Skateboarders now have two more choices in skateparks. The Planet Skatepark opened April 1 and Nike Miyashita Skatepark opened April 30.
Golden Week runs from the end of April through roughly May 5 in Japan and features a number of different Japanese national holidays. Many Japanese offices close for a week to 10 days, depending on the calendar.
For a long time, Shibuya Ward neglected Miyashita Park, and the general population avoided it. However, Nike saw it as a convenient skatepark location. It is a beautifully built park, although compact, next to the Yamanote train line. This is a dream come true for many urban skaters and will give the city’s skate scene a big boost.
Farther outside, 40 km (about 24 miles) from central Tokyo is Planet Skate, on par with America’s great wide open municipal skateparks. This park’s centerpiece is a fabulous flowing concrete bowl, which offers endless line choices on a grand scale. Around its periphery are almost every variation of urban street obstacle: stairs to be jumped, rails to slide down, ramps to catch air on, and banks to surf.
Concrete bowls are not found in nature. People build them so they can surf on land. Once a skater drops in one, he or she generates speed using only his or her weight and the terrain and rapidly pumps around the bowl. A skilled skater can thus trace the super smooth walls indefinitely in a mesmerizing show of grace and agility.
In Tokyo, skateboarding is kind of a rogue activity. Boards sold in stores cannot be legally ridden on the streets, and the lack of dedicated skating areas has created a mobile underground in search of skate-able terrain. A skate session will materialize around a promising building and just as soon dissipate and move on with the arrival of security or the police.
Nike Miyashita Skatepark and Hachioji Planet Skatepark will help bring together the scattered roaming skate tribes to form a larger community. At these skateparks, the young will learn and obtain inspiration from seasoned skaters.
Kids in Japan need an activity that is only for fun. A safe challenging skatepark gives youthful energy a creative means of expression. It makes me smile when I see a kid 9 or 10 years old arriving at a skatepark directly from school with a skateboard stuffed into his or her backpack.
While skateboarding in Japan is not as popular as, say, in America or Australia, skateboarding has a hardcore group of Japanese followers, who have established skateboard parks predominantly in big cities. Provincial skateboarders have fewer resources in this regard.
According to Atsuhiko Kanagawa, a worker at Hachioji Planet Skatepark, the sport is growing in popularity in Japan, with hundreds of skaters visiting the park every weekend.
Hiyashi goes there, too. “Of all the extreme sports, skateboarding is one of my favorites,”” he said. “You’re not strapped in to anything. You step onto the board and go, getting off whenever you want, hopefully, not bailing on some fall, though.”