Awaysted in Kansai Article

Osaka AwaystedJapan Stelly 1 DZ CUT Header
What does it mean to be Awaysted? Let’s break it down: On skate trips there are moments when you feel absolutely insane. As you disassociate from society, things stop making sense and everything becomes comical. Inside jokes evolve into a dialect and the overwhelming amount of raw experiences create a natural high; daily routines get completely torn apart and you find yourself fully Awaysted. As skateboarders, this is a magical realm—where spontaneous decisions lead to new insight into life and self-discovery. We recently set sail for the southern region of Honshū, Japan’s main island and got completely Awaysted.

SFO COmp 1 2000

Bouncing from The Bay, the crew finds a surplus of pits and cutty playgrounds in the overlooked skater's paradise. Get the full effect here

NateGuest Kickflip photo Stelly DZ 2000Nate Guest chases away his hangover with a kickflip over the river’s mouth

ElijahAkerley FsHurricane Stelly DZ 2000Elijah Akerley cranks a frontside hurricane at a dream spot. The carve in makes it gnar

Going to Japan is a total culture shock. It feels like the polar opposite of an average US city—the streets are clean, the people respectful and the spots abundant. We were welcomed by Naoto Oda and his crew who picked us up at KIX in their miniature Sprinter vans. About 45 minutes from the airport and over the Kongō-Katsuragi mountain range lies Powerbomb skatepark in Nara. Surrounded by ancient Buddhist temples, our new unholy home for two weeks was equipped with a bunk bed, a dusty outhouse, one hose for showering, a smoking room with couches and a private DIY park that nearly took all of us out. We were also walking distance to our new favorite breakfast/lunch spot: 7-Eleven. The quality of food was equal to or greater than Whole Foods, and even better—it’s cheap and has just about everything you need while traveling abroad. But that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to our international culinary research. In exchange for a few demos to fire up the locals, Naoto and his family treated us to izakaya dinners almost every other night, which roughly translates to “stay drink place.” In other words, a spot to drink, eat and unwind with friends, family and co-workers. After a day of stacking clips, nothing hits the spot like an assortment of cow organs and a dozen Asahi Super Dry beers. And if you weren’t into that, raw chicken and hot sake were also on the menu.

NateGuest CavemanNosegrind AwaystedJapan Stelly 5 DZ 2000Nate snags a quick caveman nosegrind on his lunch break

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Awaysted PQ 4 Scene In Nara 2000

KenjiKomeda Layback Photo Stelly 1 DZ 2000Kenji Kumeda fires it up with frontside layback. Age means nothing

Despite an overwhelming Lost in Translation vibe, we somehow found ourselves at the most amazing spots. Our translator Kota Fujimura did a great job at lining up gems and was often able to deter security with his charismatic personality. That was something we were worried about from the start—not being able to skate because of overzealous guards. Almost every video out of Japan has a ton of night footage because of this issue. We rarely had a problem, though. I brought my camera light and only used it once, which left us with lots of time to relax during the evenings and prepare for the hell ride that the next day would inevitably bring. Most of the time we’d head back to Powerbomb and have a session with the locals. The scene in Nara is alive with rippers of all ages. Young bucks Wataru Kai and Arata Hamada surprised us with their fluent style and tasteful trick selection, while Kenji Kumeda, who is 53, proved that age is just a number by skating and partying with us until the early morning. He’d be the first one awake as well, hassling us to get up so we could go skate the legendary “Brazil spot” in Osaka.

YuyaYashiki Thruster AwaystedJapan photo Stelly DZ 2000Potato smasher Yuya Yashiki demonstrates a proper frontside thruster at the “Brazil spot.” Style is everything

KotaFujimura AwaystedJapan Stelly 2 DZ First Impressions 2000

Kota Fujimura took two weeks off work to hang with us and help translate. A few days in, it was clear that he and his homies were cracking jokes about us in Japanese. When I asked him what the hell they were saying, he explained his first impressions of our crew:


Seegull: Stupid American

Nate Guest: So shy and doesn’t talk shit

Adam Anorga: Pees at every spot

Elijah Akerley: Superstar

Daniel Stelly: Actually tries to speak Japanese, but should probably just stick to English

