For many alternative / street sport enthusiasts in Japan the Murasaki Shonan Open marks the beginning of summer. This year's celebration of sports culture, held across eight days in early July at the birthplace of surfing in Japan, Kugenuma in Fujisawa, was also a stop on the men’s World Surf League Qualification Series tour. Performing at the event as part of the Team G-Shock Special Showcase was Japanese BMX flatland rider Yohei Uchino (内野洋平).
Uchino is one of the sport’s top competitors and performers. In 2008 he became the first Japanese flatland rider to take out the world championship event at Voodoo Jam in New Orleans, U.S. The 34-year-old has gone on to claim multiple BMX Flatland World Circuit Champion crowns since and with signature tricks like the Ucchie Spin continues to be a great influence in the flatland genre.
Uchino was in a reflective mood for an interview at this year’s open.
Tell us about your enthusiasm for the Murasaki Open and the Team G-Shock Special Showcase
Uchino: Actually, this is my fourth time in four years to perform at the event, Murasaki’s main event of the summer and as a member of the Murasaki team I want to take part seriously but with a sense of excitement.
What is the most important thing for you when you are performing?
Uchino: In the case of a contest, it’s about competing against yourself, or overcoming yourself you might say. So you try to pull off the hardest tricks that you can and then the people watching will get on board with you. When I’m performing, it’s the other way round. The more the audience gets excited so the energy of my performance rises. We feed off each other's energy. That, I think, is what makes a performance, the feeling of everyone having a had good time together.
Do you have any advice for the kids out there practicing their BMX flatland tricks?
Uchino: When it comes to things like skateboarding, BMX, dance, and other sports that are considered part of “street culture”, these things were essentially born out of wanting to have fun. Now, this kind of lifestyle has taken on a competitive element where the fun is sometimes turned into a contest but I think it’s important not to forget the “fun” part. Keeping this in mind will help speed up your improvement. Having fun with it will make you want to put in more practice.
Tell us about your next goals and what you’ve got planned for the future.
Uchino: I want be an example for the kids to follow, not just in my speciality of flatland but in other styles, too. My years of competition are building up but while I’m still able to compete at the top I want to be a role model for others. And, of course, win contests at the same time!
So, it’s like a lifetime of active service for you?
Uchino: Yea. I want to be like soccer’s King Kazu (Kazuyoshi Miura)!
(Interview in cooperation with Murasaki Sports)
The Murasaki Shonan Open 2017 men’s World Surf League QS was taken out by Australia’s Lliam Mortensen.
Murasaki Shonan Open 2017: Official site (Japanese)