“I want to have a surf shop.” When he was seventeen, this dream came to his mind.
While he was walking around downtown Kyoto, he found a small surf shop. He thought that all of those surf boards in the shop were so cool. At the same time, his dream became to be the owner of a surf shop.
During his college years, he learned how to surf from a friend and he got into it. After he graduated from college, he started to work at a local company. However, he still had the dream to be a surf shop owner ever since high school, so he visited a lot of surf shops all over Japan in order to learn how to shape the boards. None of those shops accepted him though, because of his deafness.
It took about twenty years for Ota to finally find a man who gave him the opportunity to work and learn. That man is a pioneer of Japanese surfing named Masanori Komuro, a pro-surfer, who owns a surf shop in Kanagawa.
Ota decided to move there and learn about board shaping so he resigned from the company where he worked for twenty years.
This was the spring when he was 41 years old.
For two years, Ota had learned how to make boards and how to manage a shop from Mr. Komuro.
In 2005, he stayed in Hawaii for six months to learn about board shaping and Hawaiian culture.
On April 21, 2007, he opened his shop in Kosai, Shizuoka.
For the first couple years, he only has a few customers. Even though the shop was opened all day, every day, there was a day when nobody came.
He was anxiously thinking of how to get hearing customers.
One idea came to his mind: “Oh, I should serve coffee to customers!”
So he started to give out cups of Hawaiian coffee.
When a customer enters his shop, he pours coffee, offers it with a gesture and shows the memo, “This is Hawaiian coffee. Please have some.”
And then he tells them with a written sign, “I am a deaf. Please write down when you need me.”
That’s how he and those surfers started a conversation through writing.
His smile and coffee catch the customers’ hearts, and his regular customers are increasing.
One of the customers said his smile was the best in Japan.
Because of his warm character and the idea of serving coffee, his shop is crowded with a lot of people now.
Surf House Ota