Effort and natural talent, skills to realize unconventional ideas.
Akira Funato encompasses all these elements.
This is one of the greats out of Tokyo.

Video by Lesque / Interview by VHSMAG / Photos by Junpei Ishikawa / Title by Satoshi Kasai

Video by Lesque
Interview by VHSMAG
Photos by Junpei Ishikawa
Title by Satoshi Kasai


VHSMAG(V): First of all, let’s start with how you started riding for Lesque. Were you the original member?

Akira Funato (F): No, I wasn’t the original. I was the first flow rider for Lesque though. They only had Pro and am team but they started flowing me boards since I was still not known. It was around two years after Lesque started, but I hurt my knee two days later and had to get a big surgery. I couldn’t skate for a year. After recovery I went to a tour with them and filmed a lot. Then they welcomed me to their am team.

V: And you just turned pro the other day.

F: I’d always wanted to turn pro. I was always waiting for the call. Shota (Yamazaki) turned pro first and I thought it was my turn. I had a full part in QUE but I hardly had media exposure so it was fair that I couldn’t go pro. After the video got released, they said they’d get my pro board out if I have another video part. So this is the part to go pro. It took about a year to get it done.

V: Where did you film at? I noticed footage filmed in Okinawa. Did you go on a lot of filming trip?

F: Kind of, I filmed on trips and my hometown. If the spot was in Tokyo, you can always go back to try again so I tent do try something hard. Whereas somewhere far away, I just get something that I feel confident because you don’t know if you can even come back again. I don’t really explore or experiment that much on trips. It depends on the situation but I try until my body doesn’t move. No compromise.

V: Which trick in the part did you struggle the most?

F: Let’s see… There are many… I guess the pop shove-it to late shove-it. The one you reverse the board mid-air. I’ve always wanted to do that trick so I went to the spot strictly to get it. I thought I could do it quickly because you have time in the air if you launch off the bank, but I had to go back three times. It took more than ten hours total.

V: That’s a surprise. You always do things flawlessly so I was imagining you land trick super easily.

F:It tales so much time for me to get tricks, probably the worst in the team. But even if you get the trick you want through ten hours of battling, it just lasts for three or four seconds on video. That’s kind of sad. I’m always hoping that people will get how hard the trick is.

V: There were NBDs in your part, as always. You were doing dog walk in QUE, and also late shove-it variation that were truly amazing.

F: Thanks. As for that dog walk, I really liked how the Gonz did it. He makes it look so fun. That stuck in my mind for a long time. I’ve always wanted to do it but I didn’t know how or where. Then, I was trying on a line with kickflip bigspin and thought it’d be so boring if I just did a kick turn and do a shove-it to make the nose in the forward position. I thought this is the perfect line to have the dog walk. It was the best way to change the direction of the board.

V: I was blown away by that. You have many unique tricks in the new part as well and the balance is good, which makes it very effective and fun to watch.

F: It took so long to get that dog walk line though. I was trying it for five or six hours straight, soaking wet with sweat. I get to the last trick but I was so tired by then and could get the front blunt. It was morning when I finally got it.

V: Do you consciously try to do something different when you figure out what trick to do?

F: Yes, basically I want to surprise and entertain people who are watching. You know if you just do normal tricks… if that really looks good, then I guess that can be okay. But for me, I get bored watching it.

V: I see. Who did the board graphic for your pro board?

F: It was one of my old hometown friends. There are many people in my hometown that can draw, but for some reason I asked the guy. It’s a drawing of my home spot called Faret. But I want people to see it as just a design, I’m not trying to push my hometown. It’s my first pro board, so I just casually decided to have my home spot for the board graphic.

V: You mentioned that you couldn’t go pro because you didn’t have much media exposure. Why did you never tried to promote yourself much? I noticed that your sponsors are all local brands.

F: I’m not sure why actually… I mean, I’d do whatever if I get the offer. I don’t really reject offers, but I believe the way you present yourself is very important. I don’t think it’s good to overexpose yourself. People get bored of you if you just do the same shit over and over again. When I get myself out there, I try to do my best. I’m not good at working on projects simultaneously though… So I just work on one project at a time on my own pace. Maybe that’s the reason why I didn’t have much media exposure. But all the things I have out there, they’re all my bests.

V: You finally got your pro board. Is there anything you want to achieve through skateboarding?

F: Getting my pro board was a dream in a sense… Other than that I want to make something that I can look back on after I become a old man. I want to know how far skating can take me. Keep doing what I do, and make something organically.

Name:Akira Funato

Date of birth:March 18, 1986

Blood type:B

Birthplace:Akishima, Tokyo

Sponsors:Lesque, EAZY M!SS, Tsukulu Eyewear, Taiyaki Wax, Harem Graphics


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