The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 1: An Intro, An RWB Meet, and TAS ’14 Coverage…

This is one of the rare times when I get to really tell you guys a story during the beginning of one of my journeys so bear with me. I’m running on just a two hour power nap and sitting on an All Nippon Airlines flight to Tokyo, Japan…
It has been a rough month….I find that a little hard to say because I am just 8 days into the first month of 2014 but I find myself a bit overwhelmed. With the last two years being so incredible and with such positive momentum heading into the new year, I fully expected 2014 to be just as good….So far, I’ve been met with some struggles. You haven’t heard a whole lot from me leading into the new year because I’ve been busy building my new office space that is separate from my bedroom. For the last 5 years or so, my entire operation has been set-up within the confines of a small apartment building bedroom and I just felt the need to create more space. While that was going on, everything else was seemingly imploding around me….

I had big plans for my trip to Japan. Not only was Tokyo Auto Salon taking place, I really wanted to get some more work done. The trip to Japan the year before was more of a feeler trip. I wanted to get to know the environment and have a better feel for the country. This year’s was more based around work and generating content for the world to see. I had been in communication with Brandon from BOWLS L.A. in the weeks prior to my trip in regards to putting together a huge video and photo project about the infamous Kanjo racing scene in Osaka. Believe me when I tell you that it was supposed to be fucking epic. I was so excited about it. We were not only going to attempt to shut down the Osaka loop to get some filming in with the legendary Kanjo racers of Japan, but we were also going to capture some thoughts and words from the racers themselves that have long been involved with it. The plan was for us to go to Osaka following Tokyo Auto Salon and put it together. One of the major parties involved in getting this project off its feet was Jonathan Wong from Super Street magazine. It was definitely a different type of project…in that the legalities of it were most certainly called into question but we were willing to risk it all and put it all out there to put this project together. It meant a lot to all of us to really push this thing forward and a huge chunk of it would circulate into Super Street’s annual “Honda Issue”. The Honda Issue was a Honda-specific special issue that Wong and SS puts together every year and I have always been heavily involved in its creation. This year was going to be even better because for the first time, Wong was going to hand the reigns over to me and let me be the guest head editor of that issue. How amazing would it be to have an issue of Super Street magazine, a mag that I’ve followed for as long as I can remember messing with this hobby, to be in charge of putting an entire issue together? I was stoked. Not only that but I had some great ideas as to which Hondas I would do stories on for that issue and, trust me, it was going to be an incredible piece of work. The Kanjo story would be enough as it is to sell the magazine in my opinion but as a package, this was THE issue to own…

As pumped as I was to potentially have the opportunity to do all of this, it was quickly taken away from me as I had the proverbial rug pulled from under my feet. I received a text message a couple days before I hopped on this airline and got some shocking news……If you don’t know by now, allow me to be the first to tell the world… Jonathan “JDM” Wong, the head editor of Super Street magazine for what seems like forever, was relieved from his position. In an instant, not only was Jonathan without a job, but with that went everything else that was planned….All the plans that we had made, the story on the Kanjozokus, guest head editor, etc, etc. *boom*….it was all gone….I felt bad for Wong. He was the one that brought me into the magazine years ago and allowed a guy with little to no experience to grow with Super Street. He took a chance on a guy he knew little about and we were on a journey to make this title a good one. He trusted my judgment and took what I had to say importantly. If there was something that I didn’t feel was good for the book, he would make the necessary changes without questioning me. I was working for him longer than anyone else that is (or was) currently on his staff. We experienced good times at SS and it was now gone in the blink of an eye. Not only was I shocked that he was gone, I worried for my standing with the issue as well. I think I’ve done great work at Super Street over the years and hoped that whoever took over in the interim would continue to provide me the outlet to do work for them…

Because of this shocking change, it shifted the entire landscape of my trip to Japan. I had planned to help out SS a lot while I was out there. This Kanjo thing was going to really be a game changer….Now, as I sit here on this flight, I still find myself with difficulty understanding what had just happened a couple days ago…

