My Adventures in Japan 2019… Part 1…


I love Japan. I really do. I don’t think there’s really anything else that needs to be said. Most of the time I feel like I just use Tokyo Auto Salon as an excuse to go back so I can hang out in Japan with my friends. It’s funny because every year, people ask me if I am going back and when I say I am, they ask me why. Like, why wouldn’t I go back? Haha. It’s fun, I get to see car shit, I have friends there, I can eat whatever I want, sit on a fucking train and go to new place. There’s literally nothing bad about it. I can’t even call spending money a downside because its money that I worked hard for just so I can travel. Tokyo Auto Salon seems boring for those who have gone year after year but it is something I look forward to still because there’s always something new to see. Car culture is alive and well in Japan in 2019 and though some trends aren’t favorable to many eyes, its easy to see that the scene is still very much progressing…

We usually only spend two days at TAS anyways and then go do other things, like visit Spoon Sports, or find new shops to check-out. It is just a reason to explore. I personally would never live in Japan because I also enjoy my life here in California but I could stay there for an extended period of time and still be entertained and productive. The video series tells a better story in terms of what we do day to day in Japan, but I always find myself going back to taking photos during the trips. It takes longer to unpack everything, process the photos, and post them online, but The Chronicles was founded on the photos that I’ve taken over the years and I feel like I’m doing some of my best work coming into 2019 and I’d like to be able to show the world the stuff I capture on my dSLR. I wanted to bring them to you a little differently this time around however, in a way much like how my 2013 trip was where I showed you everything as a collective whole, instead of dividing them into different sets depending on what I did. I feel like it presents a much more uniform narrative that way and tells a better story of our adventures in Japan. I specifically divided the Vlogs up in that way so you know what you’re watching. For photos, I think it works as a whole so let’s try it that way this time around…

I arrived in Tokyo with Yuta and Der on the Thursday before Tokyo Auto Salon was set to take place. We had some free time so we decided to go check out Tokyo Auto Salon before it opened up to the public. It’s technically not open to anyone but if you know certain people in the industry, it’s not too difficult to get inside the building. This was honestly the best time to go in hindsight, because there was pretty much nobody there other than the people who worked for the companies that were setting up that evening. The following days were completely insanity. I’ve never been to a TAS this busy before and I’ve been coming since 2013. Even on the supposed “Media Day” portion of the event, it was already full and difficult to navigate around the show. Saturday I didn’t even feel like doing anything because there were just so many people there…

We our story begins on the night we arrived in Tokyo. Yasu and Masa Chiba grabbed us from the airport and drove us straight to the venue to walk the show…

This is how our adventure begins…

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Yasu is an “S2000 guy” so when the new Voltex kit came out, he was incredibly interested in how it looked and all its little details. Since TAS wasn’t open to the public yet and there weren’t a whole lot of people around, we spent quite some time looking over the new Voltex aero…

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Yasu and Yuta checking out the new Volk Racing TE37 Saga Time Attack Edition wheels and AP Racing brakes on the S2000…

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If you’ve ever attended a Tokyo Auto Salon, you’ll understand just how rare it is to get a photo and there not be anyone even remotely in frame or disturbing the photo. This almost didn’t feel real to be able to capture this without interruption…

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I thought it was a great idea to just simply have the Voltex kit in plain white with its dry carbon pieces with the platform lit from the bottom so the shadows can really show-off the lines of the kit…

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Such a great “less is more” approach to this display, being that the kit is so wild and there is so much to take in, yet it’s so crazy that people often overlook the actual lines and details of the Voltex aero package…

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Nice concave face on the Volk TEs thanks to the widened front fenders allowing for such an aggressive wheel…

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Through the windows of the TEs reveal the yellow-accented AP Racing brakes and rotors with matching hats…

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Massive dry carbon front splitter on the S2000 re-imagined by K1 Laboratory and Voltex Suzuka…

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One of the other debuting builds that I really wanted to see before the madness of Friday was the Garage Active “SS Active” BNR33 Skyline, with its brand new widebody kit, running T-Demand air suspension and Work Wheels…

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The kit follows the original factory body lines of the famed R33 GT-R but are much wider front and rear. I actually started following Garage Active after their two carbon-bodied BNR32 Skylines debuted last year at TAS and had been watching closely as they spent the last few weeks posting up teaser photos of this build on their Instagram account…

After we walked around some more and did some filming for the Vlog series, we left the Makuhari Messe venue, grabbed some dinner, and found ourselves making a last minute decision to head down to Roppongi for the annual RWB Party…

