Fun from back on the one of the last days of 2012. Hope you enjoy the short clip. Wish I had more footage to play with but I think this captures how much of an awesome day it was!
Fun from back on the one of the last days of 2012. Hope you enjoy the short clip. Wish I had more footage to play with but I think this captures how much of an awesome day it was!
Thanks again to the guys at Mobara for putting on a good show and keeping smiles on their faces during that cold ass winter day.
When you think of something to write and you don’t have a pen and paper in front of you sometimes it just doesn’t flow out into a story like it does when you first lay it down in ink. So for this epic tale I headed over to my local family restaurant Jonathon’s to enjoy some hours of solitude with the drink bar as I furiously shredded some pages with my mechanical pencil.
I enjoy writing but over the past winter holidays I had the pleasure and displeasure of showing a bunch of people around the city of Tokyo that I have called home for about six months now.
–Just as a side note, while I started writing this I noticed a girl sitting across from me, she’s quiet tall for a Japanese woman. She’s wearing an older style of wool shorts with black tights that you can only partially see through. Complimenting those are some brown knee high boots. She has double layered cardigans and a long drooping gold necklace. She has a normal face and a short bob cut. Her figure is athletic and thin but for some reason she has a weirdly noticeable double chin. How then hell does this even happen!–?
edit: Just stating this because of Daniel Bridle, don’t get me wrong I love Japanese women.
Anyway, as they say in Japanese, Annaishimasu, or to be in the action of guiding. While I as glad to have aided everyones travels and experience new things with them; traveling around non-stop, as fun as it seems, can be ridiculously tiring. After recovering with a good day of sleep and relaxing music, I took the chance to escape to Chiba far from the high rises and the shadows full of footsteps to a small town outside of Kamagaya where one of my older friends lives. Hasegawa is his name. He is human just like the rest of us and has problems like everyone else. However, Hasegawa has a huge generous heart full of good jokes. Like a cars engine that’s been sitting for a while, reluctant to start after acquiring some rust, Hasegawa’s heart, full of racing spirit has slowly diminished over the past 2 years as he watched his broken car slowly envelope itself into the surroundings.
Ayu Porsche, or that intimidating red RWB Porsche which was very well known had been sitting outside for a while and was in need of some love.
-Another side note: The two ladies next to me have literally been blabbering about the stupidest shit non-stop for about an hour and a half. Its like all they’re talking about is what item they want to buy from what brand next.
So, in order to participate in love giving, which sounds kind of uneducated and raunchy, I finished up pounding rice at a local Harajuku shop’s year-end Mochitsuki (the word which describes the process where people make Mochi by hand) event, threw on my bag and walked through Takeshita Dori to the train station. Hopped on the Chiyoda line and passed out for a while until I got closer to Chiba.
I arrived at the doorstep, bundled up in warm clothes, my leather boots still a little stiff from the cold and knocked on the door. No one answered so I sent “Has” a text and promptly a raspy but muffled “Matt” sounded as the neighbors door flung open. Joining Hasegawa, the neighbor or Otonari-san as we call him and his mom for a hearty engaging conversation where my persistent youth took the better of me as I kept bugging the GodFather about when he planned to fix up Ayu.
Side note:-When you stop between thoughts or sentences to take a break, clear you mind and refresh some times the weirdest thoughts pop into you head. For example: What are those small lines accompanied by clear oil looking film mixtures at the top of my ginger ale glass. Seriously.
There is only so much indoor smoking I can handle. So to ease the lightness in my head and stretch my legs a bit I stepped out into the brisk five degree sunshine outside. Five minutes later I was back inside asking for hot water with a plastic bucket I had found and cleaned. I had actually found two but that is significant later in the story. What’s most important at this point is that I had the joy of playing the “I don’t’ care what you think Hasegawa, if I can’t fix her now she at least needs a bath!” Gaijin.
When I head out somewhere with no plans, no solid understanding of the situation to come, I try my best to make the most of what is given, or presented to me. So in the spirit of any “Car Boy” who’s hands had not been soaked by grease and engine slime for sometime, I gladly took up the challenge of getting Ayu Porsche covered in suds. Happy to get my hands working I started sorting out the main problem; algae and mold. The car sits in in a spot that receives a good amount of shade everyday so the paint is still in awesome condition but the water doesn’t dry so, you can get the idea. I worked away for a good two hours and managed to exterminate all the smaller life forms preventing proper aero dynamics from being efficient before returning to the house in search of new rags and some more hot soapy water.
Everything was coming back to me, it felt so long since I had put some effort into something related to fixing cars. Working on cars is just so pleasing. Smiles were everywhere! I continued to clean and Hasegawa brought me new cloths. He disappeared into the house again and 10 minutes later popped out of the door, walked up to his Toyota Windom, lit a cigarette and puffed into the chilly air. He shared a few stories with me and even though I had merely finished the rear end, which didn’t include the rear bumper, he admirably praised the beauty of his car as it became cleaner while repeatedly thanking me.
