コンテスト自体は好きですよ。今までもflakeとか、f2Oのコンテストには出ていて優勝したこともあります。でも、現状は出たいと思ってもなかなかタイミングが合わなくて出られないことが多いですね。もちろん東京オリンピックも出たいです。でも年齢的に出れるんですかね？ またその次も正式に競技化されるなら出たい気持ちはもちろんあります。でも他にも塩谷眞吾さんがVans Park Seriesとか世界戦に誘ってくれているので、先のことよりもまずはそういう近いところから参戦して経験を積んでいきたいと思っています。
Taisei Kikuchi – the 12 years old skateboarding prodigy with over 60,000 instagram followers already
What do you need to do to shine in the skateboarding world these days? People would say you have to win a contest, get featured in media, or make a full part. But for Taisei it was a little bit different. He became a world famous skateboarder in only little over a year after he started posting clips on instagram and now people are calling him a “future skateboarding prodigy”. Here is an interview of the next generation superstar.
Stalefish transfer at Sandro Dias camp in Brazil
My father was so worried and even took me to a doctor
ーPlease introduce yourself
My name is Taisei Kikuchi. I was born in January 10th, 2006. I’m in the first year of junior high school. My sponsors are HUF JAPAN, Santacruz Skateboards, 187 Killer Pads, Ace Trucks, F2O Park, and WARASHIBE RAMP.
ーWhen I met you for the first time, I thought you were really small.
Yeah. (laugh) I’m actually the shortest in the classroom. I hardly get any taller. My father was so worried and even took me to a doctor to know if I had some problem. But the test result was just fine. They said a growth hormone is definitely in me, but I would stay like this for a while then get taller later like when I turn 16. I’m just growing slower than others.
Frontside kickflip at Sandro Dias camp in Brazil
ーIt sounds similar to the story of Lionel Messi. It might actually help you to learn tricks faster because you keep the same size body. How did you start skating by the way?
After watching the Sochi Olympic game in 2014 when Ayumu Hirano won silver for snowboarding halfpipe. I thought it was so cool and wanted to try snowboarding. But there was no place to snowboard in my city Shizuoka. Instead I found a skatepark close to my house so I started skateboarding. I’ve met Ayumu once at the SHONAN OPEN contest. I even asked him for his autograph because he’s the one who changed my life.
ーIt’s only four years you have been skateboarding. How did you learn these tricks so fast?
First I went to the skate school hosted by Eiji Uchi at WARASHIBE RAMP. I learned basic tricks there but after that I went on my own. I just come up with ideas of tricks and learn them by myself. I don’t watch skate videos so much, so they are not from videos. They are all coming from my head. I get ideas for tricks by flipping my cell phone like a fingerboard and imagine what kind of tricks could be done. That’s what I do at home all the time. Once the idea becomes possible in my head, I will try to actually do it. It’s always super hard and takes time to make though.
ーYou have had an artistic sense from the very beginning and you’ve brushed it up by making effort. You are a true genius.
Thanks. Well, to me skateboarding is like an art piece. I’m trying to turn images in my head into reality. It’s kind of like painting. I put these tricks together in a line and so on. Posting a footage is like submitting your art piece to a competition. So even for an instagram clip, I don’t want to post ADB tricks or lines. It’s just for the sake of self-satisfaction.
Thousands of instagram follower notifications on the screen
ーThat’s probably another reason why you get so much respect from people all over the world. But how do you get that many followers on instagram (currently over 60,000)?
The trigger was when Skate Crunch MAG (@skatecrunchmag) and Metro Skateboarding (@matroskateboarding) found me and regramed my post. It was the clip of me kickfliping BS nose blunt 360 out.
At that time my dad was taking care of my instagram account. He added so many hashtags to be seen by as many people as possible. A few days after he posted a clip, he found out that his phone died at his work place even though it was fully charged. After turning it back on, he saw thousands of instagram follower notifications on the screen. I remember him being so excited. I was shocked too. It was the beginning. A year after, I got 60,000 followers. I’m stoked.
This kick flip BS nose blunt 360 out led Taisei to the stardom
Yeah. Not only instagram but also my facebook videos are getting so many views and shares as well. For example, there is a clip of me skating the bowl at F2O park that I posted this March. It’s got over 4.9 million views, over 130,000 likes, over 58,000 shares, over 11,000 comments, and it’s still going. There are other videos that got over 2 million views. At this point I don’t know how and how far it’s going to go. Of course I’m stoked that my videos went viral all over the world.
