Turning Japanese

Tony Hawk on Japanese TV in 1984

Just because Tony Hawk has financial stake in ShredorDie.com doesn’t mean he has turn over every embarrassing bit of memorabilia, but it looks like he has to some extent.

I was sent to Japan to be on a show called “Incredible Kids” (or something like that) when I was 14. They asked me to demonstrate tricks, but to change some of the names to be “Japanese friendly.” I was just excited to be overseas on my own, so I went along with it.

Tony says he was 14 at the time but he looks more like a 12 year old Macaulay Culkin in some of these shots. It’s pretty entertaining stuff. Part of the show has Tony attempting a few launch ramp gap jumps over an increasingly large number of audience members. No, the distance doesn’t get any greater, they just stuff more people in between. It’s pretty crazy how young he looks. It’s even crazier that these people think helmets will help them if Tony comes up short. Tony even grabs for the jumps. Nowadays he’d ollie it or 360 air over it. Check out the takeoff ramp. It looks like one of those old Firestone metal frame and plexiglass covered ramps laying back and propped up a little. Two part video after the jump. Please excuse the lame post title, but you should listen to the Vapors anyway.

Tony Hawk on Japanese TV – 1984

Heck, pretty much all of the TV’s in 1984 were already Japanese. I guess you can watch him on Korean or Chinese TV’s now.

Santa Cruz had a pro model for a Japanese skater in the late 80’s, where was that kid when they filmed this? Maybe this segment is what stoked him.

Part one:

Part two:

The Vapors

Hey why not? The Vapors were a great band with two very solid albums. They used to share the Jam’s manager, (Paul Weller’s dad) until the Jam got jealous and made him quit.

The Vapors – Turning Japanese

The Vapors – Waiting for the weekend.

Bet you never saw this video. The horn section at the end sounds almost exactly like the Daily Show theme song. I think there is a single version of this song that has more emphasis on that horn part.

An annoying True Spin segment on The Vapors hit Turning Japanese


  1. classic stuff right there. They don’t have a word for “flat” in Japanese or what? That ramp could use some.

    I want all those Hawk decks for my collection!

  2. The day the “moon salt” was invented was the last time Mike McGill talked to Tony Hawk.

    I’m working on my moving leafs, but monkey back drops are so rad. I wish I could do that one.

  3. Mitsuya Toyoda was the guy’s name who rode for Santa Cruz.

  4. Dang, so f-ing rad even to today’s standards (for a 14yr old anyway). With no flat bottom even.

    I have a new Toyoda deck. Not worth much though.

  5. No one has ever ridden a no-flat half better than his full run in this vid. He pulls back to back Moon Salts for crissakes! Hawk running cones! Amazing find.

  6. You can always count on racism when you want to make a novelty hit.

  7. Hah, the japanese guys shoes look like eras, i love skating in those.

  8. Ahh, that’s not racism, nor written to be a novelty hit. You underestimate them MC.

  9. I have a copy of the 45. I suppose they don’t say there’s anything wrong with being obsessed with photographs, they just suggest it’s characteristic of a particular nationality.

    I’m always underestimating caucasians.

  10. so let me get this straight,the shove-it kickturny thing was supposed to be called an 84 spinner and a tuckknee-armturn was a monkeyneck?

  11. PIG CITY on January 18, 2008 - Reply

    Turning Japanese the best known hit about wanking

  12. houseofneil on January 18, 2008 - Reply

    “lock and loll”

    excellent stuff. Hawk has a pretty good sense of humor there, and keeps a totally straight face as he breaks out the stupid names. Totally consistent too.

  13. danimal on January 18, 2008 - Reply

    at one point the Japanese reporter says Tony moves like a ballerina. ha ha!

  14. Listen to the lyrics MC, the guy is obsessed with photos of the girl, he’s becoming very uptight. It’s more about Japanese society than Japanese as a race. It would be akin to writing a song about turning German, this is the time on Sprockets when we dance….

    PC, they claim it ain’t about wanking, even to this day. Surely after songs like the Divynils “I touch myself” they could cop to the reality if it was.

    What am I, a 14 year old girl? This is stupid of me to get bent out of shape about the Vapors, but I really, really like their music and I am a geek.

  15. obviously the japanese have no word for right side volume, judging by those videos–it aint my headphones!

  16. Must be your computer. I got both channels in my headphones.

  17. enemy combatant on January 18, 2008 - Reply

    Sounds like New wave to me. I thought you guys were punk rockers!!!

  18. I like both kinds of good music, Punk Rock and New Wave!

    Some people called them part of the Mod revival scene.

  19. “There’s no such thing as new wave.” “It’s the product of lame kinds of imagination” -Kickboy Face

    I always thought that speech was hilarious….

  20. john aguilar on January 18, 2008 - Reply

    haha! the tricks sound like a sushi menu
    i like a lock and loll with moon salt and saturday top special pleeess!!

  21. The Vapors were from my home town. They played the pub 1/4 mile from my house on the same night they had their one appearence on Top of the Pops (the only music show that mattered in the UK in the ’70s). Never got into the albums but the B-side of Turning Japanese (Here comes the Judge) pops into my head even now, and I haven’t heard it for 20+ years. The guitarist used to hang around with Bruce Foxton (Jam basist) in Guildford pubs after the Jam split and once attacked my cousin with a broken bottle. Do I win some sort of prize?

  22. You win a fabulous noprize!

    The guitarist once attacked your cousin with a broken bottle? Yeah right. Next you are going to tell me that Adam Ant pulled a gun on someone in a pub. Oh wait

  23. Actually, after refreshing my memory on wikipedia, it was the basist (what do you know, two basists hanging out together). The pub was the Kings Head (back when it was cool) and my cousin was almost certainly asking for it.

  24. flipper on March 8, 2013 - Reply

    Anyone know where to find this video? Looks like they’ve removed it.

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