Next thing you know his sleeves were rolled up and he was face down hard at work with a big scrub brush. I poured some of the water into the second bucket I had cleaned out earlier and set it down for him to use. Still quiet surprised I let him know it was okay if he needed to rest, but no, the man was on a roll and he had this big smile broken 3/4 way up his lips by his hot cigarette as he grunted and carried on telling ridiculous jokes. The man is a legend. The speed and agility of his movements and his sort of spark in his eyes, yes it sounds soppy but it was true! It really felt like his rusty heart had been given a can of SeaFoam and a full tank of race fuel with a 100 shot of Nitrous to burn through.
“Has” hammered it out for a good hour or so before realizing he had a pressure washer. So what did he do? That crazy man busted out his brand new pressure washer and blasted all the shit off his car. It wasn’t long before his pressure washing fetish moved to the his Jet ski and then to the whole front of his house. Luckily I moved the Porsche beforehand so I was well out of spray range. Sort of like the slurp range when referring to Watanabe-san eating ramen. After the house he moved to pressure washing the asphalt. That 20 feet or so of pavement outside his house is so bloody clean now. If only he could pressure wash the inside of his house too, it would be fantastic!
I forgot to mention that while washing the magnificent beast I found a “wild” carbon wing (as in in the bushes like you were playing Pokemon) laying on the ground and proceeded to test out a double GT wing set up. Hasegawa thought it was pretty funny especially after I showed him the pictures. While finished up drying the outside Hasegawa snapped a few pictures of me at work while he smoked some more. His excite was high.
I completely whipped down the inside. It was covered in dust and other various things. Oh man, it was 1000 times better after I had finished. Although the mini plastic palm tree forest glued to the rear dash board was so brittle from constant sun exposure that most of the leaves had fallen off and tiny pieces of green plastic palm fronds lay all around the back of the car. I think he’ll need to get that replaced since it is an essential touch to the Ayu Porsche.
So after making the most of what I had, expecting only a little out of the day at the start I was thoroughly pleased it had turned out so eventful. I’m glad I was able to witness Hasegawa once again becoming excited over his what you might call his passion.
After cleaning I took some more photos for him and then Otonari-san, Hasegawa and I went to Jet Stroke for some drinks with Caterpillar.
Hasegawa called me a few days later while I was on the train. In Japan talking in the train is severely frowned upon. People do it, but it is still something that by doing so will award you with a large amount of glaring eyes. But even though I was on the train, I listened. He told me he had just started up the car and it wasn’t doing to well. He then held the phone to the rear of the Porsche. It was seriously the loudest phone call muffler test session I have ever experienced. From then on he has been gathering parts and waiting for a good day to start. On his days off it has rained quite frequently so he has been stalled for a few weeks. All thats left is another train ride out to Chiba with a six pack of beer to give the guy another small push to get it all done.
I’m really grateful to have been in your care Hasegawa. Keep the jokes coming!
Happy Birthday you BIG BOOTY LOVER!
Hope you are having a blast at the RWB New Year party and giving everyone a big fat middle finger. Have a beer on me!
After the adventures of the night before, covered in the recent post Adventures of Carboys Circuit Soul, HighTopFade and I traveled around northern Chiba area in search for cool parts and good times. While I can’t disclose any of our secret singing sessions just quite yet, the day after we traveled to Mobara Circuit to watch the guys from Sexy Knights and their friends drift. Alex from CircuitSoul was very busy with all his business stuff and working out plans with the other teams so letting him do his thing I had my own adventure meeting the guys from Team Fanta. This is really just a small portion of what happened. The day was so full of great moments and people. I’m glad I had the chance to meet them and look forward to seeing them drift again. Team Fanta! Enjoy the content, thanks for reading!
As I mentioned before at Mobara Circuit I gave Alex a break and moved about the paddock by myself. I talked to some of the Sexy Knights guys and then walked over to Rod from AutoNGraphic and said hi. He was doing real well out in the grip class. It was good to seem after a long absence. A little after noon that I headed up to check out the end of the row of cars where a variety of brands and models all painted in sparkle red and sparkle teal.
Not that there is something wrong with the difference between drifting in Japan and other countries, I just think the vibe is so much more relaxed. Here is one of Team Fanta’s members stopping to have a chat on track, just something about that that says it all to me. There might be the odd case of tension which happens no matter where you live but, in Japan there is this sort of hidden camaraderie that everyone comes to understand as they enter the scene. To add to that, generally speaking, the rules and staff at the track are generally more relaxed. There isn’t all this hype and concern about liability or being sued so the limits affecting places like the States don’t apply as strongly. So far I think this brings in a larger more relaxed scene where beginners and advanced drifters are more tight nit as a whole and family. Of course there is drama everywhere but Mobara didn’t have a real social gap between the good drivers and the still learning. Team Fanta really showed me this as I spent more time with them throughout the day.
First heat of the day and Team Fanta was already throwing down some solid runs. Smoke pouring from the tires of the Mark II as the morning sun rose higher into the sky. It was going to be a good day!
