Big in Japan

Japan was the most trend-happy country in the world, and it went crazy for surfing. In 1983, readership for Fine Magazine for Surfer Girls, a Tokyo-based monthly, was 600,000-strong—roughly equivalent to all other surf magazines in the world combined.

Japan hosted four out of 13 IPS tour events in 1979. Pro surfers looked at the schedule and wondered if there’d been a misprint. But no, it was true. Four events in a row, right in the middle of the season. None of the contests turned out to be particularly interesting—waves for the JSP International Pro at Shonan Beach were so tiny, one surf journalist reported, that competitors had room for “a s...

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