Wekfest Japan: Next Level USDM
Back In Japan

As I write this I’m in a bullet train bound for Tokyo and blasting through the Japanese countryside at 300km/h, having just spent the weekend in Nagoya for Wekfest Japan.


I arrived in Japan late last week and immediately hit the ground running for what’s going to be a busy month of Speedhunting adventures.


Now in its second year, Wekfest Japan represents the pinnacle of the country’s USDM movement, and after checking out Dino’s coverage of last year’s show I was excited to experience it for myself.


I arrived early at the familiar Port Messe Nagoya facility, but couldn’t help be distracted by the parking lot. The action here was as good as inside the show itself, and as such I’ve got a full parking lot post coming up to share my findings.


As someone who has attended Wekfest and similar events in the US on numerous occasions, Wekfest Japan had the feeling of being both new and familiar at the same time.


In terms of overall atmosphere, the Wekfest crew did a great job of carrying over the character and vibe of the American shows, but there was still a lot that set this apart from the events held Stateside.


The car lineup was diverse, with the unifying theme being that most cars were in some way inspired by US modifying trends. There were plenty of Japanese domestic vehicles, a strong turnout of European cars and even a few American machines for good measure.


Perhaps it was jetlag kicking in, but there were plenty of times walking around Port Messe that I had to question if I was actually in Japan or back home in California. Such is the level of authenticity that the Japanese present their cars with.

Hondas & More

Take a walk down a typical street in Tokyo and chances are you won’t find many Hondas that aren’t minivans or small hatchbacks. But inside Wekfest Japan it was a different story. Civics, Accords, Integras and more – they were everywhere.


A second generation Honda Legend is not a car you’ll see often in Japan, but here we have one in immaculate condition and fitted with a choice set of Desmond Regamaster Evo wheels. Subtle and effective.


Osaka JDM can always be counted on for some fresh Honda builds, and among their group at Wekfest was this just-completed DC2 Integra with a K20A swap and time attack styling.


Tactical Art is another outfit that knows how to build a Honda, and the boys from Osaka have been working like crazy over the last few months on a number of builds for the show – including this beautiful K-swapped EK Civic.


NSX anyone? This red machine actually belongs to Ishiai-san from Yamanashi – the same guy who built the radical JZX100 Cresta I featured a couple of years ago.


The Nissan S-chassis was represented well too. This Rocket Bunny kitted 180SX from Car Make Hirota garnered a lot of attention through its extremely clean presentation and bitchin’ set of forged wheels from i.force Japan.


Equally impressive was this S13 Onevia from KRS Complete, which shared a similar attention to detail in its custom wide body work, engine bay and interior. I especially like the use of the factory chuki front bumper for that little USDM touch.


In addition to their gang of Hondas, Tactical Art also leant a hand in this V36 Skyline build which features a lot of US inspiration. I’m definitely digging the purple color change and big GT wing out back.

Classic USDM

Here’s a car that should look familiar to you. It’s Hirokazu Sato’s AE86 from Hiroshima, and as you can see he’s now swapped over from his Levin front end to his Trueno one. As I explained in the feature, Sato-san keeps complete versions of both so he can change the car’s look up depending on his mood.


While the majority of the cars at Wekfest Japan were of the modern variety, there was still a solid selection of modified classic cars – including this 510 Bluebird from S&A AutoCreate.


The Datsun’s beautifully detailed engine bay was home to an ITB-equipped SR20DE, and combined with its tasteful exterior and interior styling the 510 was easily one of my favorite cars of the day.


Also representing the old school side of things were the guys from Daddy Motorworks, including Kadowaki-san and his 2JZ-powered Fairlady Z which I shot when I was in Nagoya last year.


The guys also brought out their 1UZ-swapped Kujira Crown Wagon, which I absolutely fell in love with. In fact, I liked it so much that you can expect to see a full feature on it in the near future!


I’m a sucker for obscure cars, which is why I give a big thumbs up to this W116 Mercedes-Benz dropped on a set of i.force wheels. Chic doesn’t even begin to describe it.


Another rare European model not often seen in Japan (or anywhere else for that matter) is this MkII Jetta coupe, slammed to the ground and sporting what seems to be a full restoration.


Adding even more color to the mix was a big group of air-cooled Beetles from the Ride Height crew – all of which were wearing various degrees of clear-coated patina and riding just millimeters off the ground.


No airbags, no problems. Gotta love the smooth roads and brave Shakotan drivers of Japan.


Along with the car show itself, there were lots of booths selling USDM parts and accessories of the both the OEM and aftermarket variety.


Hmm… maybe I should go grab a bunch of license plate frames from local car dealerhips and sell them over here to help fund my next Japan trip?


It might seem strange to travel half way across the world to Japan only to go to an event that was actually established in California. But the truth is, events like Wekfest Japan help us see Japanese car culture at its best.


