I recently approached Van about doing a Q&A about his move to Japan. After all, that is a pretty big life change and interesting thing to discuss. He was down, but also mentioned that he was doing something similar for DIG BMX (which you can read HERE) already. All good.
I still think this topic is interesting and wanted to do something with Van, so I came up with this “1 Through 10” questionnaire thing to tackle this in a different format. Click below to check it out.
The 1 main reason you moved to Japan from the States.
Once in a lifetime opportunity to live in and experience Japan while working for Tokyo 2020 (Olympics).
2 things that went through your mind when you were approached with the opportunity?
1. You guys know I don’t speak Japanese, right?
2. Ok cool, when do I move?
3 things you had to do before moving:
1. Sell everything I owned
2. Find a realtor in Tokyo
3. Buy a flight and pack my whole life into two 50lb bags
4 things that have been keeping you busy in Japan:
1. Working 9-5 at Tokyo 2020 (Definitely an adjustment after being a pro rider for so many years)
2. Exploring the spots and learning my way around the city
3. Tourist stuff (Mt. Fugi, Tokyo Disney, Snowboarding In Niigata and plenty more already checked off the list)
4. Organizing Uncovered Tokyo kept me busy for a while, happy to say its all done and went amazing thanks to Brian Kachinsky and a very supportive Japanese BMX scene
5 new words or phrases you had to learn:
I keep a running list in my phone. I write how the word sounds to me and what it means. These notes are far from phonetically correct but it’s my system and I’m sticking with it haha. Here are a few examples.
1. O nacha seata – I’m hungry
2. Whiskey lowk ku da sai – Whiskey on the rocks please
3. See mi sen – Excuse me
4. Iki ma show – Lets go
5. Hagi may mas tay – Nice to meet you
6 new people you have met in Japan:
1. Hiroshi (Flatlander that Chad Degroot introduced me to. He’s become a close friend and a life saver in helping me get set up and comfortable in Tokyo)
2. Pegy (One of the OG street riders in Tokyo. Knows all the spots and keeps the scene strong)
3. Ryushin (A 12 year old Japanese kid with down syndrome learning to ride and enjoy BMX, inspiring)
4. Mariko (I call Mariko my work Mom, Its tricky working in an environment where you can’t speak or read the language, she really took care of me and helped with some every day life basics that where critical especially in the first couple months)
5. Bashi (Bashi picked me up, took me to his skatepark and fed me cheeseburgers during my first week. His enthusiasm and hospitality had me feeling stoked and comfortable in Japan right away. The BMX family is an amazing thing.)
6. Ukyo (Ukyo Katayama is my boss. He is a former Formula One racer and seems to be a house hold name in Japan. I was stoked to be working for someone whose mentality comes from something other than just a suit and tie)
7 new things you have come to enjoy in Japan:
1. Heated toilet seats
2. Karaoke, Always fun getting a bar full of Japanese people to sing along to Country Roads (not sure why all Japanese people know that song?)
3. More transition street spots then makes sense
4. Takatori (Japanese style kabobs)
5. Yamazaki whiskey
6. The Tokyo Swallows (The time difference makes it really hard to watch American sports so I’ve gotten into Japanese baseball)
7. Not owning a car, the trains are easy here
8 things you miss from the States:
1. Of course I miss my girlfriend, family, friends and dog the most so I’ll just put all those here in number one so I don’t bore you with all the mushy stuff.
2. FDR. There are a lot of amazing spots in Tokyo but hard to replace FDR
3. Cereal. They don’t have proper cereal over here so I stocked up on Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms while I was back in the states.
4. Diners. I love breakfast and coffee at a classic American diner.
5. Fishing. Not easy to spend the morning fishing with my Dad when you’re halfway around the world
6. Sunny day motorcycle rides
7. Football, the time difference makes it almost impossible to watch the Eagles games. The best I can hope for is to listen on the radio Monday morning at work.
8. Having the ability to read, haha
9 people from the States you stay in constant contact with:
My phone tells me these are the last 9 people I’ve contacted back in the States.
1. My girlfriend Jillian (Talking about eating macaroni out of a frisbee)
2. Mark Losey (Confessing his appreciation for a whiskey and cranberry)
3. Leigh Ramsdell (Discussing our currrent status with American Airlines)
4. Brian Wizmerski (Discussing the modifications to his new road trip machine)
5. My sister Gwen (planning her visit to Tokyo in 2020)
6. Dan “Gannwear” Kelleher (Trying to figure out when he can come visit Japan)
7. My Mom (Checking up and also letting me know that my 15 year old nephew also just got his first job, haha)
8. Cody Jennings (apologizing for not getting to hangout while I was in the States a couple weeks ago)
9. My accountant Ron (Trying to finish my taxes for 2018)
10 things you want to accomplish or experience before you leave:
1. Learn more Japanese
2. Film a fun edit at some unique spots
3. Go swimming in Okinawa
4. Go snowboarding in Hokkaido
5. Host another jam or Uncovered event
6. Ride trails with Satoski Eda (@trailswarrior)
7. Get a hit for my newly joined baseball team
8. Learn a entire karaoke song in Japanese (almost there)
9. Go to a sumo wrestling match
10. Do the best job possible for the Tokyo 2020 BMX Freestyle event.