Considering Japan is the tenth largest country in the world, with a population of over 126 million residents, it hasn’t produced too much the way of rollerblading talent over the years. However, what Japan lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. Most bladers who have taken part in the sport since its boom in the ’90s may only be able to name a handful of Japanese bladers, but the ones they can name have all more-or-less become international superstars of the sport and their influence can be felt to this very day. The Land of the Rising Sun is home to Chiaki Ito, the street skater immortalised in the debut Senate team video Day of the Rope due to his amusing English skills, who shot to fame as a pivotal member of the Medium and Salomon pro teams during blading’s most illustrious period. In fact, he is still blading and putting out quality sections to this very day. Then there is the Yasutoko brothers, Eito and and Takeshi, who have dominated competitive vert blading for the better part of two decades and won 15 gold medals at international events between them. The current generation of Japanese blading is being led by Soichiro Kanashima, who has graced us with exceptional performances in several Valo team videos, defeated Chris Haffey at the Asian X Games, and has a signature skate to his name, as well as various pro wheels from Eulogy. However, it appears that there is an eager youngster biting at his heels and he goes by the name of Yuto Goto.
Goto has made a name for himself over the past couple of years as a strong competitive skater, placing third in the street event at last year’s Kia World Extreme Games behind CJ Wellsmore and fellow countryman Soichiro Kanashima and dominating various national events, including Beast 2013. Apart from his Southern Scum edit and section in Next that was recently published online, there is not a lot of street footage of Yuto floating around. However, there is a plethora of high quality park edits to make up for it and apparently 2015 will be the year where we see a lot more of what the young Japanese blader is capable of on urban terrain.
The title of this interview may seem like lazy journalism in that it is easy to conclude that the title is simply a tenuous link to the critically-acclaimed 2003 Bill Murray film set in Tokyo, but it seemed like the perfect fit after a couple of weeks of trying to communicate with Yuto resulted in the fragmented conversation that is outlined below. You see, when we contacted the up and coming Japanese blader about the feature last month he was extremely enthusiastic and sent us images within a week. Unfortunately, his English isn’t very strong, so we couldn’t conduct the interview via telephone or even an instant messenger conversation because he needed a translator to fully understand the questions and deliver responses. As a result, we had no choice but to send multiple sets of questions and wait for a couple of weeks while Yuto found time in his schedule to meet with a fluent English speaking friend to draft responses. The consequence was that there were some instances where Yuto, or his friend, misunderstood the question and the answer doesn’t really make sense. However, we have got to commend his persistence in dealing with what was clearly a challenging situation for him because he could have easily decided it just wasn’t worth the effort and given up on the whole thing. It definitely made us realise how much we take for granted the fact that English is the dominant international language and, to a certain extent, we simply expect everyone to be able to communicate on that level. Maybe it’s time to start learning Japanese…
Wheel Scene: How did you get into blading and what year was that?
Yuto Goto: In 1994, when I was ten. I saw someone blading in a skate park, which impressed me.
Are you working or studying at the moment?
I’m majoring in business administration at university.
What are your plans once you graduate from university? Do you have a dream job that you would like to do?
I wanna find a job with an environment that I can roll as much as I can.
You just released your section from Next. Are you working on any other videos at the moment?
I’m working on internet clips with street videos.
When can we expect to see a new Yuto Goto edit?
I’m not sure yet, but now I’m shooting on street. When I get enough clips, I’ll make some videos.
What are your plans for 2015?
I wanna get more publicity all over the world. I also wanna visit the US more often.
Which competitions will you be attending this year?
Pow-wow and Blading Cup etc.
What is the blading scene like in Japan at the moment?
I think it’s really strong. There are many stimulating skaters of similar ages.
The scene in Japan seems really strong at the moment, with yourself, Soichiro Kanashima and Chihiro Azuma leading the new school, as well as OG skaters like the Chiaki Ito and the Yasutoko brothers still going strong. Are there any other skaters from Japan we should be looking out for?
Eiji Sakihara, Koichi Iguchi (Yossie) and Toru Shirai.
Do you have any other interests apart from blading?
In the last Valo video, V, there were sections from a few of the amateur riders, such as Gav Drumm, Patrick Ridder and Kåre Lindberg. Have you thought about asking Jon Julio if you can get involved in the next Valo video?
I wanna talk to him about putting me in the next coming videos.
Have you seen many of the recent VOD sections? If so, do you have any favourites?
Razors Ego – Mike “Murda” Johnson.
What are some of the best things about living and blading in Japan?
The most favourable things about living in Japan is there are a lot of sushi places – I love eating sushi. I can make myself understood in Japanese. There are lots of great skilled skaters around.
You seem to do really well in competitions. What have been some of your best competition results in the last few years?
The best competition in the past few years is Blading Cup – it gave me a lot.
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