Highs and Lows of Street Skating in Tokyo

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When it comes to spots, Tokyo is probably up there with the skate meccas of the modern world, but it ain’t an easy place to get tricks.

Yoichiro Tamada is a Japanese skater who lives in Tokyo, and recently some of his homies from San Diego came to visit. They skated a bunch of the city’s spots, ate some world-class ramen and hit up the bars in Shibuya. On what was supposed to be their final morning in Japan, Yoichiro woke up to find his living room sprawled with sleeping skaters, but there were only four of them, instead of the usual five. Where was the fifth?

Yoichiro soon got a call from a lawyer, who explained that the final guy, Mike, had been arrested the night before for drunkenly tagging a construction site wall. Back home in the States, it’s likely he would have been released within 24 hours, jail-baggy in hand, ready to go skate the next spot. But not in Japan. He spent 10 full days and nights in jail and had to pay a $500 fine to get out.

Yoichiro laughs while he recounts the story, adding that as soon as Mike got released, he took him to his favourite noodle place. “Because the food in jail was really shitty,” he explains.

There are countless stories like this. Everyone has heard of some white dude who pushed the rules a bit too far in Japan and copped the unexpectedly heavy consequences. By all accounts, Japan is strict, which makes it a difficult place for skateboarding.

Words and photos by Nat Kassel.

Read the full story over at Monster Children.