An event like the Vert Attack X in Malmö, Sweden always leaves that vert skateboarding “buzz” in your mind and body for many days after it’s all over. It’s part of the magic of skateboarding and especially for skaters who at one time in the past walked into a vert ramp for the first time and started to ride it. You never forget it and you just want to keep doing it.
The vibe is also so strong because it connects skaters from around the world and when they get together, it’s like you’ve been skating together forever. Moto Shibata from Japan has certainly kept this vibe and even though he couldn’t make it to Vert Attack X, we were able to exchange some words in this interview and I even learned something about a special trick.
Thanks to Moto for taking the time to do this – he’s a massively talented skater with a stylish flow and some really sick tricks. Enjoy the words, photos (thanks again to Dan Sparagna!) and videos with Moto Shibata!
Hi Moto. As always, I like to start off an interview with an introduction. So let us know where you originally come from, where you currently live and your age.
I am 20 years old and I was born and raised in the roots of Osaka, Japan. I also currently stay in Osaka.
Photo by Dan Sparagna
You have a quite special style and some tricks which are not seen often or at all. All of your personal style has a starting point and usually some other skaters influence the way everybody skates. When did you get started with skateboarding and how did your experiences bring you to your level of skateboarding today?
I started skateboarding when I was 8 years old. I started to skate with vert when I was 10 years old. At the time, my father had a skate video that is from the 80s, I used to watch those videos like Animal Chin, Public Domain, Chicago Below Out, Vision Skate Escape, and Del Mar Skate Ranch everyday and all day. That’s how I got the influences from the skaters like Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, Gator, Steve Caballero, Tony Magnusson, also the style from them. That’s how I skate today!
I have to ask this one – do you know anybody else who does that “Madonna gay twist”? That’s one really mad looking trick…
As far as I know, Tony Hawk has invented the Frontside Gay Twist Madonna. When I first saw the trick from Tony Hawk, it gave me a mind blowing influence and I thought that “It is impossible!!” but I also thought that I want to try it one day. Now that I learned the trick it is now my favorite trick!
I think I can speak for quite a few skaters reading this – I really have little to no idea about the skateboarding scene in Japan. How would you describe the vert skateboarding possibilities: do you have a good choice of different vert ramps to ride and is there a large group of vert skaters in Japan?
Actually I’m not sure of other group of vert skaters in Japan. Back in the day, there were vert contests in Japan and I would compete in them but as years go by the contests became less and at the time I started to participate in international skate competitions so I’m not really familiar with the present vert scene in Japan.
How do feel the general public in Japan looks at skateboarding / skaters? Is it a supported “sport” or more of an underground movement?
Well recently Japan has announced that skateboarding might be in one of the competitions for the Olympics in Tokyo 2020. So some people think the skating is a sport but some people take it as an underground scene.
Are there in your opinion specific skaters in Japan we should know about that are skating at a high level but relatively unknown outside of Japan?
I have no idea about street skating. But for vert, in my opinion there is no skater in Japan.
You ride for a variety of companies. How did you get hooked up with Green Issue and what were some of your very first sponsors? And yeah, we’d love to know more about Simple City!
At first I was getting supported with boards from a Japanese company. At the time I had difficulties with getting boards from them. One day, at my dad’s skateboard shop “Simple City” started to handle Green Issue skateboards. And then I got interested in Green Issue. Then I quit riding with the Japanese company and I started to ride Green Issue’s boards. And when I went to California for the first time, The Green Issue’s boss Paul Wisniewski invited me to join Green Issue. I’m honored to be part of the G.I family and I’ve been riding GI boards with my pride. Thank you Paul.
When I was 10, my first sponsor was a Japanese skateboard brand called “Trigger”. The brand is gone now, but at that time I was happy and full of pride to skate.
About Simple City: it’s a skate shop that my dad “Tetsu” owns in Osaka, Japan. It’s a shop that’s appropriate for vert/bowl skateboards and gears. There are lots of people who don’t know about skateboarding history. So my dad tells people who come by the shop the true essence of skateboarding.
Currently you are shredding the West Coast in the USA. What are some of your favorite spots / ramps and why?
I love Tony Hawk’s ramp, Evandro “Mancha” Menezes’s backyard ramp called “B-team ramp” and Bucky Lasek’s bowl. Every time I have good times.
Photo by Dan Sparagna
Will we be seeing more of you in international contests in the near future or are contests not really your thing?
I think contests are really important for skateboarding. I enjoy participating when I’m in them. So if I have an opportunity to go to a contest I would love to compete.
We all have our own goals and ideas for things we want to change and learn. What about you, do you have certain tricks you want to learn still or adapt to grow your trick repetoire?
I would like to learn more tricks and try out a Gay Twist Madonna to a revert….. one day.