Swinging across on the straight entering into the long first S corner at Mobara Twin.
I was sitting on the spectator seats shooting and listening to some of the complete and utter nonsense from overly excited Ryan. By far the loudest laughing person; especially around at 8 in the morning. You know he is loud when you can clearly hear him along side the noises of screeching tires and inline 6 engines with straight pipes. Holy cow! Have a laugh on us! Heat 1 done! Heading into the paddock after shredding the first set of new tires. At this point I was sort of skeptical about who these guys where and hadn’t even walked into the paddock yet to check them out. So I asked a few of the guys about them but they didn’t know much. After meeting them though, I was completely stoked on Mobara’s vibe.
One of the team members had a long night and decided to sleep practically through the entire event. I ended up riding in his car while one of his buddies drove. At least it wasn’t too cold and the weather was nice and clear. He probably got some good sun on his face. Such a easy going bunch of guys.
And back out to burn off some more rubber, round 2! Rolling out as a team. A really cool feeling. Everyone noticed their presence as they headed out on track.
Back in from round 2. From here the guys had a rest and from what I recall skipped a round as a team. While they were relaxing I went to work snapping some more pictures of their cars. I was really interested in their paint and kept coming back for more pictures.
While wandering around Team Fanta’s base camp the owner of this Cresta got up and suggest I have a look at his engine. Very nice! Nothing to crazy but well maintained and remarkably clean.
I took some pictures of their cars from a distance. Trying to get a few snaps of each one. They had some cool cars. Team Fanta is a pretty local team and within 20 minutes of shooting their cars a few of them had called me over and were talking to me as I took some close up shots. The mentality these guys had was so welcoming, I didn’t feel intimidated at all and it was really easy to talk to them. I ended up hanging around and shooting their cars and them for a while. Then I asked if it was possible to have a ride along while talking to “Sacho”-san, or the boss of the group. He was super stoked to have me ride and agreed on the spot. He told me to search for a helmet in the mean time. One of the other drivers was sleeping and his buddy said it was fine if I used it for the ride along. A little small but it worked!
I set my bag near some of their spare coil overs and shot a little more. One of the guys suddenly hurried over to me and asked if I wanted to also ride along with his buddy. He wasn’t as experienced as the boss but I said why not. I really liked how they were a team of various skill levels and people. It made it more interesting and the bonds between them seemed tighter and less worried about one upping each other.
As I was preparing most of the team had gathered around the car and while laughing started yelling at me, “Yabai yabai yabai, kare wa chotto abunai. Abunai ne, kiotsukete ne! Ikanaide!” Basically it translated to Oh shit man, he’s kind of dangerous watch out man! Be careful! Don’t’ go with him! I told them that driving at Ebisu with some of the guys up there and being slammed by Daigo Saito was pretty scary at 200 km an hour. So I wasn’t scared of this at all. They all thought it was pretty funny and gave a hoot and holler and waved me good-bye as I got into the car. I got in and said hi to my driver. I never managed to catch his name but I did give him some encouragement to pull the hand brake a lot more than he did the first lap. The second lap we were going way harder and I think he was stoked to have me along for the ride. We were going good and the run was super fun. A few laps later we came around the big sweeper where the fans can stand and watch and powered down the straight completely sideways around the last corner. As we came around the side he held the drift for to long and didn’t let it slide around the other side before it was to late. Bang! We slide straight into the the tire wall right in front of the the rest of the team watching on the sidelines. They were all at the guard rail hooting and hollering, basically falling over laughing. We just sat there in the car slightly rammed up on tire wall while the rest of the cars on track exited. I sat inside and pretended to claw at the front window like a cat in the passenger seat. I arched my neck back so I could sort of yell out of the rear window and said in a loud voice, “Omae, tasukete! Shinitakunaiyo!” Which translates to “Hey you, help me! I don’t want to die!” That pushed them over the edge. They were all laughing their asses off.
After I got out of the car I stuck the Go-Pro on the roof so I could film as we got the car back on the ground. Everyone in the surrounding area came over to help. Ichi ni san, and a big heave! We all lifted the front of the Jzx off the tire wall and back onto solid ground. Cheering, we all pushed it into the pits and started pulling the intercooler pipes off to replace them as soon as possible. It was near the end of the day and he still had to drive home.
While they got to work on the front end I prepped my camera and go pro for my ride along with Sacho or, “The Boss.” I mounted my go pro, switched it on and quickly hopped in the car. With my helmet loosely buckled we set out onto track. Almost instantly sideways around the first corner. The Ps13 was pushing really hard and was more violent than the big sedan, however, during a single drift it was super smooth! It whipped around the track so nicely! We had a great run and I got some pretty good footage! I sat in a standard s13 seat and it didn’t hold me so well so I sort of flew around the cabin with my 7D like a frightened chicken its coop!
