The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 12 of 12: We Visit J’s Racing and Meet Some Kanjozokus…

Alas we have finally arrived at the conclusion of our twelve-part Japan Trip journey. I genuinely hope that you guys have enjoyed the photos as much as I had taking them. This trip is definitely one for the memory books and I’m happy that I had the opportunity to visit Japan as well as spend time with some great friends overseas. I can’t wait to go back there and see what else that country has to offer. The tuning community is great out there but just the whole culture and environment in general was just an amazing experience. We were only out there for a week but it seemed like so much longer because we were able to squeeze so much into such a compact amount of time…

I’d like to take this moment now to thank everyone that was involved in our adventures. From the moment I arrived in Japan I had the help of guys like Jonathan Wong and the Super Street staff. They helped me get around upon arrival and made the initial trip to the hotel a stress-free one. I can’t forget to thank our Japanese friends, Hiro Ueda, Takeshi Kobayashi, Ayako Kawato, and the entire family from Tactical Art/Team Madame. These people were one of the main reasons why our trip was so enjoyable and I can’t wait to return the hospitality when they come back to America. Also can’t forget Kenneth Li from Wek”Sos. He was the one to help guide us around and give us information whenever we needed it and it’s always good to chill with that dude. Huge thanks go out to USDM FREAX magazine for the nice dinner and all the free gear along with USDM Magazine for treating us to dinner and also giving us a ton of free stuff. It was a pleasure meeting all of them and I wish them all the best in the future…

All in all, it was a blast going with the guys and gals I went to Japan with. I couldn’t think of a better group to go on a trip with and even though there were some stressful moments when we got lost, there was never a point in time when any of us lost our cool. We managed to work everything out and the trip went very smoothly…

I can’t think of much else to see before heading into 12 of 12. Here are the links to Parts 1 – 11 if you missed any of it…

The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 1: Intro and TAS 2013 Coverage…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 2: TAS 2013 Coverage…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 3: More TAS 2013 Day 1 Coverage…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 4: Dinner With USDM FREAX and Day 2 of TAS ’13…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 5: The Last of TAS ’13 Coverage and Dinner With USDM Magazine…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 6: Twin Ring Motegi and The Honda Collection Hall…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 7: More Honda Collection Hall and Trackside At Twin Ring Motegi…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 8: The Meal After Motegi and We Begin Our Journey To Osaka…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 9: Our Visit To Tactical Art…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 10: More From Our Visit To Tactical Art…
The Chronicles 2013 Japan Trip…Part 11: The Historical City of Nara…

Today we’re gonna take a look at our visit to J’s Racing, our final dinner in Osaka, and a chance meeting with some Kanjo racers in the middle of the night. I know you guys are excited about it so let’s just get it moving…

After we left the city of Nara, we had some extra time to spare before we had to meet up with everyone for our final dinner in Osaka. Taku asked what we wanted to do and wondered if we wanted to go to J’s Racing. We originally had no plans to go but since there was time, we decided to check it out. It wasn’t too far away from where we were headed so it wouldn’t hurt to stop by. Salem and Ken were heading to Osaka from Tokyo so we weren’t going to see them until dinner time. I hit up Salem to see if J’s Racing C.E.O Hisaaki Murakami was at the shop since they talk all the time but I guess he wasn’t around that day. Since TAS ’13 had just ended and there was a blizzard in Tokyo the day before, maybe he had been stuck out in Tokyo still. I don’t know, either way, we were heading to J’s…

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Upon arrival, this was the first Honda that we saw parked along the sidewalk leading into J’s. It was owned by a customer of theirs and he was inside chatting with them. They didn’t seem to mind us looking so we checked it out and snapped some photos…

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The other side had gold Volk CE28s but this side featured some Mag Blue versions of the same wheels. Not a bad looking S2000 at all, nice functional fitment all the way around with some J’s Racing aero…

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A look outside at the world famous J’s Racing headquarters…

