I haven’t been to Japan yet, unfortunately. This is something I need to fix sometime soon. Still, I have to say, this country holds a really special spot in my mind. To be honest skateboarding wasn’t even the first reason why. As a teenager I was also a fan of video-games and manga; 2 things deeply rooted in Japan. So it’s no surprise that the culture resonated with me.
Then I remember the first time I saw some skateboarding happening there and I was like ‘oh shit that looks so cool I’ve got to go there’. That was in my very first skate DVD ‘Menikmati’. In the bonus section they put their Japan tour and I watched it over and over again. The vibe and all the spots seemed perfect. We could tell already that Japan has a totally different view on the world and skateboarding.
This has definitely been proven true over the years and it is with a lot of pride and happiness that we introduce you now the mastermind behind Evisen Skateboards: Katsumi Minami; who started Evisen in Tokyo to support his local skate community.
I remember a while ago reading a quick interview with Katsumi and something really struck me. When he was asked ‘besides skating, what other interests do you enjoy doing?’ he replied ‘None’. Period. A few years later, here we are in 2016 and the only thing that comes to mind right now is: hats off Minami-san! And long live Evisen and the whole Tokyo skate community. Look forward to skating with you. -k
Katsumi Minami, wallie to boardslide. Photo: Marimo
Where are you from? Tokyo
How long have you been living in Tokyo for? Around 30 years. I lived in Sendai for about 6 years when I was a kid too.
What’s your relationship with the city? I love it, but there are too many people here and that pushes up the price of rent. Sometimes it sucks to think we’re working so hard just to make rent here…
Katsumi Minami, wallie 180. Photo: Marimo
Skateboarding wise: what makes it so special? It’s a massive city so there are so many spots…
The city is so big: how is a regular skate day organized? Usually we just pick an area and push around with the crew.
If I were to land in Tokyo tomorrow: what are the first few stops I should absolutely do? Get some good sushi and skate/drink some beers on the street in Shibuya!
Crew in Shibuya
When is the best time of the year to visit & skate in Tokyo? Spring and Autumn have the best climate for skating, with the beautiful cherry blossom in Spring and the worlds craziest halloween in Autumn.
In few words how would you describe the skateboarding scene in the city? Security is so tough here, so we have to hit spots like a ninja attack haha!
Cover image: Katsumi Minami, gap to Kamaboko. Photo: Marimo
This interview was originally featured in the printed KrakMag issue 12 that shipped with the Winter KrakBox. Want to get your hands on a copy of the next printed KrakMag? Want to receive epic skateboarding product every two months? Check out the KrakBox now!
Tokyo’s VHS MAG just released Leo Takayama’s sick as hell PICK UP video part today. Leo is an Osaka local who’s been ripping for a good minute, with a super deep bag of tech tricks as well as the ability to drop those hammers on command. In addition to the amazing skateboarding, one of the best things about footage from Japan is how different the terrain and spots look, giving Japanese skateboarding such a refreshing look. Not forgetting to mention that the way Japanese skaters approach spots is also totally unique, just like Leo’s patented backsmith backside bigspin out, gotta love creative thinking out of the box!
Anyone who’s met Leo also knows he’s also a super rad dude with a great attitude and a big smile who really loves skateboarding. It’s great to see him getting some shine and picking up new sponsors. He’s definitely one to look out for in the future, so check out his new part below! Leo rips!
And if you’ve read this far, we’ve also included Leo’s Welcome to Chocolate Skateboards Japan intro video as a bonus below (peep the LA footy he filmed on his recent trip Stateside). Hell yeah Leo!! Ganbatte!!! – HK
For this edition of Pro Bono Promo, we have the IFO Skateboards 3 AMAS video, which showcases their 3 newly minted AMS Hiroto Naito, Satoshi Ikeda and Shunpei Sato. Japan’s IFO Skateboards is the brainchild of former Japanese pro Soichiro Nakajima (who spent a stint on Element Skateboards in the late 90s) and it’s always super refreshing to see skateboarding from outside the US. Having always been interested in the Japanese skateboarding scene, this short 5 minute promo definitely does not disappoint.
Hiroto flipping out of a backtail.
The light footed Hiroto starts off the video with some super smooth tech, and his line consisting of a switch front tail revert followed by a kickflip backtail line is definitely a standout.
Shunpei with a picturesque frontboard.
Shunpei is up next to bat with an amazingly lazy, slow mo’ style that makes everything look so good. I have no idea how he slows his flips like that, but his opening line of a backsmith, nollie backside noseslide and a backtail bigspin out seriously just oozes smoothness.
Satoshi with a nosegrind.
The Krak homie Satoshi has last part in the video and he definitely delivers. We all know he’s on Stoner Plaza’s nollie late flip honor roll, but he also has one of the craziest lines at the West L.A. Courthouse with a nollie tre on flat followed by a nollie inward heel backtail. Whaattt?!!
