My visit to Osaka over the weekend was both rewarding and eye-opening. For a couple months I'd been planning my visit around Osaka Auto Messe, but it turns out that Saturday night's "M&L Party" car meet was just as, if not more satisfying than Auto Messe itself.
While Auto Messe showcased some of the finest car builders from both the Kansai region and all of Japan, for me the M&L Party was where Osaka's real street car culture came to life.
When Shimomukai-san and his colleagues decided they wanted to throw a car meet the same weekend as Auto Messe, it was very important that it be open to "all genres". Every type of car was invited, and anyone who likes cars was encouraged to come. As rich as Japanese car culture is, these all-inclusive events are few and far between.
The turnout was huge, with an estimated 350+ cars coming out. That's amazing considering there was no formal advertising of the meet. Word was simply spread by mouth and between friends social media sites like Facebook and Japan's Minkara.
Besides the tiny charge to park in the Sakurajima Station parking lot, the meet was completely free to join.
As I watched the cars roll into the lot, the "all genre" theme proved to true. I'm not sure if there was a single automotive style that wasn't represented at the M&L Party. You could see everything from legit kyusha equipped with zigzag pipes…
…to the RWB "Afromania" Porsche 993.
I'm told that Osaka's lowriding scene isn't as big as today it once was, but this drop top '62 Chevy was one of several OG lowriders that came through.
There was even a one-man Bosozoku unit that came out to join the fun and serenade us with exhaust music.
The meet had a massive turnout from the members of Osaka's Euro car community. The USDM influence is huge among this group at the moment.
The builder of this Beetle Cabriolet specialized in custom interior work, and it clearly showed. Wow.
This USDM-inspired Integra was representing the South Osaka-based Connection Car Club.
Check those spotless SSR Mk.IIs!
There were also representatives from Osaka's drift scene on hand. This S15 was wearing its battle scars proudly.
The owner of this Mark II is a huge Speedhunters fan, and no doubt took lots of inspiration from our coverage of US car culture. Instead of going for a traditional Japanese kyusha look, he did his car in US style – even importing a set of Diamond Racing wheels from the states.
This little kei car was decorated in the same way a Japanese girl might "customize" her cell phone. No matter what the style of car was, everyone was happy to share their machines and even pose in front of them for photos. The Japanese are quite fond of this.
Traditional Japanese performance machines could also be found at the M&L Party. How about an R35 street car with over 600 horses?
The girl who owns this GT-R drove all the way from Tokyo to see Auto Messe and hang out at the M&L Party. She even accompanied us on our late night ramen run following the meet.
Or kei car? Nothing looked out of place in this crowd.
You don't hear much about the Chevy SSR these days, so I was quite surprised to see one here in Japan. Looks pretty cool aired down on those wheels, no?
Lowdown Hiace. I'm a big fan of these "1 box" vans.
The more cargo space your vehicle has, the more room to install a mind (and ear) blowing audio/video system.
This very tough looking VW Touran was another one of the many Euro cars that came out. Are those Porsche 997 turbo wheels I seee?
There were many Civics to be seen at the M&L Party. Some were built to look just like something you'd see at a SoCal car meet…
…while others retained the classic Osaka Kanjo racer style.
This caged EG6 is sporting a signature Kanjo Racer paint job and center exit exhaust. To many this will look like any other modified Civic, but real JDM nuts will know the cultural significance behind a car like this.
Likewise, there were lots of the Osaka area's homegrown VIP cars that came out for the night. Most rolled up in big, intimidating packs.
Let's not leave out the BMWs now. From a mostly stock M6 that came over from Kyoto…
…to a heavily customized E46 sedan that's once again heavily influenced by US car builders and the Hellaflush movement.
A few of the cars were built in a style that doesn't really fit into one category. This V35 Skyline had elements of "lux", VIP, and even mini-truck style.
That's the beauty of the M&L party. It brought together owners of cars who might otherwise not hang out with each other.
From what I saw everyone was getting along and having a great time, despite the mix of styles.
I'm going to wrap up part one here, but I'll be back soon with more from this unique gathering on the Osaka waterfront.
What kind of car is that in the second picture, It's beautiful in an odd way, the light green interior really sets it off
Great thread. Are you telling me I could start a business importing US stuff into Japan???? The world is coming to an end!!!!
Great work you 're doing out there!... Unfortunatly I don't have much time to leave comments to all the features, but I tell you, with these reports, you make my days a lot richer :) Keep going!
i loved the customized kel car it was unique not my style but you cant deny that she put alot of money and love into it love your reviews man cant wait to go their myself! 100 out of 10
13th pic from top: [x] Kei car [x] Custom body kit [x] Huge rims [x] LED [x] Fluff [x] Girl [ ] Audio/Video system Just 1 more thing to check and it's complete!
Love that Nissan 240sx at the last pic men i love how low it is and the bosozoku tail pipe nicely done
A lot of those hondas seem to be running a lot of primer, but immaculate paint elsewhere. Is this done intentionally? It looks like they are re-priming area to make it look pig :/ I dont want to hate on any car, but that V35 is pushing my limits...
On the very top picture on this blog, what type of wheels are on the lime green pearl color Honda EG? I like the concave stance on it.
You pretty much wrote exactly what I was thinking. I agree 100% that the diversity is awesome and I get the feeling that everyone just gets along and appreciates that everyone's tastes and styles are different and they wouldn't really hate on anyones car! Love it!
Great post as usual Mike. Always enjoy them! But please refrain from posting cars that were/are ultimate fails such as the Chevy SSR. Such an ugly car....
There is no car bias like in America. everybody accepts eachother's styles and tastes which is cool. ie-"Just because I drive a honda doesent mean its a "ricer"...OK camaro owner!
"To many this will look like any other modified Civic, but real JDM nuts will know the cultural significance behind a car like this." Well why don't you elaborate for us poor uneducated, cave-dwelling morons? The high-brow hipster "I knew about this stuff before it was cool" stance really sucks.
now this is how i would love to live my life.....go to an awesome car some then head down to an even cool car meet!!! Japan i love you!!!
damn never seen an SSR look nice until now. I need to move to Japan! In chicago once it starts snowing all the nice cars are gone, doesn't look like it there.
A girl from Tokyo that drives an R32 GT-R, hangs out at late-night car meets, customizes her car tastefully... MUST SEE HER
I love the Mark II, and the always love a 5th-gen Hiace. And that EF looks like mine! Okay, it's a bit nicer than mine... :)
The DIVERSITY of Japanese car culture is amazing. The harmony between different kinds of car lovers is something Australia could learn from. Down with haters!
Awsome Write-up, after college Im moving to Japan, I havnt decided where but Osaka is looking pretty awsome.