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A Different Perspective Gou Miyagi

A little over a year ago we
got a video called “Overground Broadcasting” here at the office. It hailed from Japan, was really long and filled with all kinds of random stuff, but had some cool stuff in the mix, too. After close to an hour we had just about reached shut-off mode, when all of a sudden one of the most unique parts I’ve ever seen started playing. Here was a guy equal parts Ricky Oyola, Pat Duffy and Neil Blender, but skating like nobody else I’d ever seen. I was blown away, as almost everybody to have seen it has been. His name is Gou Miyagi and he lives in Japan and I had to know more asap. A few emails were sent out and soon enough he was underway with an interview for SLAP. At long last, here is some insight from a truly original skater plus some new photos of him in action, and his outstanding video part from Overground Broadcasting.
Pole jam one foot, photo: Hirano
Interview by Mark Whiteley
Translated by Taro Hirano and Dominick Yenches
Overgound Broadcasting video
Portrait: Shinsaku

Give some personal info- who you are, where you come from, how old you are, how long you’ve been skating…

Gou "DORABON" Miyagi, from Okinawa, Japan. 32 years old. I've been skating for 20 years.

What first attracted you to skateboarding?

A comic book I read when I was in elementary school. The main character was a skater kid also in elementary school. The police were after him, and he was doing 30 stair handrails to get away from them! I was like "What the fuck!?” and I felt the biggest jolt running through my body. I knew I had to skate right then.

Did you try to do all the tricks that most people try when you were learning or did you approach skateboarding differently from the start?

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so there weren't any skaters around. I begged my parents to get me this $30 cheapo deck, and I didn't even know there were tricks back then because there was so little information. I was just bombing hills all the time. I'd been skating for more than three years by the time I found out there were tricks you could do.

Boardslide lipslide handplant, photo: Hirano

Most of your tricks are “weird” but when you do something like the feeble to back smith around the curved ledge, it shows you can skate really well aside from the weird tricks. Why do you choose not to do conventional tricks more often?

I've always felt I don't fit in anywhere and I never knew where my place was in society. I've seriously thought that maybe I'm an alien from outer space. I guess my emotions and my process of thought is different from other people- when I try to be myself, people get freaked out. I was never good at communicating my feelings, and I got used to playing in my inner-world. When I started skating, it wasn't much more than a toy for me. But as I started reading the mags and seeing the videos, I got a glimpse of the culture. I didn't understand the language, but I saw something completely different in the photos, videos, music and the graphics. I felt like these guys were also outsiders, but they're still living strong, being true to themselves and that they were trying to build something with their own hands. And I thought maybe I could really live in that world. So I skate to satisfy my soul and to live true by it. There is no use in comparing yourself to what is normal and conventional. The only way to satisfy your soul is to think, feel, and express what’s true to you.

Who are some skaters who inspire you?

Gonz, Mike Vallely, Simon Woodstock, Pat Duffy, Sean Sheffey, Jeremy Klein, Josh Beagle, Dan Drehobl, Jason Adams, Ed Templeton, Jamie Thomas, Yoshi Obayashi, Danny Gonzalez and many more. I like skaters that have a sense of humor or are out of their minds.

5050 footplant bluntslide fs rock, sequence: Haltac

Does it take you a long time to do a trick for the most part?

It takes a long time when we are filming because I'm really trying to do something that has never been done before. What's good about photos and videos are that you can take the time to produce an image that can be something much more than what one can see by just skating. You need to have a good relationship built on mutual respect for each other's work with filmers and photographers to make something worthwhile. I was able to build that kind of foundation with Takahiro Morita (FESN) and Takuya Nakajima during the filming of "Overground Broadcasting". It took me forever to land tricks, but they kept the film rolling. I really feel grateful towards them.


Benihana 5050, photo: Nakamura

Do you think of something you want to do and then find a spot where it will work or do you find a spot and then think of something that will work there?

Most of the time the spots come first. I'm not really going out to look for spots, but I travel a lot because I like looking at different scenery and buildings. Some spots or objects leave an impression in my mind, and later on I get the idea for a trick to do there. The vision I have for the trick gets refined in my mind over time, and I have a better picture of what I want to do with the spot. And then after a while, I'll give it a try. I love and enjoy the whole process- finding the spot, getting the inspiration for a trick, refining that image in your head, and then actually trying it at the spot.


What was that goo that you put on the rail in your video part? Why do you need to put anything on a metal bar to make it grind?

There is a sensation you can only get out of grinding rounded rails, especially when you're making a curve, and the reason I put a lot of wax on is to enjoy that special feeling. I'm pretty sure you can't get it anywhere except Japan for now, but I have my signature "Go Miyagi" wax (designated for rounded rails) out from ROBOT project, so check it out if you come by!

I’ve heard you use carpet instead of grip tape- is that true?

It's actually more like pieces of cloth, the Japanese "tenugui" which is something kind of between a handkerchief and a towel. I love the patterns that are on tenuguis. It's just something I do to have fun with my board. It takes a while to get it set up, but it looks good, and it's fun just riding it! I actually might try out that carpet idea next…


5050 pole spin, sequence: Nakamura
Caveman bluntslide beanplant, sequence: Iseki

Do you have new footage anywhere people can see since that video Overground part?

I'm filming little by little, at my own pace. I’m not trying to rush things because something good can only come from deep down in your soul. I honestly believe that's the only way for me to give a good influence to people. So don't be anticipating, I'll be back just when you forgot.

Any thanks?

I've been reading SLAP for a long time now, and I've always felt there is something special that you can't see in other mags. So I'm really proud and stoked that I get to appear in it now. Thanks! Takahiro Morita, Takuya Nakajima, Ato Nakagawara, Yukihisa Nakamura, Nobuo Iseki, Haltac, Jin Takayama, Masanori Uruma, Hiroshi Nishibayashi, Saho Izawa, B.P.trading, I-path. Akira Fujimoto, Chopper Nakamura, Manabu Abe, Fos, Hidehiko Fujiwara, Kojima-san from Fabric, Hisashi Nakamura, the 5nuts crew, Shinpei Ueno, Yuichi Kameoka, Suguru Inoue, Hatachan, Morimoto-san from B-7, Yuzuru Uramoto, Matt Field, Barker Barrett, Ken Nagahara, Jorji Ikei, Masaru Uehara, Soutaro Ohama, Takeshi Sano, Tatsuya Kinjyou, Kastuhiro Nagamine, Yohei Yamashiro, Shinsaku Arakawa, Shigeta Iha, Tetsuharu Sai, Lakkey, Yuji Kudaka, Souichiro Shimoji, Takara-san from Apollo, Arakaki-shachou from Dank, every skater in Okinawa, everyone reading this article, my family, Taro, and Mark.

Handplant wallride nose tap, photo: Iseki