The Chronicles Osaka 2015 Coverage…Part 3: MECHA-DOCK and CAR MAKE ACROSS…

This is probably the post that many of you have been waiting for…

Today, I bring you guys a never-before-seen look into two shops that have been an integral part of the storied Osaka Honda community. In my journeys, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of interesting folks. I could probably some day write a book on my experiences and many wouldn’t even believe it. I have been very fortunate. Some call it luck, some are the type to believe that “everything happens for a reason”. No matter how you look at it, I have been thrust into a very interesting position which allows me to bring you guys a very unique perspective that many will never see, hear, or read about. I take the time to tell you these stories because I believe they are important to the “overall scheme of things”. There are a lot of you who don’t care about tradition, who don’t want to know how things started or why they are the way they are today. You would rather just focus on making a name for yourself or to showcase your own build in a way that only benefits yourself. If you are one of those individuals, this is not for you. I see and experience things that you may not choose to believe is true. I don’t care. These are my experiences and I try my best to remember them and re-tell them to my audience the best way I know how, through photos, and now, with video as well…

Osaka has a very, very rich history in Honda tuning in Japan. A lot of it has been buried by the previous generations because things were not always the best in terms of providing a positive “image” for the Kansai region. Kanjozoku culture has been relatively hidden and left in the shadows because it was done purposely so that people would just forget about it. It was never presented in a positive light because what they do is incredibly illegal. Most of the men that were involved in this underground culture were not good people. They participated in these illegal activities because they simply did not care for rules. Many of these activities also stretched into other areas of life other than cars. I will not speak of them because it is unimportant but just know that there is always risk involved in every bit of information I provide to you. I know people in Osaka who are good friends of mine who do not want me to tell you anything about the old Osaka car scene because they would prefer that I “maintain a good image” to the rest of the world. In a day and age when everyone is watching, I have been advised to be a “good boy” because it helps to push the automotive culture in Japan forward. I know things that I will never tell to the rest of the public, but I do want to present you guys with a rare look into this world because I believe that history, whether it be positive or negative, is important to know. The Honda brand to us car enthusiasts would not be as highly-revered as it is today without these people. Our elders learned from these guys, whether they realized it or not, and we learned from them. It is the “real JDM” as someone from Osaka once said…

I think the flaw in seeing most of this stuff is that the words aren’t being read. People see the images online and they just interpret it how they want to. My photos will be taken and re-posted multiple times everywhere but the words will not. Unfortunately that is the way of the world today. We take without understanding. We leave the important details behind. I hope those who read this and who truly appreciate it hold onto these words. In the future, this will serve as a placeholder and a source of information for an often misunderstood subculture. Though I have encountered some characters that aren’t exactly what you would consider to be “good role models” or “upstanding citizens”, they trust me enough to be around them and I respect who they are and what they are about. In turn, they allow me into their world and I get to show you guys bits and pieces of that. I should also mention that there are quite a few guys who actually are very, very, normal guys. Some have grown-up, moved on, and are just your average guy operating a shop, trying to make a buck to feed their family. Many of them also have moved their driving experiences onto the circuit where they just keep their cars for track days now and only race in sanctioned events. Priorities change as you get older and a lot of them lead normal lives. They build and enjoy their cars like you do and just go to track events whenever they can to smash on their Hondas. Those who chose to stay a part of the underground are also living their lives as they did when they were younger. These are the ones that stuck around to maintain tradition and hope to pass it on to future generations…

The faces and personalities that you will encounter in the videos to come in the next few days have allowed us to give you a glimpse into their lives. Those who choose to be protected from the public spotlight have also been protected. Names are present, some are real names, some you will figure out later are not…

