Lowriders Take Over Tokyo
The Dilemma

It’s 10:00pm on a very hot 6th of August in Tokyo and I have a dilemma. Do I go to Daikoku PA and join in the Hachiroku festivities, or do I do something completely different?

Had 8/6 fallen on any other day, I surely would have been soaking in 4A-G buzzing sounds all night long. But this year it didn’t. It was the first Saturday of the month, which meant that Shibuya and its surrounding areas would soon be overrun by low-riding American iron of varying vintage. Given that it was a spectacle I’d never experienced as Speedhunter, and that Blake had attended 86 Style at Fuji Speedway the weekend prior, it didn’t take me long to make up my mind.


It was like a well choreographed military assault as Shibuya began to quiet down, the odd squeeze of throttle followed by an occasional squeak and a metal scrape or two, all combined to create quite an alien atmosphere for someone who’s more used to hearing good old fashioned showing off courtesy of high-RPM or boost-assisted acceleration.


But showing off for these guys is executed in a slightly different fashion.


In no time at all the majority of side streets in the high-end shopping side of Shibuya were taken over.


Usually the street that Tower Records is on becomes the main place for people park up and show off what their hydraulics can do, but the police have caught on to that and hours before this monthly meet kicked off they had already placed cones and barriers over the parking spots.


As if that would stop guys flowing in from surrounding areas of the city and prefectures further away though. This is something people get ready for; it’s a big deal and you have to make sure your car is ready to be dealt some abuse.


I kept seeing guys arrive, park up, chill out for a few minutes and then drive off.


There was so much movement, cars going by in every direction. It was obvious something was going down and that this area was more of a temporary meeting place than anything else.


I jumped in my trusty Legacy, blasted the A/C to cool off from the humidity that had turned me into a sweaty mess, and followed this Town Car as it scraped its way past the Seibu Department Store and Apple Store in Shibuya.


It, and the other cars in procession, kept going straight up the hill which then connects to the road that takes you over to Harajuku.


And as it turns out, that’s precisely where everyone was headed.

The Hunt

The road that runs across Yoyogi Park from Harajuku over to Inokashira-dori was completely packed out with lowriders. This is exactly where I had seen this meet go down years ago, but never on this scale.


It was almost overwhelming as the sheer number of cars present made it feel like I was no longer standing in the center of Tokyo.


And with the whole idea here being to parade your car in front of the crowds that have gathered watch, shoot and film, there was a constant stream of American iron cruising through.


It was at this point that I pulled out my phone and did a live video on the Speedhunters Facebook page – essentially walking up and down the street for a few minutes just to share the awesomeness that I was witnessing.


One thing that has always seemed curious to me is how one slice of this scene is made up of ’80s Lincolns, Buicks and Cadillacs. To me, they seem almost too generic and normal to be considered viable base cars for lowriding.


That is, until I saw them doing their thing down the street. Once you see it in front of your eyes, you get it.


After all, you can’t be bouncing and pulling crazy tricks with older and more sought after cars, right?


Highrider? These sorts of events always bring out other sides of American car culture, and along with full-sized SUVs riding on enormous wheels and show bikes decked out with all sorts of lights, these lifted, Baja-inspired pickups are slowly gaining popularity in Japan. Anything to stand out from the crowd!

The Show

As I walked up towards the center of Yoyogi Park, the cars became more exciting and varied.


It was right across from the National Stadium where a small crowd had formed.


Provided the traffic lights right after this spot were green (or blue, as the Japanese say) and there was enough space up ahead, the guys really let their hydraulics rip.


Some kept their front end bouncing right up the street. It was an awesome sight.


Then people started putting on light shows as they dropped their cars’ rear ends right onto the ground and slalomed left and right.


Many sparks were thrown and bystanders were cheering on for more.


By this time I had well and truly forgotten about AE86s and what may have been going on at Daikoku PA.


What makes this street a superb venue for this sort of thing is the easy way that cars can either loop around or go a few blocks to then drive up it once again. It kept the parade flowing all night.


Of all these monthly lowrider meets, August always has the largest turnout, which is why some had driven up from as far as Kyoto and Nagoya. People were really impressed when this massive Ford Excursion from Nagoya rolled in…


And this the reason why: one of Japan’s most well known and respected ‘bouncing cars’ on the trailer.


It went out a couple of times to do its thing, but I was so taken aback at how damn high it could lift its front end that I totally forgot to grab a snap!


Not to matter, the cool rides kept on coming. Check out this ’64 Bug with an A/C unit mounted on the side of the window! I hope the owner had filled it up with ice as the humidity didn’t let off all throughout the night.


Not only are Bel Air convertibles quite a rare sight in Japan, but I can safely say I had never seen a yellow example on the streets of Tokyo until this one rolled by.


This being Japan, the selection of cars is always spiced up with something JDM, and on Saturday night that ‘something’ was a Sunny truck almost hitting 88mph!


And on top of a few other cool Japanese kustoms, there was definitely a lot of variety to indulge in.


After being exposed to yet another facet of Japanese car culture I felt beautifully satisfied. It was as if a Mooneyes Hot Rod Custom show had come to life right in front of my eyes, in central Tokyo.

I say it often, but when it comes to cars Japan never disappoints.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Cool feature! Where do these guys find room to store all their land-yachts?


Damn these cars are loong!! What are the cars in the 7th, 14th and 18th pics?


these pictures are just incredible, great work dino you've made me very jealous once again...



7 looks like a Chevy Impala
14 could be a 1970s Pontiac Grand Prix
18 Chevy Impala...

Of course I could be wrong...


Mayank0809 '64 Chevy Impala, '71 Mercury Cougar, '60 Chevy Impala.


okay - it's about time I finally make this comment

where in the HELL are they storing these cars??

Japan seems to have an incredible passion for so many types of cars, where do they sleep at night?

especially these boats!!! LOL

I'm requesting there be a dedicated series (or maybe at least one story) about how ppl store their cars, the costs related, etc.(maybe there was a story about this that I missed?)

I'm really curious


This has got to be the most surreal post ever on Speedhunters. Super cool.


@Cano Thanks man, it was surreal shooting those images! I'll be out for more of these, way too much fun


MPistol Well 90% of the cars you see here are from outside of the city, so there isn't much issues with space out there...


difflocked_mees Glad you like them :)


Mayank0809 Yes, pretty damn massive! #becausemurica


@Kenny Outside Tokyo for the most part, and I'm guessing extended garages haha


Wow, did not expect to see that in Japan. Awesome post!


tomok Mayank0809 thanks! what 'bout 2?


Mayank0809 tomok '61 Chevy Impala


Best post you've ever made. And I think, that the Japanese are the only people who know how to do each and every style 100% right. These low riders being an example. Whether it's a USDM style build, a supercar, a low rider, Trucks/SUV's, they always seem to nail it better then the country where it originated at.


As long as the Japanese don't take the donked cars over there, we're good. Hell, I hate seeing donked cars here or anywhere.



Aw man I was hoping for photos of the trailered one. The ones that show up on trailers usually don't disappoint. Or the break.
Cool none the less!


DaveT Yeah not sure if it broke but after it went round twice it stopped passing by.


370 Hemi yeah they have a few of those too...


Love Lift equipped cars!!! My daily for awhile about 13 years ago was a civic hatch on 4 pumps. The 2 ton springs for hopping kind of sucked at times though haha. I really need to find a vehicle for the near 20 year old 2 pump kit I have sitting on the shelf


@Nick haha, so true! And happy to hear you liked the post so much! Can't wait for the next event to roll around :)


@chris chabre After seeing these things I have to make sure I get a ride in one and ask the owner to make it bounce haha


wear your seatbelt or you will hit the roof haha... My buddy use to follow me home and he would tell me at times all 4 wheels would be off the ground...I also drove it so low I couldnt put my foot under the rocker in front of the rear tire. The poor exhaust and floor were mangled from dragging it. haha


speedhunters_dino MPistol Years ago I was staying, for work, in a little town called Mikawa Anjo, just outside Nagoya. Imagine my surprise when I saw a guy driving around in a late '80's Chevy full size dually pickup truck. It was a long bed too, so basically the largest truck you could get from Chevy. And, of course, it was slammed to the ground. I spent roughly over 2 and a half months in Japan that year, and that is still one of the more incredible things I saw there.


Damn, Dino!
I'm following you for a while now and you became sort of a role model to me when it comes to carmedia. I really admire your work and love reading your stories!
I'm currently staying in Tokyo as well, is there any chance I could join you to a car meet?


SoCal style right down to the bone! It's great to see that the original SoCal lowrider culture lives on abroad.


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If I were there it probably wouldn't feel any different than being in SoCal. Even the cholo's are on point.


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What is that yellow car 9th photo from the bottom? Love it


84ish Monte Carlo. 

Better known as a G body... the Buick Regal, and Olds cutlass are the same chassis


@chris chabre Codycasale Love the knowledge we seen in the comment section! You guys rock!


DinoSawr And then some haha


Aldarris I did have that feeling a few times...


Eddi Win Thanks man! Just shoot me a mail :)


@chris chabre speedhunters_dino That's nuts! Can't be too good for the old back though!


evoCS speedhunters_dino MPistol There is a massive american scene down in that area, some of the oldest clubs are from Nagoya and Aichi


Oh gods, I truly hope lifted trucks don't get real big in Japan. Perhaps I am biased because I'm currently in the Prairies, but
Chasing that note though, the Japanese have very heartily captured the American lowrider soul. They would certainly be at home on the streets of SoCal. Incredibly well executed. That Monte Carlo would definitely be the one I would take home.


Hopping is ridiculously vivacious on a car especially the ones that can do bumper.
I think if you ever got the opportunity to feature a hopper (that also drives) a lot of people would be impressed in the sheer amount of work that goes into making them not fold up on impact.


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Being from San Jose, CA which is lowrider capitol in Northern California seeing cruises and meets just like this is pretty common. Everything here is on point lol


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Hi Dino, great article, nice culture :) I'm in Japan early September, do you think it would be possible to meet some of these guys or if there is a lowrider event ? I've just done a documentary about this culture in Brazil and want to shoot more about the worldwide culture of lowriders. https://vimeo.com/177196049 Thanks ! Stephane


@chris chabre Codycasale  Don't forget, the Pontiac Grand Prix is as well.


370 Hemi  They have a couple of Donks/high risers riding around too. Side note: not all high riding cars are DONKS. Only 1970-1976 Impalas are called Donks. Although BelAirs, and Caprices are accepted into the fold because they share the same bodies. Everything else is just a "High Riser".

Unfortunately most High Risers and poorly done Donks get all the attention. IF you go to Miami where the whole style originated you'll be blessed with seeing a proper Donk like this:



Mayank0809  If you think those are long, they got longer and wider between 1970-1976. By US standards the 1960s fullsize cars are considered the tidy, just right, sized American classics, by a lot of people.


dadecode I wasn't privy to where the style originated. I live in North Texas and sometimes will see these god awful old school Buicks, Chevys, etc with horrible paint, rusted body cars on 26+ inch wheels with Doritos or Koolaide themes. It's pretty gross to me.


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I did forget! cant remember them all haha


with Accumulators it wasnt bad but it was still rough. I have to make a correction though...The springs were ton and a quarter, the kit I have on my shelf have 2 ton springs


 gotta share what you know...otherwise its pretty useless at some point bouncing around up there



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