In Yesterday’s Kanjo post, I provided a little glimpse into a fascinating and notorious piece of Japanese car culture grown on the streets of Osaka. Today we’ll stay in Japan’s most colorful city for a visit to Tactical Art – a shop where a group of very passionate individuals have blended their Kansai roots with a decidedly international influence.
What exactly is Tactical Art? What do they do? The shop hasn’t been around for a long time,. but with their technical know-how and keen sense of style they’ve become quite well known. Not just in Osaka, but across Japan and overseas as well. Historically the shop’s primary business has been doing custom car audio setups and dress up work, but recently their reach has gone far beyond that. Tactical Art has lent their hand to everything from custom European luxury cars to slammed kei wagons and pure circuit cars. As the motto beneath their logo says – “Enjoy Car Life”.
In fact, when you walk inside the shop you’d think you were in a hardcore racing garage rather than any sort of audio or dress up shop. On the day I visited, the lower floor of the shop was packed with stripped out, heavily modified Civics. As you saw in the Kanjo coverage, the passion for these cars runs deep in Osaka and that’s very much the case for Tactical Art’s Atuki Tubouti and Yasutaka Shimomukai who have been building and racing Hondas for all of their lives. The passion for fast Hondas also extends to the rest of the Tactical Art Family.
And when I say “family” I really mean it. The customer-shop relationship is tight at Tactical Art. This Civic Ferio for example is being built for Kazuya Kawashima, better known around the shop as “Chibi-Chan”.
When I asked Chibi-Chan what the plans for his sedan were, the world omakase came up. You may be familiar with the term. It’s often used at sushi restaurants when diners choose to eat whatever the chef recommends rather than picking from a menu. There’s still a long way to ago on the build, but as you can see from the highly detailed engine bay, it’s off to a good start.
At this point I’m not sure if anyone knows exactly what the finished project will look like, but it’s safe to say that the Ferio is in good hands…
To know why customers put so much trust in Atuki and Yasutaka, all you need to do is look at their own personal machines – which also serve as Tactial Art’s demo cars. This is Atuki’s EG6 – a car which you may have seen when it was painted black and featured in Super Street Magazine not so long ago.
With one glance you can tell this EG6 is a pure race car, and it becomes even more obvious when you start looking at the details.
Besides overseeing the shop, Atuki is also a very talented fabricator and it shows when you look at the new roll cage that he’s built for the Civic.
The EG6′s athletic-minded approach is also evident in its wheel choice – 16″ Work Meister S1s with the heavy front stagger that most Honda track cars run to increase front end grip and weed out understeer.
Under the hood, the individual throttle body-fed B18C should give the car all the juice it needs when the boys head out to play at Central, Okayama, or Suzuka Circuits. With that said, there’s more to it than just the selection of parts and tuning philosophy.
Besides high quality craftsmanship, the cars that Tactical Art build have a strong aesthetic sense and an attention to detail that you really don’t see in most track cars. That’s where the American influence come comes in.
Atuki, Yasutaka, and everyone associated with Tactical Art all pay very close to attention to what’s going on in the USA. They are regular visitors to the SEMA Show, they bring in a lot of parts from established American brands, and most importantly they draw tons of inspiration from America’s own high quality car builds. It’s that USDM influence mixed with homegrown Osaka style and car building know-how that’s come to define the shop. Just look at their Snap-on tool box! It was so damn patriotic that I had to stop and salute it.
As an example of this American influence, take a look at Atuki’s street car. It’s a genuine DC5 Integra Type R, but one that’s been dressed down and restyled with a strong US vibe. It’s riding on a set of wheels from CCW, a brand which Tactical Art has been importing recently.
Speaking of daily drivers, check out Yasutaka’s new EP3 Civic Type R project. When I saw the mismatched wheels, gutted interior, roll cage, bucket seat, and hydraulic handbrake, I asked him if this was a race car project. He replied with “No, it’s my new commuter!”. I think that’s all you really need to know about Yasutaka-san…
Heading to the shop’s second floor office and showroom area, the atmosphere is much different than the garage below. It’s spacious (especially by Japanese standards), relaxed, and very fashionable. The feeling is more lounge than it is car shop.
The display shelves and tables themselves are particularity impressive – handbuilt by Atuki-san, the master fabricator.
The displays are filled with a variety of parts, most of which were brought over from the United States. Given the long history of the Honda tuning scene in the states and the current USDM boom, it’s not surprising that there would be a solid market for these products in Japan.
In the couple weeks it’s been since I visited the shop, these CCWs may have very well found their way onto a car on the streets of Osaka. It’s just one example of the US style that Tactical Art has been spreading around Japan.
I mentioned a moment ago that the showroom feels more like a lounge than anything else. After hours, this place becomes the setting for hang out and video game sessions with customers and friends of the shop. It’s all part of that family atmosphere I spoke of earlier.
