Secrets Of The Japanese Car Scene
The Japan Dream

If you love cars and you’ve never visited Japan before, I’m sure it’ll be at the top of your travel bucket list. Let’s face it, whether you’re a car freak or not, it’s still an incredible place to discover. The culture is simply fascinating, and don’t even get me started on the food! But if you do happen to be a gear head, in my opinion, Japan is even more enjoyable.

Those of you who’ve had the pleasure of spending time in the motherland before will understand. But if you’ve never been, Japan can seem like a magical, make-believe dream world, filled with all the automotive gems and treasures that your wildest dreams might conjure up for you if you’re lucky. Dreams filled with outrageous neon lights, rainbow ferris wheels and scenes out of the Tokyo Drift and Wangan Midnight movies. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s exactly what Japan’s car culture is like. If you know where in Japan to find it, that is…


Prior to this trip, I’d visited Japan twice before. But I’d never managed to stay longer than a fortnight, which just didn’t seem like anywhere near enough time to see all the cool car stuff I’d always dreamt of discovering there. So I decided to do something crazy. I put my beloved 240ZG-inspired Datsun S30 project car into storage (along with 95 per cent of my other belongings), handed back the keys to my rental property in Auckland, packed a suitcase and hopped on a flight to Tokyo.


Living out of hotels wasn’t going to be an option this time, so after a bit of research I ended up booking a rental apartment through a website called Airbnb. I had six weeks to explore the land of the rising sun, and this beautiful view to wake up to every morning! I was finally living my Japan dream, and it was such a good feeling.


I was also lucky enough to share that dream with Peter (aka Pedey), my most trusted associate/manservant/husband, who has also recently joined the team here at Speedhunters.


Anyway, going back to what I said earlier about knowing where to find car culture in Japan. It’s true that if you just randomly book flights and show up in the city with no clue about where to go or what to do, you might not see any cool cars at all. The secret to enjoying the Japanese car scene is planning, research and having friends or contacts that can help you with your adventures. The language barrier can make some things quite difficult, and it really surprised me the first time I went there that hardly anyone could speak English. So sometimes it can be hard to find certain information to aid you in your travels, which is where Japanese-based friends can definitely come in handy.


Of course, not everyone has friends in Japan; I certainly didn’t know anyone there up until a few years ago. But you shouldn’t let that discourage you, and I hope this story can give you a few helpful pointers. Firstly, why not try and learn some Japanese? It’s actually incredibly simple, and I’ve learnt heaps of basic phrases mainly just from listening to podcasts from this website. I haven’t managed to find the brain capacity to absorb any of the complicated Kanji characters yet, but the two basic alphabets, Hirigana and Katakana are really easy. Last year I memorised them by writing them out by hand on these flashcards while I ate my breakfast every morning.


After we settled into our tiny apartment we ventured over to Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, as we had heard about the Tokyo Special Import Car Show taking place at the convention centre there. When we got off the train, we were greeted with this strange sight. The weird cityscapes in Japan can often make you feel like you’re in a completely different dimension. Are we even on planet Earth still!?


The show had a small yet impressive selection of modified luxury vehicles on display, including Kato-san from Liberty Walk‘s freshly modified 458 Challenge, which was overwhelmingly gorgeous in person. You’ll be able to get a much better look at this outrageous Ferarri soon, as Dino has already spent some quality alone time with it with his camera.


A Lamborghini Countach on Work Meister S1 wheels? Some might call this sacrilege, but you’ve got no choice but to have an open mind at Japanese car shows. In the land of the weird and wonderful, anything goes! Speaking of car shows, I’d strongly recommend basing your trip to Japan around an automotive event or car meet. The Tokyo Special Import Car Show was only a small event, but if you go back and look through our Japanese show and festivals archives, this might give you some ideas. This way, you’re not only guaranteed to see some amazing cars, but you’ll get the opportunity to meet some new people too. I planned my trip around the Offset Kings event at Fuji Speedway, where I met some awesome new friends – both from Japan and from around the world!


