Friends of Surly Japan - Taiji Korenaga
I met Taiji Korenaga last night for dinner and drinks in Chiba. In case you don't know, we have been producing our catalog translated into Japanese for the past two years. Korenaga san is our translator. He has also done translation for the Salsa Japanese catalog.
I have known him since I lived here, so I guess it must be around 15 years ago that I first met him. He is a complete bike geek, and has a vast amount of knowledge about the bike scene in Japan.
The first time I met him was at a mountain bike race in Chiba. He was riding a Yeti Ultimate with a complete selection of purple anodized parts from Ringle, Grafton and Chis King. His rims were even purple ano. Remeber the Sun ME-14A rims? They were basically a road rim, since they weighed around 360 grams each. Remember stupid light? Those were the days, huh? Anyway, he was rounding the course and came upon a very steep downhill section that was in full view of the spectators. This section was famous for crashes, as it was hard packed, rutted, and just plain scary steep.
I was talking to a friend in the pits when I heard what sounded like a gunshot and then a helmet hitting dirt. When I looked over I saw someone had crashed hard on the hill, so I went over to check it out. It was Korenaga san. His front wheel had blown out on the descent and turned into a very tasty looking potato chip (the ones with purple ridges, you know?). He was shaken up but not hurt. In fact I recall he was laughing pretty hard about it. I had my camera so I took some pix of his bike (I still have the pix somewhere, sorry not to have them for this blog). After that I struck up a conversation about his bike and all the cool parts hanging from it. This began our friendship, one that I value greatly. He has helped both me and Surly a ton in Japan. Every time I come here he arranges for me to have a cell phone, meets me whenever I need help with some Japanese, or just to discuss bikes. His translation work has been of great value to Surly and Salsa in Japan. As you can imagine translation is not easy, so finding someone who can do it well is really important. Taiji does it really well. Oh, and did I mention that he doesn't speak English? It's true. But he reads and understands it very well, and his attention to every detail and nuance of meaning has helped maintain the flavor of the Surly brand in the Japanese market. Japan is our biggest market outside the U.S., so we're really happy to have a guy like Taiji working for us. Thanks Taiji. Your work is greatly appreciated. The bad news is that it has only just begun. Our 2007 catalog is almost ready so you can expect some more headaches very soon.