When most of us were knee-nippers, it took a fair amount of convincing, screaming and cajoling to get the old man outta bed and onto the hill, but for Kazu, it was his Dad leading the charge across the mountain bringing Kazu along for the ride.
Quickly adapting his riding style to the terrain, spending his time hitting the pillow lines and backcountry faces of Asari, with no park or pipe in sight, it was pure soul shredding. Young Kazu quickly got the attention of the infant Japanese snowboard scene and was snapped up by Burton and cleaned up at events across Japan..
On Burton’s invitation, he travelled to the States in 2003 for the Burton US Open, leaving his native Japan for the first time at the age of 14. He boosted some of the highest airs seen that day and was rewarded with 2nd place and a place in the spotlight on the international scene.
With this newfound attention, he filmed with Standard Films in their 2004 release ‘Lost in Transition’ alongside riders like Eero Ettala, Markku Koski, Luke Mitrani and Mikkel Bang.
He continued to develop his video parts with sections in films like ‘Draw the Line’, ‘The Storming’, ‘It’s Always Snowing Somewhere’ and ‘Standing Sideways’.
On the competition circuit, he continues to take a smattering of precious metals, most memorably in 2011 at the Burton US Open, after guaranteeing himself the gold in his first run, he dedicated his second run to the victims of the Japanese Tsunami which rocked the nation just days before.
Kazu hasn’t always escaped the controversy. At the 2010 Olympics he was smacked on the wrists and sent home after customising his Japanese national uniform. He also made his intentions known at the XGames Aspen this year, giving the judges the finger after his low-scored run. Interviewed about it the next day, he said that he’s going to refocus on competitions that focus on style and working on his video parts.