To be honest, I haven’t really spent much time visiting tuner workshops in Japan, but for some reason I always seem to end up at the RWB headquarters in Chiba. Nakai-san’s current daily driver, this ridiculously wide 964 cabriolet, did absolutely nothing to help with my growing obsession for black Porsches from this era. Nothing.


I wasn’t really at RWB to do anything in particular, apart from to say hello to Mr. Nakai and to help Dino shoot this beautiful IROC-inspired 964 build, which you can check out more of here.


Oh, and to drool over the various RWB-treated Porsches in Nakai-san’s backyard, of course! This gorgeous 993 has to be one of my all-time favourites, although I think I still prefer the older protrusive 964 headlights better. With workshop visits like this, the etiquette can vary, but if the staff don’t know you then it’s always best if you can try and get in contact first. Most tuning shops are open to visitors, but some smaller companies are more private, and might get a surprise if you show up with cameras flashing.


You could even print out a message or have text translated and ready on your phone, explaining who you are and the reason for your visit. Don’t let this put you off, but it is good to remember that their workshop is their place of business, and politeness is an important part of Japanese society.

As much as I love wide-bodied Porsches, my twisted hunger to see the weirder, darker side of Japan’s car culture still remained unsatisfied. It was time to venture into the night…

Hot Tokyo Nights

Tokyo might not be the car capital of Japan, but plenty of car enthusiasts live here. But with the city being so densely populated and parking prices so exorbitant, many of them choose to live a quieter existence either on the very outskirts of the city or in one of the neighbouring prefectures, where parking isn’t such a problem.


Although perhaps not as big as it once was, the night-time social scene here is vibrant and thriving if you know where to look for it. When people here aren’t taking their cars to the local tracks or mountain passes, they’re taking them somewhere else to have fun with – as that car usually always doubles as their daily driver! Late night parking area meet-ups to hang out with friends are a ritual, and Daikoku-futo PA in Yokohama is the sacred ground most famously known for this.


At any night of the week, turn up at Daikoku and you’ll see at least a few cool modified street cars around the parking lot.


More than often, there’ll just be a few different groups of friends chilling out there, comparing their latest modifications to their cars or doing conducting mini photoshoots. Sometimes you might stumble across a larger scale meet taking place, which happened to us one Friday night when we decided to stop by and see if anything was going on…


As we drove down the ramp to the parking area, we could hear the faint beat of the ‘Crazy Frog’ song (I’m not kidding), and as we got closer it got louder… and louder… until it was really loud. A group of about 10 minivans were having a sound-off battle, each taking turns to blast their sound systems on full. The interior of this neon-ridden Honda Stream was absolutely mental!


It’s not a social crime in Japan to do something with your car that really stands out. Breaking the norm here is expected, and welcomed. Sure, there are still purists out there, but the majority of car guys love injecting creativity and personal style into their cars, whether that means following unusual styling movements, breaking trends, or starting their own. Feel like mounting a set of Nissan 370Z wheels on your E46 BMW? Why not!


This group of Nissan-loving friends had parked up their rides to take some photos, so I sneakily crashed their shoot. The parking area is such an incredible location at night, with the expressway looping and twisting above and the street lights, creating a strange celestial glow in the hazy sky. What a beautiful sight.


In recent years the police have become more strict with cracking down on people having organised meets at Daikoku PA, and as a result, other parking areas have started to gain popularity as the meeting spots of choice. One such parking area is Atsugi PA, which is further over in the Kanagawa Prefecture, west of Yokohama. On one very hot and humid Saturday night, our new friend Charles Zayas kindly drove us there, where he’d arranged to meet up with some other local car guys. We weren’t too sure how many people were actually going to show up…


But when we arrived, the whole parking area was full! These were the first cars that caught my eye: a super-clean Nissan Silvia S14.3 – aka an S14 with a 180SX front-end – and an equally clean Z30 Soarer. They made for a great pair with their matching glossy gunmetal and bronze paint schemes.


