After a four-year hiatus, Japan is returning as the one of the more surreal stops on the ASP/WCT dream tour. Although it wasn’t initially on the schedule, officials recently confirmed that the $250,000 Niijima Quiksilver Pro will indeed be held from the 18-29 of June on the famed island off Tokyo. For world tour surfers, Japan has often been derided for its waves but lauded for its sashimi, its hospitality and its surprisingly raging party scene. It’s also got sights and sounds that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Dan Malloy, for instance, once saw a car with surfboards permanently bolted to its racks in downtown Tokyo. The likelihood of small and weak surf outside of the typhoon season in Japan has, according to Peter Whittaker, COO of the ASP, caused the nation to fall off the schedules of the “dream tours” of the last few years. But he has high hopes that Niijima will produce decent surf this time around. “Niijima is wide open to receiving swells from any local weather systems,” says Whittaker. In its long history as a venue, the place has turned on with cracking beachbreak tubes a few times for the visiting pros.No matter what the conditions, it’s a given that the contest will be a boon for the huge, enthusiastic, but often neglected surf market in Japan. Whittaker makes it clear that this one, unlike Teahupoo or Tavarua, is all about the bottom line. “The event is intended to stimulate interest in the World Tour and local surf industry,” he says. — Jamie Tierney