The Road to Narita

img_9552JNC is back home in the States, but there’s still much leftover material from Japan to write about. Here’s a look at the typical Japanese scenery one encounters during a drive to Narita Airport. This was my coach, my friend Satoshi’s S130 Crown Wagon.

img_9533Satoshi demonstrating proper bosozoku driving position. Note rearward-center lean, arm fully extended with hand on 12 o’clock position of steering wheel, and pimp-tastic sunroof curtain.

img_9535Whoops, hands at 10 and 2 as we roll by the Five-0. I wanted to see a Seibu Keisatsu-like chase break out, but for some reason Satoshi wasn’t up for it.┬áBy the way, the drab and cramped apartment buildings in the background define life in Tokyo.

img_9538A distant relative of the JNC wagon. We never got gold ones in the US and Mark II wagons are a getting rarer and rarer in Tokyo, so this was a treat to see.

img_9545Japanese expressways and bridges are a marvel to behold. Elevated highways stretch as far as the eye can see, and often criss-cross with train tracks, each other, or even buildings.

img_9550Sometimes you just luck out with the perfect background for a photo. I snapped this bright blue WiLL Cypha on the highway and the stripe on the fence served as the ideal complement in an otherwise colorless environment.

If you’re wondering what a WiLL is, in the early 00s Toyota hooked up with Panasonic, appliance maker National, stationery company Kokuyo, confectioner Glico and others to come up with a lifestyle brand that they dubbed WiLL. The idea was that you could waltz into a WiLL store and fulfill all your household needs in one spot: everything from a home theater system to a refrigerator to office supplies to a bicycle. There was even WiLL beer by Asahi. Toyota’s contribution was a series of three quirkily designed cars, the Cypha, Vi and VS. The experiment bombed big time, but this Cypha lives on as a reminder of the power of marketing in Japan.

img_9555We stopped off at the Makuhari Service Area for lunch. It’s a year old, but still cleaner than the JNC office at any given moment.

img_9556Here’s the interior, with a food court nicer than my local mall’s. They must employ a small army of janitors (or robots) to keep it sparkling at all times.

img_9557Parking lot finds: a Honda That’s, the kei car with a name ripe for an Abbot and Costello routine.

img_9558A S130 Crown Van. Note the chrome bumpers and fender mirrors, which distinguish it from a Crown Wagon like Satoshi’s.

img_9560Seriously, the entire rest stop was so neat and organized it looked like a Tomica toy set. There wasn’t a single crack or pothole or speck of litter. Every brick and line of paint was a straight as a ruler’s edge.

Well, my time in JDM-land was over, and of it was onto Narita Airport, where a FedEx jet crash sadly killed its two pilots, from Oregon and Texas no less, the day before I left. It was the biggest news in Japan that day and caused a slew of canceled flights.

img_9559My flight was on time, however, so here I am back at home. Here’s a shot of the Crown filled with my luggage, including gifts for JNC readers! Stay tuned.

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This post is filed under: japan, toyota, wagons.

10 Responses to The Road to Narita

  1. Nigel said:

    Thanks, again for taking us with on your trip to Nihon.

  2. colink said:

    Superb shots yet again

  3. Timbo - b1500boy said:

    Ben, you definitely have a wagon fetish my friend!! A good friend of mine over here owns one of the two Will Vi’s brought to Australia, a funky car for sure!

  4. Ben said:

    It was my pleasure! I’m glad you enjoyed the pics because I surely enjoyed taking them. You guys think Japanese tourists take a lot of photos? I out-photoed them all! :)

    Timbo – yep, I can’t get enough of the wagons! They’re an endangered species here in the US.

  5. J.Ramirez (zetozeto99) said:

    Cool stuff! Welcome home, Ben! Can’t wait to take my trip out there one of these days… I should try and coordinate a trip with you one of these days as you seem to know where all the cool parts are!

  6. toyotageek said:

    Welcome home Ben!

    It’s been less than a year since my last trip to Japan, but your adventure and photos have brought back some fond memories. BTW, thanks for ending your adventure with all the Toyota pix! :D

  7. Scotty said:

    Thanks for the travelogue, makes me want to go to the land of the kei cars even more. Tasty cars, thanks for the pictures!

  8. Mike said:

    I wish they would’ve brought WiLL over here instead of Scion, the cars are much funkier! Didn’t know about the co-operation with the other companies, though. Interesting concept, even though it tanked.

  9. robakun said:

    HEY! Ive been in that crown too!!! Ive been down that road too!!!

  10. GEN2TWINCAM said:

    Ben, thanks for the great coverage of your trip!

    I passed through Narita airport unumerous times on my trips back and forth from China. I often found myself staring out the windows, looking for intersting wheels in the lots. Nothing notable at the time.

    I did get a couple of comments from car enthusiasts in United’s Red Carpet Club. They happened to spy my friend’s NSX on my laptop’s wallpaper.

    I’ll dust-off my passport for your next go-around. Let me know when you’re ready :-)

    Neil – Colorado

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