Photos: Provided by Yuki Itoh.
When I started thinking about a direction change for Flatmattersonline and producing more exclusive content. Yuki Itoh was the first name on my list of people to interview, here is a rider that I look at like the “next one” this guy is blessed with amazing riding skills and style, and I feel like he can be “that” rider if he believes and really elevate our sport/artform to the next level. But at the same time, I quite like that there is a mysterious nature to him, not everything is out on the washing line for all to see. Refer back to his “Welcome to Far East” edit that I still watch to this day for inspiration, but Yuki offers much more than that.
His alias, Yukipkoproject is producing some of the best quality edits flatland has ever seen, that rival Tom at Sevisual in terms of feel, and quality. Here is a rider I really look up to, and I had to know more. I have gone back and fourth with Yuki over the past few months to put this together. Welcome to the Yuki Itoh Flatmattersonline Interview….
Hey Yuki, how are you doing today? Let’s get this long overdue Flatmattersonline interview started.. Firstly can you introduce yourself with some basic details about yourself, where are you from, age, where do you live now?
Hello! I am Yuki Itoh, I am 28 years old.
I was born in Tokyo, and I have lived in Tokyo all my life.
How long have you been riding, and I’m always interested how did you find BMX flatland? What got you started?
When I was 14 years old, it was already 14 years ago. I was so fat as you are surprised, only I was doing were playing the video game or building plastic model everyday….
On the other side, my older brother was playing baseball hard, then my parents said me I must find something I can be active in.
In spite of these things were enough enthusiasm…. At the time I found one person who practiced flatland in the park. Yes then my reason to start BMX is for losing weight maybe…..
I always have this picture about Japan that it’s easy to find flatlanders everywhere, is that true? For someone coming from overseas where are the hot spots where you can find riders?
I can guess everyone in the world think Japan is flatland heaven.
But I don’t know now really it’s truth.
Exactly here might be such place long time ago like when I started.there were so so so so many local spot in Tokyo. I could meet riders who I don’t know every week.
But now, there is really no place to ride in Tokyo. Every place became so easy to be forbidden then I seem flatlanders are decreasing rapidly.
This may be also same in japan.
On the other side, still there are many riders who have passion for Flatland. Then now it’s time to be united and we must find way to warm up it again!!!
Your style is very unique in the way you put together your pivots, and your last “Welcome to Far East” edit is still one of my favourites. I have a lot of questions around that, firstly how long did you film for?
Actually I didn’t spend so long time to take the edit. Maybe it was just two days and a few hours. Just I thought I need to tell everyone that I joined super FEC team immediately!! But maybe it was almost first time that someone took private video with gimbal.
Your videography, editing style is one of the best in the flatland game for sure. How did you get started in filming and editing, just for yourself or doing other projects?
Takuya Higa came here to live in Tokyo from Okinawa, which is so far tropical place from here, I could make so good relationship with him, this is not as flatland rider, but as friends. Also Taiko Kaneta is. We are almost same age, it was really short time to spend time with Taiko, because he almost quit riding.
But in the such happy days, we thought we must leave something history on the flatland world and promote ourselves. These mind made me like videographer without noticing hahaha. Maybe I have also longed for great video on internet like Sevisual’s Adam and Matthias edits.
That’s really interesting, so just from your own desire to emulate your heroes? Because your style of editing and colour grading used in the edits. I can see a Yukproproject edit a mile off it is very distinctive. So all self taught?
Hmmm, just entrance was emulating, maybe everyone is like this. The roots was just it.But now really I feel interesting about filming, then I have learned hard many things exceeding Flatland.
What software do you use to make your edits out of interest?
Premiere CC! Aside from the editing style and colour grading I talked about, the music you use is very distinctive. What music are you into?
Basically I’m just using what I like, maybe just it’s my taste haha. But I am conscious I want to make something is different from other videos, it’s like I can cherish rider’s feeling or history? Maybe?
How is the flatland scene in your city? Many spots to ride, what is your local riding spot?
