I have to admit that I was pretty worried when our plan came together. Five days in Kansai with a mismatched crew of skaters (Ryo Sejiri, the 16 year old competition slayer, Jiro Kaneko, the sweatiest street rat in Tokyo and myself, the token white guy) with weather reports of rain. Not only did we have the opportunity to let down VHS and all the sponsors that were paying for the trip, but Patrik Wallner was especially flown out to take a break from his busy schedule filming Ryan Sheckler changing the future of skateboarding, to wander aimlessly around Osaka station trying to find a dry ledge or bank to skate.
I stopped worrying after the first day when we got straight off the night bus from Tokyo and stacked 18 clips between the three of us. As always on the first day of a trip, legs are still fresh and energy levels are high. Our day actually only ended when Kyoto’s E-chan (our guide and potential 4th member) joined us in the evening and split his asshole open on a ledge. Broken asshole! Have you ever even heard of that before? Holy shit. Easily one of the worst injuries I have ever seen… Straight in the back of a taxi to the hospital in blood soaked jeans. Get well soon E-chan!
For Patrik, this trip was a crash course in Japanese stamina. We went out with a true Japanese salaryman ‘Work hard, play hard’ mentality and made sure to sample the Osaka nightlife too (after putting the kids to bed of course). ‘chotto matte, CHOTTO MATTE’ (wait a minute) was Patrik’s favourite phrase to slur out at bartenders or girls in the izakaya as he got feely with his octopus hands under the table. I started wondering if the beer vending machines in the hotel were such a good idea too as we were pouring the last of our per-diem into it at 8 in the morning to fuel our heart to heart talks and reminisce on our shit stories in the 3rd world. But we somehow managed to keep it together and wake up again and again to destroy more spots, with Jiro cracking the whip and Sejiri shutting down the rails.
My trip came to an end as I performed a ninja kick into a ledge from a gap to bank and slipping out. I was sure that toes weren’t supposed to point that way so a quick trip to hospital confirmed that it was dislocated… At least a month off skating, YAY! The next night was my birthday so we went bowling (I could only watch…). But at lease we managed to squeeze in a trip to see Osaka’s ghetto and go street drinking in a weird cosplay red-light brothel district before coming back to Tokyo.
All in all it was a fun, successful trip, despite the two days of rain and back-to-back injuries. Big thanks to TBPR’s Ogu, Kazu, Yusuke, Dal, E-chan, Toshy, Patrik, Ryo, Jiro, everyone at VHS and all the sponsors. One more please!
[RIDE ON] KANSAI BANZAI