If that wasn’t enough, just two days later, I was faced with some more distressing news….my boy Salem was originally supposed to be on this flight with me now to go to Japan. If there was anyone that was excited about this trip, it was him. He went with me last year as well but mid-way through the trip, he had food poisoning and didn’t really get to enjoy Japan to the fullest. 2014 was supposed to be the trip that made-up for the last one. The day before, I hadn’t heard from Salem at all…which was odd. He’s normally the one calling me about the details of the trip and the one trying to figure everything out. I was preoccupied with other things so I didn’t think much of it but in the back of my mind, I was wondering if something had happened. I sent him a couple texts and called a couple times throughout the day to no avail. Not a word back from Salem at all. Towards the early morning hours, after being unsuccessful yet again with a phone call, I had a bad feeling. I got worried, more than I have about anything in a long time. I began calling other mutual friends of ours that I knew I could rely on to get to the bottom of this. They too were not able to get a hold of him the days prior so they too got worried. My boy Doug was reluctant to call Salem’s mom since it was so late but his instincts told him otherwise. She answered and notified him that Salem had been unavailable because he had been in the Emergency Room of Glendale Memorial Hospital. She wasn’t sure what was wrong with him, but he was in a bad way…

One of the things that I remember being mentioned over the weekend before was that Salem hadn’t been feeling well. We were all hanging out and watching the NFL Playoffs while working on my new office space so it was strange that he didn’t come down to chill. The guy has had some previous medical issues so we thought that he was just going through some things and was too tired to drive so we understood. I mean, we gave him shit about it because we joke around like that but he didn’t seem like he was doing too bad. Apparently he was doing way worse than we all suspected because he left work early that Monday of and checked himself into the hospital. Maybe it was some bad chicken he had consumed or a combination of some other things but he was unable to hold anything down at all. Mikey and Doug immediately drove over to the hospital to go see him and spent some time with him as he struggled to even speak. They kept me up to date on the situation and notified me that he wasn’t in any condition to leave the hospital, let alone hop on a flight to Tokyo. I was still packing my luggage for the trip as well as putting together the rest of The Chronicles Top Ten Hondas of 2013 list but I felt defeated. How could so much have happened in the course of just a few days? I didn’t even want to go to Japan anymore. All the plans for this trip, like everything that I had been planning alongside Jonathan Wong, immediately fell by the wayside….

I decided to move forward with my journey to Japan because I know that this is what Salem would have wanted. I feel terrible for leaving Salem behind because I’d rather be with him to make sure he recovers but I couldn’t let the other two people that had planned this trip with us down. As I sit here on this airline, wedged between two complete strangers on a 12 hour flight, I have no idea what is going to happen. We still don’t know what the diagnosis is on our good friend or what it’ll take for him to get better. Hell, I don’t even know if I have a place to stay when I arrive in Tokyo because the hotel was booked under Salem’s name and I really do not know if the hotel, which is book to capacity, even cares about the situation. I’m hoping that this trip is the silver lining in an otherwise horrid week…By the time this reaches you, I guess I will already know because it will have all happened already….

From Tokyo to Osaka and wherever else this trip takes me, here is my coverage of my trip to Japan to kick off 2014….

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Okay, back to current day… I’m back now and officially jetlagged, seeing as I woke up in the middle of the fucking day like it was morning and had no idea where I was. I’ve been busy going through the photos slowly while still re-organizing everything after my trip. It should be noted that we went into this trip with little to no schedule or set plan for what we were going to do. There were some major events like Tokyo Auto Salon that we went to Japan for but other than that, we were just going to wing it. We had a larger group last year which included some people that had never been to Japan before so it was more planned out because we wanted to get a mix of both car life and regular life in Japan to really get a grasp of the culture there. This year was a bit different. It was a return trip for the three of us that went and it was basically more car-oriented and work-related. We also planned to stay longer than last year so the potential for disaster was high with no planning but everything worked out in the end…