The music was being provided by a Honda Odyssey – one that possessed a much more aggressive stance than the vans I’d seen at Daikoku. The sound install was seriously impressive, but before I had the chance to closer admire it, I was distracted by something large and bright pink.


The level of customisation on this Toyota Vellfire was insane, with the van having undergone custom bodywork on all four corners to fit a massively-wide set of Work wheels. Why do this to a perfectly good family van, you ask? I’m sure the owner and his family could tell you – his wife and kids were all there!


This raw Nissan Cima had an interesting mix of both drift and VIP elements going on. On one hand, the wheels were super-wide with a whole lot of negative camber, but the factory fenders had been pulled out and left rough and uneven. The interior was stripped out and fully caged, with a kanjo mask slung over the front seat.


Hiding in a dark corner over on the far side of the car park, I came across this very cool race-inspired KP Starlet rocking N2 guards and a classic set of vintage SSR MkII wheels. These cars look so damn good with boxy retro overfenders.


This C34 Laurel belongs to one of the Lowbrain crew members, and if its appearance tempts you to comment on how ‘too low’ it is and how ‘undriveable’ it must be, don’t even bother. It’s a purpose-built drift car, and yes, it gets driven like this.


The owner of this C210 Skyline has taken a more classic approach, opting for a less drastic drop in ride height and a set of SSR Longchamp XR4 wheels. It was an interesting crowd that showed up that night; slammed kei cars, minivans, clean street cars and beat-up drifters, but I wasn’t expecting this


From the other side of the parking area I could hear a strange noise… was that… the sound of cars bouncing? A crew of lowriders had pulled up, and the noise I’d heard earlier was the sound of them raising their hydros and slamming their cars against the asphalt. Talk about a grand entrance! Luckily, while I was dorking around on the other side of the parking lot, Pedey managed to capture it on video.

And then, I saw it: the hint of a shark-nose bonnet conversion and a front-mounted oil cooler peering out from the shadows, and a flash of metallic pink…


It was under the cover of darkness at first, in the shadow of the expressway above us. What is that?’, I thought to myself. As another car pulled into the parking area off the expressway and shone its headlights, the mystery machine was lit up for me to photograph in all its Kaido Racer-style glory. The original body lines of the car were almost unidentifiable, but I could roughly recognise a GX71 Chaser somewhere underneath the alien panels. To me, this style of tuning represents the strange and mysterious side of the Japanese car scene that I originally fell in love with many years ago, and this was the first time I’d ever seen a car styled like this in person. It didn’t quite make sense, it looked outrageous – stupid even. And I was obsessed with it. I had to find more…

Trackside Action

I was going to have to wait a few more weeks before I got another retro shakotan fix though, but I’ll get to that soon. By the time we got home from Atsugi that night, we had less than two hours to catch some shut-eye before jumping on a train to meet up with Dino once again; this time we’d be heading out to Tsukuba Circuit for the idlers Games event.


One thing I should mention – and it’s something that I see getting asked about a lot – is that you do definitely need a car to reach all these places. Parking areas are connected to expressways, so they’re usually not reachable by any other means of transportation, and race tracks in Japan are all generally based in very rural areas.


I’ve heard of people catching trains out to Tsukuba, but after a long day in the sun hauling around bags and camera gear, this just isn’t something I’d recommend. Rental cars in Japan are cheap, but the road tolls aren’t, so always allow a bit extra in your budget for this. Trust me, events like this are worth it!


All track days in Japan seem to have such a happy and relaxed vibe about them, and the idlers Games day is no different. This year there was a certain air of excitement floating about, as for the first time they were running a drift class amongst the grip sessions. Watching 10 cars manji down this middle section then drift in tandem around the corner all together put a huge smile on my face!


One of the cars laying down the most rubber was this little NB MX-5, which put an even bigger smile on my face. As I watched the cars drifting past in my sleep-deprived state, I started to daze off into a daydream where I stayed in Japan forever, bought a JZX100 and became a badass girl drifter. Sigh… I wish!