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The first shop that we visited after stopping by at Tactical Art (See previous post for detailed coverage of TA) was a paint shop with a very peculiar name; MECHA-DOCK aka “Red Circle”, or 赤丸メカドック. Mecha-Dock is a place that our friend Yasu has mentioned to us before in the past but we just never got around to seeing it until our Japan trip this year. It is a paint shop that is pretty important to old Osaka because the owner, Kazu, has been painting Hondas in this area for years now. He is affiliated with the NO GOOD RACING family and his shop was responsible for painting many of their cars back when the Kanjozoku would run the streets almost nightly. Whenever they had to evade the local authorities and needed to paint new liveries onto their vehicles to mask their identities, Mecha-Dock was the place to go to. Over the years, after the scene died-out due to heavy sanctions from the police, the business survived and maintained as a legitimate repair and paint shop. Kazu himself got settled down and had a kid. His priorities shifted but he remained a diehard Honda guy. He now has a EG6 which is probably one of the cleanest I’ve ever seen in this area that he also drives daily. Tucked neatly in the back end of his shop is his EF9 Civic, which is his weekend track car…

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Mecha-Dock is an incredibly well-kept shop. It is small but many shops in Japan are of similar size. He has parts in every available space possible but appearance-wise, it is one of the nicest we’ve seen in the years we have visited Japan. You’ll see in the video that he is a very shy, mild-mannered individual. His wife is very nice and is actively involved with running their business. Their kid, Daiya, is young but seems to have a very good understanding of cars. We could already tell in our brief time with him that he will probably grow up to be an enthusiast and boy, will he have some stories to tell his peers when the time comes….

Our second stop, is a shop that you may never have heard of, but you will have likely seen some of their cars before. In fact, one of their cars is one of those “internet-famous” builds that have been shared all over every social media outlet, but information on it has always been scarce. So scarce that you couldn’t even find more photos of it if you searched all day and night. Hell, the first photos of this car surfaced online years ago and even with all of our resources, we couldn’t figure out who owned the car until around last year. This shop is known as “ACROSS” or Car Make Across…

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The car that I am referring to is this EK9 Civic Type R…

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This photo was captured in the parking lot of an old USDM Jam event. It wasn’t even participating in the show and was just parked outside. A couple photos of it popped-up online and people went mad over it, including us. It had everything we could have wanted; it was slammed to all hell, on Volk TE37s, and was very raw in appearance. There was just something very special about it and the allure of not knowing who’s car it was made it that much more intriguing…

We found out last year that the owner was “Joe”, the owner of ACROSS. Not only was it great to finally figure out who owned this EK9, but we were overjoyed to hear that the car was still very much alive and well. Der and I were fucking stoked. I was fascinated with this car but Der…well, Der seems to be completely in love with the car, and I don’t blame him. He was a EK guy for all the years that he owned and built a Honda and this car was everything he could have ever wanted in an EK. When we figured out who and what Car Make Across was, the story just seemed to get better and better. We soon found out that he also owned a few other Hondas that were just incredible. He not only owned this EK9, he also had this NA2 NSX that sat perfectly on concave TE37s. It was more of just a street-trimmed daily or weekend cruiser but it was very obvious that it was his car because he just had a very particular way of putting his cars together. His EF9, which is his dedicated race car, is a car that you have seen plenty of times now here on The Chronicles. He is a long-time member of CLUB WHARP and the famed car club is plastered all over his EF9, making it instantly recognizable. You last saw it in my Nakayama Circuit coverage from January….

Joe apparently has a bunch of other Hondas too but we only had a brief time at his shop and couldn’t explore the rest of his fleet. Just the three cars I described above are enough but I look forward to possibly visiting again when I have more time so I can see what other toys he has. If his other builds are anything like the three that we saw, oh man, I can’t wait to see them. Anyways, back to the story… ACROSS is an important shop within the Osaka Honda community because it continues to push the spirit of yesteryear. CLUB WHARP is one of Osaka’s famed Kanjozoku car clubs and has been around for three decades now. Joe is a WHARP member and is still producing cars for both members of that club along with other clubs in Osaka. He seems to have shifted his own endeavors towards pure circuit/track racing but you can tell very easily that the history is there and important to him moving forward. That evening, he even helped to organize a special Civic gathering for us to attend which included many ACROSS customers from all over Osaka. You will see photos from that meeting in the next update…