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Posted right by the driveway was the J’s Racing Honda CR-Z, adorned in full J’s graphical livery…

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Always loved how aggressive the CR-Z looked with the J’s front lip…

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Inside the showroom area of J’s Racing. I don’t know if it has to be stated but J’s, like most tuning shops in Japan, isn’t very big. The shop is actually kind of small. The bay section where the cars are parked is a little bit bigger but it’s not by any means “big”…

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J’s Racing built K20A motor on display…

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Some of my favorites inside their showroom were these scale models built to resemble some very memorable Hondas from J’s Racing history… The yellow DC2 should look very familiar to you guys and looks almost spot on with the actual Integra that is still around today. Click here for the car in 1:1 scale….

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Back outside, there were a number of project cars outside all parked very closely together, including these two S2000s and an FN2 CTR…

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We hung out for a bit and then one of the staff members at J’s invited us to check out the bay area. This is the section where all the magic happens…

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It was pretty awesome to get a chance to finally see the J’s Racing GT widebody S2000 in person. This thing is fucking intense…

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Bronze Volk RE30s with J’s rear brakes…

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Parked under the yellow GT widebody S2000 was this all carbon GT widebody S2000. No paint or graphics or anything, just straight to the point. From what I was told, I believe this is actually a customer’s car…

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J’s Racing GE-chassis Fit…In the back you can see their other demo S2000 as well as an orange Fit that they were working on while we watched… I liked how this shot came out so I included a LARGER VERSION HERE (1400×933)….

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Here you can see how their shop area is laid-out. Again, it’s not very big but there is more than enough room to fit 5 or more cars at one time… I also included another higher-res version of this shot HERE (1400×933)…

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Interesting jack stand design to hold the Fit upright…

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The interior of the Fit…

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Air inlet for the air jacks…

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J’s Racing employees working diligently on the orange Honda Fit in the back…

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Another Type-GT S2000, this one featuring a flaming dragon livery and black Volk CEs…If I remember correctly, this is the S2K that is usually in their press photos…

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Nice, clean, efficient shop space…

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Another look at the naked GT widebody S2…

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In this shot, you can see how tight of a fit everything is under the wheel well with the big tire and Volk RE set-up…

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Itasha-style J’s Fit. Wedged inbetween the Fit and CR-Z is a Suzuki Swift…

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Thanks to J’s Racing and their staff for being so hospitable and showing us around their shop. It was a regular business day and they were working so they didn’t really have to, but they were kind enough to give us the opportunity…

After that we hopped back into the van and headed back to our area. Salem and Ken were almost in Osaka and dinner was coming up. There were a couple of hours during this day that I didn’t really document after J’s. We stopped by at a mall and did some shopping, grabbed a snack over in the food court, and then went over to a department store to do some more shopping. Nothing really exciting happened so I didn’t bother to pull the camera out…

So we fast forward to the evening when we met up with everyone for dinner. We had pretty much tried a bulk of the cuisine in Japan during our stay but one thing that we had not yet experienced was traditional Japanese Shabu-Shabu. Shabu involves cooking very thinly-cut meat over boiling soup along with vegetables. The meat cooks very quickly since it is cut so thin and then you eat it with an assortment of dipping sauces. You can eat it with white rice as well but it’s not absolutely necessary. I’ve had this a couple of times before (Not in Japan) but May and a couple others had never experienced it…

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This was our final dinner in Japan as we had to fly back to the states the following day. Hiro, Ken, and Salem came out, along with the Tactical Art/Team Madame family, and our group with Ayako and Taku. It wasn’t very bright inside the restaurant and I felt that flash would ruin the ambiance of place, so I did the best I could with the ambient lighting…

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During our adventures in Japan, we had drank a ton of Kirin and Asahi. Why not end our trip trying some Suntory?…

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The pot that we cooked our meat on. It is divided into two sections; one with a more plain broth while the other is a spicy broth. You put some vegetables and tofu and what not in there so it absorbs the flavor of the broth and meats…

