Hello, Ayumu

Snowboarding and skateboarding.
Well on his way to becoming a master of both sports, this stoic athlete,
only 21 years old, showed us a softer,
more relaxed side of his personality,
at the skatepark in his hometown of Murakami, Niigata.

  • Oxford Long Sleeve Shirt (3XL)
  • Miracle Air 3D Jeans

With his button-down Oxford, Ayumu wears the Miracle Air 3D Jeans he helped UNIQLO develop. Having a lighter-than-air weave and a 3D structure, these jeans provide an unbelievable range of motion.

Q1. What kinds of things make skateboarding and snowboarding different?

They seem related, but when you’re actually doing them, you realize they’re such different sports it’s almost like, “Do they have anything in common?” With snowboarding, your feet are in the bindings, so you have to use your body to the fullest. In skateboarding, your feet leave the board and you move from the middle of your lower body. That means a lot of freedom and all kinds of styles, so the same move is going to look different depending on who’s doing it.

Q2. What goes through your mind before or during a competition?

Once I’m there, I don’t think at all. Music helps. The event is where all the work I’ve done beforehand shows itself. I’d almost say that the goal of practicing regularly is to keep yourself from overthinking things.

Q3. How do you handle intense pressure?

That’s what regular practice and routines are all about. If you happen to score really high, I think it’s important not to start pushing yourself harder than ever, or to put too much pressure on yourself.

Q4. In the five years since the Sochi Olympics, has anything about your mentality changed?

Up until Sochi, I didn’t think at all. I was just out there riding, being young. But as soon as I walked away with the silver medal, as disappointing as that was, I started thinking seriously about what it was I wanted, my personal life included. My attitude has changed entirely.

Q5. What does the Olympics mean to you?

They’re higher profile than any other competitions, and a chance to share snowboarding and skateboarding with the general public. On top of my own standards, there’s the pressure of representing an entire country, but that has its own unique rewards. There’s a lot more to the Olympics than taking home a medal.

  • Oxford Long Sleeve Shirt (3XL)
  • Miracle Air 3D Jeans
Murakami City Skate Park
Opened in Murakami, Niigata in April 2019, this is the largest indoor skateboarding facility in Japan, with a total floor space of 2,669m2. Complete with sections for park and street, the two Olympic disciplines, the complex also has areas for bouldering, slacklining, weight training and running.

Q6. What’s the most important aspect of your practice regimen?

Since I can’t just skate for five or six hours in a row like I did as a kid, I need to practice smart and stay safe and focus on what I gotta do, which includes when I’m not practicing.

Q7. How do you like living in Los Angeles?

The weather is warm, and the people are friendly. It’s a good environment for me. If you go to the skate park, there are people in their forties skating like they mean it. It feels like people can be themselves.

Q8. What strikes you about your hometown of Murakami, when you come back to visit?

There’s kids here who go to the skate park every day to practice. It makes me happy to come back and see their hard work paying off. There’s scenery in Murakami like nowhere else. It brings me back to basics.

Q9. What’s your strongest memory of your family?

Probably my parents driving seven or eight hours to take me to the mountains when I was in elementary school, or how my family all believed in me, and in my dreams. That’s still the case today. Whenever I’m feeling weak, I remind myself of that.

Q10. Other than sports, what else are you good at, or not so good at?

I’ll have to think about that...Maybe sleeping? Haha, I can sleep for maybe 10 hours straight. I’m bad at memorizing things, though.

  • Oxford Striped Long Sleeve Shirt (3XL)
  • EZY Wide Fit Cargo Jogger Pants (3XL)
Nihonkai Skate Park (CLOSED)
This skate park was built about 16 years ago by a local organization with the help of Ayumu Hirano’s father Hidenori. It was housed inside an old city gymnasium at the Senami Hot Springs in Murakami, which at the time had no place for skateboarders to practice. As a child, Ayumu came here with his family every day, spending long hours skating the park, which in 2013 became home to one of the largest vert ramps in Japan, at 4.7 meters tall. The park was closed in 2019, when the new Murakami City Skate Park was built nearby

Q11. In your day-to-day life, when are you the most relaxed?

Every night, the hour before I sleep. I don't do anything special. Just stretch a bit or watch some skate videos, taking it easy.

Q12. What to you do when you’re bored?

Haha, well, if I'm bored, I usually end up going skating.

Q13. As far as fashion is concerned, what sort of styles are you into?

I’ve always worn everything loose and dress basically the same when I’m practicing and when I’m not. I also like looking around vintage stores for 1990s styles.

Q14. Have any books or movies left a strong impression on you?

The movie Rocky. I guess my dad recommended it to me. Sometimes I watch the DVD to give myself a boost.

Q15. How much time do you spend on the internet?

A little bit each morning. I try not to look at it too much, though. If you’re always looking at your smartphone, it can be hard to stop.

Q16. Do you dislike being recognized in public?

Yeah, sometimes. I don’t like people watching me when I’m trying to eat.

Q17. What’s your happiest recent moment?

After a long struggle, which involved several weeks of practicing, I finally learned this new move, adding to my arsenal. That feeling has been with me for the past few weeks now. The sense of progress is still pushing me forward.

Q18. Do you ever hold back, or find it difficult to express yourself?

I mean, I’m not the kind of person who speaks up right away. Obviously, there are times when something needs to be said, but overall, I think it’s important to take a step back and think things over, rather than always giving your opinion on the spot.

Q19. Do you have a favorite item from UNIQLO?

Lately there’s been all kinds of cool stuff coming out. Being able to wear clothes that have colors and a fit and style I like, even when I’m not out practicing, keeps me in high spirits.

Q20. What do you see yourself doing twenty years from now?

Yeah, I wonder...it’s hard to imagine, but I think I’d want to do something that plays off of my experience—like hosting an event, or creating a school or a brand, or a place where kids can focus on their goals. I’m hoping I can build on the foundation that I’ve made over the years.

  • Extra Fine Cotton Broadcloth Striped Long Sleeve Shirt (XXL)
  • EZY Wide Fit Parachute Jogger Pants (3XL)
Ayumu Hirano
Born in 1998 in Niigata Prefecture, he started skateboarding and snowboarding at age four, inspired by his older brother. In 2011 and 2012, he won the Junior Jam at the Burton US Open two years in a row, and in the 2013 Winter X Games, at age 14, he became the youngest to receive a silver medal in the history of the event. He soon took the win in February 2013 at the LAAX OPEN, and in August 2013 at the FIS Snowboard World Cup. In 2014, he won a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics. Ayumu has the distinction of being the youngest Japanese athlete to win a medal in the Winter Olympic Games. At the 2018 Winter X Games, he took the gold with a score of 99 points. At PyeongChang 2018, he received his second Olympic silver medal in a row. Then in 2019, he won first place in the Men’s Park division at the Japan Skateboarding Championships. He has been a Global Brand Ambassador for UNIQLO since 2018. Evolving with UNIQLO, he has his sights set on the top of the world.

Photography by Seishi Shirakawa
Styling by Akio Hasegawa
Hair Making by Kenichi Yaguchi
Interview by Kosuke Ide

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