I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve seen a few skate videos over the years from the country that have made me plenty jealous of the wild and unique spots nestled on that little island. By now, I’m pretty sure that anyone who is reading this has seen Animal‘s QSS #6 and the Japanimal promo, so you know they rode some insane shit. But for all the spots you did see, there’s even more they didn’t ride (or at least didn’t get clips on). Personally, I nerd out on spots, so when I saw some of the spots on Mark “Ratkid” Gralla‘s and Ben Lewis‘ Instagrams, and then finally in the videos, I had to do some follow up. I hit up Mark Gralla, Jeff Kocsis, Ben Lewis, Nigel Sylvester, Tyrone Williams, and Tom White with a few questions about the spots, the country, and just what it was like in hitting the streets of Japan.
Spot wise, did you have any expectations going out there?
"It’s a huge metropolis so I just knew there had to be spots. I thought security would be more chill, though—that’s for sure!" —Ben Lewis
"No, not at all. I knew there would be spots, but nothing like how it was." —Tom White
Did you do any research prior to going?
"Just watching Japanese BMX and skate videos on YouTube and taking screen shots." —Ben
"The only research I did was something I do naturally, which is watching skate videos. I had recently gotten a couple new skate DVDs two months prior to our departure and one of them was coincidently from Japan, I can’t remember the name of it at the moment, but it was sick! I didn’t even realize the trip was approaching. Oh, and I got a speech book to help me with the language." —Tyrone Williams
"Yeah, I tried to get some weed while we were out there and found out if you get caught you go to jail for a long, long, time." —Tom
What are your thoughts on what guys ended up finding?
"Japan has some of the best spots in the world. We ended up filming a lot of good stuff. All the guys were psyched." —Nigel Sylvester
"I had a blast and I can’t wait to be back out there again as soon as possible. It was literally endless bizarre setups." —Ben
How was security out there?
"Security was crazy. We got kicked out of so many banging spots. We had to film at night most of the time unless we got lucky during the day."
"For the most part security wasn’t that big of a deal. Either they threw up the "X" sign right away—which is throwing up your arms with an X position in front of you. Or they just watched us kind of in awe and/or not knowing how to approach us on what we were doing. Nighttime was the best time to get it in because there was no one out to bother us." —Tyrone
Was it hard to find stuff?
"We found certain stuff on our own but we met up with a few locals like Peggy & Yuko, they were super cool and showed us a bunch of good stuff." —Nigel
"It was kind of like everywhere you looked something was shred-able, but there was a time and place for everything. However, Tokyo is huge and definitely took some lurking to find the real joints." —Tyrone
"The way most of these guys ride it wasn’t hard to find stuff on every block. We got creative while taking advantage of the perfect spots." —Jeff Kocsis
Was there any type of spot that was hard to find?
"A decent non-aluminum rail. But with me running plastic Animal Butcher pegs and a bit of wax, that was never an issue." —Ben
"A rollercoaster grind—I look for one of those every country I go to." —Tom
How were the locals?
"The locals where all so friendly and made up to ride with us! Shout out to all of them—we will be back soon!" —Ben
"I think the locals were awesome. Some of the homies took us to some nice stuff. If they didn’t take us somewhere they didn’t want, we probably didn’t notice because there was so much going on to be invigorated with. But for some reason when we did the shop stops and went riding with the locals after or during, I feel like they kept bringing us to flat ledge spots that probably needed to be waxed a few times. Other than that, it was pretty chill." —Tyrone
"Yeah the first night in Tokyo was awesome. After we rode with the locals I ended up riding back to the hotel with Peggy and Seiha, who we ended up riding with several nights throughout the week. They were mad cool and hospitable." —Mark
"The locals were awesome where not stingy about anything could’ve asked for anything else was perfect." —Tom
"The locals were great. They shared what they knew and rode with the guys all night in the cold for miles. Thanks again guys." —Jeff
Why do you think Tokyo has so many crazy spots?
"I figured a place like Tokyo to have tons of crazy spots. The culture is very detailed and forward thinking so I expect the architects to express that in their work which translates into incredible riding spots." —Nigel
"I would think that it has to do with the geography of the country. Although it’s a big country made up of a few islands, it’s still a small place that has lots of occupants. Plus there were many hills and various levels to it, so I would think those things play a big role in its architecture and development to the land. It seems as if they plan things out down to he smallest detail before moving forward. They are very organized and I like that because I am not." —Tyrone
"I didn’t see any crazy spots." —Ratkid
Don’t believe Ratkid for a second, here’s a few of the many spot photos he came home with—amazing stuff here…