Lost In Translation — The Alluring Difficulty of Skateboarding in Tokyo

Legos not Lagos

Tell another visitor the truth about street skating in Tokyo and the response is between an eye-roll and defensive denial.

The truth: Tokyo is [deep breath] …not that good for skateboarding.

Ok, wait! Don’t start yelling! Are there spots? Yeah, some. Are there tons of incredible skaters from there? Yes, a lot. Is there a vibrant skate scene? Yes, yes, and yes. Does it have quite literally the friendliest, most amazing locals on earth? Good God, a million times yes. Tokyo has incredible skateboarding culture, but when you find yourself a tourist there, you soon realize this previously unfathomable truth: you’re more likely to come home with five expensive jackets you don’t actually need, rather than five tricks you’re happy with for a video.

This past October was one of those great groupthink travel moments where many diverging crews all happened to be in Tokyo at roughly the same time (a la that one January when literally every New York skater was in Barcelona at once.) As we’d cross paths with newcomers, the following interaction became commonplace.

“Have a you guys been skating a bunch since you’ve been here?”

“Er, um, not really, no.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s um…kind of hard to skate here.”

Cue the “You guys are probably just hungover everyday,” or worse, the proverbial “We’re more ‘core’ than you” subtext that assures the denying party will have an easier time being productive in Tokyo than you have.

Until you run into them the next time, and they concede to reality.

Keep Reading »