Bo Wade - Ninjas in Japan

Source: Bo Wade
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This was my third trip to the land of the rising sun and each year I extend my stay to absorb more and more of the insane Japanese culture. Pushing my adventures into the three week range isn't easy in most countries but Japan is dailed and the amount of BMX support there is next level.

I started in Tokyo with my little bro Naoto Tamaru riding Aoki Park for a couple days before boarding a domestic flight up to Sapporo to join one of my oldest Japanese friends Naoya Wada. Sapporo as Ive mentioned before is located in Hokkaido, the north island of Japan and this is where mother nature is most strong. Nature spas, or Onsens as they're called to the natives, are throughout the land of Hokkaido and everyone regards this area to have the best food in all of Japan. After spending almost a week in Sapporo riding and partying with the locals, visiting the different bmx shops and scoring a lifelong dream to have a Japanese tattoo artist leave his mark I boarded another plane heading back down to Tokyo. After making my way from train to train to bus to train and then walking around for five hours I arrived straight to the party from the Gshock Real Toughness event happening the weekend before my main event, the FLATARK contest in Kobe. Naoto and I closed the party down and prepared to make the trek down to Kobe for a week of practise before FLATARK. 

An eight hour over night bus ride later I was in Kobe and visiting a few very familiar places including Spaceark, one of the best BMX flatland shops in the world. For the first several days I joined Naoto, Ucchie, Viki, Matthias as we made the short drive to Sanda to ride one of the best spots in the world. TV crews joined us at times at the riding spot, sometimes even at dinner haha. Linking up with photographer and fellow American Aaron Nardi is always added fun and another treat this year was the good friend Akimitsu treating us to several nights of barbecued meat from his local shop.

The FLATARK competition was again stepped up in almost every category and is growing so fast drawing almost 100 pro riders with the top prise being over 40,000USD. The pressure was crazy in qualification and I wasn't able to put the run together I wanted but I walk away from contests like this with an insane amount of motivation. When the smoke cleared Martti Kuoppa was the winner and everyone joined together to celebrate. The party was crazy as always and the next days seven hour drive back to tokyo was long haha. Another nights sleep and I was train to train to bus to train to airport to USA.

I love Japan and each time I visit I take away more life lessons from the experiences and the amazing culture but its the people I value the most. My friends are more like my family and my life is a gift that Im beyond grateful for. Azasu Nippon!

A few photos:

photo: Jason Halayko

photo: Aaron Nardi
photo: Aaron Nardi

photo: Jason Halayko
photo: Jason Halayko

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