Japan has seen huge changes in the last century; an industrial revolution born out of the remnants from a world war has seen it rise to the top of the ladder. The list of consumer goods designed out of Japan is endless, but what most have in common is great attention to detail—from cars to optics. If you buy something made in Japan, you know it's going to be good. This standard of excellence is not only in everyday objects, it's everywhere in Japan. Its modern architecture and futuristic planning has been drawing skateboarders from all over the globe for decades.
For many of us this was the first time we'd ever set foot in South Korea, and unlike the neighbors up north, they welcomed us with open arms. It's a strange feeling being a minority; locals took photos of us, came over and shook our hands, and were really friendly—that is except the grannies, who are on a whole different level of mean. Seoul has no doubt embraced the West; you can see its influence everywhere, and by being a new city, it's custom built for skaters. Another great stop on the ever-increasing Asian map.-Skin Phillips
Photos by Dave Chami
Leo Valls, alley-oop frontside wallride (Seoul)
While most of us slept, some of the crew skated through the neon to avoid the crowds and subsequent security. Skating here in the day, especially in the week, was tricky to say the least. French transplant Leo Valls has been recently living in Tokyo but jumped on this trip last minute. He gave us this smash-and-grab alley-oop frontside wallride on a pane of glass that rang out like a bell each time he hit it, scaring the life out of the escalator riders below him.
Na-kel Smith, frontside shove-it 50-50 (Tokyo)
We spent a day skating on the island of Odaiba, which is a huge island made of landfill that sits in the harbor next to downtown Tokyo. It boasts epic shopping and is a particularly popular spot to take a date on the weekend. Weekdays though, it's kind of a ghost town, and Na-kel laid down this precisely aimed front shove-it 50-50 oblivious to the fact that there was probably a Gucci store within throwing distance.
Silas Baxter-Neal, fakie flip wallride (Seoul)
Right next to this spot, which is on a huge bridge in the heart of Seoul, there were anti-suicide messages in poems engraved into the railing urging people not to jump. It's the last thing you'd ever see if you decided to pop your clogs and go plop into the deep beyond. Strange that such a good-looking spot would be at a place such as this.
Kevin Lowry, 50-50 (Tokyo)
Kevlar is always down for a night mission. He didn't have far to go, as this sweet-looking sculpture was in the courtyard of our hotel. We crept down in the wee hours, making sure nobody saw that we were guests; we even took the trouble to leave through one exit only to circle back around to the spot. We got das boot just as Kevin grinded over the gold beast, and after security had disappeared, we took the elevator back up to our beds.
Dennis Busenitz, ollie (Tokyo)
When we first arrived in Tokyo at four o'clock in the morning, it felt like we had arrived early in the evening only for the sun to break hours later. That first day was the longest in the history of the world. It set the tone for the rest of the trip; most of us were in bed early and up at a bird's fart. Straight off the plane, Dennis and the boys had an early morning session in Tokyo. This was before he and Silas had started a dice war that was always going to end in tears.
Mark Gonzales, wallride to hippie jump (Tokyo)
Here the one and only Mark Gonzales takes on the wallride-hippie jump amongst a barrage of abuse from a few really irate neighbors. Little did they know who was skating. Mark was in Tokyo doing an art show—it was one of the main reasons we planned this trip. He scouted out a grip of spots close to his hotel.
Silas Baxter-neal, kickflip (Seoul)
Every day in Seoul we spent on the train. Nobody had a clue where we were going or what direction we were even heading—we'd arrive at a station, get out and skate to the spots. The city is huge with a population of over 10 million. After a week on the grind with not too much to show for it, our final weekend proved pretty fruitful. Security seemed at a minimum, and a new spot seemed to appear at every corner we turned. Here Silas kickflips out of an obstacle you only seem to find in Asia.
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