Skate[Slate] Japan – The Gaijin Report
The Gaijin Report will be my opportunity to fill you in on what’s happening in Japan. Hopefully we can get to it every month. This report mostly focuses on the talented team that makes up Skate[Slate] Japan, but we’ll also talk a little bit about Japan’s DH Skate Culture and take a look back at what went down over the past couple of months. There’s also some cool initiatives on the horizon. Welcome to the Gaijin Report.
Skate[Slate] Japan – One Year Later
Skate[Slate] Japan launched in 2014. It’s been super exciting to watch things grow and even more to be around for the ride. If you’re curious on some of the rad things that went down this past year, be sure to check out Skate[Slate] Japan | One Year Later : The English Report. We also had a special feature in Skate[Slate] Issue 24 on Coffee and Camping too which you can find as a digital download still if you missed the print issue. Over all it’s been a great year and it’s only getting better!
Pictures help tell the story best, so here’s a small gallery of images taken since the start of SkateSlate.jp – please roll over or click on the image to find out more!
Everything in Japan is strategy to make sure our community can stick around for the long-run. Everybody here that has been successful in uniting skaters knows that it’s not a quick fix or something that is going to happen because of one person, or one brand, or even one community. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I’ve learned a lot since we started Skate[Slate] Japan and things that worked in other places on earth, might not work here. Japan is awesomely particular and that’s part of why it’s great. Don’t mess with old school heritage! The team decision dynamic is not to be taken lightly and 9 times out of 10 the “dame” (pronounced DA-MEH, meaning ‘no’, or ‘can’t’), is for good reason. Listen for this word when you skate hills here and respect it.
The Skate[Slate] Japan Team
To be able to understand and engage Japanese culture, you really need to be a part of it, which brings me to our team. Who helps with Skate[Slate] Japan and what influence are they bringing to the hill? In alphabetical order……
FUJIYAMA (Now in Canada)
Fluent in both Japanese and English, Yuji played an instrumental role in getting us off the ground. Both him and Inojun (next) kept people stoked by regularly contributing both behind the scenes and in front. More than a few of Fujiyama’s content has unintentionally gone viral and for good reason. He’s got his finger on the pulse. Since the launch of skateslate.jp, he’s moved back to Canada to work on his web design aspirations. Rumour has it that he’s been working on some pretty timeless and informational websites for brands and people that got shit popping back in the day. All this and he manages to keep Skate[Slate] Japan readers happy. Hit up any of the big central Canada events this summer and Fujiyama will be skating beside you. It’s sometimes hard to find him at events and even more difficult to pull him off his skateboard. He captures stuff going down really well but he’d rather skate. We miss you Yuji but we’re glad you’re still having fun. When’s that Canada report coming you slacker?! ha
INO from Shonan
When I first met Ino he had already been writing about skateboarding for some time. He had his own personal blog and was (still is) really on top of gear. An expert in new DH skateboarding parts, Ino gets the right gear and he knows what’s coming down the pipe. Skate[Slate] Japan’s gear reports quickly shot to the top and stayed there for weeks as the most popular articles on the site. “Inojun” was often the author of this content. Let’s not forget he skates, goes to events, makes the occasional vid and even hosts his own big scale sessions as 1 of 3 organizers from 360 Connections. He’s from one of Japan’s Surf Mecca’s, Shonan , and rolls with the F-dub Crew. (more on this in next months report)
KEI from HOKKAIDO
KEI is the Rookie Author in our crew and wasted no time to kill it with great content. Right off the start line Kei methodically curated Shop Articles showcasing rad longboard gear from new regions of Japan. For people in the areas that he covered, it was a great surprise to discover their city had a shop they could visit. Being a native of Northern Japan, Kei has vowed to get things popping and showing new people how to ride in that region. Get in touch with us to link him up with you, as we’re sure Kei Onodera is the man for a solid future of Sapporo community growth. We’re hoping to see newly wedded Kei in Osaka next month at Radicals Fiesta big skate jam. His wife skates too so things are really looking up for Onodera. Read on to find out more the Osaka event. Check this Video of testing out S9 Slick Shoes
TAMURA from TOKYO
Tamura was recently nominated by Yuji, Ino, Kei and Tomo to take the lead on bringing Skate[Slate] Japan to the next tier. Our response, Hell Ya! He’s a seasoned traveler that goes to Canada every year to skate with his friends in West Vancouver. The first week of October he’ll be taking off in his annual trip that includes starting in Toronto this time with guest Hajime Okada. Terrific Tamura lived in Toronto years ago where he learned the English language very well. He did the Phillipines trip this past fall and always comes back happy from his Asian explorations. Nori will never ask to leave a sesh before you and he’s usually the last man to put his skate in the car. If you want to find out more about Japan, hit up Nori in Toronto or BC next month. He’ll be right beside you or probably in front. Above is what his leathers look like if you want to do a run with him at Whistler. He’s super fun to skate with.
