Domestic Japanese cars. Sounds a bit strange to us foreigners, but I can't imagine being born there. Living in a country where your not embarrassed by your local car markers. Where you don't have to pretend to be all big and tough online to justify the purchase of your V6 mustang. A place where you can go to the dealership with a desire for a certain function and their current line up offers a vehicle to cater to it. The wild amounts of variation and variety in the Japanese auto market is thrilling and shameful to the American market. Don't want or need heater mirrors, eletric leather adjustable seats, in dash DVD player, or other fecal conveinces? No problem, they build a model without it. You want them? that's available too...
A post, random road spottings from James's Camera.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="I never had enough attitude to tell people with big decals...."][/caption]
Walking and driving around Japan for Japanese car fans is enough alone to make the trip worth it. The shear lack of junk on the roads is satisfying and interesting! What people don't realize from most blog posts is the number of Toyota Hiace's and Kei-cars. I'd say Hiace aces, and random kei-cars make up the majority of the Japanese traffic.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Sakura remake's in 17" or 18"?"][/caption]
In Ontario drag racing is pretty common, most young males like to measure each others penis size by seeing who has the lowest score of golf at the end of the drag strip. You can often find two or more young males measuring each others print out papers against each other. Japan has some drag racing. But in Japan it's much cooler to compare your curvatures. Sideways entries are always more stylish, for both you and her.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Akihabara sporting some drift wood. "][/caption]
There's plenty of new models in Japan, cars you look at and wish they were sold in your local market. However, there are also Japanese spec cars you know and love. Sometimes the slight variations and options not offered in your local market can be just as frustrating as missing a whole model.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="A new Bb parked and waiting for more stick on gunk."][/caption]
Much of the daily life vehicles, commercial or otherwise are also different. I had a big crush on Toyota Crown Comforts before going to Japan, and seeing the drivers in white gloves, black vests and head rest doilies just solidified my love for these functional and basic Cabs. Common also were Nissan Gloria cabs?
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="They sound so Comfortable...."][/caption]
We joked about the Daihatsu dealerships through out Japan. They became a point of navigational reference: If you passed a Daihatsu dealership it was safe to assume you were on the correct path in your travel. There were soooo many Daihatsu's cruising around, many of them were interesting little models.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Tippy Tippy!"][/caption]
Another common car, and common favorite of mine, the Suzuki Wagon R. There's a large number of variations in Wagon R's, not only in body style and year, but also in manufacturers! Suzuki is a strange company, building a LARGE number of kei-sized vehicles for multiple companies. So much so they often don't even sell their own Suzuki version! The Wagon R is sold under multiple names, even as a Chevy!
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="TE37's, the perfect wheel, even for Wagon R!"][/caption]
The C1 loop was really fun late at night. It can be a bit disorienting and strange. There are quite a few changes in elevation, speeds, and corners! Some parts are multi-lane, others are just strictly single lane. It's odd, but entertaining. I can see why it has a history....
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Caged and bombing around the C1 Loop."][/caption]
Hairdressers must have great taste, they need to make you look good. A good hair cut results in a needed boost of confidence for the client. The ability to feel good about one's looks reflects in their daily life. This same judgment applies to a hair dressers car. Light, nimble, good looking and well trimmed is the Miata.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Make sure to keep your rear window well moisturized. "][/caption]
Some people think I'm perfect, well I'm far from it. :D There were even cars in Japan I didn't know what they were! That being said there was very few, and even fewer of them were actually interesting cars. Those which were made of delicious, mysterious beef were snapped and saved for reference.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Dude, seriously, I have no idea. "][/caption]
PACHINKO!!!! There were so many of these palaces around. If you happen to find one, you know there is defiantly food near by. Often in the form of a Convenience store, restaurants are cool too. Convenience stores would provide a wide variety for cheap, this meant there was always someone parked in the lot, usually one or two interesting cars.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Random slide machine, sooooo many 1jz's..."][/caption]
Speaking of 1JZ's, Japan also has a huge number of RWD cars just driving around, customized or not, they just float around. Toyota and Nissan have a large amount, and it's a crying shame that North America never received the affordable versions of the Nissan Skyline or Toyota 'X' platform. 5-speed 1jz Crestas rolling around Ontario for cheap would sure put a lot of Ford Probe owners to shame. (not that Ford Probe owners don't already live in shame.)
