Japan part 1


Posted on January 25 2011

Well, after an amazing short stay in Japan I’ve finally made my way back to the states and have been able to make my way through a good deal of e-mails, phone calls, and mountains of spam to get around to a bit of blogging.  I considered posting up a few blurbs from the road but I thought it would be better if I was able to put the entire trip together over the course of a few posts.

It all started off with a short flight to L.A., followed by a bit more lengthy flight to Japan from there.  Luckily the journey wasn’t too bad at all, comfortable seats, decent food, a couple movies, and a few hardcore super breakout sessions made the 12 hour flight pretty enjoyable.

Aside from movies and games the screen showed some pretty cool stuff as far as flight duration, speed, elevation, temperature and even allowed you to see a camera that was located under the plane that provided a pretty cool perspective I’ve never seen before on landing and takeoff.

Almost there….

When we finally arrived at the hotel after a train ride from Narita it was getting pretty late and we tried to stay up as long as we could to try and get on the Japanese time schedule as quickly as possible due to the 16 hour difference from the states.   We stayed in Shinjuku which is somewhat centrally located in Tokyo and would allow us to make the most of our stay.   The size and scale of the city is something that needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

The local Starbucks near our hotel provided a bit a familiarity so far from home.

Time to get some well needed rest for what would take up the next couple of days of our trip and our first destination, the Tokyo Auto Salon.

I’ve been to SEMA quite a few times over the years but the the TAS is something that I’ve always wanted to see and have yet to experience.   This is the scene as you walk through the doors….

Very similar to SEMA but with companies like Top Secret, Esprit, Blitz, HKS Kansai, and Voltex this was sure to be a bit more tailored to my personal taste.   We first decided to start on the East side of the 3 separate halls and make our way West.  This is by no means a comprehensive tour of the TAS as there are plenty of blogs out there with much better photography for that but I’ll just show you a few things that caught my eye or were of interest to me personally.

The first thing you need to know is that trying to get a clear shot of anything here is next to impossible with all the foot traffic making their way around the Salon.  And if the particular booth you’re interested in has girls in it, forget about it.  I think there’s a great deal of people here that could honestly care less about the cars at all for that matter….

Yep, all that for one girl.  Who knew glass cleaner could be so intriguing.   We started off being greeted by a nicely modified Ferrari F-430 which you see much more of in Japan than the states.

Next to a dumped Lamborghini which was a little less tastefully modified in a Busta Rhymes approved hue.

To be honest a good deal of the East and Center halls were a bit more like SEMA than I had hoped for with way too much bling, VIP,  and 10 different types of your typical western radio variety hip hop blasting from all around.  There was also a lot more aftermarket support for hybrids and kei cars than I had hoped for but I should have expected that from the beginning.  The TAS is a a sign of the times and gutted out high horsepower track machines just aren’t the mainstay as they may have been in the past.  Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of that to go around.

I actually took this picture for my daughter who would have flipped had she seen it in person…

I’ve actually seen this car before but I don’t recall the jewel encrusted exhaust tips.  Burnt titanium is sooo last year…

It doesn’t get much crazier than that…..   or does it?  I don’t quite recall the car but I definitely remember the shift knob.

I think there’s a good possibility someones probably missing a leg on their table LOL!  More craziness this time in the popular form of vanning as seen on this Estima or Previa as it’s referred to in the states.

It’s a bit much for me but I appreciate the style.  I can also appreciate the humor, or maybe the honesty of the airbrushed graphics.

In the sea of flashy VIP styled cars with their ridiculous wheel  fitment and multicolored interiors this LS460 stood out to me as something I could definitely see myself make the daily commute in.

Don’t get the idea that I wasn’t enjoying myself so far, it’s just that I didn’t come all the way to Japan to see their interpretation of Dub magazine, I came for the more performance oriented parts of the show and fortunately for me there was plenty more to come.  This LF-A  from Gazoo racing in the Toyota booth looked like it had been pulled directly off the Nurburgring  and plopped right on the show floor with a taped up bumper full of bugs, rubber and 24 hours of abuse.

There were also plenty of JGTC cars around, I saw them when they came to California Speedway a few years back but it’s always cool to be able to see them up close and examine all the little details that make these cars so amazing. The Raybrig NSX has to be one of my all time favorites…

The GT300 Subaru Legacy looked especially menacing in matte black.

Honda had an HSV in their booth, still kind of a cheater car if you ask me.   Just build it already, Lexus did ;)

And I was scratching my head as to what these fins in the exhaust were there for…. to reduce turbulence for better flow and cleaner aero out of the rear of the car?  Still not as cool as the light up LED tip on the Starlet, that for sure.  Also note the crazy carbon wing mounts.

To my dismay there was no dancing Asimo robots but Honda also had this cool collection of vintage sales brochures.  This one with Senna and the Prelude was especially cool.

Moving on to the center hall was where I had to show my first bit of restraint with blowing all my money on the astounding array of diecast scale models at one booth in particular.  This 1/18th scale DR30 was pretty awesome but at around $150 USD I think I’ll have to pass.

Quite a few cool 1/43 scale models as well.

I was bummed not to see the vintage inspired Histrix seats this year at the Bride booth but this new seat looked promising for J-Tin aficionados with a bit of coin to spare.

Exedy had a pretty cool display that allowed customers to sit in a seat equipped with two clutch pedals to feel the difference in pedal pressure (or lack thereof)  between a stock clutch and their carbon twin plate setup.

I found it odd that seeing a full carbon bodied car isn’t that big of a deal anymore to many people but I was still very much impressed by this S2000 in the C-West booth which is an updated version from the old one that made it’s way to the states.

There was a row in the middle that consisted of  various time attack cars and quite a few GT-R’s lucky enough to be in the RH-9 club.  this one from Art Tech Hanatsuka on 19″ Nismo LM’s was quite stunning.  For some reason I really dig R34′s in red.

And a bunch of RB26 engine bays to drool over…..  this is more like it.

The Varis EVO X is quite a work of art as well, I’m really liking the TE37 SL’s and they were everywhere in Japan.

Cruising through the Top Secret booth I was blown away by how many different variations of the R35 exhaust there were at the show.  This one had to be one of the best.

One thing that I have always loved about the JDM market is their appreciation of form and craftsmanship rather than the bottom line price over quality as seen in some other more … ahem….. familiar markets.   Just look at the intricacy and attention to detail.

More fabrication porn in the form of an aluminum intake manifold for the R35 GT-R in the JUN booth.

As we made our way out from the first day I was able to spot my first bit of nostalgic goodness in the form of an AE86 Levin and Trueno from Impulse.  This Levin had TE37 V’s on one side and the new 57 V’s on the other side.

Clean doesn’t even describe these two, probably the most immaculate 86′s I’ve ever laid eyes on.

I really like the old school design of the Rays logo on these wheels.

Although I was unable to get a peek under the hood of the Levin, the Trueno had a nicely modified 20 valve 4AGE under the hood.

That does it for my day one experience, Part 2 will have a bit more of the classics we all love so check back!

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