Japan: Operation Kukunochi Mandible

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In May of 2014, we were part of operation, “Kukunochi Mandible.”  I received a call late Thursday night from Kukunochi HQ operator and controller, Mr. Uruma that we would be meeting at his Headquarters the next day at promptly 12 pm.  I got on the train about 40 miles to the West and started my journey into the city.  I arrived to muggy Yokohama weather with a lingering black cloud hanging low overhead.  I pushed from the station all the way to Kannai racing my way through the narrow Japanese streets where I arrived at my destination.  I walked up to the 3rd story of a small Japanese style office building painted white.  I knew I was in the right place as I stared down and saw oversized images of Japan Polar rider, Shin Sanbongi frontside 5-0’ing a crusty roadside embankment, 5-Boro Japan rider Pori 50-50’ing a demented looking rail, and Shogo Tanaka  nose blunting into steep bank at the entrance of Yokohama’s China-town.

I grabbed the handle of the door, gently turned it in a clockwise direction and pressed the door open to only be greeted by Mr. Uruma himself wearing his cut off corduroy pants, a worn pair of Nike SB Blazers, and a complimentary corduroy Iron Claw Skates cap.  As I peered to the left, a wall full of Magenta, Polar, 5-Boro, Iron Claw, and Coda Boards.  To the right, a small fridge stocked with Orange Fanta, Coca-Cola, and Ginger Ale.  I’m offered a beverage, I kindly oblige.  We hang around for awhile as Mr. Uruma gets his final emails sent and bags packed before heading to the car rental company to pick up our chariot.  We cruise down the alley outside of the office and notice the cloud is getting darker and more ominous.  I begin having flashbacks to my Midwest upbringing where we were often confronted with harsh summer storms, purplish-orange skies, and terrifying funnel clouds.  We reach the car rental company and quickly are on our way to Narita Airport to pick up “Tengu” film maker, Colin Read.  As we begin to make our departure across Tsubasa Bridge in Yokohama, the rain starts to fall violently.  We continue on our 2 hour journey to Narita airport in a valiant effort to retrieve our friend.

We arrive at the airport and as we enter, are stopped by the police and airport security.  “Where are you headed?” They ask.  We respond,” Just picking up a friend.”  They then ask to search the car.  We politely comply with their requests.  They search the vehicle in and out and find nothing but the trash from our lunch stop at Mos Burger.  They push us through and we get to the lot.  We run inside, emotions running high in anticipation of seeing our friend Colin after making the 14 hour flight from New York City.  As we stand near the exit, we start to notice a sea of under slept travelers wearing clues to their origins such as collegiate sweatshirts and hats.  We assume Colin can’t be too far behind, and then….He appears!  Holding a skateboard, a backpack full of Tengu DVDs and a rolling suit case.  Colin has officially arrived in Japan.

We head back another 2 hours to Yokohama and decide we will go to visit our friend in Yokosuka that has just opened up a new skate shop.  We arrived to Yokosuka with some very wet weather, but were greeted by the big heart and smile of our guy, Toshi Honda.  His new shop ‘OURS’ was located just down the street from the infamous Umikaze Kooen.   If you ever saw a Japan I-path tour video from the early 2000’s then you’ve seen the likes of Kenny Reed or Matt Field working the mellow transitions of a blue Quarter pipe at the Northwest end of the park.  We spent some time at the shop, catching up, eating snacks and drinking beer.  After a long day, we headed back to Yokohama where we finished the day with a sushi dinner with myself, Mr. Uruma, Colin, Futoshi Tokuyama (Japan Magenta Rider) and Pori.  Operation Kukunochi Mandible was now part of the history books.  Mission Accomplished.


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