Author Archives: Ryan Brynelson

Hey Japan Man

Standing Out in a Crowd

The other day I was invited to a BBQ skate jam by some friends at a place called 海風公園 (Umi-Kaze-Kouen) which translates into Ocean Wind Park. The skateboard park is right next to the ocean and is a very refreshing place to go to. When I started skating, I could already feel an exciting sense of freedom being there and was having a blast doing what I was doing and then I looked up, took out my head-phones, and noticed a bunch of kids watching and clapping. They came up to me and started talking to me right away, asking me how to do some freestyle tricks.

Ryan havin fun

I was surprised to see that the two girls standing to my left in the picture named Kokona and Mizuki were already able to do some freestyle. The two of them were usually skating next to each other doing some footwork and some incredibly stylish 360’s. I found out later they learned from some of the other freestyle locals at various parks in Japan. That’s the awesome thing about kids is that they are excited to learn and have lots to say regardless of what you might look like. The thing is, being a foreigner in Japan (especially if your non-Asian) you will usually be subject to one of two things by people you run into for the first time.


Some people will be scared to talk to you and may try to avoid you. This isn’t because they are being racist (actually foreigners here are treated very well), it’s mostly because they are worried you might ask them a question in English and they simply don’t know how to reply as most of the people here haven’t opened an English textbook since High-school or University. However, if you start to speak with them in Japanese or at least try, they will feel much more comfortable with talking with you. Which them brings me to the next thing that will likely happen.


No matter how much Japanese you speak, about half the time you will be treated like a baby. All I have to say is “Konichiwa” with a short introduction and it’s like a get a standing ovation. It sounds nice and everybody means very well, but believe me, it gets old fast. Once you start to get to know the person more and not be just another acquaintance however, that does change eventually and people will just talk with you normally.

The great thing about kids though, is that they see past all of this and just talk to me normally.

Regardless of the things I mentioned above, Japan is an amazing country and I love it here. Everybody means well and even if you have these things happen to you when your in Japan, it’s never out of hate. I never like to use the term racism for these situations as I feel like that word has a lot of hate behind it. Friendly misunderstandings or misconceptions are definitely the best way to put it. The best thing I can do is take it all and stride and have a good time with it. There are definitely lots of interesting stories that have come from these misconceptions some people have of foreigners, but that’s for another blog entry. Until then, thanks for reading and take care you guys.

-Ryan Brynelson

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Extreme Sports Hey Japan Man Skateboarding

The First of Many

First Demo of many-crowd

Last week I was invited by Moichi Suzuki, a top professional skater in Japan, to do a demo in Odaiba Japan. I was absolutely stoked as this would be my first demo in Japan, something I really wanted to do. As I was walking to the where the demo would be held, I was taking in the amazing views and site of this incredible country. Everybody is nice, the food is amazing (I’m on the most incredible food journey of my life right now), and of course I finally get to use the Japanese I was studying since I was 13. As hard as it is, I’m incredibly happy I stuck with studying the language. Studying another language has opened up so many doors for me and allowed me to meet amazing people I would have not been able to have otherwise and really get to know people that we might see as quiet foreigners back in Canada on a whole different level.

When I got to the site of the demo, I was greeted by Masahiro Fujii and Moichi Suzuki. I know, these might look like a bunch of random Japanese names to you, but you should really get to know these guys, they are seriously some of the best skaters ever and definitely worth watching.


When we did the first demo, the ground area was quite full and I was ready to do demo’s today, which I thought would be no problem as I have done over 80 demo’s back home in Canada. I was wrong. For the first time in years I actually started getting nervous. Maybe it was the fact that this was my first one in Japan or maybe it was the fact that I stood out as the only foreigner doing this show and the crowd had some kind of weird expectation, I don’t know, but man was I ever nervous. After the first set, the other one went by more smoothly for me for sure, but I was quite surprised with myself. Moichi, Masahiro, Tomo and the 2 street skaters that showed up did great though and we all had a fantastic time. Definitely a fun memory and a good start to my life in Japan. Looking forward to the other adventures and more awesome skaters I meet here. I’ll keep you posted, so please stay tuned.

Check out the video from the demo. From handstands and 360’s to crazy ledge combos and a few ollies over people from the audience, this one was very insane

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Extreme Sports Hey Japan Man Skateboarding

Just the Beginning

It’s been 3 weeks now since I came to Japan, and so far it’s been fantastic. The people are amazing, I’m having fun speaking the language, eating the best food of my life, and of course skating with some amazing skaters. When I first got off the plane I couldn’t believe that I finally made it. I had worked part-time at some places as well as doing lots of skateboard demos  for the past few years to fund this adventure and I can already say it’s been worth it. Right now I’m going to Yokohama Design College where I am continuing my Japanese studies. To me, Japanese is equally as important to me as my skating, it’s just different. I love skating on using my body to do a bunch of incredibly fun tricks and then when it’s down time, hitting the books and studying. I don’t know, maybe it’s the nerdy side of me that comes with being a freestyle skater, but I love studying and reading as well as the spoken aspect of the language.

Ryan in Japan

I decided to come a few weeks before starting school to have some fun and check out the place as well as find out where some good parks are before I started school. One my ventures, I found Shin-Yokohama skatepark. Built right under a bridge, this place is huge! The concrete is also the best I have ever skated on and best of all, it’s less than an hour away from my house. After skating there for a couple of weeks, I started to meet a bunch of locals and make some new friends. One day when I was skating, I was practising a bunch of 360 spin variations, when this Japanese guy came up to me and said “You spin like Kevin Harris“. I was stunned! Not Rodney Mullen, but Kevin Harris. I was stoked to hear that, especially since Kevin was the one who taught me how to do 360’s. We talked and he told me that when Kevin Harris was in Japan, he did a demo at his school and he was blown away. He introduced himself as Kojima and then introduced his wife Saori to me who also skates. I found out from him that he owns a skateshop called Fabric, and when I looked it up, I found out that is was only 3 minutes away from my house on foot. I went to his shop and he showed me some boards from his collection. Amongst them was a deck signed by Kevin Harris. It was really interesting making that connection with one of the locals.

Right now this is the just the beginning and what a beginning it is. I’m hoping to learn a lot from the experiences that will come with this adventure. I look forward to keeping you all posted, stay tuned…

– Ryan Brynelson

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