Unlike last year‘s clear blue skies and balmy weather, this year’s Meiji Jingu Classic Car Festival was held on a cool, wet Saturday. The annual event, put on by the Toyota Automobile museum, welcomes all marques and takes place in a 175-acre park in the center of Tokyo. The weather, though, did not deter a high number of participants or spectators. Both sides of the main avenue leading into the park were crowded with eager kyuusha spotters.
With most visitors there to enjoy the yellowing gingko leaves as they fell like snow in the slight breeze, I sat down next to a well-attired oba-san (older woman) to wait for the 10:00 start. “Nice day,” she commented, “Are you here for the classic cars?” she surprised me in perfect English. “Yes,” I replied. “So am I!” she said eagerly, surprising me for the second time.
It seems that while she did not have a favorite, she liked the nostalgia the cars provided, and notably said she came because she felt like she was “in a movie” when they were driving past. Like last year, the parade was scheduled to take an hour or more from the the Meiji Jingu Outer Garden via Ginza and the Imperial Palace, in a circuitous route around Minato-ku and back.
With a busy week at work leading up to the parade on Saturday, I was unfortunately unable to find the time to purchase some additional color film. So with the onset of dark clouds and the start of moderately heavy rain, I decided to not stand and wait for their return to the concours area. Instead, I sheltered under the Shuto at Motoakasaka with a few rolls of old black-and-white film in the Bessa in hopes of catching some as they drove past on the open road.
The photographs tell a bigger story, and highlights of the day are below.
An elegant Isuzu 117 Coupe on what must be extremely rare Volk wire mesh wheels.
It was followed closely by an Isuzu Gemini re-badged with the Opel Kadett emblems.
One of 554 hand-built first-generation Nissan Silvias, likely one of the next cars to be snapped up by Western collectors.
Though Honda Zs were sold stateside and are relatively common there, this model features split bumpers introduced in late 1972 and not exported to the US. The GSS model also featured a 5-speed transmission to calm the high-revving 360cc mill.
Wearing a mouthful of period correct grille badges was an RT20 Toyopet Corona. The left-most brooch is a souvenir from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which took place just when the generational transition between this and the more familiar RT40 barikan took place.
A Subaru Sambar van from the rear-engined era.
Mazda Cosmo Sport, before and after takeoff.
Like two flagships passing: A stately Toyopet Crown with very old, single-digit registration plates meets a modern Nissan Skyline (aka Infiniti Q50), a 13th-generation descendant of its original Prince-ly rival.
Corolla Levin enthusiasts gravitate towards TE27s and AE86s, but let’s not forget the mid-generational TE55 fastbacks.
A beautiful white-walled KE10 Sprinter fastback makes a dash in the rain.
Of note were both the MF10 and MF12 versions of Toyota’s now extremely famous 2000GT. In addition to different interior fittings, they were externally discernible with their different sized in-board driving lamps and side markers. On approach to the crowd at one set of traffic lights, the pair of white supercars gathered the same attention as when Tom Cruise stepped out of the Tokyo Film Festival a few years ago. To be continued…
Skorj resides in Japan and is co-founder of Filmwasters.com