Fourteen Australians disturb the peace in Japan.
The Japan Trip was originally forecast for eight Melbournians. Within a week of the initial flight bookings it soon turned into 10, and then 12, and then 14. Now, I’m all for a good crew, but 14 rowdy Australians and New Zealanders was really pushing the crowd factor to next level. We’re we ready for Japan? Or more importantly was Japan ready for us?
We arrived at the Osaka airport with big bright tourist eyes looking around in amazement at the few noticeable English words and Western people. As we stood around devising a plan, the cutest little Japanese lady wearing braces approached us…
“Konbanwa, help? What is this group?”
“Umm, Australia…Skateboarding group”
She smiled with interest and immediately whipped out a big golden badge, very similar to those seen in the Lethal Weapon movies. This gorgeous 5-foot lady was a cop! She kindly directed us to the train station, our first taste of Japanese hospitality.
Being our first day in Osaka, everyone was naturally excited to skate. While warming up outside our hotel Dane (Burman) skated off on his own looking for spots. He came back preaching rumors of flat bars, stairs and a handrail just around the corner. Like unstoppable western cowboys, our staunch posse of 14 took over the humble town of Chuo Ward, Osaka. Bombing around corners, dodging traffic and arriving at a 14-stair handrail. Already hungry for hammers Bryce Golder front boarded it like a boss, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet.
The great thing about flying from Melbourne to Japan is the similarity between weather and time. Strangely enough, it’s only an hour difference in time and the weather averages around 20 degrees in May. And just like Melbourne, the good weather comes with the bad. Half of the trip we were rained out so we resorted to sight-seeing, shopping and an increase in visits to 7-11 beverage fridges.
Throughout the whole trip, little to no Japanese was spoken by the group. We got by with the most important phrases; Arigato, Konichiwa and Sumimasen, meaning – thank you, hello and sorry. By the time we got to Tokyo we had dealt with so many policemen and security guards kicking us out of spots, that patience with the language barrier would start to dissolve. It’s frustrating enough being shooed away from stairs and handrails back at home, but when you’re away and you know you’re not going to be back to nail that kickflip or crooked grind it really grinds the gears. Soon enough our humble tourist speech morphed into Australian lingo – Ari-garts, Koneech and Sorry-mason – all in good sarcastic spirits, of course.
For most of the crew two weeks was just enough time away from home to be missing family, meat pies and a good pub feed. Considering the size of the squad, our time in Japan was actually much easier going than we had anticipated. Unfortunately there were a lot of injuries sustained on this trip, a bunch of guys scored heel bruises and sore backs, but it was nothing some good company and foreign adventure couldn’t remedy.