For some people though, this is actually is their life. My friend Toby from New Zealand moved to Japan two years ago, with that exact dream in mind – minus the ‘being a girl’ part. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so dedicated to fulfilling their dream than Toby. He lives in a cramped apartment (out of choice, because it’s so full of car parts!) and pays a ridiculous amount of money each month for parking. He’s been working on this R33 Skyline drift project for a while now, and in case you’re wondering why he’s working on it on the side of the road, well, he doesn’t have anywhere else to do it. He actually spends hours underneath a railway bridge in his designated public parking space, working on his car into the wee hours of the morning. I seriously have so much admiration for his dedication to his passion.


We hung out with Toby quite a bit during our trip, and that following weekend he drove us to Honjo Circuit so that we could check out The Drift Muscle event taking place there.


This was my first time visiting Honjo Circuit. It’s situated in a beautiful small valley surrounded by chirping birds and luscious greenery, and as I walked around the pits I felt my heart rate rise slightly at the sight of some of the cool machinery in attendance.


Honjo is a small, tight track, and it has some serious lumps and bumps which made for some fantastic spectating.


See what I mean?


After the main battles ended, each team went out and took turns doing tandem runs. You could see that these drivers get a lot of practice together and that they were very familiar with their teammates’ driving style. The way they drifted so closely in unison was almost mesmerising.


After the event had finished, we headed back up to the parking lot and spotted another four-door R33 Skyline parked opposite Toby’s car, and the owner and his friends showed up as we were busy inspecting it. Before we knew it, at least an hour of conversation had past as we shared photos and started comparing engine bays.


We all exchanged stickers and the owner and his girlfriend invited Toby out their next touge trip. I didn’t catch the girl’s name, but she showed me photos of her drift car and I showed her some photos of my 280Z. It was funny as we couldn’t really understand each other, but the overall message was still clear! Remember what I was saying about not having friends in Japan? If you make the effort and have the right intentions, it’s so easy to meet new people when you share the same common interest.


It seemed that we’d visited Japan at a good time of year, as there were plenty of events on every weekend throughout June. But there was one particular area of the Japanese scene that my adventure still seemed lacking in: nostalgic – or kyusha cars.

Secret Kyusha Meeting

We’d heard word of a nostalgic car festival taking place near Nagoya, and we’d heard it was going to be big. Budget be damned, we decided to book a rental car and get up at 4:00am to make the five-hour drive to the address we’d been given. I have to force myself not to think about how much we ended up paying in road tolls that day, but put it this way – it was more than twice the cost of the rental car itself!


We drove past endless rice paddy fields, picturesque rolling hills and gorgeous mountains before we reached a tiny township deep within the Shiga Prefecture. Eventually we started seeing other cars like this Hakosuka sedan, and we knew that we were in the right place. But nothing could have prepared us for the mouthwatering nostalgic goodness we were about to witness…


If you love vintage Japanese cars with the shakotan treatment, you’ll understand how this was total automotive heaven for me. Car after car rolled in; Skylines, Laurels, Fairladys and Celicas, as well as every vintage wheel you could ever dream of. It was too much for me!


By midday temperatures had reached 34 degrees celsius and 100 per cent humidity, and I think it was actually the hottest I’ve ever been in my entire life. It was at that point that I realised there was another car park that I hadn’t visited yet with even more cars, and it was a 10-minute walk uphill. I seriously thought I might pass out, but luckily there were plenty of vending machines (yes, in the middle of the countryside) to keep me hydrated.


Perhaps you’d be interested to know that a lot of the car owners at this event were of an older generation than me; perhaps in their 40s or even 50s. These guys were modifying cars with big fenders and wide wheels way before the term ‘stance’ became a popular thing; perhaps before you were even born. Talking to some of these people and seeing these incredible machines in real life gave me a whole new sense of respect for this nostalgic tuning culture, and it strangely made me appreciate my Datsun even more.


