Meet CHAO, the stage name of successful Japanese break dancer and member of the international extreme unicyling Team Unicycle TV. You read that right; extreme unicycling exists!
Over the course of one year, CHAO traveled to 42 countries and 121 cities, capturing footage of himself unicycling and his interactions with the locals in each spot. At the end of his journey, he put together some brilliantly-edited videos of his trip. After seeing them, you might just be inspired to start your own epic journey across the globe.
CHAO’s life has taken him down some less-traveled paths, but it is his motivation and ability to dedicate 100% of his energy to each new project he undertakes that has led him to succeed in life, despite the many (often quite literal) bumpy roads he has traversed along the way.
According to his official site, CHAO began dancing in 1989 when he was 16 years old. He worked for a brief stint at his father’s company, but in his own words, “waking up early was impossible for me, and I was more or less a ‘life dropout.'” Miraculously, he ended up studying in Toronto, Canada for a year where he met the famous breakdancer, GIZMO. CHAO eventually joined GIZMO’s team Bag of Trix as a full-fledged member.
▼CHAO’s early b-boy days
After living abroad, CHAO developed a taste for travel and found himself hitchhiking around Europe and Asia. He even began a backpacking trip from North to South America, until it was cut short by the passing of his father. He returned to Japan upon hearing the news.
In a bizarre twist, around that time CHAO also became obsessed by collectible figurines, and even went searching around Hong Kong, South Korea, and America for rare items. It is a hobby that has continued to this day and even led him to open a chain of hobby shops called Havikoro Toys throughout Tokyo.
In his late 20s, he won an all-Japan dancing contest called Battle of the year / B-BOY PARK, subsequently becoming the Japanese representative to continue on to an international competition in Germany. At 28 years of age, he became a member of the legendary American HAVIKORO b-boy crew.
Then, a twist of fate brought about two life-changing events.
First, inspired by a book by Yusuke Ishida, a Japanese cycle tourist who rode his bike around the world, CHAO decided to his continue his previously interrupted trip in Central and South America.
Second, as a 35-year-old in 2009, he became caught up in the largely unknown sport of “extreme unicycling.” Determined to master it, he practiced every night after coming home from work at 10 p.m. for two to three hours, seven days a week. Soon, he was invited to become a member of Team Unicyle TV, made up of the best unicyclists around the globe.
Put two and two together, and you can see how a completely a new idea was hatched in CHAO’s mind: “Why not do something completely unexpected and ride my UNICYCLE around the world??”
▼This video is from a year and half after he began unicycling
▼Becoming a unicycle master isn’t easy, and CHAO’s got the battle scars to prove it.
While the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Northeastern Japan significantly delayed his preparations, CHAO was finally ready to embark on his journey around the world, which would ultimately take him to 42 countries and 121 cities, all with his unicycle in tow.
Here’s a list of his journey from start to finish:
Indonesia → Thailand → Cambodia → Vietnam → Laos → China → Tibet → Nepal India → Finland → Turkey → Jordan → Israel → Egypt → Morocco → Germany → United States → Bolivia → Peru → Chile → Argentina → Uruguay → Paraguay → Brazil → Cuba → Ecuador → Spain → South Africa → Namibia → Zambia → Botswana → Zimbabwe → Tanzania → Kenya → Ethiopia → Lithuania → Latvia → Russia → Italy → Dubai → Pakistan → Hong Kong → Japan
▼A map of all the countries CHAO has visited. Next on his list? “Mongolia, Australia, and Greenland!”
CHAO made sure to get footage of himself riding his unicycle in each location. He compiled these clips into three awesome videos for the world to see. You won’t believe some of the breathtaking scenery he shot:
▼“Around the World unicycle tricks”
Set to the tune of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and chock full of fun editing, this next video perhaps best captures the essence of his journey:
▼Around The World unicycle 2″
▼“ATW Trip – Nepal part”
So you’re probably wondering now: What does one do after returning from an epic unicycle journey around the world?
A little after a year upon returning to Japan, CHAO opened Cafe & Kitchen root, an eatery in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward. The entire staff of the cafe share the common experience of having traveled around the world, and their goal for the cafe is to create an open area for communication where people can share their stories.
Next time you’re in Tokyo, why don’t you stop by root and see what the latest news from CHAO is? Unicycles are sure to be welcome, too.