave / wind forecasts on the Friday before, the last working day of the week for me and thus the best time to cope with any potential disappointment.
Of course, when a typhoon looms in Japan, it's hard not to know about it. That's been the case this week with typhoon Sanvu which has been loitering just (in surfing terms) off the east coast of Japan for most of the week, saving itself for the weekend to mess up the waves of Chiba surf spots. That's what it feels like anyway. Isn't it odd that when these things arrive on a weekend, all rational goes out the window, and you're left feeling that most of them time it this way, on purpose. Or maybe that's just me.
(The spot in Chiba where this blogger surfs can't handle waves of 3 m - it will simply be a mess - although we can see them getting smaller, just in time for Monday morning ... and work)
Typhoons are a blessing and a curse for the surfer in Japan. Once they've passed, the following days have the potential for epic wave conditions. Building up to, and during, the typhoon itself the ocean tends to be a mess. So then, it always comes down to timing, "Is this thing going to get out of town by the weekend?". You can bet your bottom dollar that surfers across Japan, once a typhoon creeps onto the wave and wind charts, are nervously checking its progress in the hopes that it doesn't screw up their day off work. Of course, it depends on where you go surfing, too. Surfers like me, whose nearest breaks are in Chiba, will not be entering the ocean this weekend. Well, not in Chiba anyway. Those that are based at the more unreliable breaks of Kanagawa, on the other hand, might be in for a real treat tomorrow. Swings and roundabouts, eh?!
Ultimately though, when a typhoon affects the waves in Japan, it's better to be safe than sorry. It's not unusual to catch stories on the news about a lonesome surfer who went missing off the coast after having entered the water during a typhoon. Not the days before, or the days after, but on THE day. I guess that's the pull of surfing for some - it's potential to skew one's rational or common sense renders it a bit like a drug in this regard. Personally, I'll choose being bored or frustrated for a bit.
And on another plus point, I'm sure plenty of us across Japan can appreciate the cooler weather that Typhoon Sanvu has bought with it. I think yesterday, in my summer, work polo shirt, I felt a little bit chilly for the first time since, what?, April ... March? I can't remember.
NOTE: My moans about a typhoon screwing up the waves of a weekend should really be taken in a broader perspective. Living in the Kanto region, I'm (we're) generally spared of the real dangers of these things - they tend to be little more than a bit of bluster and rain. However, in other parts of Japan, they can be a serious and dangerous business, especially in the South, places like Okinawa and Kyushu where concerns about whether or not you can fulfil the weekend's plans should really be set aside for general safety and well being to come to the fore.
To keep up to date with a typhoon's progress in Japan you really need only switch on the TV for a few minutes and there will likely be updates if it's big enough. Should it be really big then there will be maps, data and scrolling updates as a permanent fixture of your screen around the period of the typhoon. On the web, I always head to the Japan Meteorological Agency which I think does a pretty good job of handling all weather information in English. You don't need to be a surfer to get something out of wave condition resource Surfline. You could use it just to get a general idea of beach / ocean conditions should you be thinking of heading to the coast at any time.
What do you turn to for weather / typhoon updates in Japan?
(Image top - screen grab from Surfline)