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One of the things I’ll miss the most about eating in Japan is how great the meat is. The marble-ization of the beef is great. This gives the meat plenty of flavor and tenderness…

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We had a large group with us so Atuki and Masashi sat on the other end of the room with Ryan and Beeyan…

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Hiro always with a cigarette in hand…

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Ayako scooping some fish paste into the broth…

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Another beautiful cut of meat waiting to be cooked…

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Yasutaka from Tactical Art…Beeyan with the photo-bomb in the back…

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Shabu-Shabu in progress…

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Delicious beef in deeping sauce is always better with some Japanese white rice… I don’t eat too much rice nowadays here at home but I couldn’t help it while I was in Japan… This isn’t me eating in the photo though, it’s Nick…

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Yasu, Hiro, and Taku…

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Beeyan with Ryan listening to one of Hiro’s entertaining stories…

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Taku and Ayako checking out some photos on Der’s iPhone…

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As with every one of our dinners, beer was fruitful and unlimited…

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Masashi doing his signature pose and chucking the deuce…

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May holding up our brew…

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That was basically it for dinner. Like the other dinners, it was a great time with great people. We hung out at the restaurant for awhile before heading back to our hotel. You would think that our adventure ends here but boy were we mistaken…

During our visit to Osaka, we were invited to come check out some late night highway racing on the famed Kanjo Loop. For those unfamiliar, racing on the highways was once HUGE in Osaka. A bunch of gutted Hondas from different crews in Osaka used to battle it out on a portion of the highway system known as the “Kanjo Loop”. The Loop is a section of their highways that wraps around the city. It doesn’t really connect to any other highway so it just runs in a consistent “loop” throughout the city. Kanjozokus would blast in and out of traffic and race each other in the middle of the night. It was a big deal back in the day, so big that the police in Osaka had a huge crackdown on it and are always out looking for racers late at night. Undercover police even circle the highways looking to catch guys racing… If you guys have ever played “Tokyo Xtreme Racer” or “Import Tuner Challenge” on Xbox or Playstation, you know exactly what I am talking about…

Now, before I show you anything else, I must note that I do not condone any type of racing on the highways or public streets in general. It’s dangerous and I feel that if you guys were to race, you should take it to the track. However, since we were in Japan and experiencing everything that Japan had to offer, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness these Kanjo racers in person. It is one of those “once in a lifetime” type of things so we decided to go see with our own eyes. It was pretty late and we had to be up early to catch a train back to the Narita Airport (over three hours away) but we just had to go… May decided to stay behind since she wanted to get some sleep, so only the guys cruised out…

It started out pretty boring to be honest. We didn’t actually ride in the cars because I mean, we didn’t want to risk our lives or anything so we just watched. There was no action early on as we were waiting for the Kanjo racers to arrive in their cars. We circled the Loop over and over again and maybe 20 minutes later, we saw two EK Civics shooting down the highway as if they were shot out of a cannon. It was late at night so the loop wasn’t that busy, but there were still trucks and other cars on the highway. It didn’t stop them for going at it though and it was surprising to see how much control they had with their cars…

If you’re wondering, we didn’t get any videos of the Hondas in action. I apologize but it was simply too dark to get any clear video. We didn’t meet up with them prior so its not like we could have attached a Go-Pro system either. That and well, I don’t know how they would feel about us getting them on video performing such “spirited driving” on Osaka’s highway system. We weren’t chasing the cars down either so we weren’t even close to them. We just circled the highways and watched them perform their craft. At one point, after maybe two runs through the loop, we noticed that there was a white station wagon that popped up on the highway. I don’t recall what it was but I swear, it might have been a Cadillac CTS-V wagon. Makes sense because they needed a car that was capable of catching guys on the run. It cruised near us probably noticing that we had circled the loop a couple of times and our driver (calling him a “driver” to protect his identity just in case) immediately recognized it as an undercover police officer. The two EKs came flying by once again, and the wagon immediately took off after them…