It’s been four years now since I first stepped foot on Japanese soil, and I can now officially say that I’ve explored all the parts of Japanese car culture that I so desperately wanted to experience. Well, for now at least!


You can experience Japanese car culture like this for yourself too; all it takes is planning, research and slowly building relationships with the right people. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that the true secret to discovering Japan’s car scene is getting lost in it. You should definitely try it sometime. 

Taryn Croucher
Instagram: taryncroucher
Twitter: @taryncroucher

Additional Photos by Peter Kelly
Instagram: pedeykelly



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I just had friends that moved to Japan (they too are huge car fans) and they said I can come out anytime. And now this post makes me want to get there even worse. Now just to get some money set aside….


Excellent post. Always chase your dreams...


If you reach out to Toshi-san about a RWB visit, he will make the arrangements. I exchanged a few emails with him and picked a day to show up to RWB for a bit to shoot the shit with Nakai. He was prepping some idlers cars so I didn't try to interfere or anything too much just take some pics with him and of his shop. Very cool chill guy, and always accommodating.


I'm planning a trip to Norway first (for a wedding, my own), but this is on my list for sure! 

Great story! I hope you find some friends willing to let you drive their Datsuns to get over the longing. :)


Excellent write up!!! You really conveyed the feelings and overwhelming sensation of the not just car culture in Japan but how it can seem like an alternate dimension!


Wow! I want to go to japan so bad! I know theyre probably not comparable, but would you reccomend a visit to gatebil or japan?


Taryn, please tell me you have a twin sister and she's into cars and is still single!

Gianluca FairladyZ

thank you Taryn! This is one of the best articles i've ever read! THIS is exactly what i want to do! Thank you so much! Greetings from Switzerland


So jealous! Visiting Japan and experiencing the car culture there firsthand is on my bucket list! I've been a fan of Japanese cars since the early 80's, my mom's bf at the time had a 280Z and I loved that car. So much that I bought a 72 240Z as my second car in the late 80's after wrecking my VW bug! It was only one of two cars I regret having to sell, the other being my 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX. I've owned quite a few great Japanese rides over the years (I'm 45 now), but those two still stand out, although my current 2006 WRX is on its way to becoming the third.


"This C34 Laurel belongs to one of the Lowbrain crew members, and if its appearance tempts you to comment on how ‘too low’ it is and how ‘undriveable’ it must be, don’t even bother. It’s a purpose-built drift car, and yes, it gets driven like this."

I could cut off most of my legs and I'd still be able to move around. That doesn't mean it'd be an ideal situation or not totally stupid.


This was fantastic, utterly fantastic to read. I've only so far spent about a week and a half in Japan but I cannot wait to go back in October for our second Vossen Owner's meet. 

Bar-b-que eel is the bomb!


That was a fantastic article to read. I really really really really want to go back to Japan (went in 2009). But I shall finish school first and an S13 build that I have in my mind first and THEN GO, GO, GO!


So amazing! Really enjoyed reading this, wish there was more! Hopefully I can do something similar within the next couple of years. Thanks for such great content.


One of the best articles i've ever read. So deep and inspiring!


AdamBezzegh Calling dibs xD


Toby has my respect,he is the embodiment of passion!
Oh and miss Taryn I hope you don't get some kind of bad karma for making so many people jealous,haha!


Kirk_B I'm yet to drive any cool cars on my overseas adventures so far, but hopefully that will change soon :D Congrats on your upcoming wedding too!


projectaw11 Thank-you! It really does feel like you're living on an alien planet there sometimes… in a cool way though, of course :)


@somo You are right, they aren't comparable! Japan can be a real culture shock at first, but some of the things you see at Gatebil can be just as shocking! I guess it depends where you are from, and what kind of cars you're into. If you're into European cars and like the idea of seeing Volvos drifting and crazy BMWs making massive power, and if you like to party, Gatebil Rudskogen is for you. If you're more into JDM stuff then Japan should be your #1 :)


AdamBezzegh LOL sorry buddy:)


Gianluca FairladyZ Thank-you for the great feedback, it is much appreciated. I am heading to Switzerland next month and I can't wait! It looks beautiful there :)


Mike_Vossen Thanks for the great feedback Mike! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story, and I'm excited for you getting to travel to Japan again! I'm going to be honest… eel is the one thing I'm too scared to eat in Japan haha. Maybe next time I'll give it a go!