We finished and headed into pit lane. “Sacho”‘s helmet is painted like the Japanese character “Anpan” Man and as we were waiting in line we passed a bunch of little girls who were super worked up about his helmet. They later came back over to his car just to check out his helmet and say hi. It was pretty cute! They were probably around 10 years old and already surrounded by drifting. What a life! I was somewhat jealous.
When we got out I exchanged mail with him said my good-byes. I hope that sooner than later I will be able to return to hang out with them again. I need to pick up my own helmet though. Ride alongs are killer fun and I definitely don’t want to miss out on the fun because I’m missing a melon bucket.
Thanks again, Team Fanta. You guys were awesome to be around and made a already awesome day one to put down in the record books. Keep it up! Hope to see you soon!
Until next time.
Recently the guys from CircuitSoul visited HTF and I here in Japan. Our first meeting and adventure started on a fairly overcast rainy day in Tokyo. Taking a short trip up to Harajuku from my house HTF and I headed out to Chiba where we met up with the CircuitSoul Car Boys. The long train ride gave us some time to get super excited and when we stepped off the local train the clear skies of Chiba greeted us. The sun was out and the town had a much more relaxed and quiet atmosphere to it. We waited around at the station for them to pick us up and headed out. After walking to “X”‘s house who owns “X” we held a small meeting to plan out day out. The boys were hungry so an obvious first choice was food. That didn’t quiet go down as simply as it is said. Finding a ramen shop took us almost an hour and 6 km of walking. After eating though, everyone’s cranky moods were eased.
HTF mentioned a tiny wheel shop that specializes in wide wheels. Totally amped on anything cars, Watanabe-san was all for it! Our detour out into the depths of Chiba’s suburbia began! The sun was nearing the horizon line and provided for a beautiful view across Chiba.
HTF aka, Maps leading the way through the maze of small winding streets. Watanabe-san steeling the spotlight in this photo. The, “dramatic walking through Chiba shot” with HTFxCircuitSoulxConstantFun. I can’t wait to have these guys back in Japan. Watson, what a go getter! Have a trip on us, aye!
Just around the corner of the next bamboo covered road was this rustic shop and tucked away behind the crane truck was this GTR R32. It looked like it had been sitting for a while. As soon as we spotted it Rywats went a little bananas and all I could hear in the background was, “Day 3 boys, day 3! Man I’m getting fired up aye!!”. The tires were flat and as you can see in the photos it was covered in dust. Snooped around and had a good look. Alex was tempted to come back and offer who ever lived or worked here a hundred dollars for it. Probably could have had a steal of a life time. Aside from the cobwebs and minor scratches it looked pretty mint back there. All she needed was some fresh liquids and a good bath. Maybe next time we’ll go pick her up!
Just behind the R32 was the local high school and Watanabe-san had a good response to that. No no no school! This is a good example of what people in Japan would call “High Tension”. Rywats was just on fire all day!
Single file through the civilized jungle, Chiba. Probably the loudest thing on the road was Rywats voice. The Kei cars were no competition for his “Canadian Fighting Spirit,” and Alex and I made sure to keep everything documented.
Your isolated vending machine with a selection of drinks. In Japan during winter the vending machines carry both hot and cold drinks to warm you up if you are out walking the dog at 2 degrees Celsius. We didn’t need to stop at this one because it didn’t have Watanabe-san’s favorite hot coco that he practically searched for at every vending machine. For me this photo is very representative of Japan. The mix of technology with old cultural traditions is something magnificent that is really cool to be immersed in because it makes you stay in touch with the history of the culture. Surrounding this small vending machine was the local vegetable patch where the community grows there goods. This wasn’t even out of Tokyo by 2 hours and already the difference between the bustling life of Tokyo and its surrounding cities was evident.
Finally, in the distance tucked away in the middle of no where we spotted the work shop. It’s set up is pretty close to another vegetable patch full of what looked to be some long onions. Homegrown goodness! The shops workshop was behind the small cloud shaped trees and the residence lived in the very Japanese styled house to the right. The show room and stocking area was under the sign and it when it came into view everyone started getting really excited.
I think our excitement overwhelmed the owners and they stood by nervously as a pack of foreigners rushed into the stock room to take a look. From my point of view I think they were surprised that people outside of the Japanese tuning society had found their small tucked away shop. They specialize in wide wheels with steel and have stock of singles and doubles, and only a few sets. There were a few single Watanabe’s and Rywats eyes lit up. He started asking questions and trying to figure out if the owners had any sets, fortunately for us they didn’t. Carrying a set back home would have been, well…yea. Annoying and heavy.
Some pretty nice re-barreled 11j widened wheels. The silver ones in the back had semi-slicks on and were ready to be driven hard, all they needed was a snug home to roll under.
Some of the cool paraphernalia around the shop. That faded poster with the Skyline on it was my favorite. The battle ship was pretty cool too.
A close up of a few of the awesome wheels. A nice set of 2 Impul’s were in stock and just needed a good polishing on the face.
