A light in the dark

June 15, 2006

Wednesday 14 June 2006

So far my kayaking has been pretty much alone and I don’t just mean solo kayaking. Due to language problems it’s been difficult for me to get advice and help and to know what if any kayaking activity is going on around me here in Japan.

But no more. Yesterday my friend Yamauchi-san introduced me to a whole world of Kayakers. Yamauchi-san is an interesting man, I became friends with him through our respective wives who having similar aged children met and became firm friends at a child care group. Yamauchi-san is also my neighbour he lives about 300m away.

He is a doctor of sports physiology and teaches on an outdoor sports degree at Ishinomaki University where he is also engaged in research on the relationship between sports and sleep (two of my favourite subjects!) Here is his worksite in Japanese.

He does lots of sports his main thing being mountains (climbing, telemark skiing, snowbaording) but he also takes students sea-kayaking. He has taken my family and I skiing (getting us very cheap deals at Appi in Iwate).

We currently meet once a week for a drink and some English language practice. Yesterday was our meeting day but instead of going to one or other of the Izakaya's in our town we went to sports shop “Yuyukan” (tel number 022 252 9750) in Sendai.

This is a small but well know and excellent outdoor store on the edge of Sendai which provides support, a network and teaching in many sports including, wait for it, sea kayaking. I met the teacher Hoshi-san. His English is great, and he offers to take me out. We discuss my needs and experience and he suggests a solo class to learn Eskimo rolling and other self rescue techniques then maybe some tours with his friends before some more classes in surfing for example. Hoshi-san also lends me a book on rolling
He isn’t sure about charges. He suggests the tours with his friends might be free but maybe some classes paid. I am very happy to pay for a few classes and the cost is very low if you have your own kayak – 3000yen or 15pounds.


We also discuss kayaking in general – he goes year round wearing a dry suit. He reckons Matsushima bay is pretty polluted – true – so tends to go in around the Oshika peninsula where the water is crystal clear. But the sea around there can be very exposed too. Surfing is possible but you have to be careful where to go to avoid other people (surfers) he’ll show me where. (Here is a link to a news story about a sea kayaker hitting and injuring a surfer in Hawaii).

He also tells me that Kayaking is growing in popularity. As little as five years ago there were no instructors in Miyagi and very few kayakers. (I personally know at least three instructors now). He is a member of several clubs including the one in Matsushima – I have seen a whole fleet of kayaks in the marina but never seen anyone using them and don’t know what the deal with them is.

The shop Yuyukan also runs several kayaking trips where you can rent a boat, if you need it, and go on a day tour or a camping weekend – all for free. In 2006 these trips are June 18, July 15 & 16, August 19 & 20, September 23 & 24, October 9.

I wish I had known about this shop before buying my kayak!

Anyway the point of this post is that suddenly I don’t feel like I am just stumbling around in the dark anymore and am looking forward to my first Pawlata roll. Thank you Yamauchi-san.

Yamauchi-sanHere he is last night outside Yuyukan.


2 Responses to “A light in the dark”

  1. Ken Lowe Says:

    Hello Kieran,

    I would like to start sea Kayaking lessons in Japan. Im a fellow Brit living in Tokyo. Im a complete beginner, and dont know where to start. I know you live miles away, but do you know and schools, or instructors in the Tokyo/Kanagawa area ?
    I know its a long shot, but any information would be appreciated.



  2. Hey Ken

    It’s not a long shot. In fact its eerie (sp?)
    I do know some schools near Tokyo. Three in fact, one in Chiba and two in Kanagawa. I’m just this minute writing up a page on my blog about them you can check it out (Half finished as of 3pm today):

    Sea Kayaking is brilliant. I was a complete beginner just a few months ago and now I’m hooked. I hope you get into it.

    My wife comes from Tokyo and we come down to Tokyo to see her parents every other month so once you get started give us a shout and we’ll go together!


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