Speedhunting In Shakotan Heaven
Into The Japanese Countryside We Go…

As car lovers, we’re all united by our shared automotive passion. Yet naturally, each of us still have our own preferred car style, car make or particular automotive scene that we’re more inclined to take an interest in. Perhaps you’re really into Subarus or cars built purely for drifting, or maybe you’ve been crazy about hot rods for as long as you can remember. For me, it’s definitely old Japanese cars of the low and wide variety.

My shakotan obsession has sparked several visits to Japan over the years, but it was on one particular trip last year that I happened to hear word of a big nostalgic car show taking place in Shiga Prefecture, roughy an hour west of Nagoya.


I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after a five hour journey from Tokyo to a small country town, I was in total disbelief of how many incredible cars had shown up. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring in-depth coverage to Speedhunters last year, but I swore that in 2015 I’d return to Japan once again for this event. Things somehow fell into place, and the Sunday before last I found myself in a rental car driving through the Japanese countryside, on my way to the Blume no oka meeting.


Held by car club Dual Factory, the event once again took place at the end of June and at the same location – a massive parking area for a German culture-themed agricultural park called Blumen Hugel, or Burume no oka in Japanese. By the time we arrived just after 10:00am, there was already a huge line of cars backed up waiting to get into the carpark.


Eventually we realised that the line of traffic wasn’t going anywhere, so we parked up on a side road next to this Hachiroku crew and walked the rest of the way to the event. Surely this was a good sign – did it mean that there would be just as many cars as last time? Or maybe more? The suspense was killing me…


It just seemed crazy, after driving past rice paddy fields and green rolling hills for hours on end, that we were suddenly going to reach a random parking lot containing row after row of rare nostalgic cars modified in every way imaginable. Surely that would be too good to be true, and yet it wasn’t.


With most of the cars having arrived a couple of hours earlier, the event was already in full swing and the carpark was absolutely jam-packed full of all kinds of kyusha creations. For an old school Nissan lover like me, I was in my ultimate Speedhunting element!


Usually I get excited seeing just one C10 Skyline Hakosuka in the wild, but at this event there had to be at least 50 of them – maybe more. I actually tried to take a photo of every single one to make a collage image to show just how many there were, but I lost count and gave up – I’m not even kidding.


It’s honestly difficult to convey the sheer size of just how big this meeting was. If I told you that you could’ve found almost any combination of old Skyline in any colour scheme with any wheel choice there, would you even believe me?


It was almost like ordering a pizza: would you like your Hakosuka with two doors, or four? Stock fenders or GT-R style? With an eggshell white or silver base? And would you like a headlight conversion with that?


Then there were the wheels: vintage rolling stock by SSR, Techno Racing, Hayashi, Yokohama, AME, Work, Riverside – any old collectable Japanese wheels of your choosing.


I could’ve laid down on the ground and stared into the centres of these ultra rare Hayashi Yayoi Sakura wheels all day. These particular examples were tucked tightly under the custom fenders of a hot magenta, glitter-coated Yonmeri Skyline C110. As tempting as it was, I still had a lot of cars to look at!


The level of body customisation that the owners of these cars go to is absolutely nuts, and they seem to have super-wide fender application down to an art. Sometimes they’re bolted on in a rough, hurriedly manner (to make a statement on purpose, of course), but sometimes they’re actually applied quite nicely, like on this beautiful Kenmeri Skyline C110.


Generally when people go all-out like this, it’s a good sign that there’s something cool underneath the hood too. One thing I’ve observed – especially with modified C110 and C10 Skylines and Fairlady Z cars – is that most of them have been upgraded from their original L20 or L24 engine with the larger L28. Most, if not all of these engines are also bored and stroked to somewhere above 3,000cc. And of course, triple side drafts are a must-have.


The styling of a lot of these cars is pretty outrageous, and I can totally see how it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But not all of the cars were sporting such dramatic appearances…


There were plenty of classic machines with more traditional looks, such as this clean Bluebird 510 coupe on RS Watanabe wheels.


Oops, did I say traditional? I forgot about the SR20 swap!