Alex and the owner had a chat about some business related stuff, we said our good-byes, and our big thank-you’s, and were soon back on the road. Looking back I wonder how a place like this exists. It is a super cool little niche in Chiba and it is a wonder it survives. But it is what makes the culture of cars in Japan just that much more special. Truly something worth remembering. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Watanabe will forget himself walking back from this shop in the middle of nowhere yelling “Yakimoooo” or “Sweet Potato” through the streets for about 10 minutes straight.
We got closer to the station and then Noogz spotted a toilet at the construction site and made an Olympic speed walk dash for the Porta-Potties. The glow from the sunset lingers in Chiba a lot longer than in Tokyo because, for the most part, everything is two story and so the non-existence of the highrises lets more of the horizon line visible at a lower level. So while we waited for Noogz to finish beating the world record in the Porta-Potty we all took in the view. Something so subtle that the people in Chiba don’t probably take into account. But all the same, it makes for some pretty cool photographs.
Amongst the depths of Chiba in a pretty ragged housing setup we spotted a very clean VIP cruiser parked back a few cars. It feels like you have found a gem in an adventure game every time you come across something like this. When you are with people that are not associated as much with cars as you are, it is hard to explain the excitement and awesomeness of a simple finding like this. It becomes a mission! But these super car boy moments were ones that everyone could enjoy equally.
More veggie’s just around the corner from the VIP car spotting. From here we took a quick left and right and then headed towards the main street…
Until Rywats Watanabe-san caught this beauty in the corner of his eye. This was actually the first real KenMeri I had ever seen. I was pretty stoked! The fan in the corner was awesome and just reminded me how analog Japanese can be. They love to keep the working stuff, even if it is ancient. Spent a few minutes snapping away some pictures and fan girling. It had some SSR Mark 1′s on it and was lowered from stock to just the right height; the functional, daily driving height. But even if this car was daily driven, the owner took special precautions to make sure it was safe at all times by chaining the front control arm on the left of the car to the garage support beam in the photo. Quite a site, another sparkling gem added to our collection.
We arrived back at “X”‘s house and all sat down to have a small rest. From racing suits to stickers and models jammed from the floor to the ceiling. “X”‘s house is full of racing memorabilia and, for the sake of not listing out everything, insane amounts of cool stuff . It was like a small museum of sorts, visual sensory overload.
Anxious to get back out after our rest “Canadian Fighting Spirit Car Boy Watanabe-san” was ready to roll. I tested my skills in Japanese and dabbled in some fast paced phone calls to some local rental car shops and decided on one back near Shin-Kamagaya, where we first started our adventure earlier that day. I took this shot of HTF and the Ninja Turtle himself as we waited for the local train to arrive. Our plans were simple. Head out, rent a car and boogie down to UpGarage and Super Autobacs to satisfy Watanabe hungry Ryan.
Ryan’s first expression at the entrance of Super Autobacs. Car Boy’s priceless photos. He was having a good 3rd day on his trip to Japan.
Spotted some crazy flower wheels. Might look good on a newer beetle but that’s probably about it.
After that HTF, Rywats and I headed to Maccers because it was the only real place we could find that was open. I pulled an illegal U-turn and we bolted back the other way and popped into the parking lot. We walked in and ordered and right after noticed that the guys behind the counter were giving the girl some “jokes” as “X” would say. So after we finished our meals and banana milkshakes, I coaxed Ryan into getting a shot with the girl behind the counter. Pretty sure she was stoked! Ryan made me get in on this shot but she was pretty happy when I just shot the picture of just the two of them. I think one day in the near future I’ll drop by and give her a print out of Ryan and her, and just write his Facebook address on the back and hope all works out well in the end.
Us three hooligans raced back to “X”‘s house and got the car ready for our big night adventure with the Sexy Knights. Packed everyone in and headed out on our long journey into the night.
More adventure coverage coming soon.
On a recent trip with Park and Watanabe-san to the SuperAutobacs near Kashiwa we encountered this stunner. I’m not as informed as other when it comes to everything BMW but I haven’t seen anything of the Alpina line in America. It was only the M series that stood out there. But here in Japan it seems that the M is standard, at least I think Japanese people have a certain mind set where they want to have the best of the best, but who knows. I occasionally see a 3 series Alpina’s and there is actually a guy that lives near me with a British Racing Green 5 series Alpina so I seem him once in a while.
However, this was a treat. I know from hearing the stories that BMW’s are a complete pain to work on. I haven’t worked on them at all but and don’t really have an interest in owning one but I do admire them.
However, I surely wouldn’t mind owning a E38 like this. I’ve always liked this particular model and for cruising it would be awesome. It has a relatively aggressive look but is also subtle and has clean lines. It’s the master of class. The newer ones have so many curves and look a little flamboyant. Not that I dislike them, I’d just rather have one of these any day.