Taryn Croucher AdamBezzegh well, ty anyways :))


I love the variety in your feature and it certainly elevates such a trip on the bucket list - nice work!


what would be more cool is to have your s30 shipped out there and then do all your speedhunting with that by your side. other than that, i envy your trip to japan! great read and awesome coverage


d_rav Cheers! Trust me, I couldn't stop thinking about that the whole time I was there! Especially when I was driving my Daihatsu Move kei car on the wangan lol


Wish I could visit Japan one day. Growing up around cars and having a mechanic for a father made me love them haha. Awesome read! Great job Taryn!! And I hope your build is going awesome too!


ETC card helps when goin through tolls ^_^ or you can poverty it and google map the route avoiding the tolls ^_^

Gianluca FairladyZ

Hey nice to hear that! Enjoy you stay here :)


Taryn Croucher Mike_Vossen try the eel sauce first. eel sauce is so good you can put that on your flipflop and eat that. once you're hooked the rest goes down easy. ;)


I really hope to go on a gap year to Japan to discover more and more about my favourite country. (Because of the EVO series)


Thank you for this write up. I'm currently looking into making this trip based around offset kings so this write up is super helpfull 

I think my biggest problem will be cramming everything I want to see into a three week time span :P

you wouldn't happen to know the date of offset kings/formula drift 2015?


Jos Boesten I'm glad you found it helpful! Doubtful that they would've set a date for that yet, but my guess would be that it would take place around the same time. Just a guess though!


Taryn Croucher : Spot on write up Taryn-chan, couldn't have said things better...

@everyone else : A lot to learn from in this post. Just over a year ago I logged on to my laptop, hit the order button for flights only 3 weeks away without any plans or where to go (i had been learning Japanese for a while though), I had been speaking with various shops/tuners/drifters for six months as well learning about them, who they are, family etc building friendships.. Turning up at shops un-announced is a no-no..

Etiquette is key and if you invest time into any friendship as you should do with anyone in life then the results can be great, and I'm super excited as flight VS9** heads out of Heathrow Airport this week I'll be back in Japan for a prolonged period , meet more people, and through the friendships I've made, be able to meet even more good people who share the love we all have.

This has allowed me to do the job that I do and wouldn't change it.

Kind regards,



Taryn Croucher Jos Boesten Okay,, haven't booked anything yet so just have to wait till I know the date.


@Jake Laird who gives a fuck. its a write up about the essence of the Japanese car scene, obviously  there are going to be some low ass fuckin cars. don't read the article of you don't want to see cars that low. you probably like v8's too


Neckbrace and Jake Laird, the BOTH of you need to kindly STFU, okay? Also, for the record, Neckbrace, quite a few Japanese and Asian manufacturers, most notably Nissan and Toyota, specifically its Lexus division, have V-8 engines as well. Furthermore, if I do recall correctly I do see some nice American low riders and muscle cars in this article as well. The reality is that Japanese gearheads are not as ethnocentric as you may think when it comes to vehicles. Yes, the majority of them go with tried and true Japanese and Asian vehicles, but they are also not afraid of vehicles from Europe, the Americas, and Australia/Oceania. I, for one, admire the uniqueness of the Japanese to not only make nice tuners, but to also make other nice rides as well with other vehicles, even something as mundane as a Dodge or Plymouth van from back in the 1970s or 1980s.


I've had several friends who have moved to various parts of Japan, and that "wanderlust" they experience the first few months wears off into a day-to-day drudgery. It also depends whether you live deep in the city or off in the countryside. I guess it's the same as any country; your experience may vary. Make as many friends as you can, try not to cause trouble, and be nice to strangers. Good luck!