The gathering hosts many of Japan’s Rauh Welt Porsche builds at the Hard Rock Cafe parking lot and it continues to grow every year with more RWBs and spectators from all over the world…

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RWB builds have always been a bit of a polarizing topic, some love it, some hate it, but I personally enjoy them very much, especially when I see them in Japan. Der and I have long said that seeing these cars overseas has a completely different feel to them because it just seems like the owners are so much more devoted to their cars there and thrash on them. They aren’t built for clout or for social media engagement…

We almost didn’t go to the RWB Party this year because we were at TAS and had just gotten off the plane from California but I’m sure glad we did stop by, because we happened to arrive right when the fleet of Rauh Welt Porsches were set to leave. If there is one thing I do love about the RWB party, other than the cars of course, is the environment. The surrounding buildings and all the people, many of whom are just in the city enjoying themselves, provides for such great ambiance. The lighting and everything just makes for spectacular photos…

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One of my personal favorites and probably one of the cleanest RWB builds around is “Athena”, a 993 RWB on Work Meister wheels. The silver paint just bounced around all the bright lights from the building around it and the car just looked absolutely captivating in its environment…

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Even as it rolled-out on to the street, the 993 just had so much presence to it…

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Following close behind was this 964 Porsche, known now as RWB “Angelina”…

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I can’t help but make note of the 5-spoke Meisters which is, like the SSR Professor SP1 wheel, the ‘traditional’ RWB look as Akira Nakai envisioned…

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“Rauh Passion” is another one of my personal favorites. I snapped plenty of photos of it over the years and was just able to capture it as it was leaving that evening…

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Immediately zooming into the intersection was a RWB backdate with its massive 935-inspired rear spoiler…

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RWB Abfall Seele, a bright red RWB 993…

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Nothing better than a convertible 964 RWB with the top down and the bright lights of Roppongi in the backdrop to really set the vibe…

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In the sea of over-fendered Porsches emerged this NB-chassis Mazda MX-5 convertible, standing out in the crowd with a full Martini livery, also wearing big over fenders…

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It’s not every day you see a NB MX-5 with this much presence, especially sitting stoutly on Watanabe R-Type wheels with a big meaty tire…

…and it wouldn’t be the last time we ran into this car either, but we’ll save that for some forthcoming photos…

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Toshiya Ichiraku’s Rauh Welt Begriff “Rough Rhythm” always looking great in bright green…

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Looks like he’s switched things up recently and swapped out his traditional line-up of Work Wheels in place of these new Fuchs homage wheels…

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The only other guy I know who gets as excited as I do (within our group) going to the annual RWB Party…

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RWB Rotana in matte purple, piloted by Nakai himself…

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The one RWB Porsche that probably caught the eye of EVERYONE in Roppongi was this wild RWB 930 better known as “Natty Dread Jr” with its extended rear wing and plethora of various brands and logos all over…

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Natty Dread Jr was driven by someone else that evening, but is actually Nakai’s personal race car that he’s driven many times at the Idlers 12-Hour Races…

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This is “Jr” because it is the second Porsche by this namesake as the original Natty Dread was a 993 painted flat black and closely resembled the original RWB “Stella Artois”…

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Just seeing this thing stopped at the intersection was a sight to behold, especially with the woman who was driving it revving the car up while she waited at the light…

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As you can see in this shot, Natty Dread Jr was wearing a temporary license plate with the red slash through it because this is usually a dedicated race car that isn’t driven on the street…

After the RWB Party, we headed back to check-in to our AirBnb house about 15 minutes away and got some rest. The next day, we were up again bright and early to catch the Tokyo Auto Salon event’s early hours of that Friday, which is considered a “Media Day” dedicated only to photographers and media representatives…

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In the Yokohama Advan display, which never changes, other than the wheels and display builds themselves, was this R35 GTR sitting on the brand new Advan Racing R6 wheel, which is the latest in the popular Advan RG family lineage…

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Another debuting build that appeared center stage was the Pandem widebody Mercedes W201, presented simply in silver without center caps and a pair of Pandem seats sitting inside…

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I had been watching the Racing Padock Miyoshi social accounts recently following the lead-up to the debut of their new Pandem FC build and just a few steps away from the W201 was the RX-7 drapped in a bright neon yellow/green complete with TRA Kyoto wheels. I love this kit and was waiting to see how a shop would utilize it in Japan after seeing the GReddy-built version in the U.S….