I’m from Ikebukuro in Tokyo. Here is one of flatland historical place in Tokyo. There is famous one park on there. I have spent all youth for the park. Kotaro Tanaka and Tsutomu Kitayama were from there too. Now, there is not active space. but there might be around 20 flatland riders, like they practice seriously, in the golden times.
After it, I changed the place and time for concentration five years ago. I started to practice at train station at midnight with Takuya Higa. There is no one who bother practice and awesome ground.
Which riders are you inspired by? And do you think anyone helped shape your style of riding?
It may not be interesting which riders have given me inspiration, because they are too famous. They are Matthias Dandois and Adam Kun.
They have been my hero for long time. They really affect me so much in many ways.
And furthermore, I like Yasushi Tanabe’s so beautiful riding so much. I seen my boss, Jean William Prevost made new original category which is like flow. It is like putting original tricks or combined tricks between flows. Now he is most inspiring rider for me. I think his style can open new flatland history.
How did you come to be hooked up with Far east Cycles?
When Benjamin Hudson came to Japan because of G-shock event, a little jam was held in Matsudo.
Then Takuji Kasahara offered me to join FEC Team in the time . We didn’t meet long time at the time. I was so happy that he gave me friendly words to my riding.
After it, I sent my video for only for him.and he permitted to join to FEC!
Are you a professional flatlander in the sense thats all you do or do you work? If you work, what job do you do?
This is really difficult question. No, I’m not.
For me, professional is earning money by only BMX or something concerning the BMX.
Then I can tell you now my job later….
We don’t talk about bike set ups enough, can you go through your bike set up and talk about why you use what you do. I noticed for example you cut your bar width very short…..
My bike is maybe not so special.
But I’m riding shorter frame than current trend. I know big bike is so cool! But I feel I lose possibilities for many tricks when I ride long frame especially on front wheel tricks.
The most special part is maybe colour which is painted by myself.
This is just I like DIY.
And almost my trick is front wheel tricks, then front wheel is so heavy and back wheel is so light that are helped by FEC titanium parts.
But I want to try riding Benjamin’s signature frame now ….
We don’t see you competing very much, are you not into the contest style of riding and do you think we will see you competing in the future?
There is many reason why I don’t appear so much.
Maybe 5 years ago, I have joined many contests and I left normal results. But it was not result which I can be satisfied with. And I found, my trick was not so special and there is not so many standouts.
Then, I decide I am going to stop entering contest and I just practiced.
It was same time when I started practice at midnight.
After that I have spent time to find “my riding”.
Now I can feel I have better tricks better than before.
And of course, I didn’t give up until I got first place in some big contest.
If you were to be a tour guide for a flatlander visiting Japan from overseas, where would you take that rider for the best example of what the Japanese scene is all about?
Sometimes I took care of some riders. Before I took Chris Bohm to go Sightseeing. Last time I made midnight sessions with Dez Maarsen. We walk around somewhere, but we surely only talked about flatland despite there is many Japanese good place.
Then if we go somewhere, I just enjoy talking about flatland ..
How much do you get to ride?
Those day actually I was so busy with my other business, then I didn’t ride much.
But until this year August, I absolutely have rode 3 hours in a day everyday for the last 3 or 4 years.
What is a typical day for Yuki Itoh?
Ok, now finally I established my own filming company for common business. Then I am trying to manage company by myself.
And I started to ride much again.
Wake up at morning, and I go to practice at day time.
After that I go back home and work.
I could make so simple, however I don’t know how long I can keep this.
You produce plenty of awesome edits from the Toyusu jams, can you talk a little bit about the jams, what is your involvement with it? It seems like a series, so you can see riders progression jam to jam, is that the intended idea?
Toyosu Jam is organized by Masashi Itani and Mizuki Takahata.
And I hope I can promote their activities by filming which can warm up Tokyo flatland.
And we hope every rider can get motivation from it.
There is not so much Flatland event in Tokyo now, in such situation, monthly event can keep mind to riding. I think progress on depends on feelings. I realize that Toyosu jam is the best way to keep motivation for flatland passion.
What are your plans for the future Yuki?
I want to keep riding.
This means I don’t want to think BMX is my hobby or something my toy.
But I don’t have much thought I want to earn money by BMX.
But compatibility is really difficult.
I need sustainable life, I need time to ride. I don’t want to give up both. I think everyone has this thought.
Let’s face to it for keeping riding.
In your eyes Yuki, what makes a good line (combo)? How do you go about putting a line together, there are so many parts to your tricks?
I want to make the combo which is easy to understand what I want to do myself.It’s like I don’t want to put many kind tricks in one combo. For example, I decide what I do in one combo. In combo A, there are complex body varial and jumping finish.
In combo B, only rolling and varial. In combo C, no handed spinning and no switch….. Like this. And I’m picky about what I don’t want to go back same place. It’s like if I use steam roller once, I cannot use again. And I care also direction. I can’t put the trick I move -180 degree after I do 180 degrees.
How important is style to you?
Today, I think it’s difficult to have style and skill that let them win in contest together for our new generation. Because you know, there is almost no new trick. But even if there is no trick, I think I must find “my riding”. If it’s slight difference from other one, we must find it. And I believe such small accumulation will make me stylish rider. I’m making effort not to do same trick if it’s small.
Who sponsors you Yuki?
FareastCycles are my bike sponsor. They support my bike. I think they are super core flatland brand. I’m proud they still pursuit flatland possibilities with Titanium products. Light parts can let us find best set up easily.
I always wear their t-shirts.They are hongkong’s street brand. They suddenly find us from hongkong when we were still not so well and they suggested us supporting. I was so happy. Then I love them.
They are distributer who treat especially FEIYU TECH.
They support some camera’s equipment which is called 3-axles gimbal can stable camera whenever.
They are American backpack brand in bike culture, that’s so cool!!!
They are Japanese bmx parts brand in Yokohama.they are making super fit for hands barends and grip stop. Available in hommage bmx shop!!!
So, with flatland being held at Fise Hiroshima this year, first question will you enter? And in park the judging seems quite black and white. If you touch you lose lot of points, so if you touch on a combo will you stop or continue?
I’m planning, I’m going to join it. It depends on my job now….
I hope I can!
Basically, I stop riding if I touch the floor even in practice.For me. If I touch the floor it doesn’t make sense, because i think this is the event which is simply forbidden touching.
I can’t allow myself.
That’s real Yuki! King of Ground was a big part of the Japanese scene, and developing the scene. And I must say a huge inspiration to riders over the world. What do you think the impact is in Japan of KOG disappearing? And how did you feel about KOG?
KOG was really my youth. It was a really special contest for everything. I have never felt it from other contest. Riders have came to KOG from all Japan with individual strong spirit. And it is not part, every riders in Japan. And our generation riders got big motivation from it. It made me the rider that I am now.
Now I don’t know what the future for KOG is going to hold, but I want to make such contest again if I hold on my own contest.
Do you ever see Flatland being an Olympic sport?
I heard it a little. It is good news if it’s real! I hope it will bring that many person will able to know flatland is so interesting and fun.
But I worry a little about that, it might make flatland world look boring. Because my image of Olympic may have many rumor about political things.
Any final words and thanks before we close up this interview?
I am really glad to join this interview. Big Thank you Effraim for fixing my bad English!
At last, I really appreciate I could meet flatland in my life. It’s not an exaggeration to say, flatland made me find myself.
Flatland was my goal which I must pursue and I haven’t spent a long time to get. There was an inspiration because flatland is as much an art as it is sports.
There was a microcosm of society which let me study society and language.
Still, there are many difficult things in my life, but I believe flatland will still give me a lot of experience for me. Then I want to keep riding seriously from now on.
I don’t know if I can be telling you what I want to.
It’s been amazing to catch up with one of biggest current inspirations. I hope you all enjoyed this exclusive interview out there on the interwebs. Thanks for tuning in!
Effraim Catlow – Flatmattersonline.