Cool reasons to go to UNICON in Japan this summer

Why go to UNICON this year? It’s in Japan! So what’s interesting about Japan? Lots of things. For unicyclists, it is the most populous unicycling country in the world. The vast majority of Japanese schools have unicycles as playground equipment! Unicycling has been big there for over 20 years.

I’m going to post some pictures from Japan, mostly ones I took on two different visits in 1987. The first is of some kids at a school the JUA (Japan Unicycling Association) took me to. This was one of the earliest schools to add unicycles, and they had about 50 of them on racks outside the building. The kids came out for recess and this is what I saw…


Here’s another shot from the same school. These pictures were taken in November, and it was about 15 degrees C out. Note the bare feet!

But wait, there’s more. In Japan, people don’t do unusual things very much. To make unicycling palateable to the average Japanese person, it was necessary for the sport to be brought on in large numbers. After a quaint start in 1978, the Japan Unicycling Club grew up into the Japan Unicycling Association, and started having large track-oriented meets in various Japanese cities. These meets regularly drew several hundred riders. The regional ones, that is. When we came for UNICON III in the summer of 1987, our convention was combined with the 10th All Japan Unicycle Meet in Edogawa, Tokyo. Take a look at the opening ceremony. All those people on the left are the riders, after parading around the track and lining up!


All of that opening ceremony did not fit into the picture. The groups on the left were divided by country, club, and school. You can see the various national flags. In front of each group was a girl carrying a sign, which is why the front of each group looks the same.

So how many riders were there at UNICON III? 851. This is more people than have been at any UNICON before or since. Still the record! Most of these riders were there for the Japan Nationals, but we were all in one place. That event was LARGE. And it ran on time!

I was honored to carry the US flag in a small parade at the end of the day of racing. The guy carrying the Japan flag is Fuyuki Tsuchiya, one of the UNICON organizers and a past (present?)employee of Miyata. He has something to do with much of their innovation I’m sure.


Dan Heubner, on the stairs outside the UNICON hotel. That was the Hotel Sunpatio in Edogawa!


Anybody know Yuichiro Kato? He was just a little kid then. A little fast kid. This was in the relay races.


Puerto Rico was there with a big team. One of the littler riders was an up-and-coming rider named Josue Barreto.


WOW! Now THAT’s amazing!
It’s like disneyland…only for unicycles!

I think this would be a good time to start a gallery of tipical “(enter name of country)” unicycling…

So, post a picture that clearly depicts a certain country and that just so happens to have a unicycle in it…

Hope you don’t mind the thread jacking John…I just thought it was a good idea…

yay universe 2

Riders from the USA team (not all were present for the parade). Left to right: Kim Rudd(?), MN, Rachel Ojala, IN, Mary Renner, CA, Harold Herzig, NJ, Greg Milstein, NY, Wendy Bahorich (Grizch), MI, David Winston, IL, Constance Cotter, MN, David Heubner, CA, Carol Bahorich (Bricker), MI, Dan Huebner, CA, Dustin Kelm, MN, Floyd Beattie, OH. And me on my Schwinn Giraffe, taking the picture. Some of us have left the sport and returned, others never left, and a few are AWOL…


Back in those quaint old days, we would whip up a Group Freestyle performance with all the people at the site. We put together the “USA Team” performance in under 2 hours. It was fun to watch, but you could tell…


These pictures are ones that I already happened to have scanned copies of. I could bore you with others. The point is, this will be an historic event, probably the biggest UNICON ever, possibly with the most countries ever participating, and with hosts that did a superb job last time. I’m sure they will impress us all.

Many of you have viewed some online video clips of Japanese Freestyle performances. You’ll get to see the state-of-the art in that, live. And You’ll get to see the Toyoda Unicyclists, who I don’t think have any online clips, and Kazuhiro Shimoyama, who blew everybody away in the Men’s Individual Freestyle in China. And many more.

We’ll do the first-ever UNICON racing of 700c unicycles. That’s 29" for you non-bike people. This should be a fast and exciting new category. We’ll have the world championships of unicycle hockey, basketball, and Trials. Probably Sumo too, but that’s not on the schedule.

And then there’s all the side benefits of a trip to UNICON in a foreign land. Meeting the people, experiencing the culture, seeing things you never would have seen. At UNICON III, we did some group tours after the convention. One was on unicycles; a ride around the Imperial Palace in downtown Tokyo. This picture is from that fun day.

I hope to see you at UNICON in Tokyo this July!


thats Reg Bolton holding the Australian flag ?

UNICON will be fun

Spanish Representation!!! Wow! :astonished:

Who is the one holding the Spanish flag ? :thinking: :thinking:

I need to know it, it is very important!! :astonished:

( flag colours: red, yellow, red) :roll_eyes:



Cool reason not to go to UNICON in Japan this summer

I’d love to go, but I am poor. Who wants to sponsor me? I’d like to take part in the 29er race, that would be cool. I’m not that good at trials and hopping and stuff, but I can ride fast on a straight unicycle. I’m not sure if Japan would let me into their country with my cannabis convictions, but it sounds like it would be fun. Now all I need is a 29er, a ticket to Japan and a bunch of money for related expenses. Sounds like I might have to give this one a miss, oh well. Nice photography John. Have fun in Tokyo!


Thank you - SO MUCH - for the post! What fun!


Flag Bearers:

Japan: Fuyuki Tsuchiya
Puerto Rico: Charlie Perez Mercado (I think)
Israel: Jack Halpern
USA: John Foss
Australia: Reg Bolton
Spain: sorry, I don’t remember! There were two Spaniards.
UK: Argh–his name is on the tip of my tongue. I think he came to only the one UNICON. He was noted for doing a bunch of flips out on the grass when it was raining. No, not on the unicycle.

There was also a group from Korea there that day, but they either left early or didn’t get up into this somewhat informal parade for some other reason.

Canada? There must have been some Canadian riders.

Germany? The team from Dietzenbach.

Total country count was more than that, so I don’t remember who else is missing.