Garage Life: Meet Japan’s Coolest Dad
Like Father Like Sons

How many of you owe your love of cars to your father? While there are many different ways we pick up our enthusiasm for automobiles, many people will cite influence from their dad as the primary reason for their obsession.

I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be where I am today without a heavy influence from my father. To know that, all it takes is a look at those photos of a toddler-aged Mike standing in front of hot rods at 1980s car shows.

Kyoto-Collection-76 copy

Of course, the automotive bond between father and son knows no international boundaries, and it’s in Kyoto, Japan, where I’ve come to know one of the coolest families around. Meet the Ohgishis.


It all began when I met Shun Ohgishi, a young man who is the owner of a positively awesome Honda Life Step Van. After running into him at a few different events across Japan, he invited me to come to Kyoto and check out what he called a ‘very special garage’. Shun actually has a cool workshop himself (which I’ll share at a later time), but in this case he was talking about his father’s garage.


So during my last visit to Japan, I made plans to spend a couple days in Kyoto – one of which included a late-night kyusha meet organized by Shun and his buddies. Among the attendees was Shun’s younger brother, Takuma, who drives a 910 Nissan Bluebird and also picked up his love of old cars from dad.

Kyoto-Collection-96 copy

By this point I was getting quite excited to finally meet this guy and check out this famous collection. The following afternoon we met up with Shun and headed over to his parents’ house, which is actually located above the bike and scooter shop that the family runs.

Kyoto-Collection-64 copy

It was here that I met Mr. Yoichi Ohgishi – the owner of the shop and the reason why both of his sons are so interested in cars.

Kyoto-Collection-81 copy

Given Ohgishi-san’s career of selling and servicing various forms of two-wheeled vehicles for the people of Kyoto, it’s not surprising that he would have some petrol running through his veins. However, to say that Mr. Ohgishi simply ‘likes’ cars and bikes would be a gigantic understatement.

Kyoto-Collection-77 copy

This is apparent from the moment you roll up to the shop and see the unmistakeable nose of a Hakosuka Skyline peeking out from the garage. This was going to be fun…

Skylines & More
Kyoto-Collection-89 copy

When it comes to four-wheeled vehicles, the classic Skyline is king for Mr. Ohgishi. He’s owned this Hakosuka for decades and there’s no doubt its presence in the family has helped transform his boys into life-long car lovers.

Kyoto-Collection-90 copy

And who can blame them? If you grew up around a car like this, wouldn’t you also be hooked for life?

Kyoto-Collection-19 copy

The Hakosuka is powered by a Mikuni-fed L28 and is ready to be fired up whenever Mr. Ohgishi wants a taste of Showa era motoring at its best.

Kyoto-Collection-84 copy

His enthusiasm for old Skylines is so great that one car can’t satisfy it. The garage below the house is also home to a very nice Kenmeri, which like the Hakosuka has been built into a convincing GT-R replica.

Kyoto-Collection-72 copy

It doesn’t end there. I was also led down the street where I was shown the third member of the Ohgishi Skyline fleet – an olive green C110 Yonmeri sedan.

Kyoto-Collection-75 copy

It’s a factory 2000 GT model with an L20 engine and a five-speed gearbox – easily the most desirable of the four-door C110 Skylines.

Kyoto-Collection-74 copy

In collector car circles, this is what you would call a survivor. It’s original right down to the factory paint and upholstery. A rare find by any standards.

Kyoto-Collection-17 copy

Given his career in selling and working on bicycles and scooters, it’s not surprising that Mr. Ohgishi’s collection would also include a number of vintage bikes.

Kyoto-Collection copy

But while they are impressive, it’s not just the vehicles that make the Ohgishi garage so special. It’s all the other stuff.

Kyoto-Collection-10 copy

The walls of the first floor garage are covered with car parts – a collection which seemingly includes every grille ever fitted to a Hakosuka or Kenmeri Skyline.

Kyoto-Collection-6 copy

Vintage Skyline steering wheels are also presented with equal love.

Kyoto-Collection-88 copy

Other corners of the garage are quite literally stacked with parts for all manner of vintage motorcycles and scooters.

