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GREATEST / Yuto Horigome

The Olympic gold medalist on inspiring the youth, developing new tricks and skating with Lil Wayne.

Interviewer: Haruka Hirata Intro: Brock Cardiner Photographer: Keith Oshiro Stylist: Star Burleigh Set Designer: M Rasmussen Photo Assistant: Steven Hickey Digitech: Brookes Treidler Stylist Assistant: Cameron Garcia Film Stills: Jason Renaud

At 23 years old, Japanese skater Yuto Horigome is just getting started. Born and raised in Tokyo’s Kōtō ward, Horigome grew up a stone’s throw from the site of the 2020 Olympics where he captured the sport’s first-ever gold medal, edging out Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler and the USA’s Jagger Eaton during the men’s street event. Despite the monumental achievement and all that has come with it—hanging out with Pharrell, chopping it up with Rui Hachimura, restaurant tours with Hiroshi Fujiwara—Horigome remains both humble and grateful for everything that has come his way.

The Olympian first stepped foot on a skateboard at six years old, influenced by his skater father who also showed him his first skate video: Lakai’s Fully Flared. His journey since then has taken him all over the world, from London to Los Angeles, where he currently resides. And now, with a gold medal around his neck, Horigome is using his global influence to tell his story and inspire the next generation. 

In conversation with GREATEST alum Haruka Hirata, co-founder of Big Love Records, Horigome talks motivational music, the development of new tricks and skating with Lil Wayne.


スケーターである父親の影響を受け6歳で初めてスケートボードに乗り、初めて見たLakaiのスケートビデオ「Fully Flared」に夢中に。それ以来、彼の旅路はロンドンから現在彼が住むロサンゼルスまで世界中へと広がっています。そして今、金メダリストとして、彼は世界的な影響力を持って自身の物語を伝え、次世代に刺激を与えています。

GREATESTに以前登場したBig Love Recordsの共同創設者である平田春果と、気持ちの上がる音楽、新しいトリックの開発、そしてリル・ウェインとのスケートについて語っています。

Necklace: AMBUSH; Ring: AMBUSH; Tank Top: Taak; Jacket: Nahmias; Trousers: Nahmias   

First off, congratulations on your win at the X Games. No spectators were allowed at the Olympics, so this was your first competition in a while where you were skating in front of spectators. Did you notice any difference in the type of crowd before the Olympics and afterwards?

Thank you! There were many more spectators than there had been at previous competitions I’ve been in; I saw so many moms, dads and little kids who were interested in skating. It made me realize just how big of an effect the Olympics has had.

まずは、X Games優勝おめでとうございます。オリンピックでは無観客開催でしたので、日本で有観客でスケートをするのは久しぶりだったと思います。オリンピック前とオリンピック後で、観客の変化は感じましたか?


Describe to me how you come up with new tricks.

I try lots of different things and play around with techniques I’ve learned, and new tricks kind of just emerge from that. I try to do tricks no one else has ever done before, so when I’m trying them, I sometimes feel really scared. It feels like I’m battling against myself.



To me, the word “trick” implies sleight of hand or magic, which makes me think of something really artistic and beautiful. Are there other forms of art that give you ideas for new tricks, like music, for example?

I mostly get inspiration from watching skate videos. It’s not often that a new technique emerges from listening to music. But when I skate, I listen to music for motivation, to get into the right mindset.



Necklace: AMBUSH; Ring: AMBUSH; Tank Top: Taak; Jacket: Nahmias; Trousers: Nahmias; Skateboard: April   

What music are you most into at the moment?

Lately, I’ve been listening to Future. I listen to Jack Harlow a lot too.



What songs are guaranteed to get you pumped up? 

That changes often. Recently,SUN CAME OUT” by Gunna, on repeat.


結構その時で変わるんですけど、最近だとガンナの「Sun Came Out」はずっと聴いています。

What are the major differences between skating in Japan and skating in the U.S.?

In Japan, skating in the street is not yet widely accepted; people aren’t as used to it as they are in the U.S. I get the sense that overall that’s how people in Tokyo feel. I live in the States now, so I really feel the difference when I come back to Japan.



What about the attitude of the public in each country?

It depends on the person. In every country, people who hate skating get angry, but people who like it are supportive of us. In the States, there are people like Tony Hawk, so everybody has been exposed to skating and to some degree is used to having skaters around them; it feels like people get angry less often in the U.S. because of this than they do in Japan.



The fact that you can speak English like you can now is brilliant. Do you attribute that to being part of the skate community?

Absolutely. I don’t feel like I can speak it that well, but I’ve lived with Americans and living here you absolutely need English, so I have no choice but to speak English. I’ve had people teach me and, lately, I’ve finally come, little by little, to study it properly.



T-Shirt: Paul Smith; Coat: KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE; Pants: KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE; Ring: Opened Jesus; Skateboard: April   

Are there any stores or restaurants you go to often in LA?

