Eyes on the Storm

Typhoon hunting in Japan with Kohl Christensen

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Japan’s surf setups don’t typically draw comparisons to hollow South Pacific reefbreaks. But come typhoon season, all bets are off. In issue 24.2, Kohl Christensen drops a field report from back-to-back typhoon swells in Japan. The trip is a solid testament to the benefits of traveling solo. Kohl made a last-minute flight on the recommendation of Japan-based photographer Kin Kimoto, who runs with the local cohort of big-wave surfers. Tapping the lesser-accessed wave-zones, the score quickly changed Kohl’s perception of Japan’s surf potential—in particular one left-hander that pitches sets onto dry reef when the tide gets low. “That didn’t look like the Japan I’d imagined,” said Christensen. “It was breaking top to bottom.” This edit documents what is no doubt Kohl’s first of many trips to Japan for typhoon season.

In issue 24.2 of TSJ, a three-part feature story—including Kohl Christensen’s typhoon-hunting excursion—explores the multi-faceted surf culture of Japan.