The Fall Gaijin Report – Skate[Slate] Japan
Picking up from my last Gaijin report [link here], Fall in Japan is the beginning of stoke season. As usual, the summer days were intensely hot so the transition to cooler days is welcomed. It was melting wheels type of heat. Skaters made every attempt this past summer to skate during the day but it’s easier said than done. Some retire their decks and pull out the tackle kit for river fishing.. Keeners that need to skate usually end up either holding night sessions or skating on mountain roads near rivers. Cooling off with a nice refreshing swim. I’m not saying the skating is still good, I’m just saying hydration, shade and a little resourcefulness are the only ways to get by.
New events continue to change Japan’s DH Skate Scene
September temperatures ranged from 23-30 in Yokohama. Our October Osaka trip had slightly hotter conditions, but skating called and we weren’t to be stopped! On October 6th, the Radicals Crew hosted a killer little event with no cars, and then added community support to the plan. The current issue of SkateSlate Magazine (Issue 27) features the Osaka’s Radicals Fiesta Photo Series. Click here to see the entire photo set in our event recap posted earlier this week on Skate[Slate].com.
The Loaded blog also hosted Ayumi Oride’s insightful take on Japan’s scene with a great, well rounded report. I highly recommend giving this one a read if you’re interested in doing your own events anywhere in the world. Ayumi killed it not only by supporting the Radicals Event, but also on her report of what’s necessary to pull off an amazingly fun and care free event. I was stoked on the quote below because it helps ensure the event will continue in the community, but there are many more worth mentioning so go check it out.
Politicians were open and supportive for an unseen activity (longboarding) for them, not only open, they ended up really excited and want to make it bigger and better every year. – Ayumi Oride
Japan represented in Skate [Slate] Magazine with Amané Kishida & Kebbek Skateboards
A 2 page spread of Amané Kishida from a bank session was in the new Skate[Slate] Magazine as well. The wide shot of this amazing location shows why Amané is so well known for his all around skate style. Page 22 if you have magazine or you can download it now!
He has been murdering every style you put in front of him for over 20 years. Amané invited our crew out to film this amazing downhill spot he had been eyeing down for some time. Kebbek Skateboards Japan uploaded it, check it out here. There’s also an exciting Kishida Limited Edition Pro Model (AKP) coming our way which we hope to get our hands on soon.
Hakuba to Shonan – October events and more events
This Fall there were 2 events. As stoke continues to spread across the nation we are seeing more events popping up. I think we’re almost ready for an 12 month event calendar actually. The 4th Annual Funwaves Superhill Slide Jam is the biggest with the best riders showing up. A lot of work and diligence is necessary to garner support for DH skaters. There’s also a new addition to Japan’s calendar, the Shinshu Downhill Sk8 Sesh in Hakuba. We’ll start with the latter first since I like how it’s up the the mountains
A Nagano boarding crew called Shinbankai (photo above) have been spreading the word about downhill for some time. Roundabout Snowboard and Skate Shop added Loaded and Arbor to their gear supply and have been anxious about stepping up their event game. Together they held a DIY slide-glove workshop and downhill session in the North Alps. Hakuba is a amazing ski area that boarding enthusiasts flock to every winter. And it looks like skaters are starting to form an tribe of riders there as well.
Tip: From Haneda Airport, it’ll take you about 4 hours drive. Note the dropped pins in the screen cap below.
If you’re prefer to blast beers at 260km/hr (160m/hr) on a train under some of Japan’s neatest mountain ranges, the bullet train is epic, and enjoyable. This an amazing way to travel. You will see intermittent spots of absolute beauty as you shoot out of mountains and back under! With the additional appreciation of not having to drive. I once made the trip to Niigata for snowboarding and it was very exciting. I’ve driven, and trained it and highly recommend either one. It’s my opinion that the climate transition in the winter is dramatic and makes for great experience. When you arrive, the mountain fresh air cleans your brain and sharpens your senses. Then, it’s time to ride!
Superhill Slide Jam 2015
On October 25th, Japan’s largest Slide Jam, the Superhill Slide Jam went down. As usual, we expected to see the best freeriders to come from all over. The crowd and riders increase every year. This is not the case for all events in Japan so shop owner “Kida-san” is doing an amazing job at keeping it fun. It’s one of the events that inspired our team to help promote the unfolding scene here. The Superhill is located on the outskirts of Shonan and is haven for downhill skateboarders. It’s predominantly thrashed by skateboarders from the Kanagawa region. When I asked event organizer and Funwaves skate shop Owner Yoshimasa to refresh my memory on the growth, this is what he had to say.
1st year we had 20 riders and 20 spectators.Then the 2nd there was 40 riders and 50 spectators. But last year was big, 60 riders and perhaps more than 200 spectators.
I see it as a sign of good times ahead for DH Skateboarding in Japan.
This year riders were pulling out new tricks and pushing the longest slide contests to the max. Another thing I noticed is more crews like the Vulgar Skate Team. Toppo Takahiro, one of Japan’s best is now on a short tech slide deck. He was already blasting tricks he learned with Nick Hurley from when he visited last month for the Radicals Fiesta. It’s awesome to see the difference when skilled riders visit Japan and bring their style, but make no mistake, Japanese skaters have a unique style of their own and marry the two together for their own sick interpretation.
I was capturing video for an event recap collaboration, so please enjoy Yousuke Hosada‘s photos:
Young rider, Mizuki Sakaguchi is making groms in Japan look good. Not only is he a skilled rider that won last years event but he’s only 13! He took the title again this year and in my opinion is the steeziest slider in Japan. He also took 2nd in the Longest Stand Slide category. New Moonshine MFG Japan Rider, Yoshi Soma took the win in the longest side category.
Spring and Fall are the best times to skate in Japan so you can expect many amazing things to be happening during these 2 seasons. Winter still involves a lot of skating here. There’s not a lot of snow in many regions of Japan. Check out last months report for some more info and we’ll be back with another Gaijin recap soon. Don’t forget to check Skate[Slate] Japan for regular updates on the scene and connect with us if you’re coming to visit and want to know what’s good!
To close off I’d like to share 2 Videos from Team F-Dub from 2 categories. The Open Class and the Longest Stand Up Slide Contest. This event had a category for everyone, so turn out was great. Even the more hands down sliders like me had a chance to compete.
Thanks to Funwaves Skate Shop for the Videos: 2015 Event Page
Mizuki won the it for the 2nd year in row.
Longest Stand Up Slide
Yoshi Soma from Shizuoka battled it out with Mizuki and ended up taking 1st.