It’s not all that often that I find myself poring over Nissan S130s, as I’ve just never found their sharper, more angular lines as attractive as the sleeker S30 shape. But the Japanese are onto something special when it comes to styling these cars, and there were plenty of extremely cool examples with Pantera-style hatch conversions, large boot spoilers and widened guards. Throw in some deep, wide wheels and a ground-scraping ride height and I’m sold!


I’ll also never be able to look at a Z31 the same way after setting eyes on this extremely cool first-gen 300ZX. It simply oozed style and presence, and that retro Datsun decal really completes the overall look nicely. It was such a weird feeling, lusting over cars that I’ve never really taken notice of before like this.

Stealing The Show

Speaking of cars that I’ve never taken much notice of before, this left-hand drive AW11 was making me experience feelings that I can’t say a Toyota MR-2 has ever made me feel. Seeing as it had an aggressive front splitter and rear wing, with the interior stripped and fully caged, I couldn’t help but take a peek around the back…


The open rear hatch revealed a rather angry-looking 4A-GE on ITBs. What a sweet machine!


I could’ve literally written this whole coverage story just focusing on S30Zs, but instead I’ve picked my two favourites to concentrate on. You’ll also have to forgive me, as I’m a bit biased toward G-nose Z-cars! The deep burgundy/bronze paint on this Z was what drew me in initially, but it was the finer details that made me stick around.


As well as the extreme Works-style over-fender treatment, it was also sporting these beautiful ’70s racing-style metal light covers, an interesting alternative to the traditional clear plastic covers.


Around the back of the car I spotted an IMSA-style rear boot spoiler, but instead of going for the bolt-on look, the owner has opted for a more elegant approach with the spoiler smoothed into the bodywork. The result is quite stunning.


I couldn’t resist shooting this Z styled around the ‘Yanky Mate!’ S30Z from the famous Shakotan Boogie manga series. I’ve seen pictures of real-life replicas of this car in yellow before, but never in blue, which is the colour the car originally was before it got painted in its more well-known bright yellow hue.


The lines running from the externally mounted oil cooler were showing clear signs of being dragged along the pavement, which seems crazy. But you know… whatever!


Next up, here’s another beautiful L-series engine bay that caught my eye. But this wasn’t in a Z-car or a Skyline…


It belonged to this stunning Laurel C130. This car reminded me of a similar red example that Dino stumbled across not that long ago, though in this case the twin headlamps have been swapped out to make way for the ever-popular Gloria headlamp conversion. I love how the SSR Star Sharks match the red and chrome colour scheme in the engine bay – a theme which is also carried throughout the interior with a red velour-upholstered dash.


This race-inspired Toyota Starlet was another stand-out car for me; full cage, big N2 guards, chunky stencilled tyres wrapped around vintage Hayashi Racing Command 500 wheels. I didn’t actually notice this at the time, but there’s actually little pictures of the car printed on the tyres! Is that like the car equivalent of getting a tattoo of your own face? I’m not too sure, but I like it!


This old-school Hilux stood out like a sore thumb amongst the sea of classic Nissans surrounding it, and I almost had to stand in line to get a proper picture as it was constantly drawing crowds of curious onlookers throughout the day. Upon closer inspection, I was pleased to see that the faded red paint and rust were in fact original, and I love how they’ve been accentuated with some cool hot rod-style pin-striping…


A theme which carried though into the interior as well. Note the Samurai sword gear shifter and push-start ignition!


Walking around this event and absorbing all of these incredible cars was almost a bit overwhelming – there was just so much to take in.


The amount of effort that people put into little details and customisation within this particular Japanese subculture is utterly fascinating to me. I understand that many people out there think that car modifications that aren’t performance-orientated are pointless, but the people attending this event couldn’t disagree more with that. Why have a crushed pink velvet interior with a plastic pig on the dash and an over-sized flowery gear knob? It’s simple: because you can.

No Style, No Life

I can definitely see how a lot of people wouldn’t be so fond of these extreme, sometimes downright bizarre styling choices. Don’t get me wrong; when it comes to my own personal cars, I’m a big fan of functionality. But I have to say that after spending a whole day soaking up all of the weird and wacky trends that this scene is so well known for, I felt extremely conscious of my lack of personal style. Not in a ‘oh man, I suck’ kind of way, but in more of a ‘okay, this is super inspiring’ kind of way.


