The 2019 Bali Pro champion will debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021. From an early age, Igarashi Kanoa has loved his current occupation and wants to share with the rest of the world his passion for surfing.
He will be representing Japan in the surfing discipline. Join us to find out more about him!
“I was born for this” -Igarashi Kanoa
Since he joined the World Surf League Championship Tour in 2016, he has been in the headlines of this sport. Since then, the 23-year-old has been ambitious and has one goal in mind: The Olympic debut in the Tokyo Olympics representing Japan.
Find out all the surf lineup for the upcoming Olympics here
Igarashi Kanoa has spent most of his life by the ocean, and he feels his home is the water. His father grew up in Japan and wanted to become a pro surfer one day, however, when he and his wife Misa found out they were expecting, they decided to move to Huntington Beach, California.
Igarashi soon started learning how to surf following his father’s passion. He started pushing him into the waves at three years old. By the time he was 7, he was fluent in English and signed his first sponsorship deal with a local surf shop.
By 2015, he qualified for the WSL Championship tour and in 2016 at just 18 years old, he became a rookie at the 2016 Billabong Pipeline Masters. He won the U.S Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach and a couple of years later, became the 2019 Bali Pro, ranking sixth in the world.
Even though his name is still on the rise in western surfing spots like Australia, Brazil and the USA, Igarashi is a well known surfing star in Japan. When he was 11 years old he starred in a Japanese reality TV show. This got him used to having the cameras follow his story from a young age.
He is the highest ranked Japanese surfer of all time, so Japanese watching Tokyo 2020 have high hopes for him. His sponsors in the western world include several surfing and surf fashion brands as well as fashion brands as Dior, however, things in Japan are very different. His sponsors in the Eastern country include a multinational skincare line, a cup noodle producer and Visa.
His victory at the 2018 ISA World Surfing Games in Tahara, Japan had him meet Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. They had a brief conversation about Japan’s Olympic future, and Shinzo stated “I’m putting my faith in you. Japan is putting its faith in you to win Olympic gold.”
From a young age, Kanoa has been following swell patterns around the world, finding different travel locations to develop his surfing skills. His winter home at first was the North Shore of Oahu as the northern swells that hit this coast are known as the “Seven Mile Miracle”.
When he is not competing in the WSL Championship Tour, he likes to return to Ericeira, Portugal. He has learned to speak Portuguese and even purchased two homes near his fellow Olympic-qualified surfer Frederico Morais.
“I travel all year, I really know these things, when a place is good or bad, there is something special here, whenever I leave Portugal I leave with more energy.”
You will find interesting: Maya Gabeira also feels a strong connection with Nazaré in Portugal, watch to find out what makes it so special for her.