Fast Car - - Contents -

The Ja­panese are into their im­ports too…

The sound of Ginpei-San’s F1 sound­ing, onikyan-style Fer­rari 348 re­ver­ber­at­ing off the build­ings as he ap­proached my ho­tel had been my alarm clock for the past two days. To­day will be the last day of my trip. Want­ing to show me all of Ki­tami, a small city on the is­land of Hokkaido, had to of­fer, he’d made ar­range­ments for us to take part in a Sun­day morn­ing cruise and BBQ event.

The only thing Ginpei-San had told me be­fore pick­ing me up was that the meet was go­ing to be specif­i­cally a USDM car meet. Sim­i­larly to how peo­ple in the US lust af­ter JDM parts and right-handed ve­hi­cles, the op­po­site is go­ing on in Ja­pan, with peo­ple want­ing USDM parts or im­port­ing left-handed ve­hi­cles.

As we pulled up to the meet­ing lo­ca­tion, I was im­me­di­ately blown away by the sheer num­ber of cars, and the vast va­ri­ety of USDM cars, that showed up. Every­thing rang­ing from left-hand drive Acura NSXs, vin­tage Amer­i­can iron, to a lifted dual-cab Ford F350 – some­thing I bet is quite dif­fi­cult to drive and park in the small streets of Ja­pan. “Ev­ery­one wanted to meet you since I told them you were com­ing on Face­book”, smiled Gin­peiSan. “So more peo­ple showed up!”

Hum­bled by his kinds words, I grabbed my cam­era and got to work. How­ever, as soon as I started to take pic­tures, Ginpei-San told me it was time to head to the other meet­ing lo­ca­tion be­fore the cops showed up. The cops in Ki­tami are sur­pris­ingly strict and of­ten come to these meets to check ev­ery­one’s cars and see if they are road le­gal – some­thing I’d ex­pe­ri­enced first hand the pre­vi­ous day. Thus I hopped back into the 348 and headed off to the next lo­ca­tion.

The cruise was a jour­ney in it­self, rid­ing around in Ginpei-San’s 348 with his cus­tom X-pipe ex­haust sys­tem un­si­lenced and scream­ing for about an hour, all the while be­ing phys­i­cally beat up by the in­cred­i­bly harsh cus­tom-hy­draulic sus­pen­sion sys­tem. I wouldn’t rec­om­mend driv­ing the 348 for long distances and Ginpei-San ad­mits he nor­mally wouldn’t drive it for a long time, but he wanted to have a lit­tle ex­tra fun that day, even though tech­ni­cally the Fer­rari doesn’t fit the USDM guide­line.

It did how­ever, make ev­ery­one in­cred­i­bly happy to see it and as we drove along, ev­ery­one would take pic­tures as we rolled by. Some peo­ple even took pic­tures while

driv­ing, which I strongly wouldn’t rec­om­mend do­ing. But as the old say­ing goes, you gotta do what you gotta do some­times.

Ar­riv­ing at the next lo­ca­tion, ev­ery­one gath­ered around to dis­cuss the next plan of ac­tion, the rules they wanted ev­ery­one to fol­low as to avoid draw­ing even more at­ten­tion, and the BBQ. Once again, the stop was a brief one. We hadn’t made reser­va­tions to use the area, so if we stayed too long the lo­cal towns­men would won­der what was go­ing on and call the cops to in­ves­ti­gate.

Back on the road, we re­con­vened at the next check­point, a ran­dom U-turn spot in the mid­dle of nowhere. With the vast num­ber of cars in our group need­ing to make the U-turn, it gave me some time to hop out of the 348 and take more pic­tures.

Af­ter an­other 30 min­utes on the road, we ar­rived at our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. A lit­tle park with a BBQ pit area that we had re­served for most of the day. It was here I could fi­nally take my time and get a closer look at all the cars. Stance and ex­treme cam­ber seemed to be the pop­u­lar trend among ev­ery­one, but the cars I had been eye­ing most of time were the vin­tage Amer­i­can ones.

It’s sim­ply amaz­ing the amount of time, en­ergy and re­sources the Ja­panese will put into restor­ing these cars and you re­ally can’t

ap­pre­ci­ate it till you get up close and per­sonal with them. Beau­ti­ful Chevy Fleet­line, low rider Im­palas with all the hy­draulic switches, bagged C10 trucks. It was all there.

Af­ter drool­ing over some beau­ti­ful look­ing cars, it was time to drool over some ex­cel­lent BBQ (yakiniku and yak­i­tori) which hap­pened to be all you can eat!

Af­ter lunch, there was still time left to take some more pic­tures and meet the other own­ers be­fore our reser­va­tion time was up. Ginpei-San came up with the bril­liant idea of tak­ing the two NSXs and his 348, and hav­ing a small pho­to­shoot away from the other cars.

It’s not ev­ery­day you get to play with two NSXs and a Fer­rari, so I im­me­di­ately agreed to the idea and started to ar­range the cars. How­ever, as our time limit was quickly ap­proach­ing, the po­lice ar­rived and used up the re­main­ing time we had.

For­tu­nately, they were more in­ter­ested in look­ing at the cars and hav­ing fun than yelling at us, so it was a nice change. We used that good for­tune and de­cided it was time to make the jour­ney back home to Ki­tami.

These kind of USDM meets near Tokyo are a lot of fun, but the own­ers tend to stay near their own cars and only talk with their close friends. How­ever in Ki­tami, maybe be­cause it’s such a small city, ev­ery­one treated ev­ery­one as if fam­ily. Ev­ery­one talks with ev­ery­one, helps each other work on their cars if some­thing needed ad­just­ment af­ter the long drive, and even ac­cepted me into their fam­ily. For that, I am for­ever grate­ful. Shi­takke! (したっけ!)

In Ja­pan you’re al­lowed to park in the mid­dle of the road (prob­a­bly)

A left hooker NSX in Ja­pan, be­cause USDM Yo

East meets West Well, why not?

… see! Ev­ery­one’s got one Old school Chevy is epic

There’s al­ways one (or in this case two)

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