In Praise of Travel – Snack Skateboards in Japan
Thinking back to how things used to be growing up as a skateboarder, I’m amazed at what we’ve become: musicians, artists, programmers, filmmakers, writers, mechanics, lawyers, and everything in between. I feel privileged to be in such good company. For us, at one point or another, life was 100% skateboarding. For a few, it still is, and yet for others, skateboarding is no longer physically possible. No matter where life’s journey may take you though, you never stop attacking life as a skateboarder.
Travel is no exception. As our significant others can attest, we’d rather be skating the pool at the hotel than swimming in it. Case in point; I first visited Japan two years ago, without my skateboard. The trip felt like cheating; I was a spectator rather than a contributor, merely consuming, sleeping, and repeating. Travel shouldn't always be pretty; sometimes it hurts — but that’s the juice that changes you, and change you it should. Skateboarding provides a platform to contribute, to integrate into a city instead of spectate from the sidelines. So while I found my first visit to Japan by all accounts satisfying, it didn’t change me. I didn’t put in the work, and for that, I left with only a few hangovers, some souvenirs and the desire to return with my skateboard.
As you could imagine, Japan, and Tokyo specifically, is a face melter. Yet, even with all the lights and stimulus overload, skateboarders stick out like a blot on the landscape. The trivial act of riding a board, something taken for granted in America, comes with imposing social consequences. Judgmental stares of distrust and outbursts of disapproval from unsuspecting pedestrians are commonplace; all in an effort to enforce a conservative social order. It’s not until trains stop running and businesses dim their OPEN signs when skateboarders get the opportunity to truly explore the consensual hallucination that is Japan. Travel should leave impressions on one’s memory, body and more importantly, the heart. We found our way through Japan, took something meaningful from it and hopefully, left something good behind.
A special thanks is extended to Masa at Shelter and the rest of the Snack family.