Meeting Underground In Tokyo

When Tokyo Auto Salon weekend rolls around, Japan’s biggest city comes alive with a multitude of smaller meets and gatherings. I always try to attend as many of them as possible, regardless of what my sleep-deprived body says.

Ben and Mark have already given you a quick look at the annual RAUH-Welt Begriff get-together, but one TAS week event that I always look forward to happens at the Akihabara UDX parking garage.

But I didn’t quite make it there this year…


As usual, my inbox had lit up with invites from some friends, hoping I’d be able to head along with Project Rough. I can never say no to an invitation like this, so I gathered up some equipment, jumped in my ER34 Skyline, and headed to UDX.

It’s already been mentioned that the police were out in force at TAS time, shutting down some of the more popular parking areas for ‘maintenance’ long before anyone could even congregate there. With seemingly more people than ever in Tokyo for this year’s show, there was a good chance the UDX meet would suffer a similar fate, so on a hunch I phoned a few friends to ask what was happening inside the garage before committing to the hefty parking fee.

“Don’t come to UDX, Ron. There are way too many people here and the police have already shut it down. We are going to a new place in Shibuya.”


A 20-minute detour later, I found myself entering a parking garage near Yoyogi Park. Inside was a scene reminiscent from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.


Although Copaze x Level One Japan ‘Meet Me Underground Tokyo’ was billed as a guerrilla-type event with the ‘MP82+83 Tokyo’ plus code used to pinpoint the ‘secret’ location, a lot of people had found out about it. And these days, when you get a big crowd at a car event you just know the YouTube set will be out in force.


I don’t mean this in a negative way, and I’m certainly not taking a dig at YouTubers or anyone else out there hustling to generate enthusiast content. Because, of course, I attend events to generate content, too.

What bothers me is how some people go about it.


I always try to blend into the surroundings and capture things as they organically happen.


Most importantly though, I set out to have a good time; I want to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy cars with people who are out to do the same.


To me, walking haphazardly in the middle of a roadway while talking to a camera is neither of those things. Are you there for the car culture or the likes and view clicks?


Hundreds of photographers blocking the roadway as cars enter and exit the building only encourages bad behavior too, which in turn always prompts the parking garage staff to call the police, which results in you know what.


I really hope that late-night parking garage meets continue to happen at TAS time; it’s something we should all be able to enjoy and experience. To anyone thinking of attending with a camera of any sort in the future, just be cautious of your surroundings and don’t do things for the sole purpose of generating views. That’s not what it should be about.

That’s enough talking from me, though – enjoy the small gallery below from my ‘fly on the wall’ perspective.

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography


Side note: Throughout the evening (read: early morning) I kept coming back to this FD2 Civic Type R. With center-lock RAYS Volk Racing wheels and aero from a GT500 race car, I need to take an in-depth look in the very near future.



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"I don’t mean this in a negative way, and I’m certainly not taking a dig at YouTubers or anyone else out there hustling to generate enthusiast content. Because, of course, I attend events to generate content, too."

Sounds like somebody missed the YouTube monetization gravy train.


Quality pictures and words over shouting word "special" in every sentence to the camera.


so, you think wandering into traffic talking into a camera is a GOOD idea? that’s really the angle you want to take, just to make him seem bitter and cynical? lol u sure got him!


That's kind of how I interpreted that statement as well, sort of the "I'm into bands you've never heard of." vibe heh.


Taking just that quote out of the entire post and commenting on it thusly is a quite a bit unfair.


Search Tokyo Tuner ^^


Love tokyo tuner. Didn't even realize it was you until much later on. Haha.




I get it. Even though I helped out people going to both locations. And even me myself getting info from friends. It’s circular.

I myself stayed at udx. Till midnight. Just chillin with the Ogs. Wangan fighters from the old days. A few classic 190es . We had a chance to bond and connect it was true classic experience for me. Very personal and unique. That’s why I come to Japan. For I’m not interested in what everyone else will see or experience. I want my own journey. That’s RIKO Style


That's how it SHOULD BE imo.

I do understand that everyone can't make it to Japan and build their own personal experiences with locals and thus turn to online media to try and feel what it's like. I do understand YouTube is another great medium out there to help people experience it as well. It's really the way people go about it - almost no regard for rules, safety, etc just to try and generate views vs actually enjoying and sharing the experience that has me worried about the future.


are these parking spaces private or state owned? if it's private and the owner loves cars i think things will get easier


For the most part they are private. You can rent the spaces out tho if you have connections / for a fee. I did two shoots in UDX a while ago. One time we didn't have to pay and the other was a little more than 300 USD v v not bad but I don't think people hosting these kind of gatherings want to foot the bill for everyone


YES please do feature the FD2 Civic Type R. With center-lock RAYS and some GT86 too.