MattAtDoyle I worked and lived in Japan (Yokohama) for 4 months before. Most foreigners are blinded by the wanderlust. Japan is nice, but it's not the greatest. Ask any foreigner who works a normal job in Japan. Nice to live there, but not to work there. Car scene is amazing though.

turbo BEAMS ae86

@Jake Laird yawn


Very good article here, and quite educational thank you so much. Please keep us updated of the life over there please.


I hope I have a similar experience in Japan when I finally get around to going! I've started learning Japanese so hopefully by the time I go it should be a bit better aha. Cool article!


Very cool article. I must say I've been wanting to go travel Japan for quite a while. Every time I read one of the articles or watch a vid of the car culture over there, it makes me want to drop everything and buy a 1-way ticket.

And that seeing that little NB drifting warms my heart; new wallpaper for sure!!!


Taryn Croucher This excellent article couldn't have come at a better time.  I leave for Japan in one week for a 3 week stay!  Thank you for linking the podcast for learning Japanese.  I'll be listening in on this all week leading up to my trip.

Thanks again.  Great article!


Awesome article! 

On the fourth to last picture...I A70 Supra (MK3) :D I know that behind from a distance lol


Why haven't I read this earlier!?

Great article!
4th chapter really hit my soft spot, god I love kyusha!

I, like many of the others commenting, am now oh so much more thirsty for a Japan trip!
Better start saving money and learning Japanese.. I might also take help from the podcasts, thanks :)

Skiing there should also be absolutely mental from what I've heard so I guess I'll have to make 2 trips!


Thanks for the great feedbackTian90! Yes, you must start saving :) 

If you go at the beginning of January you could go skiing and do Tokyo Auto Salon!


Cheer demzo_BRG :)


Enjoy your trip Dimitri A!


Thanks CooperMacmillan! Learning the language will definitely enhance your experience for sure.


MattAtDoyle I know what you mean, it's such an intense place! I think you have to get away from the city and head out into the country as much as you can or you'll start going a bit crazy. In the 5th week I finally started to feel like I was 'falling into place' into 'the system' and I had to J-walk/drink some beer and eat some food on the street to feel normal again haha


TasosPapazahariou Oooops my bad :P


That, is one HELL of an idea Taryn Croucher ! :D
Definately worth aiming for!


I got the same dream too. Except the JZX100 part is switched with an S15 (or maybe I'll have both haha). And the being a girl part. Anyway, thanks for the info and hopefully I can do it.


Not sure how I managed to miss this article. Anyway, lots of good stuff covered here. I travel to Japan every year. Sometimes for just a couple of weeks, sometimes for a month. I even started a website this year to help people realize their dream of visiting Japan. (
Another car activity I can recommend is the Tokyo Motor Show, which takes place at Tokyo Big Sight on Odaiba. Lots of concept cars and bikes, accessories, from big manufacturers and small. Saw the new Nissan IDx coupe and Jaguar F-Type coupe last year, and some really odd stuff the boss wants me to get for the museum. Don't forget the Tokyo Auto Salon in Chiba, of course. The cool car stuff never ends in Japan.


Absolutely wonderful! Hi! I was wondering if you could help me in experiencing the same thing? I'll be in Japan this coming December 7-11. I'm a huge car guy but I don't really know anyone there. Maybe you could help me out? I'm desperate! Please if anyone can help me. Thanks a bunch!


Oznerol4 Check out this page of my website:
You'll find a link for Suruga Performance in Shizuoka. Their English (and French, Swiss, and Japanese) speaking staff can hook you up with the Fun2Drive guys so you can drive a Hakosuka (or a host of other cars), and they know of ALL the car events in central Japan.
Have fun!


Thanks a lot for the help! Hopefully someone will help me and I get to experience japanese car culture while I'm there. So excited!


Glad to be of help! Be sure to check out the rest of my site for other tips. Hope you have a great time!


Nissan is my favorite car brand. Ever since I was a little boy, I loved our family's little Nissan van. That love has only intensified over time when it comes to their high-performance car. My dream is to drive one of those bad boys around one day in the future.