Elsewhere, the office is littered with items that tell of Tactical Art’s interests and inspirations. Stickers from overseas shops and blogs like The Chronicles, trophies and photos from race events, and more…
While the heart of Tactical Art’s operations involve building Hondas, they are by no means a Honda exclusive shop. This bitchin’ little Suzuki Cervo was another one of the machines hanging around the shop when I visited. Dig those wide fenders and oversized RS Watanabes.
I have no doubt this boosted kei car would be just as fun to throw around the track as the Civics sitting inside the garage…
Although this monster Supra isn’t a Tactical Art build, I think just the fact that it was in for some basic work is a testament to the shop’s reputation.
Another member of the Tactial Art Family is Tomoyuki Sakoda and his strikingly clean S15 Silvia Spec R. In case you were wondering, that’s another set of CCWs.
Hey, that’s a cool 86! Actually, it’s not a Toyota 86 but a Scion FR-S imported from the USA and owned by Keisuke Morita, a sales engineer at HKS. Although he lives in Shizuoka-ken near the HKS factory, Morita-san is a close friend of Tactical Art and he stops by the shop whenever he’s in the Osaka area.
In addition to the expected HKS parts on the car, Tactical Art is also lending him a hand with the build (CCWs again!). I’m interested to see how it will progress.
I’ll close this out with Yasutaka’s EG6, the same car that he was driving when I first met him at last year’s M&L Party. As you can clearly see, it’s currently under the knife for a full rebuild – just like Atuki’s race EG6. Was there anything wrong with either car in their previous states? Nope, not at all. Both were well-sorted, magazine worthy builds with a unique blend of both form and function.
But that’s how Tactical Art works. Like with a lot of the world’s great car builders, the progress never stops. The guys are constantly building, driving hard on the track, cruising the street, and then rebuilding. They are always thinking of ways to make their machines faster, cooler, and better. No matter what sort of cars you may like, that’s something to be respected.
In other words, Tactical Art is “Enjoying Car Life” to the fullest.
Yet again, local madness, and I don't see shops and enthousiasm like this a lot over here! (The Netherlands)
"It was so damn patriotic that I had to stop and salute it."
I was laughing so hard I almost got in trouble at work...
LeCorbusier chairs in the showroom? This guy has taste in more than cars.
Are the walls concrete in the workshop area? They look cool.
Thats funny because when i was really into my SE-R's everyone wanted JDM stuff and wouldn't think of touching American made parts. Now the japanese is buying our stuff. Boy how things has changed since then.
Love the blend of influences with these guys. Fast cars, good looking cars, and a serious amount of passion. Love it.
"...look at...Snap-on tool box! It (is)...so damn patriotic that I had to stop and salute it."
I had to take a double-take and do the same thing. Love America, but not the people in "charge".
Seriously, every time I see the engine bay of a honda - the damn thing's the wrong way around! Why would you put the exhaust (that goes out the back of the car) at the front of the engine bay, and the intake facing the way the car...isn't going? So no speed-induced pressure, then. Cannot get my head around it. My car works fine with the correct way around.
"...wheel choice...with the heavy front stagger that most (FWD) Honda track cars run to increase front end grip and weed out understeer."
That's not the only thing you can do to "weed out" the understeer. You can also play with different tire pressures, compounds, widths and sidewall heights. Wheel spacers also play a role. Different spring rates (and dampening, of course) front to back, and depending on the philosophy behind it, Japanese prefer stiffer front springs than rear, American are the exact opposite, and same goes for sway bar thickness (these act like springs too, albeit a bit different in their function). Limited-slip differentials help out too. The list goes on.
Hey Mike since we are on the subject of front wheel drive cars can we do a feature on SE-R's preferably the 93 thru 98 years. The other years are cool but i like those years the most. BTW great article
Oh no!!! Blox and BWR! Chinese crap on Japanese rides! The Japanese must think American car enthusiasts cut corners and cheap out.....sad :(
@FunctionFirst : )
@KeithCharvonia I think they are!
@hanablemoore You tell me, I still don't understand that. I remember the days when JDM parts were known as simply Japanese parts, that was it.
@dovvv Either you haven't seen newer Hondas or older 4-cylinder FWD cars, most of not all were made like that for the longest time.
@apex_DNA lol applies for any car, nothign to do with fwd. Americans and japanese don't tune it any different, lol, It's ALWAYS stiffer rear, softer front for fwd's, or the car will not be very stable. From factory. Maybe a FWD with near-perfect longitudinal weight distribution may run the same spring/shock rate all round, but it is very rare for the fronts to be near-stiffness to the rears in a fwd. The same applies for most mid-engined cars and most all-wheel-drive vehicles, however this greatly varies.The direct opposite (stiffer front, softer rear) applies for RWD,
@hanablemoore Don't think I have time to squeeze that in now, but certainly a possibility for the future :)
@hanablemoore Those, and P10/P11 Primeras...one of the few cars that can rival older Hondas as far as setup is concerned, double-wishbone suspension all around, a potent engine, racing pedigree, but no street cred, and forget about aftermarket support, other than NISMO you won't see much.
@Ryan Der Thanks Ryan!
