Kawai, Mikio

Japanese surfer and boardmaker, born (1948) in Kamogawa, Chiba, about 60 miles southeast of Toyko. Kawai learned to bodysurf from his father, and saw board-surfing for the first time while watching TV. At 16 he learned to ride stand-up on a surf mat. Later that year, an American surfer visited and loanded Kawai his board—which, after having mastered the surf mat, was a piece of cake to ride.

At the 1965 Japanese International Championships, in Kamogawa, Kawai, again on a borrowed board,...