That is a lot of reading but again, it is important information to know. Below is the next addition to our video blog series (Episode 4) documenting our adventures from Tokyo to Osaka. This Vlog covers our visit to both of these shops. After the video, I invite you to see the photos that I captured during that amazing evening. Never did I think that I would ever get to see these cars in person or to meet the people who created them. I didn’t take it for granted for a second and documented everything to the best of my ability. While there, it all seemed unreal and we were all in a bit of a fog. It just didn’t seem realistic to think that the day would ever come when we were able to witness this type of stuff. When we first planned this Japan trip, Der and I made it a point to try to visit ACROSS. The idea was there but we didn’t know if Joe would allow us into his shop. Not anyone off the street can visit this place, mind you. It is a business but it isn’t one of those places like Spoon or TYPE ONE where you can walk around and have a guided tour. Things just don’t work like that in this area of Osaka….

The Chronicles Vlog #4 (Part 8): An Unforgettable Evening At MECHA-DOCK And Car Make ACROSS….

Photos from both MECHA-DOCK and ACROSS below, with more to come in the next update as well…

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Welcome to MECHA-DOCK, Osaka, Japan… This white EG6 Civic is Kazu’s regular beater. It was an instant favorite of our’s because of just how clean it was and how different (minimal) it looked compared to most Hondas in this area of Osaka….

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White Volk CE28 wheels paired with J’s Racing vented front fenders….

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The cockpit of his EG6 which looks race ready but is still serviceable on the circuit…

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Interesting to see that this car was still running an APEX’i V-AFC unit…

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J’s Type-T double-vented carbon hood…

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The heart of Kazu’s Civic is a B16A engine featuring a Mugen air box. No tuck, nothing dressed-up, just a functional set-up for street….

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Make note of the carbon front lip that looks almost OEM on the bumper. He also has USDM corner lights…

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Kazu’s EF9 track car. This actually once belonged to Joe from ACROSS. If you know his current EF9, you’ll be able to see that they are both pretty similar in appearance except this one doesn’t have a graphical livery…

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B18C ITR engine with a custom intake arm and filter set-up that received air from the custom ram-air headlight duct….

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The EF’s headlight which has been cut and replaced with mesh to help drive air into the intake system…

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The interior of his EF features a big Defi tachometer and an APEX’i PowerFC management system….

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Emergency cut-off switch and his custom fuse/relay set-up mounted where the glovebox once stood. An M.D.I. multiple discharge ignition box sits on the center console by the shifter….

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HKS Circuit Attack Counter to log lap times…

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A single Bride bucket seat in the cockpit…

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Custom center-exit exhaust with a tapered rear lip for the exhaust opening….

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Tow hook peeking through the rear bumper. Mounted to the bumper is a Seido-Ya Total Brake System decal…

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Dry carbon rear hatch….

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Custom fuel cell set-up under the metal panel in the rear hatch….

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Custom front fender of the EF used to make room for the Volk TE37 wheels and thick Yokohama Advan rubber…

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Extra TEs on deck with tires mounted and ready to go…

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Wakos products are popular in Japan and Kazu had the entire catalog shelved at his shop….

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Reppin’ the NO GOOD RACING team…

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A glimpse of the L.E.D. taillights on his EG…

After collecting the photos that I needed, we (Kazu and his family and all) hopped in our cars and headed over to ACROSS. Upon arrival, I got to get an up close and personal look at another car that I’ve been wanting to see for awhile now, the Red Bull-themed EF9 Civic from NO GOOD RACING…

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This rendition of the EF in Red Bull form is actually very recent. The owner of the car is the new, younger, boss of NGR which was news to us. Despite being in different crews, nowadays, it is pretty common for these guys to be associated with one another and even do work on one another’s cars. That is why it isn’t weird to see an ACROSS decal on a NO GOOD car. Some will even rock the other crew’s decal on their cars on occasion as a sign of respect and support. Rivalries still exist in 2015 but they are nowhere near as contentious as they were a decade ago…

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Crazy to see the beacon lit up inside the EF. Not only is it a huge attention grabber, it is also a huge F-U to the local authorities…

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There is just something so incredibly odd and so Japanese about the Red Bull car. It is delightfully tacky and is incredibly distracting in all the right ways… You just wouldn’t picture anything like this anywhere else BUT Japan…

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A giant tow strap is included in the car because they not only roam the streets, they also race down the mountains often. In the event that the car runs off the road and possibly gets stuck, the tow strap will come in handy to retrieve it… Luckily, the tow strap on this car is completely free of wear and the NGR boss has been able to keep his car untouched…

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Custom fuel cell and fuelt set-up in the trunk of the Red Bull car…

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Beacon mounted to the roof and lit-up. Love how the SSR Type-C fit on this Civic…

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A capable driven device can be used from inside the car to pull-up and hide the license plate in the event when it does need to escape and evade…

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The Defi gauges lit up….

