Japanese culture is well known for its attention to detail. They seem to master everything they pursue, sometimes even surpassing original versions of things indigenous to other places. Why else do Americans fly to Japan, convert dollars to yen, and spend money on superior Japanese versions of traditionally American products? So in hindsight, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to learn that the most impressive D.I.Y. spot I’ve ever seen — save Burnside, FDR and places that have been around for twenty-plus years — was in Japan.
There is minimal English information about Yume Farm on the internet. It is an actual farm and campsite, serving as a hour-away escape from Tokyo life for anyone willing to make the drive. The skatepark though — …doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a smooth island of concrete in the middle of the woods. It sits on a mellow slope and there is no sign that it was ever a building foundation. The only story behind how it came to exist was “three years ago, the park gave it to the skaters and said they could build whatever they want on it.” The people who brought us here had last skated it three months prior, and in that time, the entire tall transition section got built.
What they built is a combination of the perfect and the impressively absurd. There are two sets of three mini ramps — one set wood and another concrete — all of varying heights. There are a bunch of ledges and flatbars built out of repurposed materials. There are traffic guardrails (the ones you see people skating off of stairs and over in Japanese skate clips) cemented into the ground. There’s a trampoline. There are no walls that they could build transitions onto, so the far banks that enclose the spot are propped up on nothing more than tree trunks. There’s a damn goat chilling inside a broken down car behind the park.
Some of the best D.I.Y. spots will still have lumps and imperfections, while pretty much everything here couldn’t have been done better by California Skateparks if they tried. Considering we’ve seen city-built concrete parks fall to shambles within two years (see #8), this place’s flawlessness is a scary mystery. (Ok fine, one of the flatbars is too high, but that’s about it.) Even in writing this, I’m not 100% certain it could be a “D.I.Y.” spot. Maybe some cool aliens came and built it in the middle of the night or some shit. That would almost be more believable.
Also, to add insult to injury: the Japanese are currently leading the world in embracing the value of putting a marble curb inside a skatepark.
The surrounding elements all further its unbelievable level of chillness. There are grills twenty feet away from the skatepark, which you can rent out and cook whatever food you bring over from the supermarket. The park has ziplines, slides into ball pits, and all sorts of non-skate attractions.
We’re 2-for-2 on picking the worst day for a far-off holy grail skate mission: it started raining within ten minutes of our arrival, so we retreated to the covered barbecue pits to eat and wait for it to dry (it never completely did.) No footage came of the trip, so you can consult the clip below for an idea of what it’s like. It is a carbon copy of our day:
Maybe there are better D.I.Y. parks out there, but there probably isn’t one that is chill as this. The Japanese know how the manufacture all the right elements for the chillest skate day imaginable. I’d hop on another fourteen-hour flight to experience a #chillday like this one anytime. Put it on your list.