Four years ago we were introduced to Timescan, an independent video out of Japan made by filmmaker Rob Taro. We praised it for its ability to make the fickle homie video enjoyable, and since then we’ve been waiting for the crew’s next epic.
It’s here, and with four years of filming and a laundry list (54!) of both known and unknown skaters, you don’t want to miss it. Timescan 2, not unlike the precursor, is unique, both in the spots and Japanese skate stylings.
Since so much time has passed since the last video, we decided to bother our pal (and creator) Rob again and pick his brain about what it takes to juggle such an immense cast of skaters, why the hiatus was so long, what it’s like seeking out spots in Japan, and more.
Check out the interview, and when you’re done cozy up with a Gatorade (we know you’re still hungover) and join us in appreciating a full-length done so beautifully.
How did skateboardings Olympic debut in Tokyo change the public perception of skateboarding in Japan?
The Olympics changed skateboarding forever. That’s what I think. Skateboarding was once a place to escape from all the pressures of society, but here we are seeing moms and dads force their five year old kids to skate down handrails and learn tricks based on contest scores. On top of all of this, street skateboarding is only getting stricter. What is skateboarding without freedom? At one point I felt like I had no place I belonged to anymore.
The industry, or at least how I see it in Japan these days, seems to be based on numbers more than what the person has actually done for the community. Your success depends on contest scores or how many followers you have on your social media. That goes with everything these days. How can you get something interesting out of that?
“It can actually be a huge challenge to get Japanese people to appreciate their own culture.”
We are seeing a lot more travel between Japan and the US, with both pros visiting Japan and young Japanese skaters visiting the US. Have you noticed any effect on Japanese skaters’ style, like is there an American influence more now?
Of course. Skateboarding from the states and Europe has always had a huge impact in Japan. That goes for everything there. Even if a brand never put out a skate video they could simply spell out the words “New York City” on their clothing and instantly people are hooked to it. For those who have been to Japan, it’s extremely rare to see a Japanese flag there. A lot of girls would talk to you just because you’re from outside of the country. It can actually be a huge challenge to get Japanese people to appreciate their own culture.
Of course, there are still crews out there keeping ‘Japanese skateboarding’ alive. Most of them are just kept very underground. Some of my favorites are ManWho and Toriotoko. I’ve also got a part I’m working on with Yoji Mizusawa who also made really cool videos with Color Communications.
One of our favorite skaters, Nobu, seems to be back and better than ever. Have you figured him out yet, or is he still a mystery character?
Nobu would be stoked to hear that you guys feel that way. He’s one of my close friends out there, but of course there are many mysteries about him. That’s what makes him interesting! What I really like about him is that he puts skateboarding over everything. Not long ago, he quit his job and moved near a new skatepark just to open up a very tiny skate shop in his apartment. It’s called Trust Skate Shop. It’s in Osaka right next to Nagai Skate Park.
“I never planned on filming for four years straight.
It just happened, and I’m glad it did.”
The length of the video nearly doubled since the first Timescan, what changed for you since filming and releasing number 1?
The whole world changed! A lot has happened within the four years spent filming this, and I never planned on filming for four years straight. It just happened, and I’m glad it did. Through my first full length, I was able to create a platform for skateboarders of all different ages and styles, sponsored or not, that allowed them to get seen all over Japan and the world. It is very hard for skaters in Japan to get out there because we are so isolated from the world. There’s also the language barrier.
Thanks to magazines like you guys Timescan got more skaters wanting to get involved with my projects, and I found myself around a lot of people who had the same mindset for skateboarding as myself. We all bonded very naturally. Also, I’m not just a filmmaker. I go out skating with everyone. Now that I have more experience living in Japan compared to my first full length, I have indulged myself more into Japanese culture.
There are so many natural transition spots featured in this video. How many of these spots do you think were never skated before you guys?
I wouldn’t say we are the first ones to skate it, but maybe the first ones to capture it the way that we did. I like to capture the overall vibe of the day or the trip. Not just the tricks.
In the video here’s an old school pool that looks like it was dug up and plopped next to a random patch of farmland, what’s the story with that?
It was built by my Hokkaido friends. They find land and build the gnarliest, tightest bowls, and they are SKETCH. You can get really hurt in there but these guys don’t give a fuck. One of my closest friends, Takuya Isumi aka EZ, is from out there. Dude is a legend. You know the legendary Mikasa? Also known as ‘the lost bowl’ as Jake Phelps called it. EZ and his crew would camp there overnight just to repair the whole thing.
He’s done a lot for me and my projects, and has been killing it lately. He’s one of the few dudes out there putting skateboarding over everything else. He literally wouldn’t mind sleeping in a curry shop, surviving in a car throughout mid winter, or in an abandoned mansion just to keep up with skateboarding! Whenever I’m going through a hard time, I always remind myself that is EZ putting himself in difficult situations and he always makes it out like nothing happened.