I totally get it, though. In a small country with over 127 million people; in a society that encourages people to play by the rules and ‘stick to the norm’, why on earth would you want to blend in when you can stand out?


To some, a car is just something we use to get from A to B. But to others, it can be a blank canvas. Whether you want to add a sparkly grille, colourful headlights, air horns or a rainbow glitter-coated engine bay, that’s up to you.


To this crowd, the way you present yourself, how you present your car and the manner in which you drive it are all of utmost importance. Whether that means shaving the model of your car into the side of your head…


Or wearing a watermelon-themed shirt!


Perhaps it means having matching customised pink scooters with leopard print seat covers.


Or you know, bolting your ridiculously sized over-fenders directly onto your rear door handles.


In this scene, personal style is everything, and it’s not so much a hobby as it is a way of life. The ‘ultimate car’ doesn’t always have to be built around optimum performance and precision handling. It just has to be something that represents you, your tastes and your beliefs.


These people have chosen to fill their lives with colour, creativity and camaraderie, and it’s all in the name of having fun with cars. That’s something that I can get behind 100 per cent, and I think it’s the reason why I’ve fallen so deeply in love with Japan’s weird and wonderful car culture.


With that in mind, perhaps the people within this scene are some of the most passionate auto enthusiasts I’ve ever met. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many families and young children at a car event!


I’m not too sure what the future holds for the kyusha and kaido racer scene in Japan, but I hope these kids grow up with an appreciation for these crazy cars, so that this style can be passed down through future generations to come. Judging from the look of complete and utter joy on this cool little dude’s face as he blisses out on the back of his dad’s motorbike, I think it’s quite likely.

Before you go, make sure to check out the ginormous bonus images gallery below!

Taryn Croucher
Instagram: taryncroucher

Additional Photos by Peter Kelly
Instagram: speedhunters_pedey

Cutting Room Floor


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Any photos of that two tone s13 in the red 300zx photo?


s30's have some of the best body kits out there


When did lazy become style ? Seriously, rotate the fuckin fittings in the proper direction and trim the excess hose.....

Fixthe Fernback

roninlotus211 You're boring.


What an amazing post. Very inspiring.

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Taryn and Peter, the awesomeness that ozes from this post, I just can't describe it. I'm in love with almost every car shown, really I'm that impressed!
Well done, just great!!


that final 240z with the bumper delete!!! too cool


Cable ties ffs?


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner  me too, when is the flight?


This article actually made me kind of sad and for a good reason: there are so many cool cars in the world it's kind of unfortunate I can't own all of them. hahaha. I really like the style of the 240Z and the Starlet in this article, the AW11 MR2 is so clean. You hardly ever see those cars taken to a high level. 

Always fun to see how diverse the Japanese scene is, some of these cars really reminded me of the old school rides that got me into the culture when I was younger. Great pictures.


Thanks Taryn for the write up... i'm so going!!!


I'm all for tight fitment, flush fitment, poke and stretch, but that first Z's tyres look like basketballs....bit too much.

I get that you're a Nissan fan, and the majority of cars there were probably of that marque, but it seems 80% of the photo's are of Nissans. Great coverage still, looks like a great event!


Best article in a long while.. Can't decide on a favorite car because they're all great in their own way.
Thanks for the article Taryn, and great pictures also!


absolutely fucking amazing! that yanky mate z is gorgeous.. must get myself another z..


Pretty full-on.


Because it is 100% impossible that the owner spent extra time putting the fittings on the wrong side, and making the hoses long, so that he could achieve the look he wants.
Clearly he mounted in the way it came, took no time, slapped the shit together and went straight to the show.
You know what's lazy? Looking at one picture and assuming you know everything about the car and it's owner.
FOH lol


Beautiful cars. I love the personal touches. I wish American and euro culture had more of this. More expressing yourself, less trying to fit in with what everyone else is doing. Appreciating and respecting fellow enthusiasts as well, even if they're doing things slightly differently than you would.


Some of my favourite cars all in one carpark!! Celica, Datsuns, Skylines, Z's! Wow.

