Keeping The Kanjo Spirit Alive

Who remembers when kanjozoku was the car culture buzzword? I’m talking about 2012 to 2014 when, out of nowhere, kanjo culture burst onto the scene to take the internet by storm. Teenage Mario was hooked.

People have been racing on the ‘Osaka Loop’ for years. There are dozens of 240p YouTube videos (like the one below) going as far back as 2010 that showcase the late-night highway antics, but the racing has been going on for decades. Part of kanjo racing’s charm is the mystery that surrounds it; information on the early days is scarce.

Fast forward to 2024, and most people’s fascination with kanjo racing and the Osaka Loop seems to have faded, myself included. However, I recently plugged in my Xbox 360, and the memories came flooding back.

My home screen background? This very photo from Mike Garrett’s 2013 feature on the Tactical Art and No Good Racing!! kanjo teams.

Wondering where my enthusiasm for kanjozoku had gone over the years, I had a thought: what’s happening with it in Japan?


Daiki Ogata’s EK9 Honda Civic Type R is a modern take on the classic kanjo look. “I’ve owned EK Honda Civics ever since I got my licence. This is my fourth,” he says.


“I used to watch cars going past on the highway with my aunty when I was a boy, so I was into them when I got older,” Daiki-san recalls. “Drift culture had taken hold by that time, and I’d watch drift events on track. I grew up wanting a Skyline, but the hellaflush movement hit Japan around the time I got my licence.”


For someone who had little original interest in Hondas, look at the rare parts Ogata-san has acquired over the years. Matching BuddyClub bumper, P1 wheels and P1 Limited race seats, a Spoon Sports rear wing and even NSX brake callipers.


The seats are complemented by a Cusco roll cage, Nardi steering wheel and SCHROTH Racing harnesses. Defi and Do-Luck gauges fill Ogata-san’s line of sight while a Webasto glass moonroof lets late-night street lights illuminate the cabin.


“Civics were popular in the hellaflush scene. That influenced me to get my first car, and I’ve been driving Civics ever since. My first EK got totalled in an accident, and the second was stolen. I sold my third one, and here we are with my current one,” Ogata-san added.

The hellaflush influence is clear – the Civic’s fitment is spot on.


“There was one EF Civic in the 1991 JTC season that I loved the design of, so I did a homage to it on my car,” says Ogata-san.

The livery in question? Team Racing Forum’s Playboy-sponsored entry, seen here with a kanjo-inspired twist.


Ogata-san’s Type R doesn’t just look fast. Its 1.6L DOHC VTEC B16B engine has received upgraded Toda camshafts, a 70mm throttle body, Mugen air intake and a complete 5Zigen exhaust system. An ATS LSD sits in the gearbox alongside a 4.785 final drive ratio.


If you prefer Civics with thinner headlights and bread van bodies, you’ll love Kouki Katayanagi’s EG6 SiR.


“I’ve always loved race cars. I bought the Civic back in 2017 and immediately took it on a drive to the track,” Yanagi-san reminisces. “I saw a Team Idemitsu Motion Mugen-liveried car running on the track that day and decided I had to have a car with the same livery one day.”


“I guess that means I’ve wanted to run this design since 2017, but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with the livery if the car wasn’t fast. I told myself I’d only run a race livery if I could put down lap times on track that I was proud of.”  


Yanagi-san’s Civic was featured by Toby back in 2020, albeit looking somewhat different.

The car has seen its fair share of track time since its last Speedhunters appearance and, importantly, been deemed quick enough to justify flying the Idemitsu colours.


The EG6 Civic SiR comes equipped with Honda’s venerable B16A engine, which in Yanagi-san’s case has been upgraded with a Skunk2 intake manifold and throttle body, Toda camshafts, Toda forged high-compression pistons, Toda exhaust manifold and an A’PEXi Power FC engine management system. I can’t forget the machined and polished cylinder head, either.


I’ll play devil’s advocate here and suggest that while these cars may not be strictly ‘true’ to old school kanjo racers in the way they’ve been built and styled, there is one key aspect that makes them as good a representation as any: the camaraderie and brother/sisterhood behind them. It’s what kanjo culture was founded on.

Tribes, crews and gangs used to roam the Osaka streets late at night, causing mayhem together and generally having fun. There may even have been actual fights and violence back in the day, but now that aspect is almost entirely gone after a big police crackdown in the 2000s.

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No matter how hollow a shell of its former self kanjozoku may be today, the passion behind it is still there.

A prime example is this EF8 Honda CR-X SiR. It may not have been running, but the owner was so determined to be part of this little meeting that he had the car transported to the rest area to join in.

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Times have changed and the culture may have moved on, but if this trio of Hondas is anything to go by, the spirit of kanjo racing is still alive and well in the current generation of car enthusiasts. Long may it continue.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn

Photography by Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni

More stories from Japan on Speedhunters



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Mark once again delivering photography of the highest calibre. The last shot is just stunning.


Some of if not the best pictures I've ever seen on speedhunters. Definitely gonna have to make me one of these the background for my 360 lol.


Love that EG


Love this! Awesome read with coffee this morning. Thanks Mario!


The coolest Civics on the block man I love that first shot


Maaan, JDM Insider was such a good car show. It was an amazing time for the import scene. The pictures in this article are perfect


Yeah, like mentioned in the article, these are not "true" Kanjo cars, but... still, the EG and CRX look awesome. The EK is OK too ;)


Awesome stuff , but still waiting for the WEC hypercar stuff


I love the little Teaser you made by putting the shot of the 2 civics with the crx in the background barely visable as the last photo before you dove into the crx, love the article and pics!

Andrei Damien Lim

This article was really interesting! I love that CRX!


Love all of these, the CR-X also sounds great and is pretty damn quick around Tsukuba.


I always wished there was a bigger Kanjo/Wangan scene in the U.S.


lol why? it's a japanese thing. americans calling highway driving "wangan" or "kanjo" are absolutely cringe.


I don't mean it had to be called wangan or kanjo. I'm talking about the act or spirit of it. The style of the cars, etc. Like how JDM styling or drifting became popular here.