If the future of IFO Skateboards in the hands of this talented trio, IFO’s future is definitely looking bright! Check the video out below! – HK
One of the most amazing things about skateboarding is that you get to meet all kinds of unique and interesting people through our shared love for riding a little four-wheeled plank of wood. Transcending language and cultural differences, if you skate, you can relate and are part of the same big skateboarding family. In this second installment of Youngblood, we talk to DGK Japan’s Shinya Masuda from South Osaka. I first met Shinya over 2 years ago, when he first came to Los Angeles on a short skate trip and I was trying to practice my really terrible Japanese. He was already blowing minds back then with an ill style and a ridiculous switch game. He’s only gotten better since and you can be sure that you’ll be seeing more of him in the future. Without further ado, I present to you Shinya Masuda. がんばって – HK
Krak: Your name and age?
Shinya: My name is Shinya Masuda, I’m 21 years old.
How do we pronounce your name right? Is there a correct pronounciation.
It’s spelt S-H-I-N-Y-A, everyone can call me Shin-ya.
And your last name is Masuda?
Is there a meaning behind your name? What does it mean in Japanese?
The meaning is real. Like truth. Keep it real! (laughs)
Damn, that’s a sick name.
Where are you from in Japan?
I’m from Osaka, and I live on the South side of Osaka.
Is there a name for that part of the city?
City? The city is Izumi city. Yeah, represent Izumi!
Shinya cruising around Taipei, Taiwan.
What’s it like in Osaka? If you had to tell someone who’s never been there?
Ahhh, Osaka. Osaka is similar to Cali. People are friendly, and there’s a lot of good food. And the city is kind of small compared to Tokyo, smaller than Tokyo. So you can go anywhere by bullet train( also known as the Shinkansen). And then, there are some skate spots.
Is there a big skate scene? Are there a lot of skaters over there in Osaka?
Yeah, there are a lot of skaters, but not so many skateparks over there.
So you mainly skate street? No wonder you’re so good.
Yeah, everybody skates street. Everybody’s so good. And it’s underground.
What is Osaka known for? I know Glico(a Japanese foodstuff manufacturer) is from Osaka right? I grew up liking Pocky(a Japanese chocolate snack). What else is also from Osaka?
(laughs) Yeah, haha. Osaka is also famous for Takoyaki(a Japanese wheat based snack), Okonomiyaki(a Japanese savory pancake), they’re both from Osaka.
Oh that’s so sick! I didn’t even realize that.
Yeah, and it’s best in Osaka, better than anywhere else.
Nose manny at Courthouse.
Coming back to skateboarding, when did you start skating?
I started to skate when I was 11 or 12.
What was your first setup like?
First setup was a Flip board, maybe Venture trucks. Wheels I don’t remember, maybe Spitfire.
So you’ve been skating Ventures forever basically?
Yeah, and the first shoes I bought was Savier.
Savier? Oh man, that’s OG dude. Damn!! You should have kept those! Did you know which model you got? Did you get the Brian Andersons or something?
No, I don’t remember, but they were Savier.
So you were just saying that there aren’t too many skateparks in your hometown? Is there one you like to go to when you’re back in Osaka?
Skateparks? No, I don’t go skateparks, I go to this big public space, where skaters have put a box and some rails. The spots I skate always change, but my favorite skate spot is the Komyo Ike Station.
Komyo Ike Station? I need to go look this spot up at some point. What’s your favorite skateshop in Osaka? Where do I go if I needed to pick up some stuff?
Skateshop? Spotaka, that’s the biggest skateshop in Japan.
With Takka-san goofing in the background.
Are there any pro skaters out of Osaka? Japanese pros?
One of the most famous Japanese pros is Ura Tomokazu.
I need to look him up. Favorite skatespot in Los Angeles?
In LA? Of course Stoner and Courthouse. And downtown LA.
We should skate downtown more! Who do you like skating with most when you’re back in Osaka?
In Osaka? All my homies in South Osaka. Yeah yeah. And I’ve skated with Hideki the longest, he’s my big brother, he taught me everything.
How about in Los Angeles? Who do you skate with over here?
I skate with Teague, Tyler, Satoshi, Katsuya, and all the Stoner Locs.
What do you like skating the most? Ledges, stairs, rails?
I like skating ledges and stairs, some manny pads and recently I started skating rails and hubbas.
Shinya with Sewa Kroetkov.
Yeah, when you started skating the hubba the other day, I was thinking “where did that come from?” Ganbatte!!!
Shinya with a kgrind on the Stoner Plaza hubba.
My favorite skaters are Stevie Williams, Keelan Dadd, and Brian Peacock. I can’t decide for sure, but if I had to name a few, those guys would be it.
Favorite video part? I know that’s a tough one.
Favorite video? DC video. The old DC video
The DC video? Wow.
Stevie Williams and Josh Kalis’ parts. When I was young, they inspired me a lot, for street skating.
That’s sick! Have you seen the old Transworld “The Reason” video?
