This article originally featured in the January 2021 issue of Connect.

by Rhema Baquero

Frosty winds bit my face and snow creeped its way into my boots, but despite my disdain for the cold, the thrill of shooting down the mountain in Hokkaido during my first time snowboarding is one of my favorite memories in Japan. Looking for that same rush this year, I am revisiting my favorite recreation throughout college: skating.

On long nights that stretched into mornings, I loved speeding down gigantic hills and garage ramps on my black and white spotted skateboard. After being stuck in the house this year, I needed an activity that would allow me to safely enjoy the open air. If you feel the same, skating has a relatively easy bar of entry, so you can enjoy it too after these few stepsthings.

Get Your Equipment
Just like in the West, skating can be expensive. Vintage skates can go for ¥20,000 on Instagram, and buying a deck at a skate shop will cost a lot. If you are not going to fully immerse in either form, has decent options for less than a 一万¥10,000.

Watch Some Youtube
If you used to blade back in those skating rink days, I’ll bet you’ll find your feet again after a few moments. To be on the safe side, go to Millennial University, AKAaka YouTtube, to check out videos on starting and stopping. Also, look up a few tricks to set a learning goal and keep working towards them. My ollie is ruuuusty, so I am working on that.

Know Where You Can Ride
The laws about skating on the sidewalks or roads in Japan are fuzzy. Even when I ask Japanese skaters, I never get a clear answer. To be safe, search for skateparks or regular parks with bike paths and open spaces. Chances are, if Japanese people are also rolling, you should be OK too.

(Safely) Find a Community
Recently, I rode my board at my friend’s Roll Out — a series of socially-distanced outings where residents mount bikes, lace on skates and hop on their boards to coast around Osaka Castle. About a month later, I switched to inline blades for the first time in 15 years and took the hills just like I used too. It was a wonderful opportunity to see friends while exercising.

Being on wheels again has brought me so much joy during quarantine. When I am coasting the cement, working with physics and gravity, I feel like I am flying. I feel like I am free. And that is a feeling we could all use in 2020.


Photo by Devin Avery

Rhe Baquero is a third-year ALT placed in the great port city of Kōbe. She can often be found in a coffee shop either reading, writing, drawing, or studying Japanese. After playing rugby in university and graduate school, she was excited to finally attend the Rugby World Cup in 2019.