Skateboarding in Japan has been around for pretty much as it's been around anywhere. Skateboarding is a craze and if there were ever a land of crazes, Japan is it. Summer is full of surfers, mornings and evenings are full of joggers, fitness clubs are huge, manga devotees here are the hallmark of nerds anywhere, and even unicycles (monocycles) are big here with elementary school kids. Hula hoops? Sadly no, but they’re bound to catch on if someone sets the right example.
The skateboarding craze doesn't seem to have abated at all since it hit Japan in the 80s. It is still one of the heights of street cool and, as such, is not merely a way to get fit and skillful.
Skill in Japan is the one thing for which standing out from the rest of the crowd is more than forgiven, and once you've mastered something you have free rein to rub that mastery in. So skateboarding is a sure way to impress both yourself and others with not only with the clatterful skill of your jumps and the board-glued-to-your-shoes-look expertise of your twists, it's also a chance to get those tattooed biceps and smooth six-packs properly appreciated, or, if it’s still a bit chilly for that, show off that combo of bagginess, jangliness and logo - that carefully maintained 'streetkraft hip'.
The southeast end of Shinjuku station in Tokyo is a renowned spot for skateboarding boys. I was there last night and took a few shots. Unfortunately, being dark, and skateboarding involving much motion, the shots aren't worth much, as you can see. These two were the only remotely salvageable ones. The other blurs didn't even pass the ‘we-e-e-ll, it's artistic’ test. Enjoy!
Books on Japanese Society
Japan Tokyo Skateboarding Shinjuku
Saturday, April 22, 2006