After a flight from London that felt more like twelve years as opposed to twelve hours, we were finally in Japan, and on the JR Yokohama Line heading towards Machida City. We had a little while to go until we reached our destination, so it didn’t take long for myself and Al to get the cameras out and start shooting our surroundings. Al got Mitto to do a little rundown on where we were and what we were doing. Being one of the main guides for the tour you’ll be seeing a fair bit of his face in the DVD. It might be scary at first, but don’t worry you’ll get used to it eventually.
One of the things I was impressed with first by Japan (apart from Toyota Mark IIs being literally everywhere) were the trains. I use the trains pretty much every other week in England and it’s not something I look forward to. It’s loud, clunky, uncomfortable, and nothing seems to run on time, but the difference between the service in Japan and here is astronomical. I’ve never been on trains so quiet and smooth before! THE SEATS HAD CUPHOLDERS AND EVERYTHING.
We finally made it to our hotel for the night. After the flight and dragging tons of bags through the city we were pretty shattered, so a couple of hours sleep were well justified.
After meeting our guides for the night (Reese and Tony from Autospecs) we picked up our rental Toyota Hiace, crammed in, and started our first night in Japan!
Our plan for the evening was to hit up some of the most famous locations in Japan’s street racing and drifting history. We’d be making our way down the legendary Wangan C1 Loop, to the huge Daikoku Futo PA, and finally the mysterious Hakone Touge. But before all that could happen we had to get through the busy streets of Machida City.
In a weird way Machida City was exactly how I expected urban Japan to look. It had that intense mix of futuristic technology with history and culture. It felt more like a set from Blade Runner than a real city.
We made a quick stop at a Family Mart convenience store (convenience stores, or konbini are absolutely everywhere in Japan) to grab some snacks and drinks. Somehow I ended up walking out with chocolate covered crisps, and a bottle of straweberry milk flavoured Pepsi. Madness!
Soon enough we were on the Wangan, and it didn’t take long before we started seeing a few NSXs, Skylines, and this moody Toyota Soarer. After hearing the stories and watching so many videos of the insane racing that used to happen along this stretch of road, it was a special feeling to actually be on it.
As we made our way down to the Daikoku Futo parking area, we noticed much to our dissapointment that the police had already locked it down. But we weren’t going to let that spoil our night, so we jumped out of the Hiace and went for a wander. If you’ve spent much time watching street drifting videos you may recognize this spot quite well.
These U-turns have seen a lot of action over the years.
It was pretty exciting to see our first glimpse of the infamous Bosozoku parked up outside the PA, but what we didn’t expect to see was over 200 Bosozoku bikers stream in off the expressway!
It honestly was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and the noise as they all revved their bikes was ear shattering. I can’t wait for you to see the footage on the DVD.
Despite Daikoku being locked down we weren’t going to give up on finding some drifting just yet. So we got back on the Wangan and headed towards Tokyo, where we encountered a couple of Bosozoku along the way – they seemed pretty friendly!
Soarers seemed to be the flavour of the night. This one looked sick rolling on a set of massive Work Equips.
The winding network of expressways could be pretty breathtaking at times.
A few hours driving later and we’d made it to the Hakone Touge. This mountain pass is steeped in drifting and street racing history, and it’s also where the Fujimi Kaido track in Forza Motorsport is loosely based on.
Along the way we saw an S14 parked up at a convenience store, so in the vain hope that we’d find out if any drifting was going on we stopped and ask the driver if he knew. He said he wasn’t sure as Friday can be a quiet night but he was going to look anyway. He and his friend left soon after and sped off up the mountain. We spent a few more hours driving up the mountain in search of anything until we were literally inside a cloud, and had to turn around and come back down. Apart from the odd flash of an RX-7 or a Skyline we didn’t see much else sadly.
After heaven knows how many hours of driving Mitto was absolutely shattered, and so were the rest of us. So we decided to head back to our hotel and try to get some sleep before our day of checking out some rather famous tuning shops. Although it was a little disappointing not seeing any serious action, just being in Japan, being on those roads, and seeing the Bosozoku was a fantastic experience. However this was just the beginning, things were about to get a lot more insane.
– Daniel Bridle