NIHON LIFE: Summer Evening on the Wangan

GR1-863s_Honda NSX & S800

The O-Bon is an annual festival that honors the souls of one’s ancestors. Many Tokyoites head to their hometowns to visit the graves of their forebearers, leaving the city strangely free of its dreaded logjam traffic. In other words, it’s the perfect time to go for a drive. With the start of O-bon, I took a recent Thursday off with the intention of squeezing in a few errands and a little bit of kyuusha time. 

GR1-878s_Toyota Century V12

Starting in Shibuya, I grabbed my camera, warmed up the S800, and took a leisurely drive across Tokyo for lunch with a friend. Through the middle of Shibuya crossing I followed my favorite color Century. With most being black, the occasional gray and the even rarer dark blue make for an interesting change.

GR1-876s_Nissan Skyline GTR R32 GR1-875s_Nissan Skyline GTR R34

Among the suits and formal kimono of the lunchtime crowds in Nihonbashi, an elderly gent emerged from his silver R32 Skyline GT. On original Yokohama plates, it was likely he had owned it since new, fitting some appropriately oversized alloys along the way. A short time later a full-blown R34 Skyline GT-R in classic Bayside Blue burbled past sedately.

GR1-872s_Shibuya

As the sun went down I fought my way through the taxis and early evening dinner crowds of Shibuya on the way to the entrance to the Shuto. The metropolitan expressway had ben totally cleared out by the mass O-bon exodus, and I had both the C1 circuit out of Shibuya and the connection to the Wangan over the Rainbow Bridge empty for me and the screaming 10,000 rpm Honda.

GR1-866s_Rover Mini JDM GR1-865s_CaterhamGR1-861s_VW Karmann Ghia

I was meeting a friend and his Alfa for a cold can of coffee at Tatsumi PA, an elevated rest stop on the Wangan Route just outside of the main Shuto-ko C1 loop. This Thursday had been chosen as the official meeting time of a loose collection of Mini drivers, with over 20 parked in the area usually reserved for sleeping truck drivers. A Caterham 7 and a Fuchs-equipped Karmann Ghia added to the varied mix.

GR1-864s_Isuzu 117

A late model Series 3 Isuzu 117 Coupe made a period match to my twin-cammed Honda, until the driver finished his cigarette to motor off slowly into the night. By his indifference to the other cars there, he was perhaps just passing through on the way home from work to Harumi.

GR1-862s_Honda NSXGR1-860s_Honda Integra Type R & S800

While the Alfa driver and I enjoyed the cool sea breeze and the view back into Tokyo, a pristine un-modifed Integra Type-R and a glorious sounding NSX both made appropriate Honda sports photo ops with my S800.

GR1-857s_De Tomaso Pantera

To round out the night, a photography crew arrived hanging out the back of their VW Touareg with a Lamborghini Diablo and DeTomaso Pantera in tow. Changing their lenses, grabbing a quick smoke, they quickly left in a cacophony of wild sounds.

GR1-854s_Toyota Chaser JZX100

With their departure, we were left alone with the rumbling of the passing trucks. That was soon replaced by the noise of fenders scraping, and air bag suspensions hissing as a group of stance fiends arrived, led by a white Chaser. For the car buffs of Tokyo, rest areas like Tatsumi are your ancestral grounds.

Skorj is a photographer living in Japan and co-founder of Filmwasters.com.

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13 Responses to NIHON LIFE: Summer Evening on the Wangan

  1. Tom said:

    I’ll be in Tokyo from 9/4-9/10 and would love to see a meet, any tips on where to go?

    • Skorj said:

      Sure! That’s the first Sunday of the month, so Sakura Sunday should be on, and though not the generally accepted dates, either Tatsumi or Daikoku might be worth it. Not sure of any other specific events though, but Google is your friend, and you can always add the Daiba History Garage or similar too… Enjoy!

    • Mário said:

      Tatsumi PA and Daikoku FUTO are awesome places to go on Friday and Saturday night, you won’t be disappointed. Daikoku is also awesome at Sunday morning.

      Also in Tokyo on Sundays there is Cars & Coffee at Tsutaya T-site in Daikanyama.

      Have fun!

  2. Matt said:

    @skorj do spectators notice your jnc, and do they get excited or take pics?

    • Skorj said:

      People wave, smile, and comment ‘rare…’, ‘nostalgic…’ and want to take photographs all the time. Generally, most times its parked a crowd gathers discretely. Being Japan, they may wait to ask to take pics, but a lot sneak them anyway. Last year I pulled up next to a talento in an Aston Martin convertible in Omotesando, and the crowd crossing the street took photographs of the S800 – while the talento waved to me. Very strange experience…

  3. Ben Hsu said:

    Years ago I stumbled upon Tsurumi PA at the height of the tuner era. Every single machine present was a turbocharged Bubble Era sled. I was astounded. Great nighttime shots that capture the otherworldliness of the location.

    • Skorj said:

      Thanks Ben! I am quite happy how cheap film rendered the nighttime here too.

      The excess of those times still shows up in some places, with a lot of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Benzes getting some really ghastly neon and wrap treatment these days.

      While this was just a short daily grab, I will try and get enough stuff to make another detailed piece on Tatsumi PA as well if there’s enough interest…

      • John M said:

        Yes, interested. Always enjoy your posts. Catching an R34 with a Ni-San plate would definitely make my day. The images with the night sky and buildings in back look like a movie set.

        Not sure if you go out to Umihotaru much, but would also be interested in that. Spoke with a young guy at Daikoku PA a couple months ago and got the impression that Daikoku was a little more show nowadays and Umihotaru maybe a little more go.

        • Skorj said:

          OK! I will see what the JNC crew suggests for more. ‘Ni-San’ is cool for sure, and there’s more numbers read as words combinations as well. The CR-V we use for touring is read as ‘Good-Couple’, which vastly amused our neighbor.

          We use the C2 and the Aqualine to go to Boso Hanto perhaps once a week, so I will have to time a stop at Umihotaru accordingly. This Friday, we’ll be passing through about 21:00…

  4. Censport said:

    Nice Skorj. I’ll be back soon (same time as Ben), so maybe I’ll get to meet you on this trip.

  5. Nigel said:

    This reminds me that I need to see Japan…soon.

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