You should really check out the vans that Nissan has made since 2012 in its NT and NV lines, particularly the NV 1500, 2500, and 3500 Cargo Van lines, JamesSimon1. I think that you can also get them in Australia, New Zealand, and other nearby areas.


Where is Honjo Circuit located?


So so awesome, I can't wait for my adventure in March with Charles- wooooot!


This was just the info I needed. I'm about to head to Japan in a couple of weeks and am nervous about not seeing any car related things. But I've got an event scheduled and hopefully that'll open into something else I might be able to see. Awesome post!


I've been living in Japan for 13 years now and I've seen some truly awesome looking cars all the way down to the weird, as mentioned in this article. I never get bored of seeing the same old car style it says here, most people have their own style and it's respected instead dissed like in other countries. Anything goes here and I love it!


The Japanese car culture is the most fascinating in the world in my opinion. I've been to Japan several times and do agree you need to know the right people/have the right connections to be able to experience it. Unfortunately I have not had that chance so far! Last time we were in Japan we tried to rent a car (to visit some of the meeting spots in Tokyo) but we were unsuccessful because the international drivers licence my country issues is not accepted in Japan. As a car person and tuner/mechanic myself it was kind of frustrating. Anyway, I was wondering where could I meet people involved in the car scene, so maybe next time someone could take us to a place or two. And being on the lookout for a job(wanting to relocate) in Japan it is interesting to me if any foreigners are working in some of those tuning garages, or even foreigners owning tuning garages in Japan.
Amazing place that Japan is! But still kind keeping a ton of secrets from me!


The Japanese car culture is the most fascinating in the world in my opinion. I've been to Japan several times and do agree you need to know the right people/have the right connections to be able to experience it. Unfortunately I have not had that chance so far! Last time we were in Japan we tried to rent a car (to visit some of the meeting spots in Tokyo) but we were unsuccessful because the international drivers licence my country issues is not accepted in Japan. As a car person and tuner/mechanic myself it was kind of frustrating. Anyway, I was wondering where could I meet people involved in the car scene, so maybe next time someone could take us to a place or two. And being on the lookout for a job(wanting to relocate) in Japan it is interesting to me if any foreigners are working in some of those tuning garages, or even foreigners owning tuning garages in Japan.
Amazing place that Japan is! But still kind keeping a ton of secrets from me!


astragsi Networking in Japan isn't that easy when you don't have a car and don't speak the language, it's true! You might find this helpful though: :)


I wonder if anyone from Japan, let alone anywhere else in the world, ever thought about making old-school muscle cars go under the itasha route? I would love to see either a 1974-1979 Pontiac Phoenix or 1979-1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am get the itasha treatment as well as a Sailor Mars-inspired paint job, KITT-styled voice operating system (including the infrared/LED light sensors), and either a heavily modified Pontiac 455 or Ram Air V engine under the hood to replace the horrible Iron Duke engine, as well as the ability to do well in drag racing, drifting, and on the track, regardless of it being an oval, triangle, or road course track, or even a dirt/rally track if one were so inclined to race the vehicle in such a manner. What do you all think of that idea?


Oh, and one more thing, believe it or not, but GM/Pontiac also once asked Mopar/Chrysler to help design its own Hemi engine and, although they were successful in making the engine, it never went into production, though its statistics are impressive even for modern times. This engine was called the 427 Hemi and it had the potential to make a stunning 640 HP and about the same lb. ft. of torque.


Hey my husband is a huge car enthusiast. He has a fair lady z at home and it's always been his dream to visit Tokyo for the car scene. Being an awesome wife I'm saving up for a trip for his bday in March 2017. Any advice on things to do in Tokyo/places to see car relaxed? It'll be great to email me with some ideas. Thanks!


Hi could you advice where I could go and find in Japan the Mazda groups like the fc3s groups n I have 2 of those red sun's which I'm crazy about n would love to meet the groups... Could you share me some info