WORDS: Joey Shigeo
PHOTOS: Brandon Alton
TRANSLATION: Nino Moscardi
Japan is a country known for sensory overload and the newest in future tech—the same can be said for the country’s recent import, Yuto Horigome.
Yuto first arrived in LA a little over a year ago, and with little more than hand gestures and head nods he put down two hammers in a day that punctuated his breakout Next New Wave part for The Mag. His learning curve for stacking clips in America may have been minimal, but the language barrier upon arrival was a different story. As Blind’s Bill Weiss recalls, “I had to go to the airport, find him, bring him home with me and basically use flash cards so we can communicate: I’d have a burrito card, a hamburger, and a fucking bathroom card [Stu should we replace with “bathroom card” yeah that makes more sense].”
Thankfully, actions speak louder than words. ”We hit the ground running pretty hard—I think the first thing we did was that 20-stair rail for the five-0, then that big gap,” Weiss said. “Then the next day we wanted to get a vert photo since I heard he skated vert, which is something no one really knew about.” Oh yeah, and he can skate vert too. He’s part of that next generation skater who’s extremely versatile and has extreme technical ability (it’s not wonder why Shane O’Neill is one of his favorites).
This year, Yuto has been quietly killing the contest scene. Not only did he qualify for Street League, but he also nabbed a podium spot in three international pro contests behind household name superpros like Nyjah and Shane. Which leads one to ask, What’s next for this “Am” from Japan?
As Weiss puts it, “He definitely seems like he’s got a clear path the way things are going, so….” You don't need flash cards to understand that Yuto has officially arrived.
Nollie heelflip crooked grind. Los Angeles, California.
How old are you and where are you from?
Eighteen and from Tokyo.
How old were you when you first started skating?
When I was six; my dad was a skater so he used to take me out when he’d go skating.
Where did you grow up skating and did you mostly skate parks, street, ramps, or little bit of everything?
When I first started, there was this park called SSP that was like ten minutes away from my house. That’s where my dad and his friends first started skating and I’d go there with him.
Did you have a lot of friends who skated with you?
Yeah, I have some friends from school that I always go out with. My homie, Matsumoto, has been skating for five years, but he’s getting pretty good!
You are very diverse in that you can skate tech ledges, big stuff, and tranny.
If you only had one thing to skate for the rest of your life what would it be, and why?
It’d have to be a ledge. You can skate a ledge no matter how old you get.
Who has been the biggest influence on your skateboarding?
I watch all kinds of parts and they’ve all influenced me in one way or another.
What skateboarder has your favorite style of all time?
What’s your favorite video part?
Shane O'Neill in Not Another TransWorld Video.
How did you get sponsored?
Well, my first sponsor was Instant Skateshop. I had been going there since I started skating so they were down once I started getting better.
Indy grab. Huntington Beach, California.
Are your parents supportive of you someday being a professional skateboarder?
Yeah, they’ve always supported me.
What are your thoughts on the 2020 Olympics being in Japan? Has the country started giving you money to build your own Olympic training facility?
Yeah, I mean it’s fine, but it is making it harder to skate street in Japan because in the eyes of the public it’s still property damage, so all the news media is kind of blowing it up. I don’t think the government’s funding park building yet, but I wish they’d make a park in Japan like The Berrics.
How did you get so good at contests? Have you been doing contests for a long time?
Actually, at the beginning I never used to win. I’d get all bummed that I lost and it’d make me want to practice more and get better. Then I started entering just any and every contest I could and got more used to competing.
Do you get nervous in contests?
Yeah, dude. I get super nervous and my legs start shaking. Dude, I can even like hear how loud my heart is pounding [laughs].
How did you feel about getting into Street League? Was that a goal of yours to get in there?
It was a goal and a dream, for sure dude! I'm so hyped!
Do you feel like skating is getting bigger in Japan these days?
Yeah, it’s getting much bigger.
When was your first trip to the United States, and was it hard not being able to speak English?
My first time in the States was about four years ago when I visited with my mom, but it was pretty boring. She made me go to Disneyland and do touristy stuff [laughs]. And, as for English, I still can’t really speak it so it’s pretty tough.
How have you been learning English? Do you use your phone for help?
I hang a lot with Micky, Richie (Valdez), and TJ, so they teach me a lot [laughs]. “Fuck 12. Where da hoes at?! You know what it is!!”
You five-0’d that big rail in LA. Did you get used to skating big rails and gaps in Japan? I never thought Japan was too well known for big obstacles.
I had never done one that big but I had been doing pretty big ones since I was back in Japan.
What do you think of Mike Sinclair, and does he ever tease you?
He’s such a nice dude! And he’s hilarious!
Have you witnessed Bill Weiss do a naked McTwist in person yet?
[Laughs] Haven’t seen it live yet but I’m waiting for the chance.
Do you want to eventually move to the U.S. and live here permanently?
Hell yeah! As soon as possible!
Besides skating what other things do you do for fun?
Going out with chicks or playing video games at the arcade [laughs].
Switch frontside hurricane. Lake Forest, California.