By Rick Ochoa
Twenty one year-old New Zealander Jack Courtenay, a self described traveler and long distance skateboarder, is planning to skate across Japan and raise money for a good cause. We contacted him a few days before the start of his trip to find out more and see how people could help.
Flying to Japan from his native Auckland on September 5th, Jack will begin his journey in the city of Sapporo, travelling north to south down the Pacific coastline. He hopes to cover an impressive 80-100km per day on his longboard, crossing Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku and Kyushu, before ending his 2,384km journey in the city of Nagasaki. At which point we presume he’ll never want to use his longboard ever again.
“I plan to not pay for accommodations and be self-supported, all I have is my skateboard, backpack with gear and food, and a camping tent where I plan to sleep.” He’ll also be carrying a video camera to document the highs and lows of the trip.
Despite his love for skateboarding, or as Jack puts it, “my escape from reality, my own sanctuary,” this is not all a self-serving pleasure trip. He’s also collecting donations in order to help organizations such as Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams. All money received will help to provide orphans with food, clothing, school supplies and professional counseling, as well as other long-term services needed to support an estimated 100,000 children displaced by the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan just over two years ago.
“After learning about the earthquake and tsunami I felt the need to travel Japan and help out somehow with the relief efforts,” said Jack. As well as collecting donations, he will visit several areas heavily affected by the March 11th disaster and plans to get his hands dirty with some volunteer work in Minamisoma.
While Jack intends to skateboard most of the way across Japan, he wants take a train across Kanto to avoid any major cities. “I want to see Japan for what the country and culture really is, not getting stuck in Tokyo like a typical gaijin [foreigner], help out all the kids affected by the tsunami and hopefully change people’s lives,” he explained, making the TokyoDesu team look down at the ground and shuffle uncomfortably.
To help, you can visit Jack’s Just Giving page to donate, or contact him through his Facebook profile to offer assistance of any kind, from food and shelter when he passes your town to just a few words of encouragement.