No place in particular, but sometimes I go with friends to flea markets. There’s a Supreme store on Fairfax, which I often go to with close friends […] that sort of thing. One restaurant I like a lot is Jon & Vinny’s. It’s Italian and right in front of the Supreme store. It’s a place frequented by locals.


特に決まってはいないんですが、友達と一緒にフリーマーケットに行きますね。 FairfaxにSupremeのお店があるので、仲の良い友達と行ったり。そこの目の前にある地元の人が通うイタリアンレストランのJon&Vinny’sにもよく行きます。

In your photo essay book Past and Future [Ima made to kore kara], you describe how you’ve been blessed by random encounters. Do you think you have a good sense of intuition?

I’m so grateful to the people who have supported me, and I really do feel like I’m blessed. At the beginning, rather than making choices for myself, I was just focused on skating, and I didn’t understand anything about the skate scene or skate culture in the States. But certain people came along and guided me on the path towards my dreams.



That probably means that if your skating hadn’t been as cool as it is, you might not have gotten so much support, right? 

My language and social skills aren’t that great compared to most people, so people might lose interest in me if I don’t make an effort with skating. In that sense I’ve always felt that I had to show what I could do on my skateboard.



Blazer: Midnight Studios; Top: Junya Watanabe   

This is exactly why I think the skating community is so great: as long as you have a board, you can be accepted into the community even if you can’t speak a word of English.

That’s right. First up it’s about skating, then the English or whatever the language is can come.



What do you hope comes of you winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics? And do you have any ideas on how to achieve that?

If more people started skating, that would already make me happy. I’m committed to street skating, so I would like to bring more awareness to that side of skating in Japan. The fastest way to do that is to put footage out there of me skating through the streets on social media and YouTube. If people see that, then they’ll gradually come to understand what it’s all about. 

I’d also like to do more events—activities that let me communicate more about skating in person. Skating has taught me so much and it isn’t just about skills or techniques; it’s something very human. It frees you and people should skate however they like, so I want to tell people about it in a way that doesn’t push it onto them.




Are there other areas you feel like you’ve been developing as a skater? For instance, how has your sense of style changed over the years?

At first, I didn’t pay any attention to fashion; my focus was just on skating because that’s what I loved doing. But now that I live in the States, I’ve learned a lot about fashion and it’s made me realize that the skaters I like all wear cool clothes, so I’m paying more attention to what I wear. Now when I skate, especially when we’re filming, I’m really conscious of everything I’m wearing.



T-shirt: Paul Smith; Coat: KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE; Pants: KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE; Ring: Opened Jesus; Sneakers: Comme des Garçons x Air Force 1 Mid 'Triple White'   

You’ve connected with Hiroshi-san [Hiroshi Fujiwara] and other leading figures from different fields, like Nigo-san and Lil Wayne. What things do you talk about when you’re with them and how do they inspire you?

Hiroshi-san used to skate when he was younger so we sometimes talk about that. We don’t really talk about work though, it’s more like he tells me about what’s going on in Japan: good food and restaurants and things like that. Sometimes he even takes me to his favorite restaurants. When I met Lil Wayne, we mostly talked about skating. I’ve liked his music for a long time so we had a lot of fun skating together.



Are there any professional athletes outside of skating that have inspired you?

People like Shohei Ohtani, Rui Hachimura and Ayumu Hirano. I’m pretty good friends with Ayumu actually. We talk often and it feels like we're both battling it out on the frontline together—we fire each other up. Ohtani-san and Rui-san are working their hardest in major league sports, so I’m always inspired by them. 



What about skaters?

I’ve always admired Shane O’Neill. Also Paul Rodriguez, Eric Koston, Mike Carroll…



Blazer: Midnight Studios; T-shirt: Paul Smith; Pants: Midnight Studios; Necklace: AMBUSH; Rings: Opened Jesus; Sneakers: Comme des Garçons x Air Force 1 Mid 'Triple White'   

For this editorial, you’re wearing a few avant-garde Japanese fashion brands, like Junya Watanabe, AMBUSH and Comme des Garçons. Describe your relationship with this kind of style.

I don’t wear clothes like this normally, but I got to see different versions of myself by trying on all these brands. That was really cool.

 今回のエディトリアルでは、Junya Watanabe、AMBUSH、コムデギャルソンなどの前衛的な日本のファッションブランドを着用されていますね。普段はこういうスタイルはされますか?


You’re now sponsored by Nike and I imagine you’ll have your own signature shoe soon, right? Any idea what it will look like?

We haven’t settled on a concept yet but since I have an opportunity to create my own shoe, I want it to be something to remember. Therefore, I want to bring in local connections to make it something that represents what I like and what’s important to me.



Finally, what’s next for you? What do you hope to accomplish in the coming years?

I would like to win another gold medal at the upcoming Paris Olympics. I’m literally the only person in the world who could win two consecutive skating gold medals. Besides that, I’d like to make tons of street-skating video parts prior to the Olympics.



Do you have any messages?

Skateboarding is not only about skills and techniques, but it has helped me develop as a person. I can’t thank it enough.