The big Alpina wheels fit nice and snug with a suitable amount of wheel gap to look sporty but also contribute to the handling. I see people who take the newer 7 series and throw on bigger wheels and lower profile tires and I just don’t get it. By doing that you are sacrificing the smooth ride for something a little rougher that might handle around corners better. Also, you lose the ability to stop and accelerate at the same rate with lower profile tires. I guess some people just love the look. I don’t know if it would be worth it though, I don’t see to many people touge’ing 7 series BMW’s on the mountains. But doing what you want with a car is what drives this society.
Lastly, if you own one of these in Japan you are likely to be a bad ass with a ton of money. These are not the lightest of cars and I’m assuming that even if you have a free parking spot because you live in Chiba, the weight road tax would be insane on a car like this. Cheers to this guy for forking out the cash to have this on the road. Who ever you maybe be, keep this thing rolling!
I’ll just quickly finish off with “Day 2″ at Ebisu. Even though this post has good number of pictures the events that they came from were few in number but great in lengths of time.
I spent the night from day 1 to day 2 in a freaking cold ass JZX Chaser. It was at least warmer than outside but my feet were sort of damp and I only had the clothes I was wearing plus a pillow to keep me warm. One of the most miserable nights so far in Japan. So, to cure the madness I climbed out of the front seat and went and bought a warm drink out of the vending machine. Stuck it in my big front pocket with both gloved hands wrapped around it and walked out onto the track. A dense fog had settled down on Nishi course and without asking walked around almost the whole track. It was very peaceful, no echoing tire screeches could be heard just yet. I snapped a bunch of pictures and walked back to camp. One of the guy’s Dad had already started cooking some scrambled eggs and boy did it smell good. Food cures so many things and can turn an angry men into the happiest men on earth. After chowing down I felt pretty much the same way.
After most of us had scratched the sleep from our eyes we motored over to Minami Course.
Before I went to watch from the pit area I spotted this beauty. Didn’t get to see it drift but something about it just sparked my interest. Parking lot hunting is always fun. You never know who will show up, who has already left, and has yet to return. Cars come and go and sometimes you catch something really inspiring.
We spent a good chunk of the morning watching a couple guys out on track just run down the same line. This repetitive process was one I think I will never get sick of. Here’s one of the 3 or so guys running down the line at Minami.
The passengers in his car must have been pretty lucky. Only him and a few others that cycled in and out were charging as hard as he was that morning.
Another guy charging in his aggressive S14 Kouki. Some nice rear quarter panels fit well over the wider rear wheels. The thing sounded way better than a lot of the missiles out there too. Proper exhaust fitments.
To make matters more exciting one of those guys that was charging happened to be rocking a FF. Civic hatch ebrake drifting Minami like it was nothing. I have a high level of respect for these guys going against the grain. It might not be quiet the same but it definitely shows that its possible and that you can have fun with practically any car.
A crispy morning filled with lots of idling and screaming, rev limiting, back firing, boost pushing motor noises that just made me so happy. The weather was a clear in the morning and it looked like it was going to be a good day.
Back at Nishi the guys over at Daigo's small fort had figured out most of the problems and they were prepping the cars for track time. Robbie Nishida also had fixed his broken exhaust piping, (I think it was) and was now back on board.
This small 86 with an Altezza swap was already ready and the driver decided to watch some of the guys in there big sedans before he himself headed back out onto the track his take piece of the action.
Meanwhile some of the more tired folk rested up in there haulers. An awesome tissue box to boot!
Nakamura was out first with his girlfriend as well. (I think) He was being the normal Nakamura which is pretty crazy by everyone elses standards. Almost 90 degrees around the sweeper at the very end. Made me get all shivery from all the excitement.
Daigo and his girl friend played chase with his buddy for a couple laps. I think Daigo loves to chase. I got to ride along in the Mint Ae86 and we soon found ourselves being chased by Daigo. He can get some huge amounts of angle and just hold it for what seems like hours. I think it probably has a lot to do with him always driving long wheel base cars though. But that might be false. Who knows.
Switching it up Nakamura started tandeming with one of the course workers. They killed it in some crazy tandems.
Soon after though all the traffic on track stopped. Probably the only serious crash of the whole event. The driver was drifting really well but prior to main course opening for the afternoon there had been a slight rain. The track was dry but the dirt was still super soft and sticky. He dropped a wheel with a little to much speed and the brown soil just sucked his wheel straight in and the car just stopped causing it to flip, or roll sort of up onto the berm and then back onto the flat. Everyone on track stopped to help out and get them out. Both the passenger and the driver were completely fine.
Everyone watched quietly as the car was flipped with human power and then dragged back to the pit by the yellow Ebisu track vehicle.
Then right after they had finished sweeping the track, everyone with running cars were back at it.
Some more trandem action.
And even more trandem action. I envy these guys. I wanted to be out there driving so bad but just being able to watch was good enough for my first event. I learned a lot about what to do and not to do. Definitely bring more warm blankets and jackets.
Robbie Nishida swapped between a bunch of people putting his missile to the test.
Nakamura and most of the crew pitted for a rest and then their buddy took his chance at an open track to get some crazy angle without any fear of wrecking.
