Skateboarding is quite popular in America. On the other hand, in Japan, there is a whole different culture. I wanted to take a look at the differences in the cultures between America and Japan.

It was during the summer between middle and high school that I had stumbled upon skateboarding. I had just returned from summer camp and had a few weeks before school started. I was sitting on the couch channel surfing when I came across The X Games, where they were showing the street skate competition. Instantly, I was mesmerized by the action that I was seeing on screen. It was when Ryan Sheckler, a boy who didn’t seem to be much older than myself, came onto screen landing tricks that I had decided to myself skateboarding would be my next challenge.

中学が終わり、高校が始まる前の夏休みに私はスケートボードのことを知りました。サマーキャンプから戻り、学校が始まるまで3週間ほどあった時期にのことでした。ソファーに座りチャンネルをまわしてたら、丁度ストリートスケートが行われてたときにThe X Gamesが流れてたチャンネルにたどりつきました。一瞬で画面に移ってたアクションに注目がいきました。同い年くらいにみえる、Ryan Shecklerが出てきて、彼がすごい技を繰り広げ、私は次に挑戦することをスケボーに決めました。

(Ryan Sheckler)

Snowboarding and rollerblading were things that I had been doing for years, so I didn’t see how skateboarding could be difficult. After much convincing, I got my mom to take me down to the local skate shop where I proceeded to get advice on my new skateboard.


I will not deny the fact that I had much trouble learning how to land tricks on my skateboard. It wasn’t until I had started high school that I truly began to learn tricks. This was because of the numerous skateboarders that I became friends with at school.



With local skateparks, streets, and the gear that some people had, it was easy to learn tricks and gain exposure to the skateboarding world. The local shop often held demos and had pros stop by often, which got us pumped up to do better and learn more.


(Paul Rodriguez)

The following summer, I went up to Portland to attend the Dew Tour, where I was able to meet the biggest names in the professional skateboarding world such as Ryan Sheckler, Paul Rodriguez, Nyjah Huston, Bob Burnquist, Shaun White, and many many more.

翌夏、私はDew Tourに行くためポートランドに行きました。そこでスケボー界の大物、Ryan Sheckler, Paul Rodriguez, Nyjah Huston, Bob Burnquist, Shaun Whiteなどに会いました。

(Nyjah Huston)

While skateboarding isn’t all positive, as it does have a strong negative connotation to hoodlums. You can easily get in trouble with the law, and many places do ban skateboarding due to its noise and at times, destructive nature. Yet, it is still easily accessible and a large part of the youth culture today in America.


When I moved to Japan long after my skateboarding years, I noticed a large difference in the skate culture here. Not only was it extremely small, but skateboarding seemed to be more of a fashion statement than a sport or culture. People wore the big name brands such as Volcom and Nixon without knowing where the brands originally came from.



Occasionally, I see people carrying skateboards, but unlike the kids skateboarding in America, the people I see riding skateboards in Japan only use them for transportation. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone do a trick except for in the skatepark in Shibuya or at my old university.



The demographic is also quite different. While skateboarding is a predominately male sport in both countries, in America the general age range for skateboarders range from elementary school to high school. At times you will see people in their early twenties skateboarding also, but unless they have sponsors, it is pretty unusual to find young adults at skateparks. Yet, here in Japan, it seems as though most of the people who skateboard range from high school and up.



Why is this?


Perhaps this is because of the lack in exposure of the sport in Japan? Many people see skateboarding and think it is cool, but do not pursue it because there aren’t many facilities that allow for skateboarding. The major skatepark in Shibuya can be intimidating for anyone who is new and wanting to learn. The streets are off limits for the most part as it is loud and may disrupt the neighborhood. Or, if any security guards are around, they do not want anyone skateboarding on their property.



There is also a very strong negative image to skateboarding in Japan due to the fashion choices that many of the skaters wear. Skateboarding also “looks” dangerous, and with the loud wheels, it puts onlookers into a nervous state. Which I can’t blame them, since the sidewalks in Tokyo are quite narrow and filled with pedestrians. And because of this, there is a decrease in support for the sport, which then lessens the chance for sponsorship and let a lone becoming a professional in Japan.



Yet, there is still this odd trend in penny boards and skateboards being carried around for fashion. I have seen numerous youngsters with boards even though it is obvious that they haven’t been on it. I don’t see how it is possible to ride a skateboard in a tight skirt and platform boots. But, you know, a cute colored penny board is just the right accessory for that, don’t you think? Or a skateboard with a cool graphic and stickers.



To be honest, I do find it unfortunate that skateboarding will never become a big part of the youth culture here in Japan the way it is in America. Although skateboarding may be associated with negative images, it also does do a lot of good for the youth, keeping them out of trouble and giving them a hobby that pushes them to go outdoors instead of staying inside facing their television screens for hours.


(Curren Caples)


■■ 今日のフレーズ!■■

channel surfing


The X Games


Dew Tour

X Gamesに引き続き最大エクストリームスポーツイベントです。夏に行われるツアーで、各地に行くので、かなり人気です。