Meeting… Koichiro Uehara!

Photos: Shinsaku Arakawa
Interview: Benjamin Deberdt

You may have heard that Magenta Skateboards just recruited a Japanese rider… Even if the connection makes sense, we thought we would try to get to know who was their pick.

 Shinsaku Arakawa

First, can you introduce yourself to us, skateboarders from the other side of the globe?
Hello! I'm 27 years old, and I have been skating for twelve years, now. My only ride is a skateboard. I'm pushing around the street of Osaka every single day.
As an ignorant foreigner, the only skaters I knew from Osaka were the Daggers. Do you skate with those guys at all?
I see them on the street, sometimes. You can meet them whenever you go to Sankaku Koen, the Triangle Park, in Osaka. Daru [pronounced Dal] is the sickest! He is a very unique skater. A lot of skaters in Europe know him, don’t they?
They might have seen him in some Heroin Skateboards video, but people mostly know of Chopper, I think… I understand the city is big, but is there some sort of unity between the skaters, or are there different groups that don't really mix?
There are bunch of different crews. Usually, I skate and hang out with the Tightbooth family. But when we session some spots like Takamae, in front of the Takashimaya building, or Sankaku Koen, then, we skate together with the other crews. And we all hang out and party together after skating.

You have been traveling outside your country to skate. Do you believe this is an important part of skateboarding?
Of course. You must travel! Traveling would cause finding new spots, meeting new people, seeing different scenes, feeling their vibe, and absorbing all the experience. I think that'll help you to get to the next level. Also, I want people to know of our Japanese skate style too.
How would you compare the skaters’ life in Paris, Bordeaux and San Francisco to Osaka?
Everywhere you go, a skater is a skater. It's the same. You feel the same vibe with whomever you meet, skate and chill with, right?
Are there a lot of differences between scenes around Japan?
There are differences in the scene. There are more skaters, more skateshops, more brands in Europe and America, compared to Japan. So it's hard to live off from skateboarding only. Only a few people are doing it, now. People in general don't understand skateboarding, it’s not popular here. I felt it when I went to San Francisco. When I was skating through the streets, a lot of random people would call me out, and say: "Skating is cool! Show me some tricks! Blahblah…" A lot of people there were interested in skateboarding.
One year after the earthquake and the tsunami, do you see a lot of changes in your country, in general, and maybe even in the skating scenes?
A lot of people died, and we lost a lot. That disaster was one of the worst things to happen in our history. But, at the same time, we became very united in reality. We had that moment where Japanese people became Japanese and worked together, helped each other. You could say the same thing in our skateboard scene, also.

 Shinsaku Arakawa

Handed wallride nose slide

If you could go to any foreign country, right now, to skate, where would it be?
China is getting very urbanized. I've heard spots are amazing! But I want to come back to France. I want to skate more with the Magenta crew.
How did you get in contact with Magenta, actually?
When Léo Vals, Masaki Ui, Yoan Taillandier, and photographer Guillaume Anselin came to Japan, to film for Minuit. I met them at that time. While they were in Japan, we sessioned together everyday, understanding each other’s style, and we became good friends. After that, we went to France to film for Tightbooth's Lenz2, and there I met Vivien Feil and Soy Panday. It was awesome to session with everybody in France. There's gonna be a France section in Lenz2, you should check it out when it comes out!
Was it a surprise for you, that a European company wanted to have you on the team?
Of course! At first, I wasn't sure that I could fit in, but everybody around told me good things. I'm so happy that Magenta is understanding my skate style, and welcomed me to the team! Being part of team like that means a lot to me, I'm a very happy skateboarder. Thank you, Vivien and the whole crew!
What are you looking forward to, from skating for this company?
Expand Magenta in Japan. I want to make more connections between Europe and Japan. And to have my signature board in the future!
Do you have a question for the European skateboarders?
How lucky is it that every European skater has such a good style. What's the secret?

Koichiro skates for Magenta skateboards, Paradise wheels, Etnies, The Shelter skateshop and Tightbooth Production.

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