**Thanks to everyone for being so patient! If you didn’t already know, I’ve been fighting an illness that was supposed to kill me exactly one week ago, but i’m here, better than ever! Thanks for the warm wishes, and your comments, but i’m not going anywhere! –DD–**
I know, I know. It’s been over two weeks and we haven’t put up anything from our travels in Japan. Relax! Don’t forget we do this in our spare time! I hope everyone out there got a chance to capture some glimpses of the Tokyo Auto Salon from our favorite blogs out there! No doubt, this year’s TAS was not to be missed, but we want to show you our coverage of the event our way. So with myself and Danh, we managed to capture hundreds upon hundreds of images just to share with our followers. Over the next few days, we will show you exactly what we did in the seven days we occupied the great country of Japan, so sit back, wait for the images to load (there’s going to be a LOT), and take your time.
Some months ago, while drinking cocktails at one of favorite bars in Houston, Anvil Bar and Refuge, myself, John, Danny, Danh and Fabio somehow brought up the idea of attending next year’s Tokyo Auto Salon. It’s a no brainer that everyone and their JDM mom wanted to go to what car people refer the event to as the Holy Grail of car shows. I’ve been to Japan before, but never for TAS, so I was extremely anxious to get back. Having just come back from SEMA show in November, we were itching to see the Japanese counterpart on the other side of the planet because every year I look through the photos online hoping to catch a few glimpses of what is trending in Japan and what fresh cars and styles they were bringing to the table. Much like you, I so desperately wanted to see my favorite cars and even newer cars outfitted with the wildest turbo and aero kits you could imagine. But typically, when I searched for these photos, I would only see that- just car photos. I always wondered what it’d be like to attend a Tokyo Auto Salon, but never quite got the gist of it by looking at what was available online. So this time around, we wanted to make sure we got it all.
We made the announcement on our Facebook Fan page that we would be going to Japan and if anyone wanted to join us, it was an open call to join in our festivities. One person did manage to be able to go, Evan Davis from Houston, TX. Evan has been around the car industry for some time and is currently building one sick ass SC300 that would not be considered “typical”. So with Evan, Danh and Danny taking a plane from Houston to Los Angeles together on a Wednesday morning, I grabbed my bags here in Baltimore, MD, hitched a ride with Joy and spent the night at the airport because my flight left the next morning at six freaking AM. From Baltimore I flew to Cleveland and then to LAX where we would all meet up and take one huge ass plane for the next ten and a half hours to the motherland.
As I tried to make the most of my time on that flight by beating my high scores on Bejeweled and solving all the cases on Phoenix Wright, I just kept thinking about all the people we were about to meet, all the cool cars we were going to see in person and all of the crazy food we were going to try while staying in Japan. It’s enough to make you not sleep on a ten hour flight, that’s for sure. We left that Wednesday morning, and finally touched down the afternoon after, as in Thursday. WTF you say? Remember that Japan is a day ahead of us, and since we were flying west, we crossed the international date line and we would travel through time, Marty McFly style without the DeLorean, to the next day. Interesting to note that we were on the same flight as Jonathan Wong and Sean Klingelhoefer from Super Street Magazine. I got the chance to talk to Jonathan while standing around customs and baggage claim in Narita. It seems they had a whole slew of shoots lined up for the mag, much more organized than our two bit organization. We never did run into each other after that chance encounter, but I’m sure we’ll cross paths once more in the future. After grabbing our bags, it was time to find our way to Funabashi, just east of Tokyo, to check into the hotel that Nakai-San from Rauh Welt Begriff Japan had recommended to us.
Japanese railways and subways are funny. Supposedly they’re the most efficient trains in the world, which I have no doubt in my mind they are- except you had better know which ones to get on. The nice thing is that there are so many to choose from, you can pretty much get to any destination by train, especially in Tokyo. If the sign says it’ll show up in four minutes, it WILL show up in exactly four minutes, no joke. But with the mixture of weekend schedules, local lines, rapid lines, JR lines, Tokyo Metro lines, women only cars, and cars packed like sardine cans, it can be extremely confusing to any gaijins visiting for the first time.
Having arrived in Tokyo on Thursday, we all knew that the next day would be our most important day to capture as many photos of the cars as we can. You see, Friday isn’t open to the public, and it was our best bet to get the majority of our photos. The only problem was as soon as we checked in to our hotel in Funabashi, we were asked to come to a bar/lounge in Roppongi Hills, a very affluent part of Tokyo, by Nakai san. We all figured fuck it, it’s Japan, what could happen?
Well of course when we get there, we were a little lost trying to find the place. But when Toshi of RWB showed up, we were all a little relieved that we finally saw a familiar face some thousands of miles away from home. Nakai was waiting for us outside of what normally is a gay bar (long story), and after exchanging handshakes and hugs, we made our way inside where the entire place was rented out by Rauh-Welt Japan. Basically, from what I was told, every year the RWB crew has a gathering at this particular bar and the owners of past and current RWB cars are all invited to this all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink shindig. It was here we met up with our online pals, Luke Huxham and Aaron Mai of Maiham Media, the guys responsible for all of the awesome RWB videos you see online and now Liberty Walk. We also got to meet other RWB car owners such as Shinji and Mr. Akagi of T-Style Japan. Even Mark Arcenal and his Fatlace crew were here drinking Asahi and eating the little bits of food off of the various dishes throughout the bar. No doubt, we were living it up as we met even more people that were just friends of the RWB crew. Even our guy Evan found himself a girl to get hitched to, lol.
Afterwards we went to what Nakai referred to as “next party”, a Japanese diner hidden in some back alleys somewhere deep in Roppongi Hills. It was here where everyone let loose and drank the night away with beer and Nakai giving us heavy doses of Yakisoba noodles (my favorite!), or “Barbecue Soba Noodles”. As the time got later, we realized that the subway lines stop service after midnight and it was already 3am, so Nakai offered to take us back to our hotel. We all packed into his rental Van and off we went, with Nakai swerving around like a BOSS all up and down the roads of Japan. The man can drive. Two hours later we arrive back in the hotel at the nice hour of 5am.
Of course, we all took a brief nap and headed out to the next train to Makuhari Messe, a convention center not too far away from our hotel. As we wiped the morning’s eye crust from our bloodshot eyes, we were treated with a short walk to Tokyo Auto Salon. Once we grabbed our media credentials, me and Danh quickly went into what I like to call “gametime” mode, that is, work mode, while Danny and Evan took in the show one crazy car at a time.
The plan pretty much was for us to shoot the show on the first day as much as possible since it wasn’t open to the public yet. We didn’t have any forms of electronic communication between us so we had to set up a meeting time at a certain spot to meet back up for lunch. After eating some more yakisoba, we headed back out there to do more work.
Think we’re done? No sir. That same night right after the show, we were invited by Toshi and Nakai to meet them up at Rauh Welt Japan. But that will have to wait until the next post where we will continue our coverage of our epic trip to the land of the rising sun!
– David –