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Takako Urata – Koyomi

Takako is precisely the kind of person that the world of skateboarding needs more. Not only because she lives in one of the most amazing country I had the chance to visit, but above all because she shares her passion for skateboarding – and more specifically women's skateboarding – without counting.

First thing, can you shortly introduce yourself? (Name, Age, ...)

Hello! I’m Takako Urata. I’m 38.
I’m Japanese/female/the worst skateboarder in the world/the editor of Koyomi zine/beer lover.

I’ve been impressed by skateboarding since I discovered it.
I’ve always learnt the way of life from skateboarders.
That’s why I love skateboard!

Can you tell us about Koyomi? At a time when almost everybody have their noses stuck on their screens, what motivates you to publish a printed zine?

Koyomi is a skateboard free zine featuring women skaters.
The first issue was published in 2014, the second in 2016 and the third one in 2018.

When I decided to make the zines, I’ve been working for a skate shop.
At that time, I could feel I was regarded as mere staff, who doesn’t know much about skateboarding.
I had the feeling that many customers, who had never talked to me, thought: “Oh, she is a girl. She definitely doesn’t know much about skateboarding.” They said: ”Do you have any guy stuffs here?”
I felt angry every single time I heard those words.

And what’s worse, we have few shoes for women skaters in Japan.
Because the female skateboarders are surely much less than guys, and importing many women’s shoes from overseas wouldn’t lead to much benefit.
I feel that’s a bad thing for women, including me.

But lately, the number of girls has gradually been increasing in this harsh environment.
So I wanted to do something speeding up this time and age of skateboard, motivating and letting everyone know about “LADY SKATERS“.
That’s why I started making the zine.

I think people, who are not interested in female skaters wouldn’t look it up on the internet.
That’s why I didn’t choose to use internet but paper media and decided to make a zine to let everyone know more about us.
If a zine is published, someone might see it arranged in a skate shop by chance even if they aren’t interested in our zine, or I can give it to them when I want.
That’s a good point of making a zine.
I’ve always been thinking so.

Another reason is that I just love paper.

Why Koyomi? Where does the name come from?

“Koyomi” means “calendar” in Japanese.
I spend my days as a skateboarder.
As I skate with friends or by myself, I can always see who is laughing, angry, frustrated, or something else.
So I think all of their days, their style and their skateboarding are making our KOYOMI day by day.
That’s because I decided to use “Koyomi” as the title.

Do you have zines references (of all kinds)? What inspires you?

I love ZENTERPRISE magazine!
If SECRETCUT is present, I think I will check all of them.
And now, GNARBAGE is really intriguing!
I feel it can show us “LIFE STYLE“.
The zine naturally cuts the scene out of our skateboarding life.
I don’t know if the editor tries to get it or not though.

Publishing its own zine is an amazing opportunity to send out a message or an idea.
Is there one (or more) message(s) you try to communicate through Koyomi?

I'd been doing KOYOMI for the girls skaters to improve their status.
Especially when I worked for a skate shop.
I’d thought that’s something I must do as staff of a skate shop.
That was kind of my arrogance though.
But I just wanted to return it to the girl’s skate scene.

I’m not staff now.
The scene is changing drastically as well.
What’s the most important for me now is being “Natural“.
Here, being natural means that I take pictures freely, only which I want to, and turn them into the zines naturally.
I mean I won’t take pictures just for making the zines.

So the next zine, which I’m making, will be totally different from the past! Maybe!

Publishing a magazine/fanzine is a lot of work.
How does the making of an issue work? With whom do you work?

Though I edit them, I’m working with photographers, skaters, and columnists.
A distributor delivers items to the shops with zines.
And someone can get them at skate shops.
We also have the mysterious illustrator who draws the dog named Koyomi-chan.
They help me a lot.

Besides the time needed for its making, the production of a magazine/fanzine isn't costless. How do you manage Koyomi's financial aspect?

I don’t manage it.
There is no advertisement.
I just sold Tee shirts, but it didn’t go well.

Regarding finances, do you accept any kind of advertisers? Or did you impose yourself some kind of safeguards?

I wanted Ads before.
The skate shop run by my friend offered to help me.
Honestly I didn’t do business seriously.

As of now, I don’t want to make money with our zines.
I can make what I want if I bring in money.

In recent years, the interest in print media has continually decreased. Skateboarding zines are increasingly harder and harder to find, even in skateshops (at least in Europe and Switzerland). Is it also the case in Japan? If yes, do you worry about it?

I’m pretty sure zines are decreasing now. But I don’t mind from my position.

“I make what I want to see myself.”
This word is told by Jahi, who is the skater I admire, when I made first Koyomi.
Whatever the world is, if I have something I want to make, I will make it or I will announce it.
So if it decreases or not, I will do what I really want.
All skaters always look for a good place for skating or if they can’t get it, they create it, don’t you?
It’s the same thing as I said.

However, I feel lonely as a fan of zine’s.
As skate magazines, business-oriented, are published more, they lose their individuality.
So zine telling about local is always exciting and fun for me.

This is not only about zine.
You live in the time you can see and buy the same thing across the world.
I think it’s very important what you do and what you choose in it.

At the same time, I have the impression that while less people are buying zines, more and more people are making them. Do you share that view?

Might be so.
But, for the reason I said earlier, I do not mind.

Any plans for the future? How do you see Koyomi's future?

I don’t know!
I just want a film camera now.
If I buy one, I would make something with it.

To conclude, if you had to choose between a session with your mates or finishing the next edition, what would you do?

Of course I will skateboard.
Because that is the beginning of everything.

Last word? Any shout outs?

Thank you Daniel.
This interview became a good trigger to face myself.
Akifumi, Uzi and Tomoko, thank you for helping me with the translation.

Don’t be trapped by the concept that someone decided.