As I stated in the intro, things were a bit rough heading into the trip, and it didn’t end there. Not only was I not sure I even had a room to stay in while I was in Tokyo, I also ran into some random problems that just added to the stress that I already had. I originally had a mobile Wi-Fi device that was set to be delivered to the airport in Japan, which is very common practice, and I was going to pick it up when I got to Narita. Ryan Der did the same thing so I just decided to have mine sent to the same place as to avoid any additional stops. Of course, when we got to the post office inside the airport, Der got his device and mine was seemingly missing. I couldn’t even get into my email because I had changed the password before I left and didn’t remember it. The worker at the post office was digging around everywhere looking for it to no avail. When I managed to finally get into my inbox, I received an email from the company stating that something had happened and it just wasn’t delivered….great…. but there was nothing I could do so I just bummed internet service off of Ryan until mine was finally sent to my hotel the following day. Luckily, things went a little smoother after that. I managed to get into my room with no problems and had a bed to sleep in for the week. It was a bummer that Salem couldn’t make it and his absence was definitely felt. Still, my friends back home were able to provide me with constant updates on his condition and we moved forward with our trip. Since we didn’t have anything planned, we decided to head over to Roppongi after we checked into our hotel to check out the Rauh Welt Begriff annual gathering. RWB does a meet every year before Tokyo Auto Salon and we managed to get to Japan in time to catch the tail end of the meet. Roppongi wasn’t too far away from us so we just hopped on a local bus that dropped us off right by the Hard Rock Cafe where the cars gathered…

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As many times as you’ve think you’ve seen an RWB Porsche before, there is just something special about seeing all of them together. It wasn’t the airport, or the hotel, or the sights we saw in-between….it was arriving at the RWB meet that finally made me come to the startling realization that I was in Japan….

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It was a smaller meet held within a small parking lot but there was plenty to look at. There is just something so inexplicably cool about seeing a group of RWB cars together. I’ll admit, the cars don’t have the same air of coolness here in the States. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it is the fact that the owners aren’t Japanese and the cars aren’t in Japan, who knows. But just seeing them there just made me enjoy the cars more than I would if I encountered one here. It just adds a bit more legitimacy to the RWB name when they are in their native country….

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I made the poor decision to not bring my tripod that evening and I am still kicking myself for not having it with me during the meet. I worked with what I had though and the shots came out decent I think…

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RWB Porsches in every color you could probably ask for were in attendance at the annual meet…

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All the owners of the Porsches were inside the Hard Rock Cafe enjoying a dinner together so the area was pretty much wide open for anyone to check out the cars…

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Silver 964 Porsche with the complete RWB package including seats and all…

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One of my favorites was this orange RWB 993…

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A lot of these Porsches were so low to the ground that it didn’t even look like you’d be able to drive them around without destroying something. The front add-on lips were already resting on the pavement just in a parked position…

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I don’t believe this was a part of the meet but I captured it because I thought it was pretty wild to see it immersed in Japanese culture…

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RWB 993 “Cynthia” bearing a white on gold theme…

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Another standout was the RWB “Rough Rhythm”…

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We walked up to the upper level of the parking structure where the meet took place to get an overhead shot and discovered one more RWB Porsche lurking in the shadows on a flatbed tow truck…

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The color on this 993 RWB was a bit “unique” to say the least but the car looked great in person….

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Lost in translation?…or Perfect translation?….haha….

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It was already pretty late at that point and we still had to grab dinner, so we decided to head back towards the hotel we were staying at to eat some traditional Japanese Ramen….

After eating, we decided to call it a night. I still had to unpack and get some rest for the long day at Tokyo Auto Salon….

