The name Jack Courtenay might not sound familiar to many people in Japan, but with his story only just taking off, the tables may soon turn.
The 21-year-old New Zealander plans to turn his love for long distance skateboarding and traveling into a good cause by skating across Japan.
Courtenay aims to skate most of the 2,384-km journey from Aomori down to Nagasaki. He hopes to cover an impressive 80–100 km per day on his longboard.
He also said he wants to be self-supported and would not pay for accommodations. Instead, he plans to couchsurf, or sleep on the couches of acquaintances along the way.
“All I have is my skateboard, backpack with gear and food, and a camping tent where I plan to sleep,” said Courtenay in an interview with TokyoDesu.
The money he will be able to raise from his journey will be donated to GlobalGiving to help orphans in Japan to rebuild their lives after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Courtenay describes longboarding as “my escape from reality, my own sanctuary,” but this trip is not only for self-serving purposes.
“After learning about the earthquake and tsunami I feel the need to travel to Japan and help out somehow with the relief efforts,” Courtenay said.
“I want to see Japan for what the country and culture really is, not getting stuck in Tokyo like a typical gaijin, help out all the kids affected by the tsunami and hopefully change people’s lives.”
Since his story has taken off, he has raised $500.01 in donations which will all be going to help tens of thousands of displaced children, such as clothes, supplies and longer-term support.
Courtenay is keeping track of his journey on his Facebook page Longboard Japan where he has posted several photos of his life on the road so far. He started his journey on September 5, and he’s currently making his way through Tokyo now. You may also donate by visiting his JustGiving page.
If you see him on the road, maybe you could give him a cup of tea or even a few encouraging words and thank yous for his good work.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image of street longboard: Robert Thomson/Flickr