“Skateboarding itself is not easy, but balancing that with adulthood is what seems to hurt him.”
What’s it like filming with Gou Miyagi? Does he already have these wild spots or are you guys searching together?
We never went searching for spots. He already had his spots he would go to. Most of his tricks were all filmed in the same park that he often skates at. The park has all these weird rails and even the park people don’t know what they were made for. These rails eventually turned into Gou’s spots.
Gou told me the most fun aspect of skateboarding to him is the imagining part. The most difficult part is making his incredible ideas work. We were both experimenting as we were filming. He is so tough and is one of the strictest people I have ever met. Even if it takes him hours to land something before his long night shifts, he would still want to refilm it over and over again.
The craziest part is everytime we would refilm something, he levels up. It’s incredible to see the progress in person. There hasn’t been much footage of him over the years because he didn’t have anyone around him that had the patience to work with him. That’s why for the longest time he felt it was better for him to just let his phone do the filming.
Gou seems like a man of mystery… What else can you tell us about him?
Gou isn’t the type of skater to just tag along with a crew and go filming. He needs someone he can trust. Building that trust took a very long time. I sensed that he had a lot going on in his past and present. He’s 45 years old. He’s trying to recover from a knee injury. He’s working night shifts. He’s got a family. Skateboarding itself is not easy, but balancing that with adulthood is what seems to hurt him.
The reason I’ve been in Japan all these years has a lot to do with the impact Gou has left in the world of skateboarding. Since he blessed me with the opportunity to connect with him, I wanted to do everything I possibly could to make him happy. Gou’s dream was to make a video part that is all circle rails. He wanted to make a video part that he can look back on and be glad he did it. Although it was a huge mission, I think it’s safe to say that it was a success.
What are your filmmaking influences? Do you have any films you think are must-watches for people who are into experimental filmmaking?
I like to take inspiration from things outside of skateboarding. I always loved Michel Gondry’s music videos. Before I left for Japan nine years ago, my friend gave me a documentary DVD on Michel Gondry and it’s incredible. How he is able to incorporate childhood memories and traumas into his work to create something epic with my favorite musical artists. It’s just so cool.
“There is no room for content to breathe anymore.”
Are full-length videos alive and well in your opinion? Or is it a dying model?
I don’t know about dying, but it’s for sure not alive and well. I feel the same way about skate videos in general. It’s pretty obvious why less people are filming skateboarding, because in most cases, it’s not fucking worth it.
Imagine putting hours, days, and years of work into a single project, being on call to work with everyone’s schedule, and funding everything out of your pocket just to drop the video online for free and it to get buried under more content the next day like nothing happened. There is no room for content to breathe anymore.
There were many times during the process of filming this movie where I questioned myself and wondered why the hell am I putting myself through this. It can be very hard to motivate yourself in a world like this. That goes for anything, not just skateboarding.
Well you’ve done a killer job at keeping the tradition alive, what’s the secret?
I believe there are three key things that keep full-length videos alive.
Homies: I was very lucky to have very talented friends around me who were motivated to do something together. All 54 skateboarders believed in me and I believed in all of them. The guys who had full parts, Ryo Nobuchika, Shintaro Hongo, Masaki Hongo, Ryo Sejiri, Kazuaki Tamaki and Gou Miyagi; and everyone else in my video are ALL so underrated. My main motive behind my projects is to get all of these guys more recognition all over Japan and out to the world. They all really fucking deserve it.
Shops: Skate shops from all over Japan and some overseas were very supportive of my projects. In 2023, without any help from a distributor, 80+ skate shops from all over Japan ordered DVD’s from me. Also, The Palomino Club in London, and Josh Stewart at Theories of Atlantis were both cool enough to distribute DVD’s for me. This is proof that DVDs are still well and alive in Japan and some places in the world. Thanks to the skate shops and those supporting them for keeping the culture alive!
Premieres: All the skate shops I’m connected with out there are skater run and have such a wonderful scene. When I had video premieres at these local skate shops, you can really feel the love in each community. Some shops could be in the middle of the countryside. Maybe ten people show up but they are like family. It could be raining and still there would be that one guy barbecuing outside while others are chatting and some even have their kids on their shoulders all watching my movie with smiles on their faces. I also did two big screenings in Kobe and Tokyo. Then in New York at the Greenpoint Palace and NJ Skate Shop. Thanks JD and Steven at NJ for making this happen! Lastly, Nikola gave me the very special honor to have Timescan 2 as the curtains to the Vladimir Film Festival in Croatia.
All of these precious moments will have a safe place deep in my heart. These are all moments that remind me how glad I am to have worked on my projects. I am so thankful for my friends. Blessed to have been involved with the world of skateboarding.
Check out the Timescan Store here!