Japan! Wow! What an amazing place. From the super friendly people, the beautiful scenery, and how can I possibly forget, some of the best cars in the world! In January 2016, I was privileged enough to be invited to attend the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon, with 4.mance Automotive. The trip was amazing! We planned to do a little sightseeing first off, and really experience the beautiful scenery that Japan has to offer!
Flying in early Saturday morning, we travelled 3 hours north-west to the snow fields. Mount Naeba was our home for the next 3 days as we enjoyed skiing and snowboarding in the fresh powder. It is incredible how different the snow is compared to what we have in Australia. We were also able to enjoy the onsen hot springs (which was quite the experience in itself), and for the first time experience traditional Japanese food!
On Tuesday afternoon, we trekked it back to Tokyo. This city is truly the definition of organised chaos! There are Highways 4 stories above-ground all through the city, small laneways, and alleys with delicious restaurants, but somehow it just worked!
With much to do in Tokyo, first things first, UP! Garage. Had to be done! We need more of these shops in Australia. Just super cool! Closely followed by Super Autobacs. Shops filled with both brand new and used performance parts! What more can any car maniac want than to go shopping with hundreds of brands, from low to high end, on the shelf, available to buy then and there!
We also had the opportunity to go to Toyota Mega Web. This was basically a gallery for Toyota to showcase their history and how they are implementing their technology into newer models of cars such as electric concept cars, hydrogen cars, and the new i-Road. This was one cool looking thing! A three-wheeled, leaning form of transport. From here, we were not far from the Grease Shop and History Garage venues. So over we rushed before they closed. Thank god we made it in time. Being able to see all the old-school and must have vehicles in pristine condition was incredible. Devoted to the race cars of the past decades, the lower floor was definitely a highlight. At one end you had a glass enclosed “Restoration Pit”, where you could look through to see various staff members of the shop, working away restoring the next model for display in the exhibition.
While that was downstairs, upstairs you had a multitude of vintage autos and race cars. Set in showrooms set up to resemble 1960-styled Italian Village, 1950-styled small town America, and other redolent settings. Getting to capture rare classics was just as cool as being there! The trip was really starting to take shape
A few nights into our stay in Tokyo we get a tip that the coolest car meet was about to go down. The news turned out to be better! IT WAS 500m FROM OUR HOTEL!! No excuse not to go. It was honestly the best car meet ever! Set in an underground carpark, the cars showing up where what every JDM car fan could only dream of. It is such a different attitude over there. Everyone has their own style and are just there to admire. There were hundreds of cars in the car park and it felt like the scene out of Tokyo Drift!
From Nissan GTR’s to Mitsubishi Evo’s, Toyota Chasers to Subaru STI’s, and everything in-between. Even European culture is invited to this event, with Lamborghini’s and pimped out Audi’s rolling in and parking up! We were there for hours but it only seemed 30mins or so. Walking around multiple times to see what new cars had shown up! It really was something else, something that we definitely don’t see in Australia. This could only make all of us more excited for Auto Salon the very next day.
Now we get to the part of the trip, for which we ventured out to Japan for – Tokyo Auto Salon! Boy oh, boy. What a privilege it was to be there with 4.mance Automotive. They really helped tick one of my dreams off my bucket list. Experiencing all the brands we love, to some that I’ve never heard of before, was absolutely awesome! Seeing the up and coming wheels for 2016 before being officially released was exciting and I look forward to seeing these on cars in Australia. There were plenty of new models being brought out by manufacturers, with all the cool aftermarket goodness you can imagine! Work Wheels, Varis Bodykits, HKS, Turbosmart, Tomei, BBS wheels, RH9, Cusco, Liberty Walk, STI, Volk Rays Wheels, Nismo, just to name a few brands that were out on show! It took us 2 days to complete all the halls at Auto Salon. Seeing all the new trends coming through, with modified mini-vans and Hiace vans set up for various purposes. Sound systems were huge over in Japan, speakers anywhere and everywhere.
To conclude, I hope to see more of what is present in the Japanese car scene implemented into the automotive culture we have here in Australia, in particular their ability to showcase their individuality through their cars. It is always interesting to see how people interpret and apply trends to suit their taste. Personally, one experience I wish to bring back to Australia from my trip to Japan is not to think about how others are going enjoy my car and what I’ve built, but for myself to enjoy what I’ve created and to continue enjoying it.