Japan follows in the footsteps of Waco
The beach town of Shizunami broke ground on an American Wave Machines PerfectSwell surf park that, once completed, will be similar in size and scope to the BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas. The project, pumped by local government funding, broke ground this week and seeks to revitalize an area struggling with the economic hangover from the 2011 earthquake.
Makinohara’s 15km coastline previously attracted 1.5 million tourists each year the devastating trembler. Officials for Makinohara City said the wave pool’s construction will become the crown jewel in the area’s revitalization efforts.
Shizunami Beach sits two hours southeast of Tokyo within Makinohara, a district whose main income is the production of tea. Tourism is slowly growing in the area and the town features favorably on Trip Advisor for its plentiful surf shops and beginner-friendly peelers. Government officials are fully backing the project.
“In terms of funding, Makinohara City has provided 500 million yen (about $4.5million) in an interest-free loan called the Hometown Foundation,” said Makinohara City, Mayor Kikuo Sugimoto during a press conference. ”Makinohara is one of Japan’s leading surfing spots, attracting nearly 600,000 surfers annually.”
Sugimoto said the location was a natural choice as establishing human-made surf near ocean surf, offered more recreational options for visitors. Plans unveiled at the press conference offered a peek into how the American Wave Machines facility will operate, and it looks very similar to the model at Waco.
The number of surfers will be limited to a maximum of 12 for each one-hour session. Waves will be pumped out in beginner, intermediate and advanced settings, and the pool will be available for private sessions as well.
The facility will also have a water pool, jacuzzi and clubhouse and operate a surf school. Admission is 500 yen ($4.50) per day with session fees running 5000-8000 yen ($45-$75) for each hour-long surf. Surf Stadium is aiming to pump out surf by the time the Olympics kick-off, and be fully open and operating by the fall.
The press conference featured Makinohara City Mayor Kikuo Sugimoto , Senior Vice President of American Wave Machines, Inc., Mike Rouges, Founder CEO True McFarland, ANA Research Institute Vice President Kenshi Fukuoka, Japan Mr. Yoshio Sekiguchi of the Surfing Federation and Mr. Zion Ohmori, special advisor of the US Olympic Committee. Pro surfer Ohno Shusei appeared as a surprise guest.