I first met Yasunari in 2008, at the KOG finals in tokyo, he was competing in the expert class, and was riding as I entered the arena, already I could see he was very skilled, I can’t remember the last time I saw a double in front of bar whiplash to halfpacker in the expert class, but this was Japan, and was healthy to see, that day I got a lot energy out of watching the expert class, Yasunari placed in the top 3 that day, and turned pro the following day, nowadays he is a lot more famous appearing in the 2011 Flatland calendar, online edits, sponsored by Quamen, and also running the jimalog blog, time for an interview.
Firstly introduce yourself please?
Hello everyone, nice to meet you all! First of all, I’d like to say thank you to flatmatters for giving me this opportunity.My name is Yasunari Ishijima. I just turned 25 years old last month.
Tell me about the name “Jimalog: what does that mean?
It’s the abbreviation for Ishijima Weblog. I thought it was too long to call and made it shorter.
Sponsors: Dig-it ( Long standing japanese BMX shop/ distributor) and Quamen Bikes.
How long have you been riding?
I’ve been riding for 11 years.
Whereabouts are you from, and who do you ride with on a daily basis?
I’m originally from the countryside named Abiko city in Chiba prefecture. My main home spot is Maihama is where I’m living in right now and I ride with Moto Sasaki and Yoshihiro Shinde often there.
Do you just have one riding spot you ride, or do you have multiple riding spots?
Not only one spot. You can see my current riding spots on my latest web edit I have three spots. My home spot, a public park in Maihama, there are always people and kids walking around and cutting through. It’s a distraction and dangerous. Other two spots are no pedestrians so I’d prefer to ride there lately.
How do you deal with winter riding?
No particular things for the winter. Fortunately, it doesn’t snow or rain much in Chiba I can ride all seasons without any worries. I feel very lucky about that.
How did you discover flatland riding?
I first saw BMX on TV was a BMX park contest at X-games. I got really impressed with it. I always liked riding my bike and riders on TV were doing tricks on small bikes was looking cool to me although there was no skate park around my home and I started riding flatland.
Three years ago I was in japan for the KOG finals and you were riding expert and just made the step up to pro, how are you finding riding now as a pro level rider?
Wow! you remembered that!? (editors note: yes of course …) Yeah, I turned KOG pro from the KOG final 2008. Well, I’ve never thought of my riding is pro level or not and I don’t know if I’ve found my style or I’m being able to express my style with my tricks. I feel I need more skills sometime though.
Your riding of course developed, huge progression on the infront of bar whiplashes, what are you working on these days?
I’ve been working on the infront of bar whiplash variations coz it’s fun tricks to do also I like switches with brakes. I’m trying so many things.
You’ve seen lots of flatland videos old and new. Which video did you grew up with?
Flatland Manifesto for the win!
Can you pick your top five favorite videos from your library?
Well well…It’s difficult but…here it is, Flatland Manifesto Series, inTRIKat “LAND ESCAPE B”, MILLENNIUM, PROPS “GROUNDWORK”, Video Name.
List your favorite riders, If you pick your top five riders who would that be?
Dan Rigby, Cory Stratychuk, Cory Fester,Simon O’Brien, Brian Rybak.
You’ve been riding for 11 years and what is the motivation to keep on going?
It’s simply fun. Not only when I’m trying new tricks, I enjoy it enough with my certain tricks. Of course I try tricks I’ve never done before sometimes.
How do you describe your riding style?What riding style you aim to be?
I don’t want my combos complicated and want to make it look good. I want to ride like that.
Do you see yourself is going brakeless in the future?
I don’t think so. I like braking switches and riding with a brake. Some might do the switches without brakes butＩdare to try them with a brake.
Can you tell us about your bike setup?
Not about setting but, my current frame Quamen bikes Clad G9, that is the best and the most controllable frame I’ve ever ridden.
I really like the geo especially the lower top tube I think it will help my progression.
How did you get hooked up with Quamen bikes and Dig it?
2 years ago, at KOG round 2 2009. That was my second KOG since I turned pro, I was luckily made it to final then.
After the contest while I was talking to everyone, saying hello and good bye I had an opportunity to talk to Skip who is the owner of Dig-it BMX shop, he kindly asked me if I was interested in joining Quamen team. I was interested in Quamen products and looking from outside I’d always thought the team was having fun. I was pleased to be a part of the team. Since then I’m on the team.
How do you see flatland in ten years? I mean which style or tricks will be the mainline?
I don’t think I’m good enough to answer this but, riding style will be more multipolarzed. In fact, the new style of riding “pegless style” popped up in the last couple of years. Not mainline, I think riders will develop more individualities.
Do you think you will participate in events and contest outside of Japan?
Beside I have a family and a job, I want to participate in them once in my life.
Which event or country you want to go?
Canada, my friend Takuji Kasahara and Akihiko Takahashi, Kazuma Nakajima they went to the Flatland Unlimited contest last year and I hear the stories often and it sounds really fun and very exciting. The contest is very attracted me. Also Cory Fester and Gregory Leuschner visited us last year so why not?
First off, I’d like to say thank you to Quamen bikes owner Mr Zenta and Dig-it owner Skip for treating me good always. Thank you very much for your help I really appreciate it. And to my wife Yasuko and my parents, riders who I often ride with. I’d like to thank you to them also. Keep on riding and have a fun with it!
Thank you Yasunari! And Taku for all your help with this interview!