LOCATION 7: NAMI SURF PARK, JAPAN
Nami Surf Park is one of the world’s greatest surf stadiums, located in the heart of the Japanese capital of Tokyo. 175.6 metres x 122.4 metres wide, this park boasts the largest retractable roof in the world, 85-degree water, holds 60 thousand people and is universally lauded as the best man-made surfing wave on Earth. Nami has also courted a lot of controversy. The park has been described by some as the future of surfing, but also it has been equally derided by some critics as the ultimate trivialization of the Sport of Kings. Some refuse to ever step foot in the park, but it seems that the majority of surfers are voting with their feet and surf tourism to the city has skyrocketed. Playing to packed audiences and with a global TV reach of 15 million yearly, it seems that most agree. Love it or loathe it, the Nami surf park has reached a new non surfing audience that even the most optimistic in the WST didn’t see coming. Even though it’s been up and running for 5 years now, it’s still hard to believe that it’s real. As soon you walk through the doors anticipation quickly turns to sheer amazement. Despite the magazine and TV coverage, you’ve still got to see it for yourself. Is it really possible to watch someone get a full on, double overhead spitting five-second tube in a wave pool? You bet it is. There are 25 seconds between every wave at Nami. It’s mind blowing. As a viewer it gives you just enough time to talk about the previous wave, take a bite of something to eat and get ready to watch the next wave. When surfing, there are plenty of waves to go around and if you fall off you can either paddle to the side and climb out or if the jetski’s are on patrol, you can hail one over and get pulled on to the next wave if it’s not occupied. Each session has it’s own intensity (power) setting and size range (up to 10 feet) so you pick and choose your sessions. On the downside, it’s true that the surfing experience has lost a little of that stoke of finding that “gem” in the lineup. But the reality is, you still find yourself sprinting back out in time to catch either that left or a right of your choice, all for that chance to pull off that move you might have just blown 3 minutes earlier. Ever feel like you’ve lost that “inner child”? Think again. Nami makes you feel like a 10 year old kid surfing on a double shot of espresso. On the tour, the consistency of Nami provides a completely level playing field for every surfer, no more losing due to a lack of waves that just didn’t come. At Nami a wave that is exactly the same and comes every 25 seconds means that if the surfer needs that winning score and they don’t get it, then it’s no one’s fault. The Nami tour plays to 60,000 crazed surf fans live every year and the carnival like atmosphere means that its one of the most anticipated stops on the WST Tour.