Pushing the limit, entering well over 200k into the straight. Such an awesome view. You could hear them flooring it and then as soon as he initiated the engine would go quiet and only the noise screeching tires could be heard until just nearing the corner he would stand on the throttle again.
Not a bad way to end an event. I also was lucky enough to get some Gopro footage from this guy but it was cut short when the white S14 had a that nasty crash. We were all just glad that the two of them in that car were alright. Packed up and headed home early so I could catch some sleep and rest up before Monday's class. One of my buddy's at the event drove me to the local train station and from there on it was smooth sailing on the Shinkansen all the way to Tokyo. Until next spring, Ebisu, farewell!
A few hours before my planned departure, my ride called and let me know that tires were taking up too much room. No room, okay. “Now what?” I thought to myself. Well, right after reading that text I rushed out to the living room to inquire with my room mates about the Shinkansen. I had packed about half of my gear earlier in the morning, so by this point I was just about done. I figured out where to take the Shinkansen from and headed out the door. I made sure to grab a few extra pieces of clothing in anticipation of the cold in Fukushima.
Luckily, there is a Bic Camera at one of the stops along the way, so I paused my journey quickly and hurried to the bottom floor to pick up some rolls of film and a new filter. I saved a bunch of money with my point card, like a boss…and then scrambled back onto the train platform to catch the short jump up to Tokyo Station.
At Tokyo Station I bought a reasonably sized BLT from Beck’s Coffee. I think the cute girl behind the counter gave me an extra big portion. Stoked on the meal, I sat in the waiting zone and chowed for 30 minutes until it was time to get on the Hayabusa Shinkansen. It’s the greenish one with a bubbly looking nose. Side note: Hayabusa means falcon in Japanese.
I took a window seat on the train, even though it was dark, and relaxed a little. I think it is the possibility that I might see something that attracts me to the window seats. At the second stop my aisle seat was taken by an older man, who I found out later had a hobby for flying gliders. He had been to America to fly them and spoke a little English, however, we talked mostly in Japanese. After what ended up being around two hours, I arrived at Koriyama station. A new town, and I had plenty of time. For starters I walked to the nearest convenience store to find a rain overcoat just in case the slight drizzle turned for the worst.
It was around 11:30 a.m., and I spent the next hour and a half wandering around searching for a family restaurant to relax in, or something hospitable. Turns out Mr. Donuts doesn’t stay open 24 hours, so that was a no go. I wasn’t expecting my ride to pick me up until four or five in the morning, so becoming a little desperate I turned to a stranger and asked for a recommendation of a place to rest until the early hours of the morning. The guy I asked turned out to be super cool. He told me about a place and even offered to walk with me to the place, which turned out to be a massive manga cafe. He helped me register and we parted our ways.
I slept on the couch in my cubicle until 4:30 a.m.. Larger manga cafes have areas where you can rent a small cubicle with internet and Tv, there usually is a drink bar which you have full access to and thousands upon thousands of manga to choose from. If you are ballin’ in a budget while traveling in Japan this is definitely one way to get some rest for around 15 bucks per night. Might not be the most comfortable but enough to get a wink of sleep. I woke with a slightly kinked neck (as mentioned, not always so comfortable depending on where you go) and headed to get a bite to eat at local 24 hour beef bowl chain restaurant.
After walking back to the station I checked to find my stop at Nihonmatsu and went and sat down in the train. In smaller towns the trains are different. They aren’t as long, you have to open the doors yourself with small buttons, and they come approximately every hour. Oh, and you get to sit in a booth booth style facing each other, which is a lot nicer in my opinion.
The train ride up to Nihonmatsu was very beautiful–a blur of open areas covered in orange and green. As I rode the train, the sun rose up from the east and provided a spectacular view. The difference in feelings from urban to rural in Japan are very different, but I like them equally. Or you could say I’m slightly in favor of the city, but it was a real treat to experience that feeling.
On arrival at Nihonmatsu I promptly dropped a pin on my map and sent off a text to my friends who were on their way. Before meeting them, I snagged some hot gyoza from 7-Eleven and started walking. 30 minutes or so passed, and then in the distance I heard the smooth sound of a 1J. Yahoo!
After hopping into the car we continued on our way to Ebisu. I rolled down the windows and enjoyed the view from the backseats. A brisk 6 degrees struck my face as I hung my head out of the car. Man, it felt refreshing.
As we neared the entrance of Ebisu I started to get super excited. It all passed pretty quickly unfortunately because we had to zig zag through the cars staggered in front of the entrance. Next time I hope I can stand outside in front for a while and shoot a few pictures.
Originally, the crew I was rolling with planned on setting up camp at Minami course, but they were kicked out as I arrived because where they had parked was apparently reserved before hand. It was time to find another place to set up camp.
After about an hour, we decided on a spot just behind Daigo Saito and his friends at Nishi course. Kind of ironic seeing him at Ebisu in Japan when just earlier this year I talked to him at the first event of Formula Drift in Long Beach California.
