PARKOUR IN TOKYO


In September, I had the privilege to go on an expedition cruise through the Southern Japanese islands for Conde Nast Traveller magazine. Although Tokyo was not one of the destinations, I just had to make a stop there to meet with and photograph local parkour artists. I was surprised to discover that Tokyo PK community is very small - no more than one hundred people. Japanese are known to be a very traditional and conservative nation. One of the most important objectives in their life, it seems, is to be remarkably polite and not to cause disturbance or discomfort to others.  Parkour most definitely does not fit into a non-disturbance category. Jun Suto, one of the PK artist I was about to meet, has warned me that I will only have a few minutes to shoot before police or security would ask us to leave. Another unexpected obstacle was heavy and continuous rainfall during my entire five days stay in Tokyo. I arrived during a typhoon season! Even if I risked drenching my expensive cameras and lenses, could the guys practice on a wet and slippery surface? There was only one spot where training was possible - along Sumida river and under a wide freeway that runs through Tokyo. 
 


On the first day, I met with Zen Shimada http://zenkour.com/  -  an amazing parkour athlete and performer. He came with two of his friends Kenichi Sato and Kensuke Nomura. We moved under the freeway along the river and climbed under bridges until we got to a busy Shibuya Square. Zen lived only a few blocks away. We finished the day by climbing to the rooftop of the highrise where he lived. Since I can't climb a vertical wall twice my height, the guys had to drag me up and lower me down at one point. I try not to go anywhere with PK athletes where I can't climb myself, but the promised view of Tokyo skyline was too much to miss. 
  

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