“Japan is the MOST fun,” as Corey Wilson would say.  And while last year was an absolute blast, we often wondered how it could ever be outdone? And if not outdone, at least on par? For a moment this almost worried me. I knew it was going to be an epic trip, but as hilarious and memorable as our inaugural jaunt in 2014? This little notion ate at me for the few days leading up to our departure. It wasn't until we were on our way to LAX with the entire crew piled into the BYRD van that I looked around at the excitement easily visible on everyone's faces with their antsy twitching and glowing eyes that I let out a relieved smile. I smiled because I no longer had any doubt. I smiled because we were headed towards some of the best times of our lives. And…  

We arrived at our hotel in Shinjuku and quickly found the nearest ramen restaurant. A few clinking of our ice cold Sapporo's to celebrate our arrival and we hit the hay, ready for whatever the next few days would bring. In the morning we were reunited with Take, Yoshi, Shintaro and Jun from our Japanese distributor, Entrex. The best people you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. Never a dull moment. For the next few days, we visited barbershops, met with retailers, and roamed the craziness of Tokyo. We ate ramen, we bought souvenirs, and we took a lot of photos. The days were a blur in the enormous metropolis that is Tokyo, but I think it was the dinners each night with the BYRD Japan crew are what really made the trip... 

The freshest of seafood filled giant platters spread in front of us every night. We dined like kings and a queen. And whilst some of us (mostly Jon) opted out of some of the more questionable delicacies, everyone embraced the culture and tried each item. Raw squid, baby fish, cow tongue, and we may have even ate horse... it just all tasted so good! I even disproved a superstition about pouring your own Sake - it's not bad luck at all!  It's just bad form to let a guest’s cup become empty so everyone is constantly refilling each other until the next KanPai! After which the refilling began anew. These dinners were packed with endless laughter, hilarious moments, and the best of people to share it with.  

After a week in Tokyo it was time for the big BYRD party at The Journal Standard in Harajuku. Last year’s was big, but this time around it was full on, an amazing turnout. Autumn did hair styling with the entire store filled to capacity and she was treated like a legitimate celebrity. Crane rolled up fresh off the plane, straight into the mix. The dinner that followed was a celebration of it’s own and one I cannot accurately recall without revisiting the photos and video courtesy of Jon and Scott. A few of us went out on the town afterwards, dancing into the wee hours of the morning as rain began to fall, a sign that a certain typhoon was nearing our location. And for this we were ecstatic. We didn’t get to surf much last year, but the way the swell charts were looking, we were in for a treat! In the morning we said our goodbyes to Tokyo and headed to the coast. 

The following days we surfed. A lot. We piled into the vans and let Shintaro lead us as we explored the reefs and beaches surrounding Shonan. The typhoon had arrived and The Flock took full advantage. Chase, Crane, and I surfed one particular little double up right for hours and hours without another surfer in sight. Fun waves along beautiful landscapes in warm water with some of your closest friends. That’s a successful surf trip if you ask me! And as the sun set over Mt. Fuji in the distance our stomachs growled as they do only after a long day in the ocean. 

That night we revisited our favorite restaurant from last year, an amazing steakhouse in which you have your own table cooking stove and endless amounts of thinly sliced beef and other meats whose flavors are unmatched by anywhere I’ve been. At the table next to us a tiny Japanese boy sat with his grandparents and kept staring over at us, taking in what probably was his first experience with Americans. We began to interact with him and Yoshi translated a flurry of Japanese from his happy grandmother. She was so happy that we had been kind and loving towards her grandson that she decided to buy us a bottle of Sake and came over to dine with us. Just one more example of how amazing and kind the Japanese people are. She introduced her grandson as Motochika, which Crane then translated to Motor Cheetah, and thus the legend was born! Motor Cheetah became our mascot for the trip. 

The days following we explored Shonan on bikes, visited temples, got our feet cleaned by tiny fish, ate amazing food, had an epic Karaoke session, surfed a WSL 1500, made new friends, shared laughs with old friends, and on the eve of our departure we celebrated the birthday of our good friend Dewey. Take’s friend basically handed over his restaurant and we danced, and we ate, and we said many a KanPai! Our trip had come to a close and we said our goodbyes. My smile had been correct. We had truly outdone last year and shared the best of adventures. Till next year… Arigato Gozaimashu!

Story by Dylan Goodale 

Images by Scott Wilson & Jon Hechtkopf

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