Kazu Kokubo

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Photos: Russell Dalby Words: Evan Rissi

From what I understand, because of the nature of Japanese culture, which is characterized by a hierarchical system, the Japanese language has evolved to be very complicated. The style of speech varies significantly according to social class, gender, age, and so on. Only if you have personal information about your partner in conversation will you be able to choose the appropriate manner of speaking Japanese. How would you say King Snow in Japanese?

Nicolas Muller.

A comparison of Japanese and American culture reveals a wide range of societal differences. Japan is a fairly homogeneous, middleclass society. In contrast, the United States is characterized by increasing ethnic diversity and income inequality. Although different, each country has its share of successes and failures. To you, what’s the biggest difference between North American and Japanese cultures?

We fight better with swords.

Fair enough. What’s the biggest difference between North American and Japanese girls? Surely there must be some wild disparity between their attitudes, styles, and outlooks on life?

Their eyes. Your women have round eyes.

Hentai is a kanji compound of (hen; "change," "weird," or "strange") and (tai; "appearance" or "condition"). It also means “perversion” or "abnormality," especially when used as an adjective. It is the shortened form of the phrase, “hentai seiyoku,” which means, "sexual perversion." Basically, how come all your porno movies have tentacles in them?

I have no idea.

Some people might think that Japanese people exclusively wear kimonos, eat nothing but sushi, work extremely diligently, are pro at all electronics, live in homes with sliding paper doors, and fight as Samurai. These are all stereotypes. What’s the biggest misconception about Japan that people always ask you about?

The snow. It's not that good. You should stay home. 

Do all Japanese riders have style? 

No, they all do not.

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Whistler, BC.

In Japan many things include the words “koukin (anti-bacterial)” and “jyokin (degerms)” on their labels. Most often, they can be found printed on escalator handrails and cleaning products. Japan also has toilets with built-in bidets for better personal hygiene. And, there are even some hotels and department stores that offer disinfectants in each toilet stall for people to wipe the toilet seats with. Do you get upset when you can’t find a good bidet or toilet when you travel?

No. Just go outside.

On average, Japanese citizens watch over three hours of television per day. The average Japanese television set is turned on for eight hours and eight minutes per day. 54.9 per cent of Japanese citizens surveyed watch at least three hours of television per day on average. Generally speaking, Japan is a heavy television- viewing nation. What is your favourite show, and why is it Dragonball Z?

I don't watch TV.

The Olympics originally started as a series of competitions between representatives from cities in ancient Greece. The events were mainly athletic, but also included combat and chariot racing. In this era the Olympics were of fundamental religious importance as the events were held in parallel with rituals to honour Zeus and Pelops, the mythical kings of Olympia. You competed in 2006. If you could sum up the Olympics in five words, what would they be?

The food is really bad.

In 1985, Tony Hawk and Lester Kasai worked on modifying and refining the Japan Air after seeing a highly tweaked-out mute grab. It was properly conceived at the Del Mar Skate Ranch, amazing and inspiring people by how tweaked it was. Do you feel extra pressure to do Japan Airs?


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Cab 540, Whistler, BC.

The origin of dreadlocks is ancient. They can be traced back farther than the Rastafarians of Jamaica and are believed to have been worn in Biblical times. Ancient beliefs were developed in some areas that cutting the hair was unholy. You had dreadlocks for a while, buzzed your head, and now you have longer hair again. What’s the best part about not having dreadlocks?

I have dreadlocks.

It’s well known that a zombie apocalypse could actually occur. Thinking ahead, there is a huge variety of weapons with different usefullnesses if such a catastrophe varies. These weapons range from melee weapons to firearms, explosives, and even include fictional energy weapons. Sometimes you have to improvise and use things that are not usually weapons and find lethal use for them or build weapons from scratch. What weapon would you ultimately choose and why?

My snowboard.

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Whistler, BC.

OK. Do you own any weapons in your home right now?


Let’s say you’re in jail, sentenced to death, and it doesn’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty. Can last meals reveal more about individuals on death row than their taste preference? Some have argued that there is some direct significance embedded in death row last meal decisions. Social circumstance often gives meals meaning, so it is logical that the last meals of those sentenced to die may signify something beyond taste preference. While there are many factors that could contribute to last meal selection, the choice is completely open and self-regarding. You have one last meal before you die. What is it, and why?

Good sushi.

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