088: Rip Zinger/Rip's World

Rip, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, April 2019. Photo: Tozer

“A board is a device that connects humans to nature.”

I’ve been lucky enough to interview a massively diverse range of people since I started the Looking Sideways podcast. And one thing unites them all: the activity might have lured them in; but it was the lifestyle that eventually hooked them.

Yet few guests, if any, have taken their dedication to this chosen lifestyle to the same extreme as Rip Zinger, a self-described travelling monk who has turned couch-surfing into an artform. Rip is from Tokyo and is, in the title of a blogpost written about his lifestyle, ‘a most interesting man’. A skater, snowboarder and, latterly, surfer, he left his home in pursuit of the lifestyle he loves about – and he’s still on the road.

Rip n’ Rob. Photo: Tozer

Along the way Rip has racked up several lifetimes worth of incredible experiences, and made himself one of the most well-connected and much loved figures on the scene with a truly ridiculous network of contacts and friends around the world.

He’s also an amazing photographer, who documents the whole scene on Instagram, and has published a couple of books that document his adventures.

Photo: Tozer

I’ve long found Rip’s story intriguing. Sure, we’ve all got mates who have dedicated themselves to their chosen lifestyle with noble single-mindedness – but few have managed it to turn it into such a fascinating life. Sure, the story of action sports is usually told through the lives of the superstars we all know. But characters like Rip, who are the unsung lifeblood of the scene, are just as important when it comes to sustaining our unique culture.

Photo: Tozer

So as my Californian road trip came to an end, I caught up with at his current digs in Cardiff-by-the-Sea to get the whole story. And what a tale it is, uniquely told by one of the scene’s great characters. Listen to the episode below – enjoy!

Connect with Rip

Show Notes

  • Home with a view: “happiest place to live”.
  • Great conditions in Niseko.
  • First visit to Niseko in 1996.
  • The Japanese approach to mountains.
  • Transcending the feeling from surfing the water to the snow with Gentemstick.
  • Taro Tamai’s tenacity
  • The board is the device that connects humans to nature.
  • “If you make the perfect turn, it’s because you’re brain isn’t processing it: you’re in flow”
  • The T.T board: “more spooney than edgey”.
  • The isolation of a snowy mountain.
  • Lightning Bolt Black Label launch in Tokyo.
  • Extended trip to SF to catch up with Thomas Campbell and go to his movie premier.
  • US border controls set in 2016, and getting his US visa.
  • Life brought up in Azabu, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Being comfortable around other people.
  • Being inspired to BMX by E.T.
  • Inspired by a Mark Gonzales interview.
  • Hanging out with Spike Jonze and Andy Jenkins.
  • Action sports on the streets of Harajuku.
  • Socialising at contests.
  • His first experience of American culture aged 14.
  • NSA skate contest.
  • Meeting his skate hero Eric Dressen.
  • Learning English.
  • Bitten by the travel bug
  • Universal language of skateboarding.
  • Seeking alternative living.
  • His initial parents’ reaction to his love of skateboarding and goals to travel with it.
  • “Skateboarding really helped me to develop my alternative mindset”.
  • The Japanese culture of “not standing out”.
  • Started photography aged 19 with a compact camera.
  • Mentorship.
  • Learn to shoot with time delay: “movements have a beginning, peak and end”.
  • Canon EOS Kiss.
  • RICO RO1S.
  • Fish eye lenses.
  • Being the guide and host to his skater friends when he lived in Tokyo, including Fourstar skateboard team.
  • His couch surfing network.
  • The Zip Zinger film board.
  • Where his name came from.
  • Documenting his couch surfing years.
  • “The camera took me to many places, showed me a lot of cultures and gave me a lot of experience”.
  • Learning to surf 3 years ago and swim 5 years ago.
  • His approach to doing all his action sports.
  • The contrast and connections between surfing, skating and snowboarding.
  • Yoga, meditation and diet.
  • Working with his surf coach Rob Machado.
  • “I’m more stoked about being on a board more than ever”.
  • Eat Ride Rad program: giving and taking balance.
  • What you eat can have groundbreaking impact on your life.
  • Encouraging young skateboarders, surfers and skaters to eat well: “to better shred the next day”.
  • Goals to make it into a business.

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned