Why Tokyo Car Culture Is The Best In The World

As a Speedhunter, I’ve travelled to all corners of the world to experience different car cultures, but even when I’m not hunting speed back home in Tokyo, it’s impossible to escape it.

Thursday night was a special night. A night of wandering; a night not burdened by the pressure or time constraints that comes with this job. Thursday night was different.


It all started Monday afternoon when Nissan threw me the key to a 2017 GT-R Premium Edition. While having a chat with the man behind the GT-R, Tamura-san, at the recent Tokyo Motor Show, he was surprised to hear that I hadn’t had a chance to sample the refreshed R35. This is a car that he developed after taking over the project following Mizuno-san’s retirement.


Tamura-san suggested I try the base model first, then the Track Edition, ending with the daddy of them all, the Nismo version. Who’s going to turn down an invitation like that?! So that’s what I’ve been doing this week, daily driving the orange GT-R you see in the opening picture as if it was my car, picking up my son from kindergarten and doing the usual domestic rounds. But last night, a rare quiet night, instead of going to bed I jumped into the car and hit the Shuto Expressway. I felt it was about time I flicked the three switches up to the ‘R’ mode and let her rip.

And that’s how I eventually ended up at Tatsumi Parking Area, a place you just have to stop by after a bit of fun lapping the R9.

On this mid-week, national holiday night I had no intention of shooting anything, and to be honest I didn’t really expect to see much. But I’m glad I had my camera case with me, because after checking out some cool cars, the bug hit. I knew I had to share what I was seeing with you guys.


I didn’t stay long, but I shot enough to give you a taste of the stuff you might expect to see on a Thursday night at Tokyo’s favorite pit-stop area.


As ever, the selection was varied. At Tatsumi you’ll see wealthy millennials flaunting their latest supercar purchases, to more run-of-the-mill cars that excite for their own reasons. It’s cool to see how people make the most of what they have, but the best part is watching them enjoy their cars on the R9.


Driving the pumpkin-colored R35 was a good reminder of the amazing job Nissan did 10 years ago when it came up with the next step in the GT-R lineage. This 2017 model flaunts the small improvements made over course of the next decade to the present day, and it’s damn impressive. There’s not a lot out there that can keep up with the brutal capabilities of a san-go, and I’m not even getting into the tuning side of things here.

And then a spotless BNR34 V-spec showed up, further reminding me where my true love really lies. Regardless of how much its performance pales in comparison to the R35, it’s still a very special machine.


Not too far away was this BRZ, one of the few affordable sports cars that Japan still has to offer us enthusiasts.


As I paced up and down the small parking area, a raspy and familiar exhaust note broke the silence. I thought it might be Blake out for a late-night blast, but his car is being worked on at the moment (much like Project GT-R). The mysterious matte NSX didn’t hang around long, but it was a much appreciated sight, curious aero and all.


It’s funny that I came across a Mercedes-Benz 190E that seemed to have obvious DTM aspirations. You see, I’m setting up a shoot with a very special DTM racer that’s part of a collection here in Japan, and had just spoken with the owner the previous day.


Seeing this car just makes me even more excited about shooting the car I’ve lined up. You’ll have to wait a bit to see that though…


Can you guess what was parked up next to it?


A rare W124 E60 AMG, otherwise known as a limited hot version of the 500E featuring a naturally aspirated V8 that punched out 380hp.


Behind it? An E30 M3. All that I wanted to see from Germany was neatly summed up by this rather special trio. Japan never disappoints.


Of course, we can’t forget the JDM side of things, and there were certainly a lot of Nissans around. Having drooled over a pair of S-chassis at Ebisu recently, this kitted RPS13 180SX stood out immediately.


Fairlady Z owners were having a little mini-meet of their own, with a few Z33s and Z34s of various styles and specification.


This higher vantage point gives you a look at all the Zs, and a poor Spec S S15 on Yokohama tri-spoke wheels that was cornered in by them.


You can’t possibly have a night at Tatsumi without seeing at least one Mazda rotary. I’ve always liked the RX-8 because of its nimble and neutral handling bias. It’s no RX-7 due to a massive lack of power and non-existent torque, but it still stands out as one of those cars you’d have in your unlimited collection of cars if money wasn’t an issue.


I’d also have a Corvette of some generation for sure. This particular car went out a few times for a lap of the R9 while I was busy taking pictures. It’s just so nice seeing people drive the crap out of their cars, then return to the Tatsumi base trailed by that unmistakable ‘thrashed car’ smell.


And from function we move on to form, thanks to this rather nicely slammed Z34 on Work Mesiter M1Rs.


Add wheels and suspension to a stock body and you have all you need. Simple is often best.


Over in the dark area of the parking area there were some more German cars lined up, and it was nice seeing a new-gen Panamera in the mix. It’s not the usual sort of car you see at Tatsumi, but there are obviously some people that actually drive these big sedans rather than just flaunting them around the center of the city.


I didn’t put this post together for any particular reason. Maybe to let you know that you’ll eventually see my Nismo R35 GT-R drive experience on Speedhunters, but mostly for the simple fact that I just wanted to share come cool car sh*t with people that I know get it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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One day I want to make it to Japan just to take in the PA's first hand. Thank you Dino for the post!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Hope you make it out!


Love these types of casual posts.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

And they are so fun to put together. Must explore the night more...


Having seen all this awesome coverage of Japanese car culture on this website kinda makes me wish I could travel to Japan to see it for myself. Only problem is the language barrier...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Don't worry about it too much, you can even rent instant translation devices at the airport now


"HIV what?"


I really miss those kind of meetings in Switzerland...


These are the posts I'm coming here for.

Dino Dalle Carbonare



The 190 and E30 parked up so close to one another - I'd have had a 90s DTM heart attack!!!!


190 > E30!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I don't know, it's a tough choice. There is a simple solution however...


Yes, there is! RS500.


100% agree with this article. Any time I spent in Tokyo was just incredible in regards to car life. Heading back for TAS 2018! Hope to get you to NYC one day Dino.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

See you there Edwin, and yep would love to visit NYC one day!


still no 6th celica .....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Very rare...


I just went for a drive in my M3 near Olympic park in East London and all I saw was a bunch of roadworkers in vans about to close some lanes on the A12! Great post Dino. Thanks for sharing.


@Ben Chandler
are you a West Ham United fan !?

Dino Dalle Carbonare



Please do more on grassroots and entry level cars in Japan. Stuff like Alto works, Swifts, Fits, etc.

Big budget, big powered cars are cool and all, but show us the other, more realistic side of things. The smaller and cheaper cars can be so much more interesting but you'll always have like one photo with the caption "It wasn't all big budget builds, more affordable cars can be interesting too." And then you go back to the same old, same old.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I would if I found some, but this is what you see on any given night in Tokyo. Daikoku usually has more selection...

Matthew Everingham

Ahhh, I need to go back for another hit. Lock in 2018!


Japan has a melting pot of different cars and styles. Even difffent brands for different parts of the world. But they embrace where here state side we just want to stay separated. Deep down they may want comingle. But our conservative culture will never allow it to be openly displayed. Hence our deep hate for anything different.

Thank you for show us the way Japan. I'm doing it one car at a time. A 190e evo is on my list. I still remember the one you guys shot in Indo with the gold wheels and a 2jz in it

Dino Dalle Carbonare

My pleasure Ricko!


Hope you'll also have a drive experience with an Audi RS6 Avant with the performance package on it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Audi have become a pain in the behind in Japan. My last request for a car was met with "website, no thanks"? Then no response. I'll stick to the the good manufacturers...


These posts enlightens me when it comes to JDM and other cars.........hope there's more that I wanted see here in this magnificent website since I started reading these posts back in 2009

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Very good to know. I will be doing more of this


BTW That guy in the white Civic Type R FD2R......he's a lucky bastard for the night XD

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I only noticed he posed after I edited the shot haha


amazing photo set always look forward to your post you should fire the go pro one night when you take gtr out for a night cruise cool to see some pov videos

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Uhmmmm go pro when I drive might not be too appropriate :D




I was just over there last Saturday. Had my flight out in Thursday evening, so couldn't make it anymore :(

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Too bad! Get yourself back here quick ;)


This article was amazing. Always wanted to visit japan and see the sights and sounds of the Wanagan. Thank you for this peek.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks man!


The 190E might well be a very rare Evo 1 (Assuming it's not just replica bodywork).
They're worth around 140,000 Euros in Europe. Evo 2's have fetched as much as 350,000 in the last 12 months (for lowest mileage ones).

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It looked pretty legit...


This could be a monthly item for sure, i love it Dino!


This would be a great idea. Can you make it happen if you get the time Dino?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

@Leon well there are plenty of PAs I could drop by and check out :)




I'm looking forward to it!


Love the mix of cars! More pics of the swift sport if you have please!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Sorry only took the one!


I'm pretty sure the E 60 had 450 hp not 380…

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The stroked motor in the E60 had a 55 hp boost in power over the E500 it was based on and that had 322 hp.


It appears you are right. I remember reading an article years ago (I think it was Brabus being interviewed) claiming 450hp from their m119 e60 conversion and 650hp from their bored and stroked m120 v12. I wouldn't think there would be that much discrepancy between the two companies. I took a few photos of the article because I was so impressed at the time. I had a r129 500SL from 1992 that I used to drag race and had both the m119 and m120 so I was quite interested to see what the companies had done in that era. If I ever come across the info again I'll forward it to you if I remember. I'm sure it will impress you as it did me those many years ago. :)


Because no shitty LS swaps


So true


very interesting article, i wanna see more of these. always loved Japans culture and way of life


I'm bored in school. Then I saw this post, made my day. Thanks Dino

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Glad to have been of help! :D


Hey Dino, appreciate the wicked article!
I'm heading out to Tokyo around Christmas time. Will there be frequent meets over there? And where can i find this car park?
Thanks alot!!!!! Keep up the great posts

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Christmas is just a normal day here so you would find something possibly. The New Year is the big Japanese holiday but then again the first Sun of the month they have a big gathering in Daikoku


My Japanese teacher in high school described a bloody and crucified jesus in a department store in the early 90s lol. I fucking love Japan


Id love to see the fastest Tokyo has to offer go up against the fastest the u.s. has to offer on a closed section of the c1 loop. Txr0 style.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

You do realize there are corners in Japan :D jk


This article as well as the Ebisu one should be the start of a new section on SpeedHunters. In that section, you should put articles on all the car places for car enthusiasts to visit around the world (Players, Daikoku futo, Tatsumi futo, Ebisu, Wörthersee, Ron’s Japan road trip...). That would allow all of us to have a place to refer to for car locations when visiting a new country.
I have also seen some other websites making their best road recommendations available for download on Google Map for people to find more easily. Maybe that’s something you could do to on top of the section above in a comprehensive “Guide to Speedhunting”.
In any case, thank you for the awesome content and for making me miss Japan all the time.


Japan looks like Heaven with every new post on here. Loved it :D
Beautiful shots too. Wall material.
I really love the night lights, city, 10/10 paint-jobs glistening under warm street lights.. Gives me so comfy vibes.
Love my city's bay area for similar vibes. Even tho the car culture is almost non-existan.


Love the post. I must admit though that, I am no longer impressed with the GTR as a performance car. At least the R35. Back in 2009 when it was new, sure it was impressive. But now with supercharged V8s that are just as capable for power AND track oriented for less than a Nismo GTR I really don't see what the hype is about these days. A base GTR is just under $100k and a new ZLI 1LE is way cheaper with more power and a beast around the track to contend with the Nismo GTR for a hell of a lot less. The new ZR1 will be about $130k and have 750hp and another track monster for like $40k less than a Nismo LOL. Maybe when the R36 comes back out, it will be the awesome machine the R35 was back in 2009 but now, it's no longer at the top.


What about that German license plate on the 190E?


More of this, please! I'll take all of the Tokyo car scene I can get between my rare visits to Japan.


This is what Speedhunters is all bout to me! Great Post Dino, Cars in natural gise and habitat - Fantastic!!


My favourite kind of post, so much fun seeing the cars that ordanary car guys like most of us drive and enjoy :)
And we NEED more places like Daikoku-Futo or Tatsumi PA in the world ^^


Really a pleasant article to read. You're writing style is superb, Dino - the reader can feel almost as if being there with you. Just the right ammount of information and style. Some Speedhunters writers tend to digress a lot, which makes articles difficult and annoying to read (makes people just skip the text and only browse the pics). You on the other hand stick to the topic you write about and show us awesome cars! Great work!

Nashandran Pillay

Hi Dino, Ill be travelling to Tokyo for TAS2018, any tips/pointers to get the most out of experiencing these kind of meets ? I only hope I can happen upon this like you do. Love your posts dude! Those 90s Merc/BMW classics make me shed a tear...