The weekend before last saw the launch of a little side venture that Kei Miura and pro drifter Kenji Yamanaka have been working on for quite some time now. The ‘Bunny Cafe’ is a way to bring the Rocket Bunny brand to the Kanto area and at the same time create a cool place for people into custom cars to hang out at.
To celebrate its opening, a party was organized at the Bay Side nightclub in Yokohama city, a popular port-side haunt that served as the perfect venue for some car-oriented fun. I managed to swing by late afternoon to check out what it was all about and say hello to many familiar faces.
When I arrived two of Lexon’s demo cars were sitting on display in front of the club – the IS F on the left wearing Lexon’s own wide-body kit that was produced in collaboration with Miura-san. I’ve been trying to shoot this bad-ass sedan for months now, but there must be a stronger force at play as every time I schedule a shoot it gets rained out!
As soon as I stepped inside I was greeted by the guys from N-Style, who immediately grabbed the mini-Speedhunter I had brought with me and posed for a few photos. Nakamura-san, on the left, is the owner of the tough-as-nails Z20 Soarer I featured last year, and the guy on the left is Nagahama-san, the man behind N-Style. If you recall, he’s now got a drift-spec Supra that he enjoys taking out. It’s a good thing I bumped into these guys too, as they reminded me of all the cool soukoukai events they are holding in the next few months.
As you’d expect, there were a few of Miura’s creations present too, including the S13 Silvia built for Slammed Society and the candy red, flip-front NSX that we first saw on the Enkei booth at TAS this year.
But the car everyone wanted to see – and the one that Miura worked hard on to complete for this opening party – was the ‘Boss’ Rocket Bunny V2, which we featured last week and has since become the subject of much discussion in the comments section. At the party it was running a bucktooth front lip that was inadvertently broken off while moving the car later in the night. I think I prefer it without, to be honest.
Of course, you don’t need to own an IS F to run the Lexon over-fender kit – any second-gen IS will do. And as you can see here, you can get just about the same sort of result.
Throughout the afternoon and early evening more people kept arriving – I even spotted Ryo-san from R.Y.O. who came up all the way from Kobe for the get-together. The open area at the back of the venue was the perfect place to sit down with a drink and chat, but I spent most of my time running after the mini-Speedhunter who was excited at the cars on show and the boats moored at a nearby pier.
A pro trials bike rider then put on a pretty amazing show – doing what seemed impossible with a 2-wheeled machine. I don’t know if the back-flip was more impressive than the way he bunny-hopped over Kenji’s nether regions. ‘Bunny’-hopped… Ah, now I get why they called in this guy to jump up and down all over the place!
Miura and Bunny had also set up a little booth area selling Rocket Bunny branded accessories.
Seeing as so many people in Japan smoke, the lighters became hot sellers as the drinks flowed.
When the music got too loud for the little Speedhunter to bear for more than a few minutes, it was the perfect time to head back out to the front of the building and take another couple of shots of Takemi’s Lexon IS F. Man, the Work Kiwami wheels are such a great match, don’t you think?
Shortly after, this stanced NSX arrived – another one of Lexon’s cars that I will be trying to feature very soon. I just love cars like these – they challenge what the majority of people think as being acceptable with a legendary Japanese sportscar like the NSX.
Once most people had arrived the stage opened and each of the guys involved in the Bunny Cafe project welcomed everyone and thanked them for their ongoing support.
Max Orido was a special guest, and he also took to the stage to give a short speech. It’s always so cool to see someone like Orido-san not forgetting where they came from, and in no way giving up the cars that they have always loved. The well-known race car driver and tuning scene personality is currently putting the final touches on a new JZA80 build which I will be trying to shoot as soon as he gives me the okay.Checking Out The Cafe
For how cool the party the day (and night) before was, there was still the fact that I hadn’t seen the Bunny Cafe in person. Not to worry though, as I was scheduled to meet Miura and Kenji there at 10:00am in order to head out into the city and shoot the Boss S14 before it returned to Kyoto.
That gave me the chance to take a little tour of the cafe, which is situated just outside the center of Yokohama. For a busy main street I was surprised at the lack of parking attendants, so it looks like you can get away with stopping your car right outside.
I’m guessing that by the time big events like the Tokyo Auto Salon roll around, many foreigners travelling to Japan will want to check this place out.
As soon as you step foot inside Bunny Cafe there’s a chilled-out atmosphere, and as I was told, people are more than welcome to swing by and check out the Rocket Bunny kitted cars that will be rotated in the display area. It was cool seeing the red Acura NSX from the launch party again.
A ton of sponsors and collaborators have played a part in this venture and it’s really cool to see.
Damn I want an NSX so bad!
Step inside through the glass door and the cafe splits into two main sections. The first is the shop area where various accessories are on display and for sale, like all these drift-themed t-shirts.
Toptul – a famous Japanese tool maker from the Kansai region of the country – is a main sponsor too, and there’s a fully stocked-up chest of goodies on display for people to check out. Seeing this sort of stuff makes me want a proper garage even more than I always have. Damn you Tokyo!
The other side of the cafe is the bar area, where all sorts of drinks are available. On this particular day Kenji was expecting delivery of the espresso machine and coffee grinder, so by now he’ll be serving up steaming-hot frothy brews as well.
Along with the counter there’s also a small table with a few extra seating spaces, completing what is a cool place to hang out. And that’s exactly the sort of atmosphere they were trying to create here.
In the evening this lever will be getting a proper workout, I’m sure!
Kenji has spent many years competing in the US, and given the American influence to the decor, he obviously picked up a lot of cool memorabilia to deck out the cafe with. Mind you, the turbo compressor wheel is a detail that tells you this isn’t your usual coffee shop!
As I attempted my best impression of the proverbial fly on the wall, Kenji, Miura and some other guys that had dropped by happily chatted away.
Miura looked tired from the night before – it must have been a hell of a job to organise and get all the cars sorted for the opening.
As I sat down to enjoy a complimentary glass of ice cold oolong-cha, I checked out the videos that were playing on the TV screen set high above the counter. Yep, those are instructions to fit the Rocket Bunny aero kit to a ZN6!
I look forward to stopping by this place in the near future and really relaxing; maybe bringing out my laptop and writing a couple of stories. I bet it would be a pretty inspirational place to work from.
Dino Dalle Carbonare