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Not branded as a Pandem kit, but definitely designed by Kei Miura, was this “Coutner” BMW E24 BMW 6-Series coupe displayed at KW Suspension’s booth…

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Voomeran, a popular Euro/VAG tuning shop in Japan, presented the Frontline Wheels booth and the TAS crowd with their new MK2 GTI build wearing a 80’s-style Apple Computers livery…

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HPI Hakosuka Skyline running a stroked 3.1-liter L-series engine with carbon fender flares, and a Mandy front lip and rear…

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I was surprised to see an Evolution on display for C-West in 2019, being that the aero itself has not changed much over the years, but they did debut a new swan-neck rear wing, which of course, I forgot to get a photo of, rendering this caption completely useless and almost unbelievable…

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G-Corporation Nissan S15 Silvia wearing their aero kit and new Work Emotion T5R 2P wheels…

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Inside the cut-out and cleaned-up engine bay of the G-Corporation Silvia is a Toyota 2JZ-GTE powerplant equipped with a V-mounted intercooler and radiator set-up…

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ST-Garage hosted their Toyota JZX100 Chaser demo car riding nice and low on WEDS TC105 wheels wearing their “Axcent” aero kit…

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Der paying homage to a JDM Wong photo I shot a few years ago photobombing some INGS+1 models…

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The Mugen RC20GT concept car was…well…very interesting with its dry carbon aero bits, and jizzy monster side stripe…

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This Manga-inspired robo-suit built with a mix of race car and motorcycle bits was pretty fantastic. Fit the theme of their entire display just perfectly and brought plenty of eyes to the Mugen booth…

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Mugen Motul #16 NSX-GT race car prominently on display at the massive Mugen section of the TAS event, adorned in the classic colorway for Mugen but with a modern twist…

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Over at the Aimgain booth was the brand new Aimgain EXE Lexus LS500 F Sport complete with their big brake kit, wheels, and Bold World air suspension system…

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Aimgain VIP GT Lexus GS democar on their Aimgain GTM wheels also fitted with their BBK…

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The Aimgain GT NSX has evolved quite a bit since its debut in 2018. For this year’s iteration, the NSX sees more of the Aimgain aero package developed in carbon fiber, including the rear bumper, rear over fenders, rear trunk wing, front bumper, front fenders, hood, and the addition of a Voltex rear wing…

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I also liked how they added some red details to the black and carbon body to give it more contrast throughout, particularly with the wing end plates. The car just has so much more presence than last year…

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The headlining car on display at Aimgain was the new Aimgain Sport Ferrari 488 GTB on Vossen wheels and air suspension…

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Speed Forme, an aero parts company based in Osaka that we were introduced to last year, brought out a Kenmeri Skyline wearing their over fenders and rear wing, as well as bronze Volk Racing TE37V wheels…

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The Speed Forme S30Z featuring their front under spoiler, front lip, sideskirts, rear valance, wing, and over fenders…

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Star Road kills it every year with their neoclassic Japanese builds and this year was no different, presenting the TAS crowd with this Hakosuka Skyline coupe running wide over-fenders, carbon side mirrors, headlight covers, external front-mounted oil cooler, and Glow Star wheels…

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The Old&New display was kept very minimal with just their slant-nose 996 build in Miami Blue and Rotiform wheels parked front and center…

After a few hours at the show, we decided to go grab some lunch across the street at the mall and then stopped by the parking lot on the way back to the show to see if we could find any cool builds there…

This year, it seemed few and far between, but we did managed to see some cool stuff…

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The ‘gem’ I guess of the entire lot was this Nissan Stagea 260RS Autech version, complete with an R34 Skyline front face conversion…

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The 260RS featured a RB26DETT engine from the factory and the same drivetrain as a Skyline GTR. Essentially what you were looking at is a Skyline GTR in wagon-form. Adding 10,000 cool points was the fact that this Stagea has Ganador mirrors, aka the mirror of the gods….

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Such a cool look with the R34 front and V-Spec II NUR front bumper…

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Classic RE Amemiya-look FD3S RX-7, period-correct looking like it came straight from a Wangan run in an Option DVD…

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And of course, you can never go wrong with a clean S15 Silvia, rocking what looks to be Vertex Ridge aero and Advan Racing wheels…

As you’ve seen in the videos, we covered quite a bit while we were in Japan, as you may have seen in the Vlogs. There are still a SHIT TON of photos coming so I hope you enjoy the format this time around. Stick around and come back for more. I have some traveling to do very soon but I’ll still be updating the site and the Vlog series so stay tuned!!!…

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