Paddling out towards the sunset, as the sky changes color, is what surfer Hiroaki (Hiro) Sekita likes best about surfing.
Sekita, 35, born and raised in Taito, located in the middle of the Chiba coast line in Japan, has been surfing for 20 years. His movements are very fluid and he carries himself with ease while he rides the waves.
Sekita, who is also a macrame craftsman as well as a travel photographer, says he is self-taught and began surfing at the age of 15. Although surfing is not directly related to his craft, it helps him clear up his mind by being a part of nature.
From day one, he loved surfing so much that during his first summer, he surfed almost everyday. He admits that he had no idea what he was doing, but he was able to successfully ride a wave on his first day. Once he puts his mind to trying something, he keeps trying and never gives up.
Sekita's first board came from the owner and board shaper Tadashi Yoshida of Sea Eagle Surf shop in Taito. The owner of the shop, who Sekita refers to as his uncle (but is not blood related), started shaping boards around the 1970's. Yoshida, now in his 70’s, is a professional surfer who started in the first age of Japanese surf culture. Although his shop is now closed, Yoshida still occasionally shapes boards.
After getting his first board, with the help of his father, Sekita began by observing others, reading books and magazines on how to surf. "Look at people in the ocean. Learn by watching. Study good surfers, and you get power to ride the waves."
Sekita uses a Sea Eagle board, 5'11" triple-fin shortboard. The board, according to Sekita, is compact but has incredible buoyancy and floating power that matches him perfectly. "Through the board I feel the power of the waves. I feel the life of the water."
While he is waiting for the wave, Sekita likes to look at the clouds and make shapes out of them. It is very rare, but sometimes he will see a rainbow. The feeling of riding the board to shore gives Sekita a natural high. “It's like a screaming emotion, " he says excitedly. "You don't always get the same feeling, and it only lasts maybe five seconds," he adds. Sekita usually surfs alone, but at his home beach, Taito, he always meets friends and familiar faces in the water. "It makes me comfortable in my mind."