Despite the Olympics Games being postponed a year, excitement still surrounds the event, with Japan continuing preparations hoping to surpass the already high expectations of visitors to this incredible city. But not only is it an exciting time for those in Japan and track and field enthusiasts, adventure sports fans have reason to get excited too as Tokyo 2020 debuts climbing, surfing and skateboarding.
The skating competition will be divided into two categories with 40 skaters starting in each with an even split of men and women. ‘Park’ is where a skater earn points by performing tricks on specially made obstacles designed to get the skater high up into the air. ‘Street’ is designed to replicate what a skater might see in the street, with rails and flights of stairs to perform their tricks. Both disciplines are scored by judges with a total score off 100.0 with the competition being held in a specially made skatepark in Odaiba.
Working in Shibuya for a year as a Go-Kart tour guide, the most common things I see are gorgeous girls, German SUVs and skaters. Being a popular area for young people to hang out and featuring some sweet downhills and few big parks, Shibuya has become the home of skating in Tokyo; there’s even several shops dedicated to skating including Stormy, FTC, Prov and my favourite Murasaki Sports, all of which sell a range of decks, full builds, apparel and accessories. Its common to see people skating in the streets and more than once have I had them hitching a ride from the back of my go-kart and those of my clients.
But what’s the legality of it? Skating in the footpaths in Tokyo is forbidden, as is skating in the streets. I have been stopped a few times by police offers all over the city advising me not skate and to instead carry my board – ‘traffic violation’ they tell me. It’s never got me into trouble, and there’s no real exchange, just an apology from me and a small bow from them – glad they don’t know I live here and know the rules – looking like a tourist is an advantage more often than not. And there are quieter streets in Tokyo, so providing you’re not disturbing anybody, you can enjoy yourself in large parts of the city.
My favourite places include Yoyogi Park, especially during the week on a spring afternoon. This huge park in the middle of Tokyo offers smooth, wide, slightly sloped pathways with soft grassy verges, options for switching up your route, large empty areas for practicing your tricks and epic Harajuku a few mins away for snacks and drinks. Watch out on a busy day, though, as its still strictly off-limits.
Enoshima is also a favourite as, ninety minutes from Shinjuku, offers beachside paths, smooth roads and even a skatepark with a low entry fee, although recently it has been under refurbishment. Enoshima is the host for the Olympics sailing events too, so worth checking out as this video below describes.
If you fancy sticking well within the law, there’s a good number of skateparks all around Tokyo for you to fill your days with, both indoor and outdoor, manned and unmanned.
The largest, Planet Park is located in Hachi-Oji on the western edges of Tokyo and, although not especially easy to get to, being just over an hour from Shinjuku station, it may be worth the journey as it’s the largest skatepark in Japan. Named as it resembles another-worldly planet (slightly) and featuring a range of half-pipes, boxes, steps, rails and more, Planet Park is divided into eight graded sections and has something for everyone. Worth a visit if you plan on spending half a day here.
Murasaki Park, the same Murasaki who own the afore mentioned shop (and largest chain of adventure sports specialist shops in Japan), is much closer to the centre of Tokyo, being just a 15 minute train ride from the Yamanote line. Known also as ‘Amazing Square’ thanks to both an indoor and outdoor areas, a four metre vert ramp and a blend of street and transition obstacles. Suitable for all abilities, but more geared towards experienced skaters; Yuto Horigome, the world’s number one street skater learnt to ride here. Look out for him during the games.