Two of my favorite things in the world are cars and Japan. I love both to an unhealthy degree, so when I get the two of them together, I am dangerous. I have spent entire days in Tokyo just going from one parking lot to the next, ogling at cars and staring into interiors like a fat kid outside of a Krispy Kreme. I can even tolerate Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift as a result of the movie aligning my interests so economically.
Japan always shows out when it comes to cars. Whether drifting the hills of Hakone or cruising slowly through the Daikoku Parking Area, some of the most fascinating cars in the world call the Japanese archipelago home. The wealth of Tokyo produces a steady stream of exotics that can humble even the most socialized of hypercar aficionados. Sprinkle in some cultural charm, and the output is a truly special car scene that has birthed such automotive touchstones as the Bosozoku, Liberty walk, RWB, and Initial D.
Money + Culture + a sort of Nationalist Car DNA has created an environment where cars thrive and become fresh incarnations through modding and molding - extensions of their owner's personalities. It is not verboten in Japan to take a $400k Lamborghini and fix it with neon lights or a Pokemon wrap. Japan is a magical place.
One of my favorite forms this modification culture takes is with Porsche Tuner RWB or Rauh-Welt Begriff. Its founder, Akira Nakai, flies all over the world building gorgeous widebody air-cooled Porsches by hand, one at a time, while smoking cigarettes and drinking Coca Cola.
But if you look closely, you can see this spirit all over japan. Here are a few of my favorite car spotting locales.
1. Daikoku on Sundays
Daikoku is a parking lot in Yokohama with raised highways surrounding the area makign a sort of valley. There is a rest stop and lots of parking spots - not much else. On Sundays, it really comes alive with an assortment of high performance exotics, itasha gems, and all manner of 4 wheeled life.
UDX in Akihabra is home to many JDM greats, and a much higher ratio of Itasha or otaku cars than anywhere else. I tend to stop by level B2 on most nights when I visit Akihabra, but I am told the best night at UDX is during the Tokyo Auto Salon.
Just chilling out and seeing what drives by is the magic of Omotesando. With some of the best shopping in Tokyo, boasting both shops for hypebeasts to Chanel-toting fashionistas, it brings out the rich, and the rich bring out the cars.
Shinjuku is a ballet of humanity nightly. It is the heart of Tokyo nightlife, a place where the weird comes home to roost. Along the drag of Yasukuni Dori, the building forge an artificial valley for performance cars to roar through.
Ginza is my spot - my favorite place in my favorite city in the world. It is common to see insane cars parked along side streets. On the weekend, they shut down the main drag from noon to five.
6. Tsutaya Daikanyama
On the second Sunday of each month, this Tokyo bookstore turns into a legit cars and coffee meet up. I have never been, but I hear great things. Each meet has a "theme" and it is very accessible.
RWB HQ is on a quiet side street in Chiba and always worth a visit.