I guess I should chime in too…and I guess I'll be the bad guy...
Here are some details in my story if you are interested:http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=18482
The first thing I want to say is that I AM NOT discouraging anyone from going out to Japan and just "going for it" The trip alone will be amazing on any level and even if you don't t pick one up it will change your life!!!
Here are some details that may be relevant…
I took me 3 months to find my car. Like I would any car that is of significant importance, you need to do/have the following:
Research: I bought tons of book/pubs/read articles (Old Timer, Nostalgic Car, Vintage Lightning Auto, etc) . I surfed the web (yahoo auctions, car sensor.net, goo net, dealer sites, etc) I had friends translate them to me. You need to know the lingo. You need to know what you are talking about. Sellers will get a "sense" if they want to sell to you or not. I basically got "interviewed" to see if they were willing to sell to me. Knowledge is only the foundation to own one of these, which leads me to...
Respect: Respect is still in my opinion VERY important to the Japanese. As mentioned from some of my fellow owners, learn some Japanese, it will go along way. But be humble, don't try to show off your Japanese, if anything at least learn common sayings, learn the lingo and some slang. The very fact that they see you trying helps a lot. You just can't go out there with a pocket full of cash and say "I want that". You've got to show a want, a desire. I went out to the locations multiple times (Flex, Help/Rubber Soul, Team S20, Garage Kutsumi) I spoke to owners, I made friends, I got my name/face out there, I tried to build a report with dealers/sellers. I wanted them to know I was serious, that I had a LOVE for the car, not just some kid jumping on the bandwagon.
I'm not trying to be a jerk, just honest. I'm not even Japanese and I would never let my baby go just for cash. I know dealers are in the business to sell, but it's just a little different when it comes to "kyusha". I got REALLY lucky. Two G.I.'s that showed up in a drift car is not a great first impression. I drank the tea, I made them laugh, and I got them to trust me.
The last bit goes without saying: Cash…No checks, No credit, No money orders, No financing, No trades (unless you show up in another significant "kyusha" they may be interested in, plus cash)…Cash Only. To make matters worse the prices are going up every year, they will never go down. Like mentioned earlier, cars out in the rural areas are cheaper. I got mine out in the middle of the grasslands of Mt. Haruna. But they are harder to get to, harder to come by, and cost more money to get to. Just about every centimeter of freeway out there has a toll, and they aren't cheap, the longer the drive, the more expensive it is. Back in 2007 it was Y800 for the Shuto Expressway and Y600 for the Chuo Expressway, just to go to downtown Tokyo from Fussa, ONE WAY, and that was only 25 miles!!! That was when Y110 = $1, Now it's like Y89-Y93 to the dollar!!! Throw in Car rental fees, Gas, Parking (OMG!!!), Food, etc etc. for one day!!! I can't believe how much I spent just to look at one!!!
With that said…Get out there. You may just have the edge you need. Having family in Japan and a place to stay is a huge advantage. They could help you with communication, translation and directions. Now all you need is time, at least a month if you are hell bent on getting one and not too picky. If it doesn't work out, well you had a great trip, a ton of experience others will never have, and you have the local U.S. based brokers as a back up plan.
S47 (1972) Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT
"Keep the dream alive."