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The Across EK9 has changed a bit over the years, but you can still tell that it is very much the same car. It was surreal finally seeing it in person and it is every bit as good as we thought it would be….

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One thing that we did not realize about the ACROSS CTR back then was that it was K-swapped. Not only that, it has also been swapped for years now and is regarded among this region as the third K-swapped Honda ever in Japan! The first being the Impact Magic/LAW BREAK EK9 and second being the K-swapped EG from ASLAN, formerly known as TRY-BOX…

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The carbon fiber doors are a recent addition that help to lighten the chassis and add to its raw, aggressive appearance….

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The stripped-down interior of the ACROSS/WHARP RACING Type R…

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Custom cut vents in the rear bumper. If I remember correctly, the rear hatch is also carbon or FRP…

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Volk CE28 in bronze mounted to chalked Yokohama Advan tires…

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Spoon Sports front brakes peeking out from behind the concave CEs…

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ACROSS NA2 NSX on concave Volk TE37. Nothing over the top about this car. It is just a weekend car that he has for fun….

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Custom OEM taillights converted to L.E.D….

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We eventually moved the NSX out to make room for the EF9. Here it is in the distance all lit up…

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The NSX also has L.E.D. tails…

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Everything looks better with aggressive, concave TEs…

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ACROSS/WHARP RACING EF9, which you should be pretty familiar with by now because I’ve posted so many photos of it prior to actually seeing it in person…

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Like the EK9, it was surreal to see it in person as I’ve only been exposed to it prior only in photos . It helps you appreciate the builds and their lifestyle that much more when you are seeing their work with your own eyes. The shop in general is just really special. You can tell that it has a lot of history and can’t help but wish that the walls could speak because they probably have some interesting stories to tell. Oh I should mention that we had to push the car around to get these photos. If you watched the video, you’ll notice that it was down and didn’t run. The car had a bad transmission and was probably just sitting for a long period of time so it wouldn’t turn over…

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O.G. WHARP RACING team, running the streets since 1982…

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Just to give you an idea of how long this car has been around, here is a decal on the car from a 2011 race event…

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The gutted interior of the EF9…

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There undoubtedly is no shortage of Volk Racing TE37 wheels in Osaka….

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At one point, our Japanese friends noticed all the artwork on our friend J.P., who was also visiting from Japan, and they started comparing tattoos. Tattoos are still very traditional in Japan and those who have it are still considered to be “dangerous” or nonconformist. Heading into the trip, we reminded J.P. to cover up because regular Japanese folk would probably look at him funny or assume things about him. Especially the older ones. That and we didn’t want to run into anyone that would think that J.P. was a gang member or someone dangerous from a rival gang in Osaka. Luckily for him we were surrounded by dangerous people who were completely okay with tattoos and didn’t want to kill us….

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Sitting on the floors at ACROSS were multiple sets of Volk wheels mounted either to Advan A050 or A048 tires. On the wall were various headers of all types as well as bumpers and other misc. Honda items…

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A brand new set of 16×8 white Volk CEs waiting to be mounted….

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In the next room there was a storage nook with different seats and roll bars…

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A CR-X from NO GOOD was parked inside, waiting for some work to be done to it…

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A peek through an exposed hole in the metal walls of ACROSS…

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An upstairs storage area showcased many of the awards that Joe has acquired over the years….

