Right, time for the first report from my trip to Japan.
Because we did so much in the 2+ weeks we’ve been in Japan, it is impossible to cram it all in one report. That is why I will be splitting up my reports, in chronological order, in smaller parts.
It will be a mix of cellphone pictures, either from myself or borrowed from Julien (Ovomal Team) or Team Tetsujin, and proper pictures taken with a DSLR.
Read my report of day 1 & 2 of the Japan tour 2013 by clicking the ‘more’ button below.
Day 1 & 2
My trip actually started at day 0, the day I left home. Up untill about 2:30am I was busy packing my suitcases and finishing my GT86 bodyshell, and I left home at 4am on my way to Schiphol airport. I hoped I would be tired by the time I got on the plane, so I could sleep a few hours and minimize the jetlag. Checking in went without problems, and I even didn’t have any trouble getting my Lipo’s and transmitter through the security check. They were fine in my carry-on luggage. After a way to expensive breakfast I walked to my gate.
My first flight was at 9am, and a short hour later I was in Frankfurt already. After I walked for miles to my next gate, Julien was already waiting there. He and I had the same flight to Nagoya, which made the long trip a lot better. After some McDonalds lunch (Yes, they still have the McRib in Germany!) and a bit of drifting around the airport (there’s video footage) we got through the 4 hour layover, and were off to Nagoya. The flight took around 12 hours, and luckilly the plane was not very full. Lufthansa was a great choice, as it was both cheap and very good. Great food too!
Around 10am local time we arrived at Chubu International Airport. Looking through the window of the plane the airport looks great, as the whole airport is on a man made island. It is a great view! Julien said to me that it was still a bit unreal that we’re actually in Japan. I agreed, untill I stepped off the plane and spotted a fleet of Toyota Probox’ driving around on the airport. From that moment on I was constantly snapping my neck trying to look at everything. There’s too much to see, its a major cultureshock!
10 minutes after we arrived, Daniel met us at the customs. After some trouble we got through customs. Note to self: Write down the adress of where you’re staying in case they ask for it..
Outside Mitto, Toby and Mizunaga were already waiting for us, and after the ‘mandatory’ group picture we could go on. There was nothing on the schedule for the first day, so we could rest a bit from the long flight and arrange a few things we needed for our appartment. First mobile internet, then coffee and waiting for Jens to arrive from Tokyo by train.
After we picked up Jens, got our beds for the appartment and rearranged our bags it was pretty late already. We were all a bit hungry, but first we had to drift!
We spend the entire evening practicing at both Tetsujin tracks. For both the P-tile and the asphalt course we used Mikuni PC tires. Its impossible to describe how little grip they give.. You have to experience it to be able to understand. Think of the slipperiest track you’ve driven on here in Europe, and try to imagine having not even half that much grip. That should give you at least some idea. Just when we thought we were getting the hang of driving at Tetsujin, a few local drivers showed up and put us in our place. Back to square one for us!
And so we drifted ’till after midnight, even though we were all very tired. At least it promised to be a very good two weeks!
Day 2 we went straight into our busy schedule. At 8:30am we were at Tetsujin already to pick up Mizunaga. The perfect chance for me to try my first BOSS coffee from a vending machine. Not strong coffee, but good stuff still.
After scoring breakfast at the convinient store, I found out my back card did not work in the ATM’s. After trying several different machines at different stores, it turned out none of the machines accept Maestro of Mastercard, and I was unable to get cash anywhere.. Great!.. Thats where all the borrowing money started. Thanks for helping me out guys! Note to everyone going to Japan; Bring either a Visa card or lots and lots of cash.
No idea what else we did that morning, but my memory starts again at lunch at a foodcourt in a shoppingmall. This is where melonsoda was first pointed out to me. For anyone who has followed my personal Facebook it should be clear that this was a great succes!
The first official stop of the tour was Rajikon Tengoku (Radiocontrol Heaven) in Nagoya. Everyone who has seen Driftworks’ Outsiders video should recognize this place. Before we went outside to drift, we spend some time looking around the shop. Everyone else was browsing all the new stuff, while I was stuck in the secondhand parts corner. I had filled my shoppingbasket in no time. So much cool stuff there, and cheap too! All kinds of secondhand parts, wheels, electrics, chassis’ and also lots of new old stock for almost every brand. For a collector like me, this was paradise.
Obviously I scored a lot of cool stuff here. I got a rare carbon conversion for one of my old Yokomo’s for less than 20€, lots of rare old wheels for around 1€ a pair and offcourse my clear full option Tamiya TL01 chassis. That chassis is something I’ve been looking for for years, so I didn’t even need to check the pricetag. It was going home with me for sure!
On the circuit outside there were only 2 locals driving, so we had plenty of space to practice. Everyone let Mizunaga try their chassis to see if the setup was getting better and what could be changed. My car was set up pretty well already, as Mizunaga kept calling it the fastest car of our group. I was very happy with that, keeping in mind how little grip we had over there. I think he liked my car quite a bit, as he kept picking up my transmitter to sneak in a few laps while I was somewhere else chatting or taking pictures haha!
Inside RajiTen had another asphalt circuit for racing. You could really tell racing was their main thing when you were walking through the pits. Check out the huge pile of used racing bodyshells in the background of the next picture.
And so we kept running back and forth between the track and the pits to get as much runtime as possible while trying as much different settings. It was a great feeling to drive a little bit better everytime I put the car on the track with minor setup changes.
It was only day two, so we weren’t spoiled yet with all the cool cars we kept spotting on and off the road. Every time we drove around in our van we kept looking around like crazy to try and see everything. Especially me with my love for kei cars, or ‘shit cars’ as the rest of the group would call it. Total sensory overload!
When the sun was almost set, we packed out stuff and headed over to Super Autobacs, which very conviniently was located right next door. As always you will spot a couple of cool cars in the parkinglot, with this time a VIP style JZX100 Chaser, a 4 door Integra on Rotiforms (USDM yo!), an Evo wagon and more.
Inside there’s also plenty to see. They have a specific magazine for almost every type of car, and by car I don’t mean only sports cars but every type of car, even commercial vehicles. Also stickers, keyrings, iphone cases etc. They have it all. Unfortunatly I was out of cash so I couldn’t buy anything, but that might not be so bad considering my shoppingspree earlier that day.
The parts selection was not as good as I hoped. They had a lot of very nice, but also very expensive parts like HKS exhausts, a wall full of Recaro’s, a lot of topshelf gauges, coilovers etc. Just not much small items that were fun for us to buy like gearknobs, mirrors and tools. But there are different shops out there with plenty of those, that we would be visiting later. We did spend some time drooling all over rims in the wheel section. My buddy Jim would go completely nuts here I think. Some examples below.
Once back outside the shop, there was a metallic pink Daihatsu Move in the parkinglot, that I just had to see. We found the owner and started chatting a bit. He showed us around the car; Turbo engine up front, LEDs all around the car and a Itasha/Hentai themed boot. Very Japanese! I loved it!
So far for day 1 and 2. I will post the next part soon.
More pictures from day 1 and 2: Day 1&2 photo album