The cars might be inspired by America, but the overall attention to detail and the obsession of their owners is distinctively Japanese. That’s what makes the Japanese version of Wekfest one of the more unique automotive events you’ll find anywhere.

Stay tuned for more coverage, including the aforementioned look at the parking lot and some spotlight features on a couple of my favorite vehicles from the show.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

More stories from Nagoya on Speedhunters

Cutting Room Floor


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Awesome coverage Mike! It still blows my mind to see cars in Japan imitating cars in the US imitating Japanese styles! And executed to such a high standard.


Pink FD = <3


I always look forward to your parking lot trips. Best part of any show in my mind.


oh wow, that FD really hit me. Love it!!


Ya that FD>>>> interesting color.


Those Beetles look great! And the KG!

"No airbags, no problems. Gotta love the smooth roads and brave Shakotan drivers of Japan." And the fact that the police there don't seem to care if your car is super low.


Wagovan/Shuttle - always love seeing them!


dat FD doh


It's officially time for a new movement.  The US and Japan have mirrored each others car culture into infiniti.
It's gonna take some creativity.


It's like the internet has inadvertently ushered in a New World Order of car customization.

What have we done???

I really feel like there should've been the arrival of a cyborg from the future to stop all this...guess not.


I spy an "Auto Park Honda" tag frame!!!!!! Thats 10 minutes from where i live!!!!! 

Also, i would have liked to see the American cars too :/

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Sooooooo much love for that Crown wagon. Can't wait for it!!!!!


love the main pic hachi rocking the usdm bumpers!


I can't stand stance when people in the States and Europe use it, but god damn it's so perfect when the Japanese do.


Love the yellow AE86 (first image), the 2J powered S30 (would have preferred to use RB26 myself), and the

turquoise Civic


oh lordy lordy lord. so much honda love, but if I may ask a question about Osaka JDM, are they still trading under that name as I heard they had moved premises and changed their name to Five Mart?  I've been kind of taken with their front arch kit for the EF and their website disappeared/lost all its content a week or so ago... 

Cheers for the article though, I find your pieces very easy to read Mr. Garrett.


Oh... Awkward. This is in Japan.


Any more pictures or details on the Eunos? She pretty!


man USDM bumpers on ae86s are atrocious


Ooh looking forward to the seeing the parking lot X-D


simple and subtle for me, i <3 that 2nd gen legend.


"Hirokazu Sato’s AE86 from Hiroshima, and as you can see he’s now swapped over from his Levin front end to his Trueno one. As I explained in the feature, Sato-san keeps complete versions of both so he can change the car’s look up depending on his mood."
True hot rodder right there.


USDM and no impreza ?


As someone who DD's an '02 Rolla, this just got me all kinds of excited.  Incredibly unpopular in the aftermarket, so cool to see it being shown some love.


The only things USDM about that Kouki are the headlights. So classically executed..s14a's are timeless. That White 4-dr legend is sweet. Would have loved to see a 2dr.


No they ain't. For me personally, they represent the early US drift scene.


I think we're into our second full circle around by now.


RedWhine That car actually has a full US body conversion too. Pretty crazy.


apex_DNA Agreed. Super cool guy.


TarmacTerrorist Thanks much. I think Five Mart is just part of their expansion, with the Osaka JDM name still being used.,


@DriveCircles Haha!


dangina More on that car coming soon!


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner I think it will be worth the wait :)


TheDude69 Check my next event for some American cars in Japan :)


EricSeanDelaney I think you'll like what's in store.


Blake Jones Agree completely. Thanks a lot!


The Spoon Sports Civic EK omg yes


Any more pictures of that Mazda pickup, behind the light blue 3rd-generation civic-hatchback?

Gianluca FairladyZ

350Z Convertible with these insane overfenders... Spotlight please....


I love that Crown wagon. It's got such a cool look to it. That wagon shape has aged very well .


Mike Garrett Are we gonna see a feature on the yellow AE86 or where can I see more?


Probably the best line I have ever read on Speedhunters. Just plain AWESOME! Hirokazu Sato you are THE man.


What kind of wheels are those?


Japan never fails to impress and ignite some passions in me that i thought was once lost... until i flip through my local classifieds and see the prices of cars here once again...


RedWhine Coming from someone who drives an 04 Corolla also finds this awesome haha


I really do respect the work put into these cars. I am more of a performance guy but i can always respect an interesting stanced car.


RedWhine There's one guy I saw at a local car meet who did up a Corolla of this year. It was a little more ghetto looking, but I loved it for the platform uniqueness.


RedWhine Actually, there were two...


I first saw this event on YouTube and got really confused. I was thinking, "Did they ship a bunch of U.S. cars to Japan just to show?" and then stumbled upon this article. Simple mind blown.


It's nothing new, it's been going on for years now. Take lowriders for example, what's the biggest market for them outside of US? Japan of course.


Yeah, and the condition of local cars.


It's just a livery, not an actual demo car.


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