Heading to Tokyo Spontaneously
As some of you know from following my IG stories, earlier this week I hopped on a plane to Tokyo spontaneously after hanging out with my big bro Sean Lee at WRTecknica's 1 year anniversary. We were literally sitting on the curb as I talking about how sweet it was that everyone was heading to Japan and how FOMO was kicking in for me. Sean then started to push me to go and although I had some resistance at first (because I felt guilty not being able to take my wife and son with me), I ended up somehow booking a flight the next morning.
A full blown trip to Japan with no advanced prepping was a bit stressful because I was told by friend's that I needed a PCR test 72 hