The Osaka SUP Open is stop #3 on the APP World Racing Tour, and the 3rd iconic City on the 2019 schedule (following on from London and New York). The event will also host a Pro-Am Division, Amateur and Youth Divisions as well as entry level racing for all ages, providing an exceptional SUP experience. TotalSUP caught up with the super busy APP World Tour Team between events for an exclusive insight into the Osaka SUP Open and the Japan’s City of Water.
“The APP is incredibly excited to bring the World Championship Tour back to Japan in 2019, with an all new venue and an expansion of our City Paddle Festivals in the beautiful City of Osaka. The venue is so perfectly suited to such an event, with unparalleled opportunities for mass participation at every level, and a dynamic City atmosphere as a backdrop to the World Championship Tour competition,” said Tristan Boxford, CEO, the APP World Tour. “Furthermore, the APP Pool will be back in action in Osaka, with United Sports Foundation Youth clinics in conjunction with Little RIppa Boards, regular Youth Clinics and SUP Yoga to complete a full program of activities at the beautiful event site on Nakonoshima Island. Osaka is such a vibrant, exciting City and the arrival of the APP World Tour and its City Paddle Festival from the 20th – 22nd September will deliver action, participation and entertainment for all. Join us LIVE at www.appworldtour.com and @appworldtour.”
Could you share some insight into the vision of bringing a world class SUP event to the heart of Osaka?
We travelled around Japan scouting for locations in early 2018 and we were very impressed by Osaka. Paddling the rivers in Osaka brings you through the heart of the city and lets you see it from a totally different perspective. It is noticeable that the city and prefecture have made huge efforts over the last 10 years to clean their rivers. We learned that Osaka was once known for its rivers and wanted to bring the Tour here to show the world that often forgotten aspect of this amazing city.
Could you tell us more about the local SUP scene?
There is a growing SUP scene in Osaka. SUP is a sport that can be done on flat water so well suited to the environment. Most of the paddling is on the rivers and in the port areas of the city. The nearest coast facing open ocean is hours away, so SUP is a great water sport that can be enjoyed closer to home.
Nakanoshima Island, a “floating” urban oasis between two rivers and an economic and cultural hub, is a truly unique venue for the third stop on the APP World Race Tour. Could you tell us more about the inclusive Festival experience that awaits SUP pro athletes and fans travelling to Osaka.
The basic idea is to bring a beach like festival to the center of the city. Of course there will the both pro and amateur racing. Also, we will have island music and dance performances on stage, healthy food offerings, yoga, a pool for everyone to try SUP and SUP yoga and kids’ programmes about water safety and protecting the oceans and rivers.
Where is the pro (sprint/distance) racing taking place?
The distance race will be around Nakanoshima. It is a course that takes athletes through the heart of the city’s business, government and cultural areas. The sprints will take place between two islands that actually form the area known as Nakanoshima.
What are the SUP highlights planned for the Osaka SUP Open?
The pro distance race and sprints will be the highlights of the Osaka SUP Open. Amateur and Pro Am races will also be fun as we have included many categories including inflatable classes to get everyone involved. In addition, we will do a limited night paddles for some of the pro athletes on the eve of the event. Finally, we will have a lot of brands at the venue with demo boards and also stage presentations to introduce their products.
Where do paddlers from Osaka go when they want to escape the urban SUP life?
Osaka paddlers have to travel a bit to get to the ocean. The main areas for Osaka paddlers are Shikoku, Wakayama, Ise and north to the Japan Sea.
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The whitewater scene is huge in Japan, what are other popular SUP options?
SUP surfing is also very popular.
What are some of the best options for staying and getting around in the City?
Hotels near the site are the Castle Hotel and Keihan Hotel. Osaka is very easy to get around and the subway and train systems take you pretty much everywhere.
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Is board rental available during the event?
No, paddlers will have to arrange their own boards.
If you could name 5 must-see places in Osaka, what would you choose?
Nakanoshima, Osaka Castle, Dotonbori are top three…We would also recommend visiting a temple or two, the biggest one being Shitenoji Temple.
Dubbed the “Nation’s Kitchen”, Osaka is not only one of the most Michelin-starred city in the world, but also offers some of the best street food. What are some of the must-try local specialities every foodie travelling to Osaka should try?
Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (like a healthy Japanese pizza/pancake), Kushikatsu (all kinds of fried delicacies on skewers), Japanese beef (maybe not on the street but many of the best Japanese beef including Kobe Beef is produced in the nearby area).
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Osaka off the beaten path: What would you say to those who, when travelling, want something different, something that sets their visit apart from the others?
We suggest to take a SUP tour of Osaka. Hire a guide for sure for safety reasons. Osaka SUP Open will be going around the center of the city, but there are a lot of other really cool places along the various rivers. For example, there is a whole huge stretch of river wall that is a gallery of graffiti (with some serious works of art), there is Dotonbori with all its neon, there are marinas and floating restaurants and bar.
Thank you for sharing your tips and good luck with the event!
*Special thanks to John Fou, Aiko Yukawa and Rommy for contributing to this article.
PROVISIONAL SCHEDULE: Friday, 20 September – Saturday, 21 September 2019
Sunday, 22 September 2019
To find out more about the Osaka SUP Open, visit www.appworldtour.com/osaka-sup-open-2019