Surf Shacks 008 – Mitsuo Shimbo

Meet Mitsuo Shimbo, local Chiba soul surfer, husband, father, Shiba Inu lover, owner of 2 vintage Airstreams and Chiba’s most popular best kept secret, Travel Coffee.

Shimbo is a man of very few words, and even less English, but his shop and home compound is bursting with personality and classic Americana artifacts. The beachside coffee shop feels like it’s straight out of the 50’s and they are serving up all sorts of goodies out of the small bar / kitchen area. Stacks of vintage magazines are laid out on the counter to read in between surfs, among them is Japan’s very first surf magazine. The back yard hosts many local music events and impromptu happenings. It’s also where Shimbo and his family live in 2 parked Airstream campers. Welcome to the happy, simple life you heard your grandparents rave about!

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

Mitsuo Shimbo, owner of Travel Coffee.

Where are you from?

Chiba. I’ve lived in this area for 10 years.

How long have you been surfing?

22 years.

How have you seen the surf scene and culture in Chiba change over the years?

Yes, it has changed a lot. It has more attractions and a cool welcoming vibe that opens up to new visitors.

What is your favorite part of this area?

There are consistent waves throughout the year and the laid back atmosphere, it’s not too busy.

How did you come to start your business, Travel Coffee?

I first started living here out of my airstream van and had no plans starting up my coffee shop, but I realized that there were no good coffee shops or any local hubs to even hang out or pop in and say Hi. So I decided to do it myself.

How long has it been open?

2 years and 6 months.

What have been some of your favorite musical guests who have performed here?

Perhaps Nick Saxon (from Australia), but everyone who has come has been great — and thanks!

Where did you get your Airstreams and how did you get them here?

I searched for them on the internet and had them shipped here. One is a 1948 from Indiana and the other is a 1952 from Texas.

What are your future plans for Travel Coffee?

Just to keep doing what I love to do. Not wanting much, not needing much, just happy as it is now. Serving good coffee and have a laugh with my friends and customers.

/ Photography and interview by Matt Titone
Thanks to Hiromi Matsubara