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Grocery Getter + Slider = win."][/caption]
There's also a large selection of respectable FWD's. I don't say that often, but there's some sort of magic behind a car that is normally 4-lug needing a 5th lug on the special edition. Just screams "BEAT ON ME, I CAN TAKE IT".
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Type ARRRRRRRR, 5 lugs of glory....hole?"][/caption]
PAAAAACHINKO. It's everywhere, you can't avoid it, nor can you actually find it calming. None stop, pounding music, lights and noises, clanging and flashing. I can only imagine that Mitsuoka was formed in the smoke filled room of a Pachinko Palace on a few guys last 100Y pieces.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Mitsuoka, That's right. Look it up."][/caption]
People drive very courteously in Japan, even teen girls on their cell phones drive nicely and skillfully through the tight winding streets of Major cities with cyclists, and pedestrians, as well as the busy rural roads. They are aware of their surroundings, the width of their vehicles and the way they handle in different situations. Lesson is, straight roads only lead to more accidents.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Let me in, I need to go get coilovers!"][/caption]
Drifting Culture. What the fuck is that? Well in Japan, it's this thing, where the race drivers are sooooo popular, that people dedicate time and effort to emulate them. Much like a 12 year old Center of the Brockville Kings wants to be Sidney Crosby, random Japanese drift enthusiasts want to be their favorite drifters too!
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Automagic and all done up Nomura Style. "][/caption]
I wish I understood the Japanese automotive laws. There was sure a huge variety of WACKY plated cars on the road. Heck there was tons of plated ATV's driving around. People worry about being in an accident with a smart car in Canada, so they buy extended raised Suburbans...
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Never Drive a car your not proud to die in. "][/caption]
I've heard from other blogs and conversations that getting rid of a car in Japan is tough, it actually costs money to scrap your car. It's an interesting concept, makes you focus and work harder to keep your car in good shape, this way you can sell it rather than pay to get rid of it. There was plenty of these Honda N600 and Honda Life vans, scattered all over the country side. They must've been popular at some point, and people have collected them in PILES.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="So light and simple, could be very quick!"][/caption]
Sometimes you find the coolest cars in the strangest places. After a 2 hour hike up a service road with not another living soul for miles, we began out decent. Beautiful views all around, trees, bush, hill side, and water.
The owner of this Suzuki MightyBoy was fishing on a mountain side stream just across the road!
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Tiny Truck for big men. "][/caption]
American culture in Japan seemed so clean and well thought. Having lived next to them for so many years, I knew this wasn't realistic, however, the Japanese obsession with American culture really brought out the goodness you often miss when Fox news is blaring on the television. There was a large number of American imports rolling around, and multiple car lots in many different prefectures specializing in just American cars. That being said, I now want a Chevy Celebrity woody wagon dumped with some moon eye wheel covers and window decals.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Even got the wheels right...."][/caption]
Kei-cars have some really fun and sporty versions. I got to drive a Vivio RX-R Momo edition a few years ago, and it was quite impressive. With such a low curb weight, AWD, 5 speed, and a supercharger, the car was a road legal, factory built, go-kart. The restrictive seats were a bonus and only helped to increase cornering speeds....
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="More Mitsuoka than you can handle!"][/caption]
Tire culture has a life of it's own in Japan. I'm not sure if it's the laws, or just the amount of vehicles on the road, but many vehicles have aftermarket wheels on them. My only deduction is the constant switching of tires and the number of tire shops scattered about Japan.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600" caption="Not a common sight anywhere else in the world. "][/caption]
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