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Relax Tripping with Rig Footwear

Vol.2 Kohei Yoshida (CHALKBOY/Head of What a Hand-Written World !)

rig FOOTWEAR is designed to be comfortable for Japanese people by carefully examining the characteristics of both Japanese and Western feet. When pounding the local pavements, it’s best to find a pair that never leaves you drained. Donning such shoes, Kohei Yoshida aka "CHALKBOY," showed us around his local town. “This is a place where “loose” doesn’t mean “loser”, he quips playfully as we head off on a one-day trip to the easy-going neighborhood of Kamakura.


Off to a friend’s small goods shop 

It was a year ago that Kohei Yoshida, aka CHALKBOY, moved his family from the Seto Inland Sea town of Onomichi to the city of Kamakura via Hayama.

“I just wanted to get things in balance.”

As we chatted, Kohei marked out a large picture on the beach with a branch he had picked up.

“Go easy!”

It’s his motto.

Shivering in the early winter rain that began to fall, we slip swiftly into a counter seat at THE GOOD GOODIES coffee store. Owner Yohei Uchino is a trusted friend and a mentor who will always bend an ear to work-related issues. 

“I come here all the time, whether I’m running errands or not.” 

The first of Kohei’s drawing no.1 spotted in Kamakura, at the entrance of “THE GOOD GOODIES”.

The two quickly began to talk turkey. As fellow small business owners in a small town with a small staff, they understand and consult with each other about the various hassles they face.

“It’s really impressive to keep a restaurant like Goody’s going for 10 years. So usually, a young upstart like me would never take this kind of flippant attitude. But it’s not like that, so we have a good relationship and enjoy shooting the breeze.”

“In fact, maybe that’s what I come for”

Kohei-san and Uchino-san, who chuckle like boys, are such good friends that they now make overseas study trips together and discuss “the productivity of idle banter”. Touching on the advancement of rig FOOTWEAR, Kohei says, “The <doob> series I’m sporting today has a cozy and easy feel that loosens up my mind even more than before.” He has known the brand since its inception, and has a unique point of view having worn multiple items in all seasons.

The doob series, which uses a waterproof breathable film, can handle rainy days with ease. This is a suede type in navy gray

Once you warm up with a cup of coffee, you crave something sweet. So, we move on to “POMPONCAKES GARE,” a cake store on the same street, and as soon as we arrive, the small talk ensues. 

“Right, see you in December then.” 

This comment by staff member Takeyama-san piqued my interest, and upon asking for more details, it transpired that they had just decided to hold an exhibition in the store’s gallery next month featuring WHW!

“It’s always like this. They consult with me and ask me for advice even before something takes shape. Then, when I talk to them, things take shape (Lol). It’s a bit of give and take.”

The second of Kohei-san’s drawings spotted in Kamakura, in the bathroom of “POMPONCAKES BLDV”.

Takeyama chimes in, “You drew the illustration for the original handkerchief on the spot, too, didn’t you?” As we made our way to the main store, “POMPONCAKES BLDV,” we bumped into the owner, Mineo Tatemichi, who was waving to us from across the street. He is another kindred spirit in Kamakura.

Putting down roots in this town where slackness is permitted.

As you can see, I got the tai chi folks drunk (laughs). (Laughs.) “I was allowed to freely depict the gap between “They usually do it in the morning, so there’s no way they’re drunk!” and “you’re not supposed to do that.”  

The third of Kohei-san’s drawings spotted in Kamakura, the signpost at “Miyageya Kakan”

 “Is Shota around?” “Nah he’s in Tokyo today” “Ah, shame.” 

Following this brief exchange with a staff member, he is presented with a charming signboard for “Miyageya Kakan”. This is an outpost of “Kakan,” a restaurant specializing in mapo tofu that Kohei eats at least once a month. The sign is a funny little spot that elicits a chuckle from passersby.

The fourth of Kohei-san’s signs spotted in Kamakura. A sign showing the hours of operation of the souvenir store “Kakan.”  The back side reads “Closed.”

Here, Kohei enlightens me that “to act the fool is to betray”. This Kansai zest for betrayal (in an interesting direction), mixed with his innate looseness born in Okinawa (?), may be what lends CHALKBOY his good-natured impish vibe. 

A victim of his own success, CHALKBOY’s casual foray into the world of illustration became increasingly busy, and he says there were times when he only had time for his family for about six months out of a year and a half.

“Work is taking up my time, and I need to get that time back. That’s what I thought. I guess those who can work hard can work hard, but my first step in becoming a blackboard artist was also “how to slack off,” and I have lived my life with the theme of “how to relax,” so I thought I had to find the right balance.

The place I chose to alter the trajectory of my life was Kamakura. In Kamakura, there was already a culture of cool adults that I had known for a long time. So, I did not have much hesitation to move to a new place.“

“Mineo-san, the owner of POMPON CAKES, used to ride his bicycle and sell cakes all over Kamakura. This is exactly what I think of as Kamakura culture!”

He ended up in Kamakura as if inexorably drawn there, but he is not just loosely carried along by the current. He observes and thinks about the world often. That is where CHALKBOY’s depth can be seen.

For example, he explains the formation of culture in Kamakura as “a place conducive to the emergence of culture – where various things come in from the sea side, are contained by the mountains right there, and where people live in a tight cluster in between” and analyzes the cause and effect of the land from the topography: “That is why it never stagnates. It is a place where a little bit of the culture is accumulated and becomes a maelstrom.”

“Some people get caught in the spiral and some people get out of it. Maybe that is how Kamakura’s unique culture is anchored.”

As if caught up in this whirlwind, Kohei is now planning to open a new all-day breakfast restaurant called “EENY”, in Kamakura. It is also a sign of his determination to put down deep roots in the area after having moved from place to place.

“While living in Kamakura, I wanted to be in the same position as the friends I met today. In this town where “loose” does not mean “loser”. I wanted to be in a place where I could just rock up at a friend’s house and knock on their door.”

A beaming Kohei says, “Of course I’ll be in the store, so please drop by and say hello.” It is evident that he and his colleagues approach their work with the same seriousness as they do their free time. In this town, good friends who respect each other will always try and find the time.  

This vibe may be the common thread that runs through Kamakura. In this way, new people and new cultures are always welcomed and ushered in. 

【Spot List】

10-1 Onarimachi, Kamakura City

2F 11-40 Onarimachi, Kamakura City

3. Souvenir Shop Kakan
Rindo Kamakura, 2-3-2 Yuhigahama, Kamakura City

4. Zaimokuza Beach
Zaimokuza, Kamakura

Kouhei Yoshida
Founder of WHW ! He also goes by the name  “CHALKBOY”. Born in 1984 in Osaka. Studied visual design in high school and studied abroad in London. His publications include “Wonderful World of Hand Drawing” (Shufunotomo, Inc.). As musician henlywork, he also organizes events that fuse food and music, such as “EATBEAT!”