MEGUMI DECIDED TO START LIVING THE LIFE SHE IMAGINED…
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.