Only in my dreams did I ever think I would have the opportunity to travel across Japan in search of Honda enthusiasts like myself. The “JDM” thing has been around for a long time now, but what was “JDM” really like? “What would it be like to drive on the other side of the road?”, “How is the sushi going to taste?”, “Where do I go to get EG Civic parts?” These were all questions that I asked myself when we had planned the trip, boy was I in for a surprise. This was my very first experience outside of the USA, and as far back as I could remember, no destination in the world made me as excited as going to Japan.
A few months before we left, I tried my hand in learning the basics of the Japanese language, it didn’t go so well. A few chapters and a couple audiobooks later I was convinced the only way I was going to communicate was with the help of a translator, or if someone happened to speak English. I forced myself into memorizing a few short responses that would turn out to be extremely helpful. The time to depart had come.
Waking up a 3am to catch a flight wasn’t a big deal; I was so excited it’s hard to believe that I was even able to sleep. I was so excited in fact that I had packed my bags 3 days before our flight was scheduled to leave. We arrived at the airport, toting our bags filled with a week’s worth of clothes, battery packs, cameras, camera cards and our special product fliers specific for the Japanese market. We had four connecting flights and hours before we would touch down in Narita, I hoped my adrenalin would keep me up and going.
Day one was really day two because of the 14 hour time difference and the 24 hours it took us to get from Baton Rouge, LA to Osaka, Japan. We departed September 20th at 6:15am and arrived into Osaka, Japan around 9:30pm the 21st. It was a gnarly plane ride and I honestly don’t remember much of the first night. I did manage to snap a few pictures with my phone, sorry for the poor quality.
We met up with our man on the ground Tim Denley, whom had been living in Japan for the last 12 years. He was the third member of the HR team in Japan as well as the man behind the scenes in these traveling plans. Being the only one that can actually speak and read the Japanese language, he was our tour guide, translator and driver. Bless that man.
After getting our bags from the Itami Airport claim, we walked outside to see Tim parked in his beautiful DC5 Type R. After a bit of Tetris-like organizing, we shoved all of our bags into the back of his car and headed to our hotel for the night.
We arrived at our hotel shortly after and pulled into the parking area. This was my first experience with parking garages and the automated valet thing… needless to say I was intrigue but also terrified about Tim driving his Integra Type R into this odd automated garage. The padded walls and diamond plated doors didn’t make things any easier to stomach.
With the DC5 seemingly safe somewhere inside of the building, we checked in and made it to our rooms.
One of the first things that I noticed, was how different the bathroom was. Small isn’t the word to describe, I’ve been in RV’s that have larger facilities than this. Combine that with the 6″ inch toilet that had more than one button and it was certainly a cramped and confusion space.
Next was our room. Two small beds a few inches off the floor… I figured this was just the hotel’s style. Nope. All of the places we would stay would end up looking similar to this. Not very American.
After leaving all of our stuff in the room, we met Tim down in the lobby so we could get our first experience with Japanese cuisine. I love Asian food so noodles and sushi aren’t unfamiliar territory for me. Tim suggested we try a JDM bowl of ramen. We agreed and followed him into the back of a train station not far from out hotel.
We ended up stopping in this little shop to get a hot bowl of noodles. Again, little isn’t the best word to describe how small and tight this place was. It was as if someone rented out a storage closet and decided to serve food out of it.
The menu had various types of soups, I opted to have whatever Tim ordered.
I was pleasantly surprised at the result and have to say that it was a pretty good bowl of ramen. So far, Japanese cuisine was faring well with us.
After dinner we stopped at a convenience store to grab a drink and again, new and different experiences were in store.
Sports drinks and energy gel-like stuff.
Ahh…. the sketchy magazine. In Japan, everyone reads comics… everyone. They also take comics and stick them inside of what appeared to be dirty magazine covers. Don’t ask me how I know. The real sketchy magazines are taped together, again, don’t ask me how I know.
Various candies and gummies. Some of it was really good.
Japanese yogurt stacked up in a cool box… good stuff.
Something you normally wouldn’t do in America, eat fried food from the convenience store hot box. That is of course, if you are completely sober… which we were. Will decided to eat a corn dog, but apparently that isn’t the universal name for it.
In Japan, they call it the “American Dog” and not surprisingly, it was quite tasty even though it came wrapped in paper with a dancing lion/chicken nugget printed on it. The bite I had of Will’s American dog reminded me of a funnel cake you’d get at a hometown fair mixed with a traditional hot dog.
After our encounter with the American Dog and our bellies full of ramen, we decided to head back to the hotel to get some much needed rest.
Check out Japan Day Two for Super Autobacs coverage with a J’s Racing demo car!