Browsing Tag

Skateboarding Japan

Katsumi Minami, gap to Kamaboko
Interview

Small Talk with Evisen founder Katsumi Minami

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

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

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

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!

Katsumi Minami, pole jam

Katsumi Minami, pole jam. Photo: Muraken

Review

PRO BONO PROMO: IFO 3 AMAS

IFO 3 AMS Promo

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.

IFO 3 AMS Promo 1

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.

IFO 3 AMS Promo 2

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.

IFO 3 AMS Promo 3

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

Interview

Youngblood: Shinya Masuda

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

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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?

Yes, 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.

(laughs)

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.

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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.

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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.

Flatground tricks filmed by Tomohiko Sumi.

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.

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Yeah, when you started skating the hubba the other day, I was thinking “where did that come from?” Ganbatte!!!

Yeah. (laughs)

Shinya with a kgrind on the Stoner Plaza hubba.

Shinya kgrind at Stoner Plaza

Favorite skaters?

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.

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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.

Switch nosegrind.

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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.

Haha.

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.

Yeah, these are the Accel SQ.

Who are your current sponsors?

I’m sponsored by Expressions Outfitters, DGK, Gold Wheels, The Bearings(Charlie Trading), Tones and Spotaka.

Who do you want to thank? Who’s helped you out?

I want to thank my roommates, Eric at Tones, my family, my mom and my sis. And all the companies that help me out.

Shout outs?

All the Stoner Locals!

Stoner Locs!!

Stoner Locs group photo

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.

(laughs) Alright, thanks!

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Interview

Youngblood: Satoshi Ikeda

Ikeda Satoshi portraitOne 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 skateboarding family. And you know that skateboarding has truly become global when you meet skateboarders who travel halfway around the world to Los Angeles California, just so that they can skate Stoner Plaza and the Courthouse and the multitude of legendary SoCal spots(and also maybe meet some of their favorite pros along the way). IFO Skateboard’s Satoshi Ikeda is just one such individual who made the trek from Japan to Los Angeles, and we were fortunate enough to get to spend a couple of months skating and hanging out with him. An immensely talented skateboarder, super down to earth, friendly and humble, we sat down with Ikeda-san for a Youngblood interview at LAX before he caught his flight back to Japan. You can check out Satoshi’s sick Courthouse line in the Krak app and also in Kraked! #15. You’ll definitely be seeing more of him in the future. Satoshi-san, がんばって(Ganbatte)!!! – HK

Okay, let’s start off with the basics. What’s your full name?

Satoshi Ikeda, Ikeda is my family(last) name.

Satoshi, how do we correctly say your first name? Am I even saying it right?

You can pronounce it as Satoshi or Satosh. Both are good.

How old are you?

I am 19 years old.

Where are you from in Japan, exactly?

I’m from Kumamoto City which is in the southern part of the island of Kyushu.

What is Kumamoto City like?

Kumamoto is a small city, the summers are super hot and humid, and the winters are super cold.

You have a really crazy bag of tricks, late flips, nollie inward heels, and more. When did you start skating?

Thank you, I started skating 4 years ago.

Ikeda Satoshi backtail Santa Monica

Backtail at dusk, Santa Monica, 2015.

Photo: Ryuta Hironaga

Holy crap. You only started skating 4 years ago? I should quit skating now. Seriously.

(laughs)

What’s your favorite skatespot/skatepark in your hometown?

I really like Karashima Park and Shirakawa Park. I skate there a lot.

Kumamoto skate with Satoshi.

Which is the best skate shop in Kumamoto City?

The best skate shop is Murasaki Sports.

Okay, switching gears, which is your favorite skatespot/skatepark in Los Angeles?

My favorite spots are the West Los Angeles Courthouse and Stoner Skate Plaza. The Courthouse ledges are so good, and Stoner Plaza is super fun to skate. Plus, the Stoner Locals are really friendly.

Yeah, I love Stoner Plaza too. I know you have a badass flatground game, but what do you like skating most? Ledges? Stairs? Rails?

I like skating ledges and stairs.

Satoshi Ikeda Chill Skate.

Who do you normally skate with back in Japan? How about out here in Los Angeles?

Back in Japan, I usually skate with my Kumamoto homies Koichiro and Wataru. Here in Los Angeles, I’m always out skating with the Stoner Plaza homies.

Ralphs flat ground sesh with Satoshi, Shinya, Katsuya, and Ramon.

Mandatory question, who are your favorite skaters?

Miles Silvas and Nick Tucker.

Good choices on that one. Miles Silvas and Nick Tucker are sick! So what’s your favorite video part?

My favorite? Nick Tucker in Primitive’s “Pain is Beauty.”

Okay I think I can guess this, but I’ve gotta ask, what’s your favorite trick?

(laughs) Nollie inward heel.

Ikeda Satoshi and friends 2

Troy, Satoshi, Noah, Dylan and Katsuya. #StonerLocs

Haha, no surprises there, I totally saw that coming since Nick Tucker is one of your favorite skaters! So how long have you been in Los Angeles?

I’ve been here for 6 months.

You’ve been here for a minute. Why did you come to Los Angeles?

I came here to study at a language school and to skateboard.

You’re a really long way from Japan! Did you end up skating Stoner Plaza or Courthouse every day?

(laughs) Almost every day. Haha.

No wonder I see you at either spot almost every time I’m there.  That’s a lot of skating man! We have it so good, we almost take Stoner Plaza and Courthouse for granted. I’m glad you really made the most of being here. Do you like it out here in Los Angeles?

I really like it here. I really like the weather, the people, the skate spots, and everyone’s nice here.

Ikeda Satoshi and friends

Noah, Satoshi and Katsuya. #StonerLocs.

That’s cool. It is awesome here in Los Angeles. So what’s the secret behind your nollie late flips? I’ve seen you throw them down on flat and across the China gap at Stoner. How did you get them so good? What’s your secret?

I don’t know. (laughs) Maybe just practice and some secret practice. (laughs)

So are you filming for a video right now?

Yes, I’m filming for the IFO Skateboards video, which is coming out soon.

In the meantime, where can we see footage of your skating?

You can check out some of my skating on my Youtube channel (DALLAS0006123), also here and here.

What’s your current setup? Maybe I can finally learn those nollie late flips if I ride what you ride.

IFO deck 8″, Thunder 147 Hi Team trucks, Bones medium bushings, Autobahn Daniel Espinoza Rally 52mm wheels, Mob grip, and “The Bearings” brand bearings(Charlie Trading, Japan). For shoes, I’m wearing the Adidas Busenitz right now.

That’s a sick setup. You gotta tell Soichiro Nakajima(founder of IFO Skateboards) that we need IFO boards out here in the States! Who are your sponsors?

IFO Skateboards, Murasaki Sports, and my parents.

That’s a good one, gotta always thank the parents. So to close this out, who do you want to thank? Shout outs?

I want to thank my family and homies for their support, my sponsors for keeping me skating. And also shout outs to Katsuya, Leo, Noah and to you!!

Oh yeah, I almost forget to ask, what’s your favorite Japanese beer?

Asahi!

Great choice, Asahi’s the best! Alright, I think we’ve covered just about everything. When are you next coming back to the US?

Maybe in 3 years or so? Hopefully after saving some money.

Dang, that’s a long time. Might have to find my way over to Japan then. Alright man, safe travels home. Arigato Satoshi-san! Gokigen !!(Thank you and good luck)

Special thanks to Katsuya Shiratori for help when things were getting lost in translation and also to Ryuta Hironaga for taking the amazing action shot of Satoshi. ありがとう

Featured action image © Ryuta Hironaga.