Skater’s Paradise

As skateboarding rapidly approaches its debut on the world stage of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, we are taking a closer look at the current ‘state of skate’ around the world. Check out the viewpoint of a longtime Juice Magazine reader and avid skateboarder, 831, from the streets of Japan…

Skater’s Paradise by 831

Finding a board that won’t snap in half in half an hour is a good goal in Japan, as your skating budget will probably be around 40 bucks, the same as me. The reason is that experience and a nose for fakes will limit your purchasing ‘ability’ at the skate shops that pretty much abound at each and every ‘Aeon’ mall. 

They have complete skateboards at the local novelty shops called “Don Quixote” for around 20 or 30 bucks and they are skateable for a day or two until the board or trucks snap. They are obviously just for kids, and that’s about what skateboarding almost amounts to in Japan, a cute fad.

Have you seen those sticks with wheels that bend in the middle? Kids around my community were saying “Hey Ben! Look! And then bending their legs back and forth to go in circles. I was disheartened, knowing that their moms had sent them out just to piss me off.

My nephews here have always been pretty well educated on skateboarding in America. They have watched Girl videos and anything else we could find, Scott Pazelt, Tony Hawk, and the Vice show about going on tour with the little Mexican kid who the girls humiliate in the woods. My nephews’ mom taught them to say “No more skateboarding!” in English, so we started watching King Diamond videos instead, and I just enjoyed watching them scared as hell. 

So there you have it, not a negative, but I would say an honest assessment of the Japanese attitude towards skateboarding, that it’s “gang” and should be avoided, and is avoided best by just not noticing it. “Gang”? That basically means that your grandparents can’t do it.

Drinking parties in Japan usually involve everybody in the company, even the president of the company himself, or his representative, pretending to get drunk and making sure that no one has any fun, and skateboarding doesn’t seem to be any different. I’m not a hater, after all I have titled this article “Skater’s Paradise” with good reason.

The groovy aspects of Japan

Yes, there are skateparks just like America, that are rarely used and made entirely of concrete. Skating one will eventually bring the “professionals” to show you how it’s done. They don’t high five or listen to normal music. They are dressed in their Sunday best and there to show you who’s boss, and in synchronized swimming form, I’m not kidding. Ollie, ollie, ollie, rail slide, rail slide, rail slide, all in synch, go the three trendy skaters with awesome boards and stickers. The question they left me with was “831, are you really Olympic gold level?”

“God no! I can barely skate anymore, I’m just hanging out. Can’t we be buddies?” But my grinds and ollies are pissing them off more! Oh my God! They have zero style! I have style! But, only in Japan. Yeah, it’s that easy of a scene.

Enough about the grooviness of smoking every skater you meet just on pure rudiments because they are some form of Olympic hopeful. Let’s move to the quality Nobunaga shit. The banks, hills, and oh sweet Bodhisattva, the endless fucking pavement.

Along with being infinitely paved, Japan, even it’s rural areas has freeways and highways galore. Surrounding these “great works” are beautiful banks of concrete, sometimes in wonderfully raw form, like unfinished perfection. Accompanying these banks are tiny steep hills and fat, tall curbs that lend themselves wonderfully to street skating. Because these kind of things are everywhere, even in the country, you can easily find spots to “work” out your new trick without really being noticed, maybe somewhere near the woods out of town.

The endless concrete, black top, and watchimicallit pavements abound everywhere, from the “great work” parks to the shopping centers, even bridges over streets in main cities come with a ramp for bicycles, the old “trick generator” in the mind starts snapping off, and you are in . . .
Skater’s Paradise.

Shout out Nobunaga, Jazz Dream, Imperial Cities of China here in Nihon, ghost cities been skated, downhill in Mie to the tune of angry monkeys, and searching for the reclusive giant Salamander of Xanadu.

Words and photos by 831

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