Skateboarding has become a powerful movement in Japan since it was a highlight at the Tokyo Olympics. If someone asked me what makes skateboarding great at the core, I would personally say the streets. Some think skaters coming up with new tricks on seemingly mundane corners is a nuisance, but I believe it’s a snapshot of creativity.
Joshua Nishimiya is a bold figure based in Tokyo, searching for a street skate scene while working toward establishing a career in the US. He recently made a skate video titled Meadows with Levi’s, and many people came to the screening.
What does the Gen Z skater think of skateboarding, and how will he pave the way for its future? We find out by talking to him.
Joshua Nishimiya is a Japanese/Ghanian street skater born in 2000. He has a flow sponsorship with Hockey and sponsorships with brands such as New Era, Classic Grip, Venture Trucks, Spitfire Wheels, and more. He also has domestic sponsorships with Supreme, Fucking Awesome, and Levi’s.
The magic of the streets, the home of skateboarding
——How did you discover and get absorbed in skate culture?
Joshua Nishimiya: I started skating from nine years old until sixth grade. I played soccer in middle school. But I still wanted to skate and started doing it again as a freshman in high school. I entered competitions but felt like they didn’t match my personality.
I began considering the option of making skate videos on the streets because entering competitions and getting good scores weren’t the only standards of skating. I released my first video around 2018, but it took me around three years to make it. That was when I realized that street skating was hard.
——You had a street skating baptism of sorts. You found it hard and yet wanted to continue making videos?
Joshua: Yes. I became obsessed with the fulfillment of coming up with skate videos and successfully doing a skate trick. It made me want to give it my all. When I was making my first skate video, a South Korean skateboard company sponsored me, and New Era approached me while I was making my second one. I was in a good place and was in the thick of it before I knew it.
——Were you confident that a company would sponsor you when working on your first skate video?
Joshua: No, I wasn’t (laughs). I wanted to continue doing it even if no one sponsored me because skating is fun, and I’ve always loved it. But I felt conflicted when it came time to think about what job to do after graduating high school. I ended up going to college, but I was so busy that I didn’t have time to skate. I was going back and forth about what I should do, and I decided to skate for a year and quit school if I got sponsors during that period. It’s thanks to two companies sponsoring me that I can skate today.
Joshua: I used to tell my friends that I wanted to ride on a Fucking Awesome deck, and Yoppi-san (Yoshifumi Egawa) told me he’d support me if I seriously wanted to have a career abroad. I want to move my home base to America in the future. Fucking Awesome supports me by providing me with skateboard gear. The same goes for Hockey, and I’m at a stage where I’m considering signing a contract with them.
——Have you been skating in the US?
Joshua: When Fucking Awesome Japan started supporting me, they connected me with the American team. I went to Los Angeles before the pandemic to shoot. The cinematographer of Fucking Awesome let me stay at theirs, and I became friends with other skaters. I’m still stocking up on skate videos and want to go to Los Angeles to shoot soon once the timing is right.
——You can say you’re in the preparation stage. You recently made Meadows with Levi’s, but is that a part of your preparation to establish yourself abroad?
Joshua: Yes. I want to shoot skate videos over a long period in Los Angeles once I build a solid foundation in Japan. I can’t become homies with skaters abroad unless I live there for a while. So, I’m solidifying my foundation here while talking to different brands. Meadows is basically my first official project. I’m so grateful Levi’s gave me creative freedom.
The wish to carve out a new scene with Japanese skaters
——What do you want to do as a skateboarder?
Joshua: I want to work abroad, but I also want to create a new scene as a Japanese person. That’s why I want to make videos with brands that aren’t associated with skating, which is what I’m currently doing. I want to do something that hasn’t been done before and share that with the world. I’d love to direct projects, much like what I did for my video with Levi’s.
——You want to contribute to the Japanese skate scene and make it bigger.
Joshua: Yes. Not only in Japan but also America, it’s hard for street skaters to make a living. I feel like we’ll see more street skaters if different brands could join the industry and give us more opportunities. I want to see more cool skaters, which is at the heart of skating. I want to try so many things, like becoming the plug and connecting people, brands, and industries. To do so, I need to pursue what I want more and more.
Photography Masashi Ura
Translation Lena Grace Suda