Another great story, I agree with the whole vloggers ruining everything from tourist spots to car meets, surely you can get good content without being all over people's personal space or safety. Yes, please spotlight the Civic, and the yellow EP3 next to it, would be nice to see one on SH.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Holy shit the FD2R is hardcore!


These used to be the best kinds of meets, but as you rightly say, it all gets ruined by people wanting to show off for clout on the internet.

It sounds ironic saying that, when this is on a post showing the cars on the internet.

A local meet i used to attend in the UK, which had some excellent and very rare regulars, all done to a high standard, once the youtube crowd sat on the exit of the car park, encouraging people to drive out harshly, it got millions of views on youtube and thus it attracted a shitshow of people, to come and make noise and ended up geting the meet shut down.

It had run for 25 years and in the space of 1 year it went from hero to zero.


Idk man,it does feel as if you’re taking a dig at YouTubers,just sayin. I enjoy Alexi’s Vlogs.


he is clearly not talking about noriyaro, I'm sure he is talking about illiminate, Dustin Williams type or crappy content, noriyaro shows content as a teaching excersise, the other type just suck clout out of events


*Tokyo Drift song plays*


the likes and view clicks


Pic 9. The super-rare LanEvo. Before cars were governed by computers and you could still DRIVE them! Looks insanely clean and tidy and not ruined by "stance" or massively oversize wheels. That, for me, is the best car photographed. I'd wager that under the bonnet has a few tasty treats but in keeping with the period for the car.


Agreed, by far the coolest car at the meet if I had to choose one.


Had a great photosession viewing the cars that night after TAS.Lotsa cool cars and saw the owner of the FD3s talking to Madmike and Robbie.


hope you got the details for the black evo. would love an in depth look at it. very nice cars here.
nice article Ron


I guess the difference is that some go to events like this in order to document it and share it with other enthusiasts around the world, where others only attend to make it about themselves and to show off what they're doing.




The pettiness this site displays towards YouTubers (completely omitting TJ Hunt's cars from SEMA coverage, changing the color of Stradman's Supra, not a single picture of Dustin's R34 or Kino's STi above despite them being cleaner than anything they showed, and "these days, when you get a big crowd at a car event you just know the YouTube set will be out in force" is dumb, petty and completely oblivious to how the next generation of enthusiast connect with car culture.

I truly do love this site. As someone who grew up on Modified, Import Turner, Super Street, etc. I see this as a spiritual successor to those great publications. Or did, at least. But the holier-than-thou attitude towards these ambassadors of car culture and gate-keeping really erodes the goodwill you guys have built. It's sad seeing your heroes becoming crochety old dudes basically screaming "get off my lawn" to the up-and-coming enthusiasts.


Do TJ hunt, Dustin or Kino STI rep Speedhunters? Dustin`s R34 is a basic 1999 GT-R. You have Japan YT`ers charging 500 USD for a day out in the Daikoku Parking Area? Selling merch to 16 years old are the bread and butter it seems for many YT`ers?


At the same time, this same generation has effectively destroyed car culture in my city, because one kid decided to lip off a cop for rightfully giving his hellaflush Silvia an inspection notice that deems the car unsafe for public roads. The result? Anyone with a modified car is now scared to go on cruises because the officer made it his sole duty to do the same to everyone else. You can scream "pay to play" all you want, but there used to be leniency until the YouTube generation car enthusiasts came along to damage twenty years of goodwill because his ego got hurt.


I think that a lot of what you perceive isn't the reality of the situation. Fair enough, the guys missed TJ's cars at SEMA, but it definitely wasn't done on purpose.

Stradman's Supra was just a simple error of a Lightroom preset shifting the hue, which is easily overlooked when you're trying to process out hundreds of photos. Again, not done on purpose.

It's so easy to miss cars at an event or to circle around for a better shot, only for the car to have left (or to forget about it in the heat of the moment).

I'm an avid follower of different YT personalities, I grew up with Juicebox guys and they're some of my best friends, so I know there's no animosity in that regard as I'm sure the rest of the guys are the same.

I think Ron's point is that there's so many people putting themselves at unnecessary risk just for the temporary glory of a YT video or IG post, which in turn puts everything we love at risk at the same time.


I'm glad I'm not the only one wanting to see more on the FD2 with center lock wheels. Also, more on the MB 190