@inspector_exacto Plenty more on the way!
@JDMized Don't forget about the XXRs that Yasutaka ran last year. JDM fanboys do the same thing here in States, they will rather choose a JDM brand name product than buy an American product that not only functions better, but also has better support, but of course many don't think about that , it's not like they race their cars or anything, right?
@apex_DNA I said every time. Not this time. I have seen a shedload of bay's with a rear-intake and front-exhaust mounted engine. How does your comment apply to what i said at all?
@dovvv Have you actually seen the setups on Japanese FFs? Yes, both front and rear are stiffer than factory, but the front is always stiffer than rear, same goes for sway bars and vice versa for dampening. Americans on the other hand, will either get a thinner front sway bar or no sway bar at all, and a thicker rear sway bar, stiffer than factory springs front and back, stiffest in the back.
"It's ALWAYS stiffer rear, softer front for fwd's, or the car will not be very stable...it is very rare for the fronts to be near-stiffness to the rears in a fwd."
How come most, if not all, spring rates offered as a set, factory OR aftemarket, are stiffer front than rear?
@Mike Garrett @hanablemoore Wow still the SE-R's get no love. lol I understand. You guys have been put out some killer articles as of late and i know thats not as easy as it seems. So keep up the good work. To be honest if you were able to find any feature worthy SE-R's that would have been a miracle.
@apex_DNA Yeah so your up on game about the sentra/primeras. I never really understood why people slept on them so much. That sr20ve and sr16ve is a beast.There was a lil aftermarket support but nothing like the honda guys. You had Jim Wolf Tech, Jgy customs, and Stillen. All i can think of right now.But i still like my sentra and was thing of building a SQRDE. For those that dont know its a QR25de destroked using a sr20de crank.
@apex_DNA I could care less where the product is made (as long as it's well made). I get upset about the fact that companies like Spoon (just to pick an example) go a great length to test their stuff on the track, and spend $$$ for R&D, then BWR comes along (or Blox) and copy everything they can, using cheap material and sell it for a fraction of cost.....
@dovvv What's so different about this time? Most, if not all, 4-cyl FF cars were made like that for the longest time, and Honda has only recently (10 or so years ago) started making them the "right way".
@apex_DNA the drift craze will fade eventually, and all type of motorsports will level out. There's a ton of kids out there that get into drifting because they want to get notice and rank up sponsors. Once they figure out that there are people like me and you that don't necessarily give a fuck about the sport, they go back to their previous hobbies. Those guys are trying REALLY hard to get noticed, and this ruins the fun.... Just my .02
Then I upgraded to a set of brand new Buddy Club N1 coilovers. Stock the Buddy Club came with 12K springs up front and 6K springs in the rear.
I later changed them with Swift 16K up front and 10K in the rear (with Eibach sway bars).....the car is on rails :)
I should add that all the stock bushings have been replaced with spherical bearings and the aligment is spot on.
Anyway to each its own, maybe Dovvv knows somewthing I don't :)
@hanablemoore @Mike Garrett Here is a Primera I spotted at Central Circuit. This guy knows whats up! http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qDwcObCTlIY/T-xL1qyEocI/AAAAAAAAJMU/B8hLZKvhAZc/s1600/dog+fight+race+058.jpg
Yeah, Sentra was at the forefront of the early sport compact movement there for a minute. In fact, one of my friend's older brothers had one in the early '90s, before he switched to an DA-chassis Acura Integra...but that's another story.
I totally forgot about Jim Wolf and Stillen...are they still around? I know Stillen used to make those touring-style half-bumpers and wings (and not just for Nissans either, there were a few of them for Hondas too), but unfortunately they never caught on...imho that was probably the only way you could pull off big rims and low profile tire look of the late '90s, but of course ONLY with almost mandatory race interior. I wish more people could think outside of box for a change though...think of how many 4-door Sentras and Primeras would have been saved, just by going for that JTCC/BTCC look (and actually tracked).
@JDMized @pwhyze Oh I'm pretty sure they do, after all they do put their logo on it (no pun intended). But how do you explain paying $500 for their steering wheel, when you can buy the original (with red stitching an all) for less than $200 sans the horn button, and even Ferrari horn buttons don't cost that much.
@pwhyze @apex_DNA Correct! Ichishima san from Spoon does have connection with Nissin, Showa and so forth. He would contact them, ask them to make a product based on HIS specification and they start to collaborate. It takes time and money. Actually Spoon also works with Brembo. They have developed the an upgraded kit for the FD2/FG..... The same thing applies to ASM Yokohama. They work closely with Saclam for their SS exhausts, and they work with AP Racing and Sachs (dampers). They do a great deal of testing for valving adjustment.....and as you would expect, their parts are not cheap, but they are worth it if you are serious about tracking your car.
@JDMized Same here. Question, I'm sure there is R&D and dinero involved in some of their in-house products, but doesn't Spoon just resell most of "their" stuff? Nissin calipers, Vision aero parts, Showa shocks, Momo steering wheels, Monster air filters, Rays rims, and so on?