We thought that they would be caught for sure. We continued to circle the Loop and one of the EKs eventually came back, this time with another Civic, an EG, tailing him. I guess the police didn’t catch them. Our driver didn’t speak much English, but he pointed at the EK, adorned in a traditional Kanjo livery, and said “Kanjo King”, signifying that whoever was behind the wheel of this Civic was not only a popular Kanjo racer, but one of the best on the loop. They disappeared into the night once again and it thought it was over, but again, we were wrong. We then proceeded to take a different route and exited the highway onto a random street where they were parked alongside the road waiting for us…

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Just seeing these cars on the Loop was crazy enough as it was but being able to see what they were all about up close made the experience that much more memorable…

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This is the EK that I spoke of earlier from famous Kanjo race crew “No Good Racing”… It was decked-out in traditional two-tone paint and was certainly no show car. It was as raw as could be and you can tell that it is a seasoned veteran in the Kanjo-racing world…

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Custom fuel cell with carbon fiber cover in the trunk…

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I was not prepared to see these cars parked, otherwise I would have brought my tripod along. I really wish I would have so I could have produced some better shots for you guys…

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The owner was really nice and seemed excited to meet us. He cleaned up his car as much as he could and opened up everything for us to see…

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Like I said, this EK was as raw as could be. Just straight to business with what I remember being a B18C swap…

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Nick, Ryan, and others getting a better look at the EK…

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The gutted interior… If you look behind the seat, you’ll see a mask strapped to the seat. These “Jason” masks are typically owned by Kanjo racers to protect their identities when they are competing on the loop. With police always on their backs, it is important to protect your identity…

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No radio, no A/C or heater, all air vents have been blocked-off and the instrument cluster is a one-off carbon piece housing multiple gauges…

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Seeing stuff like this was a far cry from what we expected coming into our trip but it is just one of those things that made our trip so great…

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The Kanjo guys were so nice that they even gave Ryan Der a memento to bring back to America with him. This laminated piece featuring the “No Good Racing” logo was actually used by them to cover their rear license plates when they race on the loop. To your average person it’s just a laminated piece of paper but to car guys like us, this is a personal gift and something that you can’t just go out and buy…

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That basically wraps up our time in Japan. The next day wasn’t anything to rave about. It consisted of us heading back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen and hanging out in Shinagawa for a couple of hours before we had to take a shuttle back to Narita Airport….

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This was the final photo I took in Japan. Our flight back to America was 9 1/2 hours long and I think collectively, we all wish we were still in Japan, haha. Regular life seems so mundane when we look back at these photos. I’m itching to go back soon and hopefully I’ll be able to. For now, it’s back to regular life in 2013. Thanks to all of you for looking. I know a twelve-part series of coverage can be overwhelming and I appreciate those of you who spent the time and went through all twelve parts.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

14 thoughts

  1. Joey, I’ve been following your site for about 3 years. Day by day you keep me intact with awesome stories and awesome photos of what a car enthusiast is really about. As im long gone from the honda scene, you keep that wanting feeling in me even though is best I dont jump back in it. I’d have to say your one great writer, and I appreciate the quality work you bring to us. Thank.

    BTW, great coverage of your trip to Japan.

  2. Loved the whole series Joe! Looking forward to the next one! After all, it’s just not about cars but more of the camaraderie of friends and fellow car-lovers!

  3. That EK from Kango racing crew is off the hook..it’s just so raw and in your face… I like this style more than those Js’racing cars that have 35k of shit load of all the fancy parts ( do seriously need to put a Motec cluster in a Honda Fit ?? ) ..but anyways great coverage and if you cant get more pics of ”Kango’s” crew cars, that would be great !!

  4. Hey, just finished reading this post then i went to look for some videos and that EK is featured in a JDM insider video!

    here’s the link

    it appears at the end! That video was posted 2007..thats pretty crazy that it’s still running the same look/setup

  5. Pingback: The Top Ten Stories Of 2013 According To You… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

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