Shohey Miyamoto has lost everything: His office, his motocross shop, his bike, his home in Fukushima. Now synonymous with nuclear fallout, Fukushima once was a center of motocross action in Japan. Along with thousands of evacuees, Miyamoto and the other motocross riders have fled south. And now, even as Miyamoto and other Japanese begin recovery, another 7.1 earthquake hit Japan on Thursday.
Action sports like motocross, snowboarding, and surfing have deep roots and broad representation from Japanese athletes and audiences. Now, the brands within the action sports industry are giving back to help Japan's earthquake and tsunami relief fund. From t-shirts, to cash, to water filters, to events, action sports companies are helping relief efforts on a wide spectrum.
In the snowboard community, Bonfire and Salomon's parent company, Amer Sports, has a company-wide initiative to gather older stock and ship to its warehouse in Japan. "We have a contact at the Ministry of Trade and Industry who controls the goods donations to Japan and also decides where to send them," said Rian Rhoe, communications for Bonfire and Salomon.
Burton-Japan and Vans will each be donating $50,000 to the Red Cross, as well as matching employee donations. Chris Overholser from Vans said, "At the Vans level, we are holding a company-wide employee sample sale this week with proceeds going to the employee fund that Vans is matching."
Etnies, Transworld Snowboarding, Sessions, Spy and more than 40 other riding brands partnered for Jib for Japan at Bear Mountain, Calif. on April 3. The benefit event donated 100 percent of proceeds including entrance fee, raffles, and auctions to American Red Cross Japan efforts. Etnies donated boots, pants, jackets, hoodies, and t-shirts for the raffle and auctions. "We're connected to Japan through distributors who support Flow Team riders. We're really close with distributors," said Ashton Maxfield, senior public relations manager for Etnies/ThirtyTwo. "While no team riders or employees for the Etnies and ThirtyTwo in Japan were hurt in the tsunami, more than 100 accounts were lost in the tragedy."
On the water side of the industry, Hurley has partnered with Waves 4 Water, which provides water filtration supplies. "I feel an overwhelming need to help our brothers and sisters over there [in Japan]," wrote W4W founder Jon Rose. Hurley's parent company, Nike Inc., is donating $1 million, while Nike Japan will donate $250,000 worth of product to address the immediate need for clothing and footwear. "We plan to partner with Architecture for Humanity and other organizations to support relief and rebuilding communities in Japan," said Nike's Derek Kent.
Quiksilver, which sponsors two Japanese surf riders, Masatoshi Ohno and Kenta Hayashi, is donating a minimum of $5,000 to the Red Cross and Mercy Corp. Ryan Ashton, director of Quiksilver Foundation, said this disaster also presents an opportunity for Quiksilver employees to help colleagues in Japan. "We're asking all employees to make donations which we'll match up to $25,000. We especially want to take care of our employees who have been displaced," Ashton said.
"Our market in Japan is large and growing, with a handful of stores. But right now employees can't work," Ashton continued. "We want to make sure they and their families can be taken care of. People have lost homes, but everyone we know is okay, which is most important. The fund is going to be disbursed among employees who lost everything. This is for them on a personal level, helping them rebuild their lives."
Takayuki Higashino is an import from Japanese motocross team Metal Mulisha. Higashino stays in touch with motocross luminary Eigo Sato, who started the Japanese motocross scene at Fukushima. "There is no chance to ride anymore. Now they are just trying to get food and water," said Higashino. He can't go help, but he's teamed up with Metal Mulisha to sell a specially designed t-shirt with a portion of proceeds being donated.
Sato says Japanese motocross fans and companies have been donating to a fund called Stay Strong JFMX: Pray for Japan. Japanese motocross magazine Banzai, which also lost their offices, set up the website for Fukushima riders like Miyamoto who lost everything. Meanwhile, Sato says street wear company Religion has given Miyamoto a free place to live in Tokyo. "The owner loves FMX," said Sato. And Miyamoto is not waiting around for handouts. "He's started working," Sato added. "We found some stuff the tsunami washed out around his house. We washed it and is selling it for scrap. This is the first step to recovery."