Always trying to stretch as much travel into a trip as possible I spent a week in the northern part of Japan called Hokkaido before making my way down into Kobe city for the Flat Ark BMX flatland contest. Hokkaido is an incredible part of Japan somewhat untouched and laced with natural hot and cold springs, mountains, rivers, and some of the best food in all of Japan.
My good friend Naoya Wada hosted me during my first week around his town of Sapporo. I met with many of the local BMX riders for both riding and party, I visited several BMX shops including my friend Naoya's shop called Moderate, and enjoyed so much visiting the ancient Temples and Jinjas.
There is even a super fun bar called Boogaloo that is owned and ran by Yugo, a really cool guy and also BMX flatland rider! Yugo rules!
Upon arrival back at Narita airport to meet up with Scott Obrien a TV film crew approached us and we spoke about Flat Ark and the upcoming weekend. Scott and myself then jumped on a train to meet up with long time pro rider and brand owner (Japan brand Motel Works) Kotaro Tanaka. Grabbing food, making beds on floors and sleeping like a baby in Tokyo Japan.
The next day after some running around (Scott and I have no idea what we were doing actually as we didn’t understand any of the communication haha) 3 suv/van loads were off and committed to the 6-8 hour drive to Kobe. After maybe 10 stops for gas, food, coffee, toilet, and kendama haha we arrived to the world famous Spaceark bike shop. Spaceark serves as the meeting place for any and all things bmx flatland in Kobe. Tsumiki is the owner/operator and is the boss of Kobe Flatland fueling several super-kids under the age of 12 already riding at an expert level.The weather was amazing, unlike last year and a growing audience witnessed close to 150 competitors with just over 60 open class “pro level” riders. (the largest of the year) The open class final is battle format with Ucchie fighting his way through to the end with a few close battles.
Ucchie is also the organizer and as Flat Ark prepares for its 3rd year in BMX, they have announced that 1st place 2015 will be a hefty $50,000! Along with that announcement Redbull ceremoniously marched us around the harbour revealing Ucchie vending machines and crazy light configurations on various landmarks. BMX Flatland is big in Japan!
The afterparty is always legendary in BMX haha and this one did not disappoint. We landed up on the yacht/cruise ship again like last year but this year we feasted on some on Japan's finest sushi then immediately went into party mode! My good friend and country-mate Terry Adams smashed the afterparty with super sweet dance moves and a very acrobatic display of party. Terry you killed it bro! haha
After one giant group hug at Spaceark Scott, Utah, Mr and Mrs Kotaro and myself loaded up and hammered out that 8 hour drive back to Tokyo.
The next day Scott, Kotaro and myself headed up to the Decade shop to hang out with Nobu, Hiroshi, and whoever else would be chillen on a beautiful fall day in Tokyo. Japan is one of my favourite countries and its because of the people ... immensely kind, emphatically disciplined, and vastly talented.
Scott and I had the same flight back to the USA so we enjoyed a few pre-flight drinks and a lot of laughs! haha Traveling with good friends is the best!
Arigato gozaimasu Japan!! Again Im so grateful to be your student.