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  • Hitoshi KawabuchiPHOTOGRAPHY: ISEKI
  • Hitoshi KawabuchiPHOTOGRAPHY: ISEKI

Buchi: Skateboard File VII

, 2011/08/04

Hirotoshi Kawabuchi is a young amateur skater living in Japan and the United States. “Buchi’s” recent skating caught our attention with his involvement in relief efforts for the March 11th earthquake. Buchi and his sponsor, wheel maker Autobahn Wheels, have released a unique set of wheels, the profits of which go directly to the Red Cross. Now skateboarders from around the world have been able to contribute to the flow of donations through their purchase. The Papersky Skateboard File wanted to know more so we grabbed Buchi for a quick interview about this, yet another, unique relief project for Japan.

Tell us first, now that you’re skating with Autobahn Wheels, how did this charity project to help Japan after the March 11th earthquake come together?

When the March 11th earthquake hit in Japan, I could’t believe the devastation Japan suffered nor did I ever expected something like this could happen. I thought it was a nightmare but it was definitely real. At the same time, Jason Rogers at Autobahn heard the news and then sent me an e-mail in which he suggested making a Japan Disaster Relief Wheel model. Soon after, we put some video footage I had into the commercial to get the word out. After that, I thought if we could give some relief to the victims of this disaster it’d be a great contribution from skateboarding. I know I couldn’t have done it myself but with the mutual concern of others, it all worked out so a big thanks to Autobahn wheels. Now, I’m sure that skateboarders and skate companies can make other social contributions and if we all keep going- it’d be awesome. From now on, another friend and I plan to keep trying to organize some demos for the disaster relief on as much of a regular basis as we can. So again, I really appreciate everyone who helped me out to coordinate all of these projects.

You’ve been traveling, so what have you been up to recently?

Well, recently not that much but I usually go abroad for like almost a half year every year. I went to California from last September to last December and just cruised around SF, LA and Costa Mesa, where the Volcom skate house is, then Carlsbad and San Diego. When I stay in Cali, I always tried to get in touch with my friends who are pro and go film or shoot some photos and hang out. There are also a lots of amazing skateboarders out in Cali so I’m enjoying skating with them or just watching how they skate [laughs].

How has it been living abroad? Do you feel settled in the US or do you feel like you are constantly on tour?

Every time I go or stay in California it feels like “I’m on tour” so when I stay in any place, I always meet up with a photographer or skate friend to session every single day. So, I like living in my hometown of Tokyo too but also staying in the other countries since they offer different experiences and happenings than Tokyo. I used to live in North America and Australia so I’m always looking forward to seeing friends there and meeting new people. But the mix of it all balances out.

Sorry, but we have to ask- how did you get started skating?

When I was like a 13 or 14 years old, my cousin was a snowboarder and would take me with him and after that, I started skating then I watched my first skate video at the local skate shop and that just amazed me. I remember which video too- it was Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song and Mouse (produced by Girl Skateboards). So that blew my mind and I decide to switch to skating. I thought skateboarding was all about the street and that skaters had little regard for anything on street and also, I had never seen people skating like that on streets in Japan. I ended up going crazy on skateboarding and going out every single day- those were the good old times.

and then you ended up getting sponsored…

Yeah, I always skated with Junosuke Yonesaka, Shin Okada and the Volcom guys in Tokyo and they started to hook me up and flowed me some products when I was 16 or 17 years old. At the same time, I skated and drank with my Canadian, Australian and American friends in Tokyo, so they taught me how to speak English. Then one of the guys in my crew hooked me up Modus bearings from Australia so I’ve been grateful for all the support I got. I did’t expect to get sponsored at the time so I was super excited.

What are your thoughts on the skate scene in Japan and for foreigners looking up skating in Japan, what should they know?

Well, I guess the skate scene in Japan will keep getting bigger and bigger for sure. Now, there are a lot of good skate parks in Tokyo and all over Japan that include all the familiar things from the real world of street skating and that will help skaters keep growing and reaching the next level. I also think skateboarding is getting more and more globalized, so I hope that this new wave will raise the popularity of the skateboarding culture more and more in Japan and all over Asia. I think the young guns will make it big internationally if they try hard. Look out for Kota, Ace, Ryou and Shogo- they are intense, got the style and yeah, they are my favorite skaters! As far as actually skating here, I think that the many tough spots and variety of spots we have here in Tokyo and Japan are good points. The street spots are not perfect like in California, I mean here, the street spots in Japan are cracking and not as smooth like in Cali.

Skateboarding became a multi-million dollar industry in the US, do you think Japanese skaters have to go to LA “to make it”?

Well, most of the skate industry is on the West coast but it doesn’t really matter since there are a lot of great skaters coming out from all over the world. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from anymore- you just have to be a nice and modest person and show your skating skills. There’s lots of ways to approach skateboarding but one thing I know is that I don’t want to forget that our love of skateboarding is at the core of what I, and we all, do.

So what do you have coming up in 2011, what do you want to set out to do?

Well, in May, when I was skating in a pool, I got stuck on some coping and fell into the bottom of the pool and landed on my head. I felt OK at the time but then, just in case, I went to the hospital, and the doctors told me my skull was cracked and there was a little bleeding in my brain. Luckily, the bleeding stopped but it actually freaked me out a lot so now I just want to keep going at my own pace and take care of my head first. Well, after my head recovers, I really want to get back on board as soon as possible, then I will plan to go to California for the summer. That’s the skate life, I’m going to keep going, filming my video parts and photos and improving every day as much as I can.

Definitely. Anything else?

Oh yeah, I also want to quickly mention www.modusfamily.com, www.volcom.jp and www.dcshoes.jp

Thanks and Respect Buchi!

Buchi can usually be seen skating at the new Miyashita Koen skatepark in Shibuya, Tokyo.

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