Kyoto-Collection-82 copy

And when it comes to old school scooters, few are cooler than the early 1980s Honda Motocompo. Ohgishi-san has two of them, both finished with police paint jobs.

Kyoto-Collection-94 copy

That love for scooters has also been passed down to the boys, and there were a couple of Takuma’s customized machines hanging around the shop when I visited.

Kyoto-Collection-93 copy

I think my favorite was his Honda Tact scooter – an icon of 1980s Japan.

Kyoto-Collection-92 copy

And for something a little different, how about this miniature US Army Jeep? The eight-year-old version of me loves this thing. Actually, the 29-year-old version of me also loves this thing…

Kyoto-Collection-18 copy

Aside from the cars, bikes and parts, the whole garage is littered with throwbacks to Japan’s Showa era.

Kyoto-Collection-2 copy

And for all the cool stuff there is in the garage, it’s actually just the beginning of it.

Showa Man Cave
Kyoto-Collection-71 copy

It’s not until you climb the steep staircase up to the second floor that you get to the heart of Mr. Ohgishi’s collection.

Kyoto-Collection-54 copy

It’s here that you’ll find a place that many passers by have mistaken for a bar, night club and even a casino.

Kyoto-Collection-51 copy

I mean, you can’t really blame them. This room is full of everything from vintage pachinko and slot machines to arcade cabinets.

Kyoto-Collection-48 copy

But this isn’t a bar that Ohgishi-san runs after hours – it’s simply a place for him and his friends to hang out in. It also happens to be filled with the biggest private collection of old Japanese toys, model kits and collectables I’ve ever seen.

Kyoto-Collection-28 copy

A lot of it was collected by Mr. Ohgishi himself, while other pieces have come to him through friends and customers. The room has essentially become a private museum of old Japanese pop culture.

Kyoto-Collection-21 copy

There are more bikes stored up here too – many of them proudly looking out over the street below.

Kyoto-Collection-30 copy

With so much stuff packed into one room – it was almost too much to take in.

Kyoto-Collection-49 copy

I’m not sure what exactly the Japanese version of ‘Americana’ is, but I felt like I was completely surrounded by it.

Kyoto-Collection-63 copy

Given the family’s love of cars, it’s only natural that the collection would be filled with diecasts, model kits and other scale forms of the automobile.

Kyoto-Collection-60 copy

With of everything from Tomica diecasts to vintage metal vehicles, I quite literally felt like a kid in a toy store.

Kyoto-Collection-38 copy

The most impressive thing had to be the collection of model kits from the ’70s and ’80s.

Kyoto-Collection-67 copy

They were stacked as far as you could see, and there’s no doubt I could have spent a couple of full days digging through everything in detail.

Kyoto-Collection-68 copy

The box art on these things is downright amazing. A lot of these kits reminded me of the caricature-style ‘Zingers’ models that MPC produced in the ’60s.

Kyoto-Collection-41 copy

I especially like these Tsupparihyoukinzoku kits. Yankee mania at its best.

Kyoto-Collection-44 copy

Noppo Boy! Yep, this is pretty much the Japanese version of the Rat Fink and Ed Roth mania that dominated America during the 1960s – only with Skylines, Glorias and Laurels.

Kyoto-Collection-45 copy

While there’s no doubt that these kits would be bring lots of money on the collector market, most of them aren’t in what you’d call mint condition.

Kyoto-Collection-40 copy

And Ohgishi-san really doesn’t care. He’s not collecting this stuff as an investment, he’s doing it because he likes it.

Kyoto-Collection-56 copy

In fact, he has no idea exactly how many pieces are in the collection or how much everything is worth. That stuff is not important to him.

Kyoto-Collection-47 copy

There’s also a few kits that the boys put together, no doubt inspired by their father’s own love of the hobby.

Kyoto-Collection-53 copy

And sharing the love and nostalgia is really what Ohgishi-san’s collection is all about. The garage gets many visitors, both locals and people from all over Japan. There have even been a few TV crews come through to see what all the excitement is about too.