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Yokohama Advan tire stencil…

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Like Mecha-Dock, Car Make Across is also a paint shop where many Osaka Hondas are painted…

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Mecha-Dock decal applied to the same wall that featured a WHARP, NO GOOD, and LATE RISER team decal…

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WHARP Anniversary decal, Racing team LATE RISER, and new style NO GOOD decal…

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I know it is a tad overwhelming but we have finally reached the end of the post for today. In the days to follow, I will post up more video and photos from this night. After we left ACROSS, we all cruised down to a special Civic gathering that is not to be missed. Thank you all for taking the time to go through all this craziness and I hope you come back for more. Stay tuned!!

Thank you to Kazu from MECHA-DOCK and Joe from ACROSS for allowing us this special look into their world. Nights like these are the ones I won’t soon forget. And of course, I can’t forget to thank our friend Yasu for helping to bridge the gap between our worlds and opening the lines of communication. We wouldn’t have access to this stuff without him.

Please share this post in its entirety instead of just posting up photos of it. I would appreciate it if you allow me to tell my story as a whole. Not only did we travel on our own dime there to document this, it takes hours upon hours of work after to put it all together. This post alone took me over 4 hours to put together, and that is not including the editing and creation of the video portion. Don’t let our hard work be in vain!! Thank you!!

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18 thoughts

  1. This is so awesome. Thank you all guys for sharing this awesome stories with us, all over the world.

    Iam from germany and i just want to bring a little bit of this special culture to all of the japan guys here. I hope, there are some cool guys left and read this full post.

  2. Amazing coverage. It is a privilege to catch a glimpse into this relatively unknown world. Words can’t describe how grateful I am that you take the time to explain all the behind the scenes. Make some new “The Chronicles” apparel!!!

  3. Amazing write-up, read every word and lost my mind over every image! Can’t wait to see more! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for giving us this insight you are an absolute legend!
    -From Christine (Australia)

  4. i appreciate your work so much to show us the often unseen parts of japanese car culture i almost feel like im not worthy of seeing some of this its amazing keep up the good work its very much appreciated

  5. Pingback: HT's Favorite EK hatch part two - Page 128 - Honda-Tech

  6. I love reading your site because of great car content and info you bring. Shows us the true pride they have for great work, craftsmanship and grass roots racing.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Awesome look into a scene that doesn’t get exposure in the mainstream/Kanto-dominated Japanese auto media.

  8. Just wanna say thanx for your time an efforts on giving us this kinda content. Its is truly appreciated and totally frickin awesome to be able to have this glimpse into their world. Also, good looks on ya for respectin them the way you do. Not many people give half a f**k let alone a whole one. props.

  9. Really enjoying the effort you put into this. It pushes all the right buttons for anyone with a passion for cars.
    Side note: Any idea on the tire fitment for the black beauty when shod with the TEs?

  10. I’ve been following your blog for years. You’ve done an awesome job in the last couple of bridging the gap between American and Japanese Honda culture. I hope most of the people who visit your site are reading EVERYTHING that goes along with the photos. This community of ours is much more than just passing trends. There is a deep and very interesting history that goes along with it that many of us would never know about if it weren’t for your work. It is much appreciated, please continue to do what you do!

  11. great article!! I will say you don’t have to worry about tattoos like that lol. Lived there for 4 years with two full sleeves and a back piece, never had one issue. Occasional stare or two, but being a 6’3 white guy there, happens all the time lol. I also rolled with less than law abiding citizens, no one tried to kill me lol

  12. Awesome coverage! I’m from Colombia and I love Honda (doing my best with my db7 B20Vtec) and seeing this pictures and the history behind them make me apreciate even more this cars! Thanks for this Joe

  13. LOVE this cover guys! really awesome stuff, i might see these guys when i go back this year hopefully. JUST wondering if you guys saw/asked/know how on the EF9 they modded the bonnet so it can push almost completely upright like you can on EK’s/EG’s ? Wanting to do it to my own 1989 civic and finally found this photo of it actually been done. Thanks guys!

  14. When I lived in Northern Japan I got to experience the late night touges and drifting. But nothing like what you guys have gotten to experience the last two trips. I really appreciate the time and money put into letting us see a glimpse into this underground world

  15. Hi

    Really nice place 🙂 Cars are awesome!!! What kind of paint you paint subtitles “yokohama advan”?
    I have Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg-R rare japan 100% 🙂

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