Reason? Ah, yeah yeah, I’ve watched it. Stevie and Josh Kalis!
Shinya winding down the day with the homies.
What’s your favorite trick?
My favorite trick is the frontside flip.
Frontside flip? You have a good one dude, I saw your how to video.
And switch flips.
So how long have you been in Los Angeles this time around?
In LA? One year. I want to stay longer.
I know dude, we’re going to miss skating with you. Why did you come to Los Angeles this time?
Yeah, I was a university student in Japan. I also came here for skating and also for English, I was interested in the skate scene here. So many good skaters, so many good skatespots. And I can meet people from all over the world.
I find this pretty interesting, cos you’re in college, and here you go to school, what do you study? I know you go to Kansai Gaidai University in Japan.
Yeah, Kansai Gaidai University. Mostly I study English, and marketing. Actually, I’m majoring in English language. I like English.
So basically you can use what you learn in school to help you in skateboarding, so you can talk to people and you can also use marketing to understand how skateboarding business works?
Yeah, that fits me.
So in LA, where do you go to school?
I go to an English school in Koreatown. It’s pretty chill.
What do you like about LA? What do you love about it?
I like the people, the weather, palm trees, lots of reasons. Weather is the best. Weather and skate scene, and skate spots.
It’s pretty cold in Osaka right now right? It snows sometimes too right?
Yeah right now it’s cold. It’s pretty cold. Sometimes, it snows, but not so much. The weather’s pretty different. Depending on the season.
Do you end up going to Tokyo to skate at all?
Yeah, sometimes. Tokyo is pretty nice.
I hear it’s really hard to skate there because it’s so crowded so you have to go out at night to street skate?
Yeah, especially street skating. But in Japan, most skaters go to Tokyo, because the companies are in Tokyo.
Some clips from Shinya’s first trip to Los Angeles.
Are you a Hanshin Tigers fan(Japanese pro baseball team)?
Hanshin Tigers? No, I’m not so interested in baseball.
You’re not interested in baseball? Damn, you’re the first person I’ve met from Osaka who’s not interested in baseball and the Tigers.
Coming back to skateboarding, why are your switch tricks so good? What’s your secret to switch backtails, how are they popped so high? I can’t even do them regular! Haha.
I used to do them regular but I started skating switch when I was maybe 17 or 18. Like switch is more fun than regular stance. Hmmmm, I don’t know. Like switch makes me try new things more than regular. It’s fun, it’s my favorite stance.
Must be something in the water in Japan, the great food, and the Sashimi that is helping with your switch pop. Tell us something about yourself?
I like hip hop and I like music, everybody knows that.
Guess what’s my next question on the list? What Japanese hip hop do you recommend we check out?
I recommend Kan, Kohh, and Evis Beats. He makes some chill songs.
I guess we only hear of the more mainstream names like Zeebra, DABO, Tokona-X?
Yeah, DABO! Tokona-X has passed away but I like him. I recommend Tokona-X too. And I recommend Basi, he represents South Osaka.
I need to go check all that out, thanks for the recommendations. The skate scene in Japan is still so closely linked with hip hop.
Yeah, skate scene and hip hop are always connected in Japan.
Are you filming for a video right now?
I was filming for the Expressions video, a local Osaka company.
The “Ride Pride” video?
Yeah, the Ride Pride video. And I think I’m gonna start filming for the next video.
The “Ride Pride” video’s out already right?
It’s already out. I’m gonna film for a new one and I’m going to film some street clips.
If we want to check out your videos, do you have a Youtube channel?
I don’t have a Youtube channel but I have some clips on Youtube which you can find.
Okay, now for the important stuff, so we can learn to switch flip just like you. What’s your setup?
Oh ok, I ride an 8.06″ DGK deck. Venture low 5.25 trucks, 51mm Gold Wheels. And my bearings are “The Bearings” by Charlie Trading.
And what shoes are you skating in right now?
I wear eS. I used to wear eS so much, and now eS is back!
Those are the Accels right? The Accel SQ? They’re tight.
I want to thank my roommates, Eric at Tones, my family, my mom and my sis. And all the companies that help me out.
All the Stoner Locals!
When are we next gonna see you back in the US?
I’ll probably be back at the end of the year. Or next year.
That’ll be cool. When do you finish college?
College? In 2 years.
Great, I think we’ve covered just about everything. It’s been great getting to skate and hang out with you this past year. I remember the first time you came over to the US. I think I met you at Westchester, and I thought, “this guy has got such sick style.”
(laughs) First time was at Westchester?
Yeah, I think we were briefly introduced and then I met you again at Stoner a week later and then we talked a lot more. You were killin’ it then and it’s good to see you back here again.
Oh yeah, it was great seeing you again too. You are interested in Japan too, and we have similar interests.
Yeah I love the Japanese skate scene. Thanks for doing this interview, and all the best for the future. Arigato!! We hope to see you blow up in skateboarding soon.