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The next morning, we got up early to set off on our journey to the Makuhari Messe for TAS ’14. It was a Friday, which is only open to the public for the second half of the day, so we went to grab lunch inside the train station before the ride. If you haven’t been to Japan before, the train stations have a variety of different food venues for you to choose from. Not only do they have food, there are also shops that sell clothing and everything else you can think of. The train stations are huge and because so many people pass through there daily, it just makes sense to be able to do everything you need to within…

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Our choice that day was a stand-up sushi bar that both Ryans went to last year and fell in love with. I know, I know, a lot of you guys are going to say “No, don’t eat it! Radiation!” but it wasn’t that big of a worry for us. The media has twisted the facts in some ways to make you believe that it might be worse off than it really is. Everyone in Japan seemed to be fine and were eating as they would everyday so it was also one of those “When in Rome” situations…. (aka “YOLO”)….

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Salmon Sashimi that we each got a couple orders of…

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Hot green tea was literally on tap to keep us warm…

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An abundance of fresh seafood and Tamago (egg) on display and available whenever you want to order more. You basically just point at whatever you want or ask for it and they will make you a fresh roll on the spot. It was a very cool and efficient spot….

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I forget what the white pieces were that Ryan ordered, I believe it was fresh squid but I could be wrong…

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You definitely had to be proficient with chopsticks to survive a sushi bar in Japan….

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I even tried some fresh oyster rolls because they looked so good on display. The sushi chef specifically told me “no soy sauce” on the oysters…

Once we devoured our sushi, we grabbed our stuff and headed over to Tokyo Auto Salon. We had the half day tickets, so they wouldn’t let us into the show yet because we had arrived before 1 pm. There was about an hour to kill so we headed over to the parking lot to see what type of cars we’d find. The parking lot is always a hot spot to check out whenever TAS goes on because, unlike here in the U.S., it is perfectly okay to drive your modded car to an event because you don’t have to worry about people stealing your cars or the police pulling you over. I mean, theft exists in Japan but you don’t hear people ever complaining about getting their shit stolen at the parking lot of TAS. Shit, people even left their shoes and what not outside of the cars the entire day and nobody would even go near them to try to take it. Culture is just very different, especially in Tokyo. I missed out on the parking lot last year so it was the perfect time to go scour the lot to see what was out there. After walking through the first two rows of the parking lot, we realized how huge the parking lot was and it sort of just became a car show of its own. It was almost like a new adventure that we didn’t expect. There were cars of all types left and right and we ended up staying there way past the hour just absorbing everything….if you have never seen the parking lot of the Tokyo Auto Salon, you should try to go there every day before you go to the show because there were some cars out there that were better than some of the cars inside the show…..

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One of the first cars that caught my eye was this FD2 Civic Type R with widened front fenders and black Volk CE28Ns. Since I knew that Hondas weren’t going to be fruitful inside the show, I took the time to specifically find modded Hondas in the parking lot….

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This Toyota Crown looked great on Work Meister M1Rs…

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GP Sports widebody S15 Silvia on faded Rays Gram Lights….

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Zenki S14 Silvia with Navan aero…

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Lovely AE86 Levin on RS Watanabe wheels. Seeing cars like this and the parking lot in general makes you really appreciate Japanese tuning culture because you won’t see stuff like this together anywhere else in the world…

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One of the more surprising observations that I made this year during my stay in Japan was how common FD RX-7s were. I had no idea since I didn’t really see too many of them last year but the parking lot was filled with them. This one was wearing a R-Magic front bumper and Volk TE37SLs with R-Magic edition spoke decals….

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Also incredibly common were R32 Skyline GT-Rs with concave Volk Racing TE37s. These things were fucking everywhere. Normally in the states, I’d be standing there drooling over any R32 I ran into but in Japan, they were so common that I eventually stopped taking pictures of them. Crazy to say but man, there were too many R32s with TEs out there, and that is never a bad thing…

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This FD3S looked like it was straight out of the 90’s….

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Here’s another R32 Skyline on concave TE37s….

