In the 90’s and 00’s car tuning and car collecting hit its peak. The Japanese way of car tuning and customization became a worldwide phenomenon. Most people might remember the movie Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift from 2006, which was made upon the hype. The ones, who remember this movie, can recall how the tuning scene looks like and how the underground environment played out. The history With world-famous brands such as Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, Lexus, Mazda and Daihatsu, Japan is a car manufacture country. Some of the country’s economy is built up around cars, which have had a huge impact to people of Japan. After the war Japanese men started to tune their cars, which escalated to the huge trend and obsession, that it became. In the late 80’s the trend was about to enter its prime. In 1989 the /Midnight club /was established, which was a very exclusive car club for enthusiasts of car tuning. The club arranges meetups and races, which was the main purpose of car tuning The obsession Japan has a word called otaku, which translates to nerd, geek and enthusiast. Otaku is more of a culture than a word, which applies to these car enthusiasts. The Japanese culture is very much competitive, and kids are taught from a young age about being the best and winning. This cultural dimension also applies to the car environment, where everyone involved want to have the fastest, coolest and most admirable car. There are different aspects of tuning and customization. Some like to buy vintage cars and rebuild them after their taste, while others have the latest Porsche or Lamborghini. Japanese car manufactures have through time created some iconic cars within this environment. If I mention cars like Skyline, Supra and RX-7, you can properly recall, who the manufacture is, and what it looks like. At the same time some Japanese people are not tuning and customizing to show off, but simple for their own amusement. They often collect antique cars, bring them to their garage and just simply make them look nice. Maybe if the cars are beyond nice, they bring it to one of the very popular car exhibits. The supercar-era Street racing and tuning peaking in the 00’s and kind of died out in the start of the 10’s due to improvement of police effort. The police brought more attention to the issue of street racing by bringing more officers on the street and step up their own car collection. For instance, they started using Nissan GTRs as police cars. In that way they could keep up with the racers. For some years there was an empty unfilled space in the car community. At the same time the racers from the 90’s and 00’s had become older and lost their interest in dangerous street racing. Therefore, a natural change happened, where the streets took quiet and the racers as well. As far as I am concerned the streets are still quiet, but the obsession with cars are not. The culture has just changed to a more radical self. With that being said some of the streets of Tokyo are still buzzing with noise from supercars. Rich people are still showing of their million-dollar cars. Take a walk in the wealthier area of Tokyo and the supercars will be driving by you constantly. Especially the areas Roppongi, Omotosando and Daikanyama are filled up due to the residencies of wealthy people. Don’t be surprised if the next three cars passing by you is a Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini. Showing off Showing off properly is a bold way to put it, but Japan have numerous car exhibitions every year. The biggest one is called /Tokyo Motor Show /and is held on Odaiba in Tokyo. Here is a list of exhibitions and locations: Tokyo: * Tokyo Auto Salon, Makuhari Messe, January * Automotive World, Tokyo Big Sight, January * Tokyo Motor Show, Tokyo Big Sight, October * Toyota City Showcase, Mega Web Odaiba, All year Nagoya: * Automotive World, Port Messe Nagoya, September * Nagoya Auto Trend, Port Messe Nagoya, February Osaka: * Osaka Automesse, Intex Osaka, February * Osaka Motor Show, Intex Osaka, December
Most people who come to Tokyo know of the Skytree, the Tokyo Tower and the Shibuya Crossing with loyal Hachiko statue. Those are of course awesome places to visit when you are here, but how about some lesser-known but amazingly Japanese sights in the concrete jungle? Let me introduce to you these 5 quintessential Japanese scenes in the middle of Tokyo! 1. Bonsai Trees in Happo En This is one of the best places to see bonsai trees, as some of the trees that are on display here are already 500 years old! Pruned to perfection using traditional gardening techniques, these trees are more like masterpieces of art than anything else. Imagine all the work that went into a tiny tree that's hundreds of years old and grows exactly the way the bonsai expert wants it to grow. It is not a coincidence that an art that refined originated in partly Buddhist Japan. Besides the bonsai trees, the rest of the garden is also perfectly landscaped. It is no wonder that this is also a very popular place for young couples who can afford it to get married here and have their pictures taken in the garden. If you are lucky you might catch a few weddings and see what a bride and groom look like in their Shinto wedding dresses. They often pose near the pond full of happy and healthy koi fish. While you are there you should also not forget to stop by the tea house in the back of the garden and have a cup of matcha tea with some of the best Japanese sweets available in the city. The lady will serve you using Japanese-style small movements, where not one movement is unnecessary. Add to this the view, and you're all set for a perfect afternoon tea! 2. Godzilla in Shinjuku Ever since Hollywood did a remake of classic Japanese movie 'Godzilla' this legendary beast has been gaining popularity again. This dragon, who is actually a metaphor for nuclear weapons, even has a life-size replica of itself in the middle of entertainment-district Shinjuku in Tokyo. The best part is that it is not just a statue, at set times every day this monstrous movie villain even starts to roar and breathe steam starting at noon, and you shouldn't miss this! Especially at night, it is quite an impressive free show for everyone to see. Go with your fellow Working Holidayers to Shinjuku to watch the spectacle and after that have a yakitori meal in the alleyways of Omoide Yokocho. If you stay in the World Unite! sharehouse you will always be able to find someone who wants to go with you and explore the city. 3. Mario and Luigi in the Streets of Tokyo Even if you have always seen Tokyo as a city that is often featured in video games, you might still be surprised to hear that the streets of Tokyo do actually look like a real-life video game at times! It's only been a few years since the first Mario carters were spotted, and nowadays they became a part of daily Tokyo traffic. If you bring an international driving license to Japan, you will be able to dress up like your favorite Mario Cart character and drive the streets of Tokyo with an actual go-kart. So when you have a driving license and come to Tokyo, make sure to bring your international license and be part of the real-life Mario cart craze! 4. Japanese Idols in Akihabara For those who are not in the know, Japanese idol bands are (usually) large groups of high-school aged girls who mainly appeal to middle-aged men who are looking to relive their good old young days. The music they produce is maybe not the best, but the cuteness of the girls is enough to draw large crowds to their concerts. Akihabara is the birthplace of one of the most iconic Japanese idol bands: AKB48. The group's name stands for Akihabara (AKB) and the number of members (48). The girls are continually replaced as they become too old around age 24. Those who retired or didn't quite make the cut sometimes become waitresses at the AKB48 cafe where above picture was taken. This cafe doesn't only serve cute dishes that are said to be band members' favorites, but they also organize quizzes about the band and small performances on their in-cafe stage. 5. Votive Tablets Adorned with Anime in Kanda Every shrine (Shinto) and every temple (Buddhist) has their own image on the ema (votive tablets) that people use to write their wishes on. Usually this image has a relationship with either the temple or shrine itself or the neighborhood the temple or shrine is located. As the Kanda shrine is located near anime fan paradise Akihabara, the ema here are decorated with anime pictures. Some of them have been drawn by the fans themselves and are quite impressive. It is an interesting combination to see, a traditional solemn shrine coupled with these colorful, modern pictures! About the author Stefanie has lived in Japan since February 2013, and after starting the Japanese adventure in Nagoya she happily settled in Tokyo in 2014. She loves exploring the city, and besides her work as a coordinator for World Unite! she also works as a tour guide in Tokyo. If participants of the World Unite! program in Japan have questions about exploring Tokyo, they can always ask Stefanie which places can't be missed. She also believes that the best Working Holiday experience includes not only work to boost your skills and resume, but also plenty of exploration of Tokyo as well as the rest of Japan.