Japan


Tom Caron-Delion

Tom Caron-Delion
Photographer and skateboarder

My name is Tom Caron-Delion and I’m a skateboarder and photographer from South London. I think it’s only natural to want to explore other cities around the world using my skateboard as a passport to meet other like minded people. The more I travelled, the more I began to realise that being a skateboarder meant having an extensive family in every corner of the world.

Together in 2016, the Yardsale skate team travelled around Japan to film, skate and promote the brand. I chose to spend a lot of time wandering Osaka and Tokyo on my own, shooting photographs and meeting new people. This was my first trip to Japan and it made enough of an impression that I decided to return for a month in 2017, just to shoot photos, film and skate with people I’d met the previous year. I was welcomed straight back into the scene, and despite them speaking limited English and me speaking no Japanese, we had some unforgettable times. I soon fell into the routine that most of the local skateboarders in Tokyo and Osaka seem to live by. We’d spend most of the day sleeping and then go skateboarding all through the night.

Japanese cities can be crowded and chaotic, but in the early hours of the morning, as people slept and security guards left their posts abandoned, we were free to skate as we pleased. I was staying with my friend George and like most of the skateboarders, he worked at a bar in the city until around 1am. We’d meet every night and head into the centre of Osaka to meet the locals and document each other with a video camera.

We had no problem keeping ourselves fuelled until sunrise. The city is famous for its street food. Whilst I was there I ate a lot of sushi and ramen which are both very common in Japanese cuisine, but my favourite dish was Takoyaki; a famous dish from Osaka. The dish is basically small golf ball sized dumplings, stuffed with octopus and served with a special Takoyaki sauce. A friend of mine, who owned a bar in the centre of Osaka, was a street-food specialist and many evenings were spent enjoying Takoyaki with a beer.

When it comes to shooting photographs abroad, my focus changes depending on location and purpose. The architecture of every destination plays a huge role when I’m deciding where to travel for my next skate trip and it’s incredibly important to the way that I shoot photographs as well. Skateboarding is a heavily documented activity, with a true D.I.Y aesthetic. This is what made me pick up a camera in the first place. Of course projects can change throughout the process of shooting them, and as I always shoot on analogue film cameras (35mm and Medium Format), I usually don’t develop the film until I return to England. I never really know exactly which photographs I am going to have to work with until after I’ve finished shooting. As a result, I usually build narratives through sequencing later on.

Illustration of Japan

When I was in Japan, I didn’t know what I wanted to shoot. I’d just wander the streets for hours with my camera, looking for inspiration among the bustling cities. Then over time some ideas and motifs began to stand out and I develop a certain formula for shooting. If I’m shooting photographs in the streets, I follow my intuition, keeping an eye out for moments and people that look interesting.

I’ll never forget the time we hitchhiked from Osaka to Tokyo, something my friend George and I managed to do with relative ease. One of the drivers who helped us out even bought us dinner! This was just one example of kindness. Throughout my time in Japan, I was given places to sleep and lifts from place to place for little-to-no money. Often this was simply because I was a skateboarder. This internationally shared interest has, in my experience, been able to cross language and cultural barriers.

In the future, I intend to revisit Japan and maybe spend more time travelling the countryside as the majority of my time was spent exploring the metropolitan areas. I also wish to travel to South America and skate cities in Brazil and Peru to meet new people and expand my global connections.

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