EAST MEETS WEST | SHINYA KIMURA ZEN AND THE HEART OF MOTORCYCLES

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In 1962 I was born in Old Town Tokyo

I was brought up surrounded by the smell of oil and steel, and the sound of machinery

I think this is why this life suits me well

I have Images but I am not inspired by any particular thing

I don’t draw either

I cut steel or bend aluminum listening to how I feel at that moment

I use my own hands and break my back making the bikes

I believe that speaks to peoples emotions and makes them want one

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SHINYA KIMURA

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A bike should look good on its own– but it’s incomplete until a person rides it

For me a motorcycle is more than art

It’s something that brings out my instincts– the wildness and vulnerability in me

It feels nothing like how violent it looks from the outside

It’s very serene

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SHINYA KIMURA

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The ground and the sky are so white, there is no boundary between them

I have never flown, but it feels like flying in an airplane using a reciprocating engine

I can’t tell you how peaceful it is

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–SHINYA KIMURA

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SHINYA KIMURA – image via Troy Critchlow/Sideburn Mag

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The video after the jump is not to be missed…

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SHINYA KIMURA — image by Adam Wright

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SHINYA KIMURA — image by Scott Pommier

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SHINYA KIMURA — image by Scott Pommier

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SHINYA KIMURA — image by Scott Pommier

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Read about Shinya the humble icon’s beginnings here

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25 thoughts on “EAST MEETS WEST | SHINYA KIMURA ZEN AND THE HEART OF MOTORCYCLES

  1. take no offense, but this makes me wonder why I’m sitting here reading this instead of taking a straight away out on the flats! Great post.
    JB

    • look at the pic and read the line – “The ground and the sky are so white, there is no boundary between them.” Yeah, it’s an amazing pic.

      JP

  2. Shinya was on the old Chopper Build-Off series a few years ago, back when he was running Zero Engineering. He was so far beyond anyone else building bikes then, and he still is. Naturally, he lost the build vote on the show…Such a cool post, thanks thanks thanks.

  3. Man, this reminds me (yet again, of course) why this is my favorite blog/website/whatever to read each and every day – love this post. Just killer, JP – keep up the awesomeness.

  4. Thank you for this! Seriously, your blog just gets better and better, who would have thought this was even possible.

  5. kimura and his bikes are true examples of beauty and strength. photos and video really do this piece justice. thanks JP san. ありがとうございます。

  6. This, to me, is what motorcycles are all about. No added inapplicables, no pandering to style, other than the muse in one’s own head.

    When I look at Shinya’s bikes I find myself wanting one…

  7. to build your own machine and then run it at the great white dyno-only the chosen few know the sense of acheivement this brings-mya bucka!

  8. Great, zen-like post…love Kimura’s attention to craftsmanship and detail. Always impressed at how the Japanese can dissect our culture and extract the essence of what makes (or made) Americans innovative, cool and dead on, then turn around and make it their own. Whether it’s denim, classic workwear or hand-made bikes, they take it up a notch and sometimes sell it back to us. A bit like the Brits with our R&B in the early 60s. It’s just uppin’ the ante.

  9. I build and modify bikes myself. It is men like Shinya Kimura that go their own way that inspire me. Sad to say, there are too few of them and though they are the natural leaders, it is the mundane mainstream that get the attention of the masses every time.

    Thanks for the post, I am re-posting the vid on my own blog (along with a plug for and link to your fabulous site here.)

  10. Shinya Kimura is a living artistic genius on the very same level as the great art masters of history. Rodin comes to mind…It is wonderful to hear him speak with a poetic aptitude that matches his unmatched visual and mechanical genius.

    Thank you for posting this.

    Zero Chopper Spirit Lives!

  11. I have respect for anyone with such vision.
    Personally, I do not care for the styling of his bikes. To me it looks like a bunch of scrapmetal tacked together gas-punk style. But I’m not a huge fan of the “rat rod” culture either. I heard (through cycle world) Brad Pit bought one or two of his bikes for huge coin. Why is it that whenever something new comes around like a big resort development or a new style car or whatever you hear rumors that Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts or Mel Gibson has bought one? Seems like so much cheap hype.
    I do respect his work, it’s just a matter of taste I guess.

  12. Awesome blog and awesome article. The video was quite intuitive- it seemed to bring out his message cooly and clearly.
    I like classic bikes and I’m not a promoter or worker but the article reminded me of a websiteI found a while back called garagecompany com. It’s a cool vintage bike site. The Japanese owner has designed bikes for Schumacher, and Brian Setzer has bought a bike from him too etc… Cool stuff.
    “Knees up and Teddy Boys roll…”

  13. Oh- and in case anyone is giving away a 1949 Vincent/HRD, I’ll gladly post my shipping address. Ride on.

  14. A year or so ago, I was driving through Azuza where Chabott Engineering is located, and decided to give Shinya a call to see if I could see his shop. At the time, I was down in the area picking up an old Honda CL77, and it was in the back of my dad’s truck. Shinya showed us his workspace, we walked around a bit, talked, and then I saw him get excited when he saw the CL. He ended up giving me a CB engine for it, and a front tire he had laying around. Not only is he a true artist, he is one of the nicest and most generous guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

  15. Kimura’s creations are just out of a future world which, unfortunately will never arrive. That mix of the unknown and the respect for old tradition metalwork is just sweet magic. @ ESMC we simply love his work and outstanding originality.

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