Takahiro Morita has come a long way. With almost three decades of skateboarding under his belt, and his skateboarding hub Far East Skateboard Network (FESN) celebrating its 20th anniversary, it's safe to say the man has seen it all.
He's stuck with skateboarding through all up's and downs, and still can't get enough. Far from it: Great mind on and off the board, Takahiro Morita is one of the guys who are pushing skateboarding into new realms, adding to the wonderful "no rules" nature that makes our favorite pastime one of the best things on earth. His open eye, creative approach and individuality are pleasantly broadening skateboarding's scope when traditional conceptions are running risk of going stale. Last proof: FESN's latest video project “Toryanse i.n.g."
Pics: FESN | Interview: Jan Kliewer
Hey Takahiro! After watching FESN's latest video Toryanse i.n.g. let me just ask you this: What inspired the choice not to just be searching for bigger stair-sets and more kinks in rails?
I'm not really interested in something that many people are trying to do today. I always want to find something new. I can only try something that I genuinely want to try – and that's all I can do.
Why so complicated?!
Because I believe the video can be enjoyed for a long time by suggesting as many possibilities as possible. Even if you don't get it now, I want my video to be something that people can get in 10, even 100 years from now.
I don't care so much about what people think about my video today. All of the pieces that I respect and got inspired by are something that stays.
»I'm not really interested in something that many people are trying to do today.
I can only try something that I genuinely want to try – and that's all I can do.«
Is there a lot of attention paid to "macho/jock" skating à la Shecks or Nyjah over in Japan?
I think they get big attention. Not so much around me though (laughs).
Why do you think the creative side of skateboarding is so popular in Japan? – Or at least that's how it seems from the outside – Are Japanese skaters thinking out of the box more?
Not so much, but I think skaters who film have that creative mentality. I think you feel this way because that kind of skating gets out there through YouTube. Our kind of skaters are always the minority everywhere we go though (laughs).
How did you guys get the idea of skating a bike that you're riding on at the same time?
This is Takumi Otake's idea, his style in skateboarding. He was busy with his work during the filming and couldn't skate much. He biked to work and that's how he came up with the idea.
Made me think of the Gonz ollieing over Max Schaaf on a motorbike in Real to Reel. Think you guys could get that one done solo? Ride up on a bike, jump off onto your board, push the bike alongside and ollie over?
Thanks for the great idea. I'll let him know and tell him to try (laughs).
»He biked to work, that's how he came up with the idea.«
After watching Takumi's part in Toryanse i.n.g. I felt it was almost like pair skating, like in the ice-rink. Think Takumi will stick to his "bike style" and venture further into this trick realm? Or is this a one-of thing?
You have a very creative eye. I think it'll lead to something even newer by taking in your perspective.
The bike thing was a one-off thing but who knows how it'll turn out in the future. But we can always make a new future. Thanks for all the good ideas!!
Seems to me the Japanese scene is less drawn to worldwide skate trends and more interested in creating their own – or maybe just doing their own thing. Would you say that's true and if so, what are some of the reasons?
At least we at FESN create our own thing. The reason is because we place the most importance on "do whatever we want" and actually enjoying it.
How important would you think it is for skaters to be different these days?
Well, that's all we're about. That's what you call uniqueness, yes (laughs).
Is being different, maintaining a kind of counter culture approach, still a big thing in Japanese skating?
Not at all. I think that's totally nonsense. From here on, it's very important to think what skateboarding can do for the society.
How is skating seen by society?
I can't speak for all type of skating, but as for street skating that we do, people still probably don't like it and get annoyed (laughs). That's why I want people to think skating is fun and that's why I do what I do today.
»That's what you call uniqueness!«
We've seen the clip from the recent G-Shock comp with Gou Miyagi as one of the judges – which at first seemed a bit weird regarding the contrast between the style of skating he represents and the hammers-skating going on on the Real Toughness park. How do you see this contrast?
Hmm... I'll have to ask the organizers (laughs). But I guess having someone famous for a judge is a good thing for the event (laughs)?
And what's your stance on skateboarding potentially being included in the Tokyo Olympic games?
That would be awesome! Kids will have dreams! The future looks bright with having more skaters! If a skater becomes the president of a big country and started ruling the world, I think the wars will decrease. The Olympics are a very influential thing to make that happen. But well, it's a festival. Don't worry about win and lose and let's enjoy together! We're skaters, right?!
»Whatever things that move me are my inspiration: Family, friends, nature, music, movies, studies, religion, sports, and art.«
What's your inspiration to look for different routes in skateboarding?
Meeting many people, knowing many opinions, knowing many stories. And experiencing a part of it. This can be anything, whatever things that move me are my inspiration: Family, friends, nature, music, movies, studies, religion, sports, and art. All of these are my biggest inspirations.
Which role do you see skateboarding needing to fulfill in order to improve Japanese society – or even make the world a better place?
Skating is basically something to kill time. And I think it's something to play with. What people need to live a social life are food, clothing and shelter. Skating, which is a form of play is not included. But I think this play is a very important element to live a fulfilled life. Even if you have a lot of money, you'll never have enough. But I believe skaters stay fulfilled by just having a skateboard. Current education at school teaches how to survive in the competitive world. And they teach how awful the war is. But even if we get the education and learn about history, wars will never end unless we do something about this competitive world.
»Skateboarding doesn't mean a thing in a place people are getting killed.«
The current education is very weird. That's why skaters need to cooperate and talk about what's important. I think it's possible to change the world by doing so. I know we need a lot of time and effort to make it happen. But through our daily skate session, we learned to respect each other, accept each other and help each other.
In fact, you, the overseas media has caught our message and trying to spread it without commercial reasons to build good future n skateboarding. It's all about the responsibility and dedication to skating and something to give back to skating. I'm one of the people who got saved by skating. I made many friends through skating. They've helped me along the way and here I am today.
Play can only exist in a peaceful world. Skateboarding doesn't mean a thing in a place people are getting killed. I believe this cultural movement called skating could play a big role in education. We will soon be tested on our love for skating. That's what I think.
Thank you very much Mr. Morita.
Thank you for having this opportunity!!