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R34 Skyline GT-R V-Spec II on center-locking NISMO wheels…

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As overwhelming as it was to be surrounded by Skyline GT-Rs of all generations, I still found comfort in finding gems like this black EG6 Civic on SSR Type-Xs…

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Wild widebody DC2 Integra Type R. Hard to capture just how wide this was in photos but this thing was bizarre-looking…

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Crazy rare VeilSide Kaiser JZS147 Aristo. I can’t even recall the last time I saw a photo of an Aristo with the Kaiser aero kit on it let alone seen one in person….Just nutty looking but so incredibly “VeilSide”. It’s a real throwback to the days when VS was all the rage in the industry and everybody loved their gaudy aero kits…

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Speaking of rare, here’s a Toyota Altezza with a TRD Neo front bumper…

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C-West equipped Integra on 15-inch Enkei wheels….Wheels are kinda small for the kit but it is cool to see an Integra wearing C-West aero since a majority of the ones you see nowadays are in North America…

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One of my favorite builds from my entire trip to Japan was this Corolla that I found in the parking lot of TAS ’14. Just this car alone would have made my plane ticket worth it. I love this particular body style and love how this is executed with the cage and the RS Watanabe wheels. Such a classic look….

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Really liked the molded in metal flares to house the aggressive Watanabes….

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Air:yous…or Air:me…?

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One of the most talked-about builds of the 2014 Tokyo Auto Salon show was a car that didn’t even make it inside the show. Kawashima’s Celica was all over the internet by the time I woke up that morning to go to TAS but I had no idea that it was just sitting out in the parking lot. You guys probably remember it from a couple years ago when it was super raw and cut-up and people were going absolutely apeshits (in a bad way) over seeing photos of it. The man has never been one to hide from controversy so he continued the evolution of this wild build. I myself don’t like the styling of it at all but it is so ridiculous that I just had to take photos of it to show you guys…

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It is very cartoonish and just incredibly unconventional. I wanted to hate it but I went into my journey to Japan promising myself that I would try to understand and embrace everything that I saw while I was over there so I just stood back and tried to take this thing in….

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Crazy? Yes. Ugly? Well, that’s left to the eye of the beholder. Ridiculous? Certainly. Credit for attempting something unconventional? Absolutely….It’s not my car so you do what you want with it. “To each their own” is more appropriate than ever to use here. Even as I was taking photos of this car, passer-bys would stop to stare….

That’s quite a bit of reading and I have a ton of photos to come so I’ll stop it here for now. Your brain is probably overloaded by now with content to process so I hope you enjoyed the first part of my Japan trip. There’s like 10+ more posts to come so be ready for a steady flow of content for the rest of the month. Thanks for looking!!…

19 thoughts

  1. Loving the coverage Joey! Hope to see more of the loop interaction soon cause I know it was blast. Next time take me along with you.

  2. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 2: Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage Begins… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  3. Nice coverage of the parking lot man. I got into the show early that morning and completely missed everything outside! Especially all the Hondas in attendance. Plus it was cold as shit out there! (And hot as hell in the show.)

  4. Ignoring the wheel setup, that Celica’s great! Granted, I love seeing even a stock TRD-bodied car in traffic; beautiful design in my opinion, and I’m digging the body kit.

  5. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 3: Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage Continues… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  6. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 4: The End of Day 1 of TAS ’14… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  7. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 5: Dinner with friends from Osaka and Day 2 of TAS ’14… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  8. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 6: The Final Day Of Tokyo Auto Salon 2014… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  9. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 7: A Visit To Gunma To Meet The Guys From L2P And IB Complete… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  10. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 8: We Go To Arvou With L2P And Then Some Adventures On The Tokyo Highway… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  11. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 9: A Visit To Spoon Sports And Type One… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  12. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 10: A New Adventure Begins In Osaka… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  13. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 12: Winding Down In Kyoto… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

  14. Pingback: The Chronicles 2014 Japan Trip Coverage… Part 13 of 13: Closing Out Our Journey in Japan… | The Chronicles© - No Equal Since 2008 | www.stickydiljoe.com

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