Kyoto-Collection-4 copy

I may have been halfway across the world, but it was so easy for me to relate the Ohgishi family. My dad never had quite the collection that Mr. Ohgishi does, but like Shun and Takuma, my younger brother and I grew up surrounded by cool cars and sharing the hobby with our dad. It’s something that will surely stick with us for life.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

nihon-jin are expert in space saving


I have to say, my love of cars was definitely inherited from dad. 
My older brother doesn't seem to have quite the same passion, but then he's more concerned with useless things like an education. 
I can only hope that if I have kids they can be gifted with the same love of things that go broom.


For most people this'd be a big mess, but for car enthusiasts, like me, garages like this are simply heaven


I know this feeling all too well. If it wasn't for my dad, I probably wouldn't even be reading Speedhunters right now!


DougJohnson Nice '57!


jdmRob Agreed. Hoarding can be a good thing haha.


aussieANON Who needs an education when there's cars?


muhammadilham Yeah, they rule the efficiency game.


I didn't get my interest in cars through my dad. I had to do that on my own. Gran Turismo for the PSX really got me interested in cars and that's where I think it started for me.


I need a motocompo. For research. The red one hiding above the stairs. Please please bring it to life. Now.
(me village narrow roads)


One of my first childhood memories is when my dad was changing oils to E30 or E28 BMW and I decided to step straight into the pan which was filled with used oil. My dad is most definitely the number one reason for my car enthusiasm. I like to think of my self quite handy when it comes to cars, but every now and then the old dog still knows better!




I never knew my dad.  But my mom was totally into cars.  She took me to my first show and bought me my first car mags.  We were to poor to have any old cars to fix up of our own but we still enjoyed them!


Simply awesome!


Since my dads a mechanic, I've been around cars since I was born. That's how I grew up to love cars. Now, I'm trying to learn how to fix and paint them. :)


Need more posts like these


Mike Garrett People who want to have the money to buy the cars. At least that's what my parents tell me.


My dad is definitely where it comes from, he is the kinda guy that would buy cheap cars on their last legs, and run them until their MOT's ran out. This often meant some of the cars were so bad they wouldn't even make it that long and he'd change cars every couple of months so I got to experience lots of older cars. Many many mini's my favourite being a matt black one with bright green wheel arches, countless mk1 and mk2 fiestas. An escort mk2 with a black vinyl roof (you wouldn't get one that cheap these days!!!) a Renault Savanna where many trips were spent squashed into the very back seats for fun instead of sitting in the normal back seats (retro coolness nowadays but probably seen as mega uncool in the day). He had a Kit car called a Spartan which I remember the roof collapsing whilst we were out driving in the rain. A Saab 900 which he had wanted for ages and the engine blew up within a week of owning it. Funny thing is his backup car was a mk2 nova saloon that always worked when he needed it too, so I don't know why he didn't just use it all the time. It rubbed off on me and now I seem to only own cars that are 20 years old or more although I don't really buy dogs which is something I learned from his mistakes.


nice ultraman display!

oh, going back...that's one awesome garage.


I'm trying to pass it to my daughters - Honda 50 with training wheels is helping nicely.
What does Mrs. Ohgishi think of the collection? Or is the 3rd floor her Pintrest palace?


Those 3 tail pipes! #FEATUREBIKEPLZ


She seemed totally accepting of it haha.


So much nostalgia!


Can't go wrong with the classic stuff :)


You got it!


That's a good way to pick stuff up.




That is awesome to hear!


Haha I can totally see that happening!


I'll take one while you're at it :)


I know there are many


I know there are many


Can it get any better???  Showa time warp!!  Natsukashii ne~~~

And clearly, this man has awesome taste.


Awesome stuff. Great real cars and the epitome of a car guy man cave.


You got it!


Awesome. I really like this kind of story.


If I ever get to Japan this is the type place I would go to find.
(Wonder if he is willing to sell some of those kits)?

Another great post Mike.




Great write up. My dad was a car guy in his youth with a super Mini Cooper so it passed on to me even though at the time we didn't need a car in NYC.


I spy a little red model 240Z in one of those pictures. I love this article, because, like you all, my dad is the reason I love cars. Especially old Datsuns and Volkswagens. We have never had the money or a garage to work on one though, but that didn't stop us from tearing into anything with a motor in the driveway, LOL. I wonder if Ohgishi-san would sell me some CB160 parts...


that skyline though,, dream!


May I know where is the Garage location ?


may I know where is the shop location at Kyoto ?