Japan

The opportunity arose and I chose to partake: a two-week escape to a foreign land. A chance to trade my fluorescent-light tan for the real thing, and temporarily relieve the sting of computer-fried eyes. A ten-hour flight across the friendly skies and Japan was beneath my feet. Into another seat and I was in a van with a Japanese man named Hiroshi. Importing skateboards was his business, and I was invited to witness his first marketing plan – a Supernaut tour across Japan.

Matt Rodriguez and Matt Pailes, mini ramps, ledges, and rails. A city or two each day, a busy schedule with little delay. So many names and faces and places that were sure to be blurry after a ten-day hunt for special curry.

Four-hour van rides turned into eight and the Matts were expected to skate as good or better than they ever have before. Under watchful eyes and to my surprise, Matt and Matt shook off the crust and proceeded to bust every single spot we crossed. I lost weight because we only ate one meal a day, but I should say that meal was pretty damn good, considering Hiroshi did all he could to round up some sort of meatless dish for three vegetarians in the land of raw fish.

Our nights were short and our days were long, but the Matts kept going strong. From Ishinomaki with Katakura to Agomachi with Mr. Moftmoto, we were treated very well and always left a story to tell about the time Supernaut came through town, met the locals, and tore the place down. With the utmost respect, of course, for a land and culture we all admired. Now it was time to go, and we would go home tired.

Japan is big and bright, small and tight, dirty and clean, nice and mean. The skateboarders are very good and getting better. With new skateparks popping up all over the country, kids are learning to skate fast and smooth. The pros don’t make much money, if any at all, but maybe someday that will change. One thing’s for sure: skateboarding is alive and well in the Far East and will welcome you with a smile and a little bow. Thank you, Hiroshi and thank you, Japan.