However Taryn Croucher as an SW20 Toyota MR2 driver, I died a little inside when you subliminal dissed the MR2. :( I suppose you aren't too keen on the 2 since you used to drive an MX-5? I really wanted an NA MX-5, but only in british racing green with the leather and wood trim. Missed out on it so pulled the trigger on the MR2.


This post needs more Park Baker...=)

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Mate kudos on that comment, too often we don't see anything different in western cultures due to people being too sheep like. If it makes you feel good, do it.

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

If I had it my way, right bloody now!!! Lol


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner if it stops stupid coments from you on every page im all for it!


John Key NZ Taryn Croucher I'll be honest, SW20s have never got me going either. I totally understand that they're pretty awesome cars but I think the fact that in years past they attracted so many people who didn't know much about cars but wanted a cool looking "sports car" ruined them a bit for me, and then those same type of people started modifying them in the early to mid 2000s in the most terrible ways and I haven't been able to take them seriously since. 

I do however think that the SW20 is a future classic, and tidy turbo examples will start jumping up in value in a few year's time.


John Key NZ Aw sorry it wasn't really meant to be a diss, I've just never really loved them. Still do like them though!


emotional_r Can't disagree with you there! There were still quite a few not-so-extreme cars there though, but I tried to focus more on the more weird stuff.


That burgundy/bronze Z is so perfect....just from that car alone, I want to see a visit to the body/paintshop that did it. Just amazing bodywork that's almost factory-clean, and that ULTRA smooth paint~


Spaghetti Yeah I was aware of that - but to be honest, most of the cars there were Nissans or Toyotas. I tried to throw in a few odd-balls into the bonus images though!


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Thanks guys. You should really check it out Japan. It is so much fun here! :D


roninlotus211 Yeah, but as I said, some of these guys do this on purpose. It sounds crazy but they don't really care... and it's part of the style. But then some of these cars are built to a really high standard. It varies a lot!


Codycasale Woah good spotting! No, I didn't take any pictures of it sadly. That's the one downside of big meets like this; really clean cars can go unnoticed next to some of the more crazier 'stand-out' cars on show. If I saw that S13 on the street, I would've definitely stopped to take a better look and taken some pictures!


D1RGE Me too! I'm sure Dino can make it happen for us...


I'm disappointed; were there genuinely no FB or SA RX7s at all? Or even any Mazdas, for that matter?


Taryn Croucher emotional_r Glad you did, some incredible-looking stuff.


Shakotan is like my floral print bucket hat: ugly but fcukin awesome. this 40 y.o. approves! Youngbloods=OK.

BTW: Those wheels in the bonerus section: like toilets to sit on.


The Japanese Old car scene will never cease to inspire me, it's that which has helped me build my own Rendition 1000s of kilometers away from all the fun ! Great photos !


man i just love that last photo with a kid with a v sign , rock on !


oh Taryn Croucher bless your love of Z's; you know just how to scratch that itch; now all you need to do is find more Z32's to feature its been a while :P love all the nostalgic coverage, keep it coming!


yayois are not as rare as you think they are. the folks over at hayashi racing have been reproducing them as well as techno racing trvs so you can get them just like that.


What is the Yanky Mate!’ S30Z ,colour/color ?


Taryn Croucher - do you happen to have any photos of cars with Techno Racing Phantoms on? Particulary S30's? ;)


DJJAW11 Blue! I'm not too sure of the paint code/exact colour name sorry.


@speedhentai I know Hayashi has started making them again, but still, they don't come cheap. And original ones are still rare!


Awesome... I miss the Shakotan madness


Very nice article !
BTW, what's the name of this car ? A modified Corolla TE51 ?


tom30300 It's a Sprinter Trueno TE47! I have one like this with a 2T-B engine & 4 speed transmission. :)


Taryn Croucher Peter_Kelly no problemo hey I think there's plenty of cars which are "ruined" by certain people, fortunately for me I haven't been exposed to those people who modified them terribly. They are pretty twitchy on the motorways. Turbochargers would be awesome, Caldina 4th gen 3gste would be mint, same goes for a rotary MX-5 :)


The gen 1 Silvia had me drooling, these were coach build masterpieces. My second favourite are the pigs butt C130's.


