RYOTA OKU / 奥 亮太






Maite Adimatic Mid - adidas skateboarding

To commemorate the release of LAND & SEA, a collaboration between New Balance Numeric and instant, we sat down with Kento Takahashi. He talks about his friendship that connects Tokyo, Hawaii, and Okinawa, and his thoughts on the video.



Photo_Ryo Sunagawa
Special thanks_New Balance Numeric, instant

We wanted to make a video that expresses skating in the city and in nature.

VHSMAG (V): How did this video project start?

Kento Takahashi (K): Chris Matayoshi and I were both New Balance Numeric and instant riders, so we had something in common. Also, instant Naha Store opened in 2022. I knew that all the skaters in Okinawa had always wanted to make the local scene more exciting, so I wanted to help out as much as I could. And since it was the first anniversary of the Naha Store, we decided to make this video in the hope of cooperating with the shop.

V: Why did you decide to make a video centered on yourself and Chris Matayoshi?

K: Well, there's a bit of an embarrassing reason... Chris and I originally met and skated together in Hawaii when we were in college. I'm from a city like Chiba and Tokyo, and Chris is from Hawaii and Okinawa, islands full of nature. We had been talking since we were freshmen in college about how we could express skating in the city and in nature. It started when we were young and we were like, "Let's make a video like this one day," and we finally made it happen.

V: Tell us about the friends who appear in this video.

K: I wanted skaters of all ages to be in this video. In Japan, it seems that skaters of the same generation tend to be in the same video. So I asked Nao (Naotaka Oya), Satoru Taguchi, and Hiroyuki Matsuo, who I've been seeing in the media for a long time and who are teammates at New Balance Numeric. Tatsuma Masuda is from the same hometown and I've known him since he was in elementary school. Joetaro Saito and I have skated together since he was a kid at a park in Odaiba. Yuki Sawashima is a skater from Shizuoka, and we went on a filming trip to Naha for this video. We also have Shintaro Nakazawa, Ryota Abe, and Daichi Koyama, who are all based in Okinawa.

V: How did you meet Chris Matayoshi?

K: When I was in college, I was skating at Aala Park in Chinatown, Hawaii. One day, a local crew came to skate and one of them was Chris and Shota Kubo. I also met a friend named Connor McGivern who works at a local shop called APB. He was making art with a spray and griptape as Treevisions, and he was a filmer. So naturally, we became the Treevisions crew. The first day I met Chris, I thought he was a local skater, but then he switched to Japanese. He was like, "Oh, you're Japanese?" From there, we became closer and started hanging out every day.

V: What happened after you both left Hawaii?

K: We were skating together every day in Hawaii, but Chris moved back to Okinawa and I moved back to Tokyo. My fiancé is from Okinawa, and Chris and Wataru Ganeko are from the same area. Ryo Sunagawa, who helped me with the filming in Okinawa, is also a local skater of the same age. So I started going to Okinawa often, and we started hanging out together again.

V: Do you think the culture of Hawaii, where you met Chris, is reflected in this video?

K: I think so. I asked my Hawaiian friend Kale to do the editing. He's from Maui and I met him when he was visiting Oahu. In Hawaii, people of all ages skate together. For example, elementary school students and skaters in their 40s skate together. Instead of skating super hard, I think the relaxed chill vibe is reflected in this video. I want people to just sit back on a couch and watch this video.

V: How about the music?

K: There's a label called Aloha Got Soul, and Kale is good friends with the people there, and they let us use their song for this project. So we decided to use a Japanese band called Your Song Is Good.

V: You went to Okinawa twice for this video. Were there any memorable moments?

K: Yuki Sawashima came to Okinawa on the first trip. That was the first time I met him, but he was hooked up with DGK in the US, and I was looking forward to meeting him because I thought he had something else to offer besides skating. When we met and chatted, he was like, "I've never rolled an ankle." I thought that was rare, and the next day he rolled his ankle super quick for the first time in his life (laughs). We panicked for sure. I had him ice his ankle... He wrapped his ankle in taping and took a lot of Loxonin. And he got two clips. We were stoked. I was also able to film with Nao and Taguchi. I had been watching them for a long time, so I was impressed by the way they skated and their trick selection.


V: How was the session with Chris? The wallride on that super rough stone was insane.

K: Chris seemed to have a bad back at the time, and before we went to that spot, he couldn't move... He was like a zombie. I was worried about him, and he was like, "Maybe it's because I haven't been drinking lately..." I had no idea what he meant. And he bought a highball at a convenience store and went to the spot after finishing it. Then, perhaps because he drank, he started skating like he normally does and he charged the spot. The surface was so rough that the wheels could get caught, but he rode away clean.

V: Looking back on this video, how do you feel? What you talked about when you were a college student about expressing skating in the city and in nature has become real, right?

K: I'm really glad that I was able to make this video with the friends I was hanging out with back then. My environment has changed since then, so this video is different from the videos I used to make.

V: Lastly, how about a message to Chris and kale?

K: To Chris, thank you for making the old dream come true. That's all I have to say. As for Kale, I want to say thank you for taking the time to edit this. Also, he's from Maui... Recently, there was a wildfire in Lahaina, Maui. That's where Kale and his friends are from. I heard that the whole town had burned down. All the historical buildings burned down. In an instant, the place of memories with everyone was gone. That's why I hope we can all help each other out. In Hawaii, they all cherish friends and family.


Kento Takahashi

Born in Chiba. The connections he made in Hawaii after graduating from high school are still going strong. This video project was realized with Chris Matayoshi, whom he met at Aala Park. He's sponsors include New Balance Numeric, instant, etc.