Free Bird

MEGUMI DE­CIDED TO START LIV­ING THE LIFE SHE IMAG­INED…

Surf Girl - - Instagram - @trav­el­ing goofy megumi

Name: Megumi Ku­sano Age: 32 years old.

Home: I was born and raised in Ja­pan.

The early days

I’m from a city called Yoko­hama, close to Tokyo. It’s a port city and more laid back than Tokyo. Sho­nan is a very pop­u­lar surf spot in Ja­pan, but although it was close to home I never surfed grow­ing up there. I of­ten watched surfers on the beach and thought it must be fun to ride the waves like they did.

I learned English through Amer­i­can TV shows, mu­sic and classes at school, and de­cided to do an ex­change pro­gram in my se­nior year of high school. Thanks to that ex­pe­ri­ence I can speak the global lan­guage and eas­ily travel the world.

I moved to Los An­ge­les for work in 2012. I was work­ing with an Amer­i­can com­pany, go­ing back and forth be­tween Ja­pan, Los An­ge­les and all over the world with mu­si­cians, but I fig­ured it would be ad­ven­tur­ous and fun to take a chance to move to the US.

Catch­ing the surf­ing bug

I started surf­ing in Septem­ber 2015 in Los An­ge­les. One day I saw my best friend surf­ing the waves in Malibu, and I had the itch to get in with him. The way he was slid­ing on a wave looked so smooth and ef­fort­less. He taught me how to catch a wave on a Wavestorm. That was it. I fell in love with surf­ing right away. I bor­rowed a long­board from a friend for a while, then changed to a 6’10” and even­tu­ally tran­si­tioned to a short­board.

I never took a surf les­son un­til a cou­ple of months ago, although I wish I’d taken a proper les­son when I started. If you have a chance to learn from a pro or a good in­struc­tor, I highly rec­om­mend it. It’s a good way to see how you’re stand­ing on a board, and learn how you move your shoul­ders and hips prop­erly.

Trav­el­ling the world

We trav­elled to San Diego, Encini­tas on week­ends, then to Puerto Rico and Mex­ico. Hav­ing great food, chat­ting with lo­cals, ex­plor­ing beaches and singing my heart out while we’re driv­ing are the best part of our surf trips. I’ve been to se­cluded, se­cret, mys­te­ri­ous places that I would never go to if I did not surf. Even though the wa­ter gets cold in Cal­i­for­nia in the win­ter, I would not trade camp­ing in a car hav­ing a bon­fire at night for any­thing.

Even­tu­ally I started go­ing on surf trips on my own, since I could re­motely work. I vis­ited Hawaii, Costa

Rica, Nicaragua, In­done­sia, Ja­pan, Cuba and Ecuador. I’m go­ing to Peru next.

Ex­cite­ment over fear

Hav­ing only surfed for less than three years, I am not the best surfer

– I don’t think any­one has to be to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent waves. I’m still work­ing on cut­backs and bot­tom turns. Ev­ery­where I go there are chal­leng­ing waves. I’m still afraid of any­thing over head-high waves. When I go overseas, I get very ex­cited about how good it may be to be on them. Ex­cite­ment over fear. I am not reck­less, and take cau­tion be­cause I still have a lot to learn, but I push my­self.

I am used to trav­el­ing alone but get­ting in the ocean alone is a dif­fer­ent thing. I make sure I be­friend lo­cals and ask them for ad­vice. We have the same pas­sion for the ocean and surf­ing. Cheer­ing oth­ers on and shar­ing the ups and downs of surf­ing are mo­ments I can­not feel any­where else.

Go with the flow

Trav­el­ling to other coun­tries re­minds me to be hum­ble, pow­er­ful and con­fi­dent. I have to trust my­self. If some­thing bad hap­pens, then I go with the flow, but learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

To me, surf­ing is med­i­ta­tion and a place to find my thoughts. I’ve re­alised what is mean­ing­ful to me – feel­ing the sand on my bare feet, tran­quil­lity, the fe­roc­ity of the na­ture and shar­ing hap­pi­ness with oth­ers.

My Cuban com­rade

I watched a doc­u­men­tary about Cuban surf cul­ture and found a girl surfer named Yaya Guer­rero. The sec­ond I saw her surf, I de­cided I had to go to Cuba and see it for my­self. I looked her up on­line and sent her a mes­sage to see if she could surf with me when I got there. When I met Yaya I brought surf sup­plies from the US, such as wax, a leash and girl shorts – Cuba doesn’t have a surf shop, so it’s best to bring some­thing for them if you surf there.

We surfed to­gether for a cou­ple of hours. I was so happy to have met her and her friends, and to be able to surf the waves I dreamt of rid­ing. I still keep in touch with them and talk about the com­pe­ti­tion they had, my surf trips and when I should go back again. I spent three weeks in Cuba and it has be­come one of my favourite coun­tries to visit.

To me, surf­ing is med­i­ta­tion and a

place to find my thoughts

Ja­panese surfer Megumi Ku­sano learnt English through Amer­i­can TV shows, and took up surf­ing in L.A. Now she trav­els the world, free as a bird.

Megumi at home in LAree as a bird.

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