@MyLifeAsLouis tom30300 I was about to say Toyota Sprinter TE47! Took me a while to figure it out when I saw it, I'm not sure how common they are in Japan but I'd never seen one before!


Uggghhhhh!!! Taryn why did you have to show me that spectacular C130 Laurel!!! I'd just gotten over that car crush. Back to yahoo.jp auctions I go.

My wife won't be thanking you! lol


If you ever get the chance a well sorted AW11 MR2 is one of the genuine "like a go kart" automotive experiences.

I always see an impeccably clean navy grey one, lowered on Watanabe's with an SCCA sticker around my parts and I sometimes see it shoot by with a brrrap!

I discovered the pilot was a girl while at a gas station. I wanted to run out and talk to her but the attendant was (deliberately!) taking her sweet ass time. When I was finally able to run out she was getting back in her car but made eye contact and all I could muster was a thumbs up from a distance. She stuck a thumbs up out of her door jam before closing it and brrrapp'd off. Next time.


day_old_tofu He he my bad! Sorry Mrs. tofu!


macm3651 Love that car!


Taryn Croucher tom30300 Thanks to both of you !
This is not the kind of cars we see in France, so I was a bit lost. :)


dlaurence01 I honestly feel like this coverage is a pretty good representation of what was there. Nissans really did dominate. But as I said, I am a bit biased when it comes to the Nissan marque. If you're after RX-7 inspiration though, you'll love what Dino has in store for his 7s day meet coverage! Seriously drool-worthy stuff!


Any more pictures of those AW11's? I've seen the "Beat F**ker" MR2 before but the one next to it I haven't seen before; it looks cool!


Does one get first-gen 300ZXs with a solid roof? Because then i want one with a motorswap done.




macm3651  That is actually epic!


Such an inspiring article! Great work! :) Was there any B310 Datsun Sunnys by any chance?


I must know!


@Alkku Thanks! Hmm... not that I can remember sorry. The only downside to this meet was that is was so big that it was hard to take in every car there! If I saw any single one of these cars on the street by itself I would be chasing after it trying to take pictures haha


MatsNorway Pretty sure they did also come with a solid roof! Although you don't often see them without the t-top, do you... https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/80/de/7e/80de7e88f12c121bc93f9359047b351e.jpg


yet again someone who doesn't know the difference between a coupe and a 2dr datsun.


@Taryn Croucher While I always look forward to seeing the 7s Day coverage, I can't recall ever seeing any shakotan style early Mazdas there before, and I was hoping to see a different take on it.


PeterDerkacz No need to be rude about it; please enlighten me on my mistake so I can learn for next time. Cheers!


That blue MR2 is awesome... And uh... That's my 2nd lifted Delica today in SpeedHunters. LOL!


The "Pantera-style hatch conversions" are actually called "Airone gate" ( アイローネゲート )


Just awesome! I wonder how they come up with all these little details, like for example that red cover on that Cressida's headlamp. But then again Japan is a country full of art so why would it be different with cars?


"Having fun with cars"

That's it, that's all, that's everything.

This post is right up there with the original Vortex Daikoku Futo post (which is now over 10 year's old!) for being inspiring.


Taryn Croucher PeterDerkacz I wouldn't worry about it Taryn. In generic layman's terms a 2dr is a coupe and a 4dr is a sedan. That's what most people call them. If you want to get technical and submit to something that probably originated as a marketing gimmick then a coupe is sports oriented, small 2 person back seat or no back seat, no B pillar and smaller rear side window. While a 2dr has a larger even 3 person back seat, B pillar and large rear side windows. I owned two 510's and always called them coupes.


"The ‘ultimate car’ doesn’t always have to be built around optimum performance and precision handling. It just has to be something that represents you, your tastes and your beliefs",

Couldn't agree more!


Amazing post. Could you please tell me what this http://www.speedhunters.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/HillsOfBlume_Taryn_Croucher20150628_0162-1200x800.jpg
Is in? Thank you @taryncroucher


looked like a great show


utah_dragon Thanks! That was in a Hakosuka, of course! ;)


I am heading to Nagoya in September and hope you could tell me if there are more shows or gathering that time.. Of course I will attend F1 event at Suzuka but would be nice to attend such gathering


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