TOMO from OSAKA
Tomo Tomo Tomo. This guys rules. More times than not he’s making everybody smile. The rest of the time he’s making them laugh out loud. Tomo started a new squad of like-minded skaters that skate all the time. Because of him, skateboarders visiting Japan make Osaka a must. Shinoda was an easy fit into our crew because he sees the big picture. He formed his own crew that goes by the “RADicals” and similar to us, takes things one day at a time. His vision is clear and spirit is strong. Osaka, here we come. Skateboarders, you should always plan to go from the Kansai Region to the Kanto Region or the other way around. If you come to Japan, that fact is a no brainer.
Building Acceptance in Japan for the Skate Community
We are incredibly grateful to have the crew here in Japan pushing on to show the world their love of skateboarding. Skate[Slate] Japan has been an exciting project to be a part of, but it does come with some downs. The 5 of us (and other positive influencers here) live in a country that has changed immensely over the past millennia, but because Japan is not always quick to accept change, some skate days come with local challenges. Similarly to Coast Longboarding in the early 2000’s, we are still in a stage of educating people as to what downhill skateboarding is. Most skaters here have never experienced first hand the huge skate jams that the rest of the world is lucky to have. This also means potential supporters are skeptical as to the huge benefits community events will have. We’re on a mission to get kids to look up from their smartphone, put down their PSP’s (Gamer Kids!) and to get them on a skateboard. A lot of thought leaders here also believe that they can help to increase business to small ski towns that suffer in the off season. We’ll analyze this topic in detail at a later time. For now, we know it’s one step at time and the growth is a pleasure to watch. Japan will be the next mecca for a thriving DH skate culture, I’m sure of it!
Enjoy a Wired Crew Video! In this edit, Nori and Ayumi skate some killer runs in Japan. Ayumi continues to inspire skaters in Japan to get into riding. And there’s no doubt that we all feel grateful to have ambassadors like her. Nori is fast so for Ayumi, keeping up can be a tall order. Enjoy…
Foggy showery runs are a bit scary, but I succeeded to control another fear and rode down closer to my buddy Nori! Feels good to overcome something every week step by step! – Ayumi
Rad International Skaters Visit Japan
Moving on ahead let’s talk quickly about the the big news in Japan’s Skate Scene. A little over a month ago Lotfi Lamaali and Adam Colton finished off their Asain Tour with a short stay in Japan. They started in Osaka and ended in Tokyo, and later visited Yokohama. Longtime Longboard Japan ambassador, Brad Bennett, took them away from the city to see some satogoya spaces and to appreciate the country side. The very next day Japan’s first Dock Session went down and Lotfi amazed the big turnout of skaters with his magical moves.
New Events Gaining Support
On September 6th, Loaded Boards and Landyachtz Longboards will team up to bring japan skaters an inaugural Osaka sanctioned DH Skate Event, the RADICALS FIESTA. Osaka is Japan’s 2nd largest city so naturally everyone is feeling really good about it. Event Organizer and Landyachtz flow rider Tomo Shinoda alongside Loaded’s Ayumi Oride are supporting the united front. Having supported events inspire the future of downhill skateboarding in Japan with that sustainable mantra we all work on. Tomo went directly to the Mayor and got approval for the date and an official location. Ayumi is doing her thing behind the scenes to make sure all that attend have fun. The event is slated as a test event to gauge the future of similar events in that region. All skaters that I know are going. Car seats are taken and Shinkansen Train tickets are booked. Osaka’s first event is going down and hopes are high for it going down right! More details here: http://skateslate.jp/2015/07/17/radicals-fiesta-osaka-japan-september9-2015/
Skate[Slate] Japan’s Newest Supporter Moonshine MFG and Conan Myers
Moonshine MFG has come on to support Skate[Slate] Japan and we are stoked and very thankful! They make some wildly designed, waterproof, slam proof, product with incredible construction. Find out more here. rider Conan Myers is here right now doing the Japan skate tour. He started in the Kanto Region because it’s relatively easy to experience the hills of Mt. Fuji from there. He’s already been there and now he’s visiting Tokyo spots and getting around with ease because of his fluency. Conan grew up in Japan so he gets it all. We just got word that next week he’s leaving Kanto to skate in Kansai. Get more on his trip here: http://skateslate.jp/2015/08/22/moonshine-mfg-japan-conan-myers-trip-part-1/
Pro tip: If you come to Japan to skate, you can also land in Osaka (Kansai Region) and drive to FujiSan from there. Hit up the best roads in Japan and finish off in Tokyo for some partying and culture. If you go this route, make sure you make your departure flight Narita! Be sure to contact locals to show you around so you don’t blow it and get the best experience possible! Why skate alone anyways. Not safe and not as fun as meeting new people and getting the inside experience.
There’s always more, but it will come in good time. Check us out on Instagram (@skateslate.jp) and keep your eyes peeled more stuff from Skate[Slate] Japan. If you feel inclined to throw us a like, you can check us out here on our Facebook here too! Don’t worry, you can always use Google translate to get the jiist of what’s happening. Thanks for reading!
Enjoy – Japanese skaters doing their thing!