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ElijahAkerley 5050 AwaystedJapan Stelly 3 DZ 2000Elijah navigates an archaic play structure with a 50-50

Awaysted PQ Skating Too Seriously 2000
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Seegull PowerbombPool photo Stelly DZ 2000Seegull charges through a fat puddle and blasts a stalefish in Powerbomb’s leaking pool

The van trips into the city were hectic. Driving on the opposite side of the road had us thinking we’d be roadkill at every intersection. It didn’t help that Stelly and I weren’t participating in the endless cigarette-smoking marathons. Daniel had kicked the habit a few months before visiting Japan and I could tell he was exercising a lot of willpower by not sparking up. After skating in the blistering sun for hours, we’d pile into the van and crank the A/C—with the windows up—then six of the eight passengers would light up ciggies. That’s not the best scenario for somebody who recently quit. Tired of the smoke screen, we decided to leave the van behind and take the train into downtown Osaka for a few days. We skated whatever came our way and watched Nate and Elijah thrive. It was amazing to see them feed off each other as we roamed from spot to spot. Some find it challenging to submit themselves to fate. I personally find comfort in having a plan, but when the energy is high and the guys are doing their thing, you have to just let go and watch it all unfold. And that’s the magic of being Awaysted—when you’re not taking skating too seriously it usually works out. I think we walked away with ten clips that day. Ecstatic and delirious, we decided to throw in the towel and go celebrate at a few Osaka night clubs, which I barely remember. Despite our successes, however, we still needed a proper ender for the video and article.

Awaysted PQ Perfect Ender 2000

NateGuest Boardslide AwaystedJapan Stelly 4 DZ 2000Trip MVP Nate Guest unlocking a boardslide in Osaka. This is the type of shit he’s been on lately

NateGuest NollieHeel photo Stelly DZ 2000 2Nate snaps a nollie heel into a triple-stack roller coaster

AdamAnorga OsakaJapan Photo Stelly DZ 2000Japanese playgrounds are fun for everyone—Adam Anorga, fence bash

With only a couple of days left, we headed east toward Yokkaichi with the guidance of Shine Hikaru. He brought us to a massive concrete seawall that looked unworldly. Elijah discovered that with a tow-in assist you could blast up the behemoth. He was attempting a huge backside air, but the sun set before he could put it down—which was a bummer because he had to leave early the next morning. We left feeling defeated, but the rest of the crew had a few more days to figure it out. We headed back to the spot early the next day and, after a few slams and some routine squawking, Seegull rolled away from a hefty nosepick over the hip that left everyone speechless. Stelly was so stoked he took the plunge and rolled in off the top rope. It was the perfect ender to the perfect bender.

Stelly Roll in photo Guest DZ 2000Stelly put down the camera and sent a roll in for Zane   Photo: Guest

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Awaysted Van Comp 2000

When testing my limits trying a trick, I repeat these words to myself: Don’t talk about it; be about it. In other words: just shut up and do the thing. I can’t really say that I’ve applied the same ethos to my life in general, though. On this trip, I came to understand that in Japan it’s customary to express gratitude simply by doing something nice for somebody—no words necessary. One day I asked Kota to translate a message to our driver and friend Nobu. I wanted to relay that I was grateful for him taking the time to drive us around and that I would like to pay for his gas and dinner. Kota replied, “I cannot tell him that. You just have to do it and stop talking about it.” That was the biggest moment of culture shock I’d experienced in my life. I realized that as Americans we do a lot of talking, and much of it is unnecessary. So if you’re reading this, Kota, I want to thank you for broadening my worldview. I also want to thank Naoto Oda and his family for making this trip and these realizations possible. We’re all still learning. But now it’s time for me to shut up and do something that I never thought was possible—finish this damn article so I can go get Awaysted again.

NaotoOda AwaystedJapan Stelly 11 DZ Cut 2000
Seegull Nosepick photo Stelly DZ Comp 2000Getting towed into the tsunami, Seegull snags a nosepick over the hip to close out the trip
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