I wandered around the paddock and discovered a few cool cars. Group K was also stationed a little ways up the hill, and their Boso styled Cresta was one of the first out on the track at 8 a.m.
The sun peaked through clouds and provided some awesome light. Until around 10 o’clock, most of the morning was dedicated to testing and setting up. Not much chatter could be heard through the echoing screeches of drifting throughout the mountains.
The Yokosuka crew and I traveled around hitting up a few different courses during the day, and we went to watch some action at the Short Course with some of the crazy Australians in attendance charging in their missile cars.
Flying around the course hands out the window with the GoPro and getting their buddys riled up. Trying to ride each others door as much as possible. Here’s a link to the video of these guys going hard in their missiles at Ebisu. (Link) Right above the view from this shot I looked up to see remnants of the earthquake last year in March.
What you don’t notice in a lot of the coverage that comes out of Ebisu is the terrain. You might see the beautiful colors and all the abundance of plant life but after spending a few hours scooting from place to place you realize how crazy the varying altitudes of the tracks are. The shot of this mountain side is from the small short course and it is sunken into a small valley. Below the short course is Minami and the access roads from above short course to Minami are quite steep. It made for some fun trunk sitting runs through the race grounds.
I stayed and watched for a while. This was my very first encounter with Nakamura. Seeing his car in person and watching him get super gung hoe about sliding with some of the crazy Aussies that were out there was pretty unreal.
After most of the missiles exited the track some of the nicer cars, with less sledge hammer dent marks came on and put down some solid laps. They had some small drift trains going, it was pretty cool to watch from up close at the barricade.
We moved on to Minami for a few runs to just check up on the cars because it was less crowded down there. Nakamura-san had also come down before us and was show casing his usual insane entry flying over the jump and drifting almost to the tire wall until finally laying his foot into the gas peddle and shooting around the corner. Nothing really beats watching the Youtube videos more than seeing it in person.
On our way back to Nishi for new tires, we passed by one of Britly’s friends whose missile was in incredible shape. I think the only moving parts where the wheels and the engine. All the doors were probably bent and mangled so badly they were immovable. For added protection he added a fail safe mesh window out of duct tape!
Back at Nishi course most of the earlier people to take to the tracks were taking a break and checking up on their cars. Making sure everything was in working order.
Some of the guys seemed to be using the Autumn Festival as a “Test and Tune” to just work out the kinks like this guy who was constantly back and forth between the track and his parking spot.
On the other hand, there are guys like these crazy fellas just getting so fired up as their buddy roars by on the straight away. Group K, is a small bunch of guys from Tokyo that are just so much fun to be around.
I don’t speak the greatest Japanese but they were more than happy to have a conversation with me and let me watch. I spent a lot of time during my breaks from shooting on the track chatting with them while they worked. I offered to help but they liked the fact that I was taking pictures.
During one of their excursions up to North course Shou-san’s midnight purple Cefiero and the Cresta had some minor contact and I hung around as they went to work straightening his door with some small 2×4′s.
For a small chunk of the day the officials ran short Nishi and had a small break after to clean the track up a bit and then a bunch of the big boys stepped out on the track to catch some alone time.
Pretty much the entire time we were at Ebisu Daigo was in and out of the pits. He was continually talking with his mechanic and at one time all we could hear down the whole strip of pit lane was the three of them playing with his blow off valve revving the engine insanely high for extended periods of time and then blowing all the pressure.
After he got it working a bit better he headed out for some fun with his girlfriend in the passenger seat.
This Forester also showed up at Nishi and surprised the hell out of a lot of people. A bunch of heads turned as he ebrake initiated into the corner way faster and sooner than we were all expecting him to. I love the uniqueness about this. It’s what I strive for when ever I have my mind set on building a car.
Yonekura-san headed back out in his Alteza 4 banger swapped Corolla and lit up some tires entering at speeds up to 220k. It was a marvelous site. Super lonely out there in his Ae86 up against so many guys rockin’ newer and bigger sedans. But, with the addition of the mint color and his insanely loud exhaust; he stuck out and drew people to the wall as he came flying through the sweeper.
I don’t know the story behind this guy, or the fact that he didn’t seem to be a D1 driver but he sure was happy to be in the car sitting behind the wheel. He wasn’t half bad either for having access to this Verossa with monster steering angle.
Nearing the end of day one the mountains of Fukushima provided a spectacular view as the cars zoomed by on the straight. You can still see Daigo’s mechanic working away on his car. Something was definitely very wrong that day. A bummer because he didn’t get much seat time. Hope to see him kill it some day soon though.
Ebisu has this raw aura, I think it is something every drifter should do at least once in their life. Like a pilgrimage for drifters.
Day two coming soon. Stay tuned.
Clean, simple, and almost stock. ”Almost…”
You don’t mind how under powered this car is when you ride in it. It sounds good, handles well and is a wagon to boot. It’s versatility and classic timeless boxy shape make this car a great daily driver.
I really wanted to just show these two pictures and let them do the talking.