So the time has come for out last real day in the glorious country of Japan. It was truly an honor to meet all of the people we did, not only as an enthusiast but because it has created new friendships. I hope that I will get the chance to fly back to Japan in 2014 to see all of my friends as well as meet many new ones.
We start our day in the mountains of Nikko which is about an hour NW of Motegi.
This was right below my bedroom and like this time, sleeping with the windows open wasn’t bad. Not only was it cold outside, but the noise from the water rushing in the creek was soothing.
We packed up and headed down for breakfast. Like the previous night, the food at this place was amazing. I don’t really know what most of this stuff is but it was all fantastic.
We also had fresh rolls and a few different types of jams. This type of bread might not look like anything special, but it’s not really easy to find in Japan.
American problems right here. I wear a size 13 shoe so needless to say, JDM slippers don’t really fit.
You can get a feel for the type of bed and breakfast that we stayed in. It looked to be in a pretty normal looking suburban neighborhood, albeit in the country.
We loaded up the DC5 again and headed down into town. We stopped to fill up before getting on the road back to Tokyo and the mountain view in this particular morning was really cool.
As the fog rolled in, we rolled out on our way back to the big city.
Japanglish is always around, you just have to look closely some times to find it.
New drive badge and a smiley face over the plate cap. haha
JDM emergency telephone sign, complete with a running man.
Subaru Exiga that is proudly displaying the emissions and efficiency stickers on the back glass. These stickers aren’t state required so the owner has put them on to show how efficient their car is. Maybe this is the JDM version of the people that feel it’s necessary to display the diameter of their wheels on the exterior of their rides. Gotta love Japan.
This is a pretty interesting picture. First you have the funeral and flower truck barreling down the highway, which I find weird because you rarely see ANY sort of car or truck on the road in America with the word “funeral” on it. Other than a Hurst that belongs to a funeral home of course… but I’ve never seen like a casket company driving around. Anyway, the second thing might require you to click on the picture and check out the other truck. Not only does it look like there is a skeleton next to the drivers face, it also looks like he is screaming. I don’t know what that’s about… haha
On our way back to Tim’s place in Chiba, I spotted this crazy looking Kei car. The back of it says “High Way Killer.” I’m not sure what that means but it was certainly ugly.
It did have some gnarly looking window visors… although it seems to limit the use of the window a bit.
Another R34 Skyline sedan in traffic. I think this was number 4-5 for the trip.
We stopped by Super VivaHome to get some misc stuff as we would be working on Tim’s DC5.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Subarus even though this one appeared to be stock.
After we left VivaHome Tim took us to this crazy store that sold all kinds of stuff. They had thousands of movies, comics, clothes, jewelry, shoes, hats… models, toys.. anything and everything. The model selection of this place was massive and I gathered some of my favorites. I tried to get a few but sadly I just didn’t have the room in my suitcase. This place also buys stuff so to all of you Americans reading this, bring you USDM stuff to Japan and they will buy it! haha
Once we got back to Tim’s place we did a little bit of driveway wrenching. Tim wanted more HR goodies for his DC5 so we brought over a bore matched RBC intake manifold, fuel rail, fuel pressure gauge and one of our 70mm throttle bodies for him. We left last day of our trip open so we could install these parts for him and as soon as we got back to Chiba, we did.
About 45 or so minutes later the stock PRB intake manifold was ready to come off.
In true garage work fashion, we took a break after pulling the manifold off to grab some food. Since Tim’s wife took the Odyssey we walked down the street to a legit Japanese Chinese food restaurant. Tim warned us it wasn’t the best food ever but it was our best option. I ate spicy tofo for the first time and I can confirm that it looks just about as good as it tastes. It wasn’t for me.
After eating, drinking, resting and talking we decided to get back to work as the sun was going down and we had dinner scheduled for later that evening.
Once the manifold was on it was time to button up everything else. The biggest challenge was getting the factory elbow over our giant throttle body… Tim uses a Mugen air box and finding a larger elbow in Japan turned out to be much more difficult than we thought.
The sun set on our last evening in Japan and Tim and his family took Will and I to this really cool restaurant with fish under the floor. We were to cool all of our meats and vegetables boiling broth… probably one of the best meals of the trip. It was great!
After dinner Tim and I did a little street tuning in his DC5 and this was the shot I took with my phone before I walked into the hotel. The vacuum hose on the intake manifold didn’t reach and the blue tubing was all we had to work with at the time. It was replaced with a rubber one when the stores opened back up.
The next morning Will and I packed our stuff up and took the elevator up to he top floor of our hotel to check out the view. It would be the last day that we spend in this wonderful nation which was somewhat saddening. We checked out of our hotel and bought two tickets to take the bus to Narita which is where our plane would depart from. The ride wasn’t long… maybe 40 or so minutes. Once we arrived to the airport, we checked our bags and chilled out at our terminal.
This was the last picture I took, sitting near our terminal… waiting for the plane that would take us back to California.
When I woke up that morning, I started the timer on my phone… I would turn it off once I got home. After everything, the 3 planes, traveling 8000 or so miles, 24 hours later we arrived back in Louisiana. It was surreal and I had an urge to go back immediately. My overall experience was amazing and I can’t thank the people we met enough for their hospitality and friendliness. Being the first time I have ever traveled outside of the United States, it was great to see how people live and how we are all similar and different.
As it turns out, (speaking for myself) we are pretty similar. Maybe not in how accomplish things but where our passion is. From K-Tech to Seeker and BYS, we are all brought together as not only manufactures but as enthusiasts. Even one of the most challenging language barriers couldn’t stop us from talking about how much we love and enjoy tuning our Honda cars. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about… the love. I know right now Honda has been getting a bad wrap for their lifeless and stingy Civic Si and the lack of anything legitimately sporty in their lineup, but we aren’t the only ones that feel like this. Suzuki San from Back Yard Special said it best when we asked him what he thought about the direction of Honda, his response was “you have to have faith.” Words spoken by a true legend and someone that has seen more of the comapny than most of us ever will. He has been around through it all and will continue to carry on through the good times and the bad.
I’m trying to not write a book as I know people tend to lose interest but I must send a special thanks to my good friend Tim Denley for accompanying us on this journey. Without him it wouldn’t have been possible and it means a lot to us that he was able to come along. Thank you to Hikari, Tim’s wife, for allowing him to come with us and be away from his family for most of the trip. I know that is a huge deal and I’m glad that we also got to spend some time with them and their wonderful children. I hope that one day they venture to our city so I can return the favor.
This won’t be the last post from Japan, but it will conclude the series of articles about our trip. I may have to dig through my coverage to see if there are more random pictures that I can post up, and I probably will.
In any case, if anyone reading has the chance to visit Japan, I encourage you to. But don’t just go to Tokyo or the big cities… take a trip outside and into the mountains and countryside. It’s an entirely different world and you might find it better than the hustle and bustle of the city. Book a night in a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast… take a bath outdoors on the side of a mountain. Hybrid Racing will be back in Japan in the coming years, and I’m sure I’ll have my camera ready to capture that adventure too. To everyone that actually reads this blog, thank you… I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have writing them.
Thanks again for reading.