This is the video that got crazy amount of views, shares, likes, and comments. No wonder it went viral.
Sponsors sent me DMs via instagram
ーThat’s the way these days. You are a next generation star because of SNS. Did you get your sponsors via instagram as well?
Yes. Sponsors sent me DMs via instagram. For WARASHIBE RAMP (the first sponsor), I asked myself for a support, but got DMs from every other sponsors. I got a DM from the brand manager of Santa Cruz as well as 187. Ace Trucks asked me to ride for them through their Japan distributer, BP trading. There were more people asking me to ride but I couldn’t because of the contracts. It’s just surreal and I feel honored. I’m really thankful for my sponsors and I want to give back to them as much as possible. Getting sponsored by HUF was huge for me. HUF JAPAN’s headquarter is here in Shizuoka and because of them I can be active in the skateboarding world. Skateboarding was a hobby for me but after I got hooked up by HUF I got to the next level. I’m too short to wear their clothing so they made extra small clothing just for me. I’m so thankful and love HUF and everyone who works there.
ーIt’s great to have good people backing you up. I heard that you went to the U.S. this May with the people from HUF JAPAN?
Yes. First I got a DM from Ryan Sheckler via instagram at the end of last year. But I didn’t know who he was since I didn’t watch skate videos. (laugh) After I found out that he was one of the top pros, I started sending DMs back and forth with him then eventually he asked me to come visit him in the U.S. I told that story to HUF JAPAN, and they told me to go for it and took me there
Ryan Sheckler asked Taisei to come to the U.S.
ーWow. So it’s possible nowadays to get a DM from a top pro, if you are an amazing skater. Were you also asked by Sandro Dias to come to Brazil?
Yes. I was just lucky to get a message from him. I’m telling myself to stay humble and always do my best. Sandro asked me to come to Sandro Dias Camp, which he co-organized with RedBull. He even sent me a message in Japanese! That was cool. He is such a big star in Brazil. He owns a whole mountain as his camping site. It’s got a pool, bowl, street course, vert ramp, and even a restaurant. It’s just the whole different level.
Never seen a style like Taisei’s
ーDid you get interviewed over there?
I was interviewed by the medium called Skatemind. RedBull Brazil had an article on their website about 13 world’s best skater kids in last October, a writer named Marcos Hiroshi included me in there. Because of that article I got to be known worldwide and then got an opportunity to go to Brazil. Marcos brought the Skatemind guys so I was down to do an interview with them. I got some other interview offers from a local TV station and magazines but I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t go outside the campsite.
The video of Taisei in Brazil made by Skatemind
ーYou are still very young and it’s so great that people in a faraway county like Brazil want to interview you. Are there any other memorable things about the trip?
The best thing was just hanging out with everyone there. I was asked to write an autograph. When I was leaving they gave me a T-shirt with messages. When I met Sandro Dias he said he had been skateboarding for over 30 years and never seen a style like mine. He asked me questions like who taught me skateboarding and how I got my style. I felt good and was honored.
The messages on a T-shirt
ー Now that you don’t have to stay only in Japan. You can go anywhere with those connections.
Yes. My dream is to be a top pro skater in the U.S. So I need to learn English more and do what I can to prepare while I’m in Japan.
ーGood for you. By the way what’s your take on contests? Do you want to compete in the Tokyo Olympic game?
I like contests. I have won some contests like Flake or F2O ones. Right now it’s kind of hard for me to arrange my schedule to enter contests. Of course I want to be in the Tokyo Olympic game. Do you know how old you have to be? Even if I can’t compete in the Tokyo, I would like to try the next one if skateboarding is still an official event. Shingo Shioya asked me to compete in Vans Park Series so I want to focus on what’s in front of me instead of worrying about the future.
ーYou will be doing great. I can’t wait to see you grow taller and skating like a man. Any plans and last words?
I would like to enter and win as many contests as possible and I want more Japanese people to know about me. I will keep posting clips on instagram and facebook. One day I want to make a video part too. There are so many things I want to do. If you see me somewhere in the future, let’s skate together!
Taisei Kikuchi (DOB: Jan. 10. 2006)
Home: Shizuka city Shizuoka Japan
Sponsors: HUF JAPAN, Santacruz Skateboards, 187 Killer Pads, Ace Trucks, F2O Park, and WARASHIBE RAMP
With the amazing transition skill, Taisei became a worldwide phenomenon. Being still young and yet to grow, he is already expected to be one of the greatest skateboarder in the future.