As a concept, the “homie video” can be a real hit or miss. If the video doesn’t have the right recognizable names attached to it, a novel concept, or sufficient hijinx, then it falls on the skating and filming to carry the load. And if those two components aren’t completely on point, the project usually falls flat.
Timescan, however, is a rare video composed mostly of homie sections and montages that’s actually entirely enjoyable to watch. Not unlike a great porn compilation, each skater has just enough time to shine before it’s on to the next one, so things always feel fresh and exciting.
The video also highlights the talents of an extremely young looking skater, Kotora Mitani, who mixes big Cali style handrail and stair tricks with classic Japanese powerslide/lipslide combos.
We did a little Q&A with the video’s creator, Rob Taro, to hear how he put it together and get details on some of the standout clips (like the guy wearing a full suit who sneaks onto skate spots like he’s being watched by the CIA or something).
We’re so sure you’ll enjoy this video that if you don’t you’ll get a full refund of the amount of money we charged you to watch it ($0.00).
We’re presenting this video as a “homie video” because it feels like it focuses on a group of friends skating together rather than any individual skateboarders. Is that accurate in your eyes?
Yes, this video is definitely a homie video. It’s about keeping track of all the incredible places that I have been and the amazing people I’ve met. Most of these skaters have never even been on film before, so I felt like I was in the perfect spot to attempt to get some of their names out to the world. The hardest part was the fact that all my homies and the guys who had full parts in my video lived so far from me. Leo Takayama and Shinya Masuda live in Osaka and I’m in Tokyo so I’d either take the night bus or go hitchhiking just to get clips.
“Most of these skaters have never even been on film before”
What does the title TimeScan mean?
Timescan is not just my first full-length skate video; it’s a very personal project. About four years ago, I first went to Japan as a transfer student. I wanted to study photography and art history, but school didn’t work out for me so I ended up dropping out right away. I didn’t have any friends, didn’t speak much Japanese, and I was about to get kicked out of my dorm.
Miyashita (Nike skatepark) was the local park at the time, and some locals from there hit me up to go skate the AXIS park in Ibaraki. It’s a transition heavy concrete park in the countryside about an hour and a half away from Tokyo. Kenji Tanaka (Underdog Distribution), one of the very few core skateboarders who plays a major role in Japanese skateboarding, happened to be there. I didn’t know who he was at first but he started talking to me and made me do a couple of tricks. I guess he was hyped on my skating so he invited us to go have some sake at his house.
What was it like being invited to Kenji’s house?
This was my first time in a ‘real skate house’; stickers and skate mags all over the place, broken doors and windows, moldy bedsheets, lots of giant cockroaches, and slayer on full blast playing on loop. He asked me what I’m doing in Japan, so I told him about how I’m lost and about to lose my dorm. He told me, on the spot, that if I ever need a place to stay I can stay at his house. So, I did right away.
Every day I would wake up, take care of the chickens in the coop, go farming, skate at AXIS, then party at night. I was also worried about my future. Having no job, skating and partying every day in the countryside, I thought it’s about time I need to start doing something about it.
I ended up moving out to Osaka working in this factory trying to save up money to go back home and start school all over again. A couple of months later my video ended up going up on Thrasher, and I got a job offer from VHSMAG. At first, I was so happy. It was such a dream opportunity to work in the skateboard industry, but I didn’t have money to move back to Tokyo. They were generous enough to let live in their office room until I can save up money to get my own place. I lived under a desk and bathed in their kitchen for about a year.
What’s up with the guy skating in the suit in the beginning? Does he always skate in a suit?
Nobu is a Triangle park local (Osaka Daggers). He’s such a skateboard maniac. He always wears the best outfits and rides the craziest setup. He’s the homie and I’ve personally never met anyone like him so I felt the need to include him in the video. There are so many ‘good’ skateboarders all over the world but there is only one Nobu. I can never fully understand him and I don’t think anyone ever will.
How old is the kid at the beginning, Kotora Mitani? And how did he get so good?
He is 12 years old. There are so many little kids these days who are doing the craziest shit all over Japan. I can’t even explain in words how good these kids are. You have to come to Japan to see for yourself. What makes Kotora stand out from the rest though is not only his skill but how he sees skateboarding at such a young age. I believe he started skating at a skate school, but somehow got inspired by the Tightbooth crew and became homies with those guys. I guess they trained him to be the skater that he is now. It is even more mind-blowing to watch his skating in person.
“Believe it or not, there are a lot of up and coming ‘Yutos’ in Japan. Some who might be even better than him.”
Is he on track to be the next Yuto?
Hard to tell. Believe it or not, there are a lot of up and coming ‘Yutos’ in Japan. Some who might be even better than him. The problem that I see is all these kids look and skate the same. What makes Kotora stand out is how he sees the streets. I’m sure Tightbooth have a lot planned for him and steering him in the right direction.
Toward the end of the video, you guys clean up a big natural halfpipe to skate it. How did you find that thing and what was it like to skate it?
Sota Tomikawa, who’s 16-year-old, and his crew Isme and Junpei Shibata from Hokkaido, fix spots and build DIY in all these abandoned places. They built this DIY park in the middle of an abandoned zoo. It was like driving through Jurassic Park.
Roller skating was a boom, decades ago, so there are these abandoned giant half pipes in hidden areas of Japan. The oververt is also a roller-skating ramp. Apparently, some rich guy built it and left it abandoned in the mountains of Nagano for who knows how long. Mikasa (the halfpipe in the end) has security that comes in at 8 AM so we have to skate it before they show up. We drove hours to get there, then we swept up the place at 5 AM, and he landed that frontside blunt around 6:30 AM.
What’s insane about Sota is that before I became friends with him, his mom would drive him to all these gnarly spots like Mikasa, Annaka, and other legendary spots all over Japan to film him doing crazy shit on her iPhone. The two of them even made multiple early morning trips to Mikasa and I’m pretty sure his mom filmed him doing this front blunt on her iPhone a while back too. You can actually see her sweeping the ramp in the super 8 footy in the video.
What do you think are the biggest trends or influences in skating in Japan today?
I believe New York and east coast skating has a very big influence on skateboarding in Tokyo and Osaka. Some of these skaters know more about NJ NY than me and I grew up in NJ all my life!
When the Olympic skateboarding happens in Tokyo next summer, are you going to protest it?
No, I don’t really care about the Olympics. I’m very neutral about it. What I am against though is how big companies/industries only use skateboarding and don’t make an effort to give back to skateboarding.
What sort of impact do you think or worry the Olympics might have on the skate scene in Tokyo or in Japan overall?
Olympics is great because it exposes skateboarding to so many people. When skateboarding gets too much exposure though, you don’t know what kind of people are going to get involved. For example, when people see skateboarding in the fashion world, people try skating most likely because they want to be cool. On the other hand, people who get influenced by skateboarding in the Olympics are not skating because they think it’s cool. They’re skating because they want a medal or perhaps money.
There are some parents forcing kids to skate and do these insane tricks because they want their kids to be #1. One time in particular, I remember this little boy attempting to land a heelflip front board down a handrail for hours and we just knew his parents are not letting him leave until he lands it. You can just tell these parents never stepped on a board before but they are yelling and telling him he’s doing it all wrong. Finally, he lands it and everyone at the park was cheering except the dad without a smile goes to him and tells him he can’t go home till he lands it two more times. Of course, the kid was in tears. It was very hard to watch.
It’s great that skateboarding is getting a lot of exposure, more people are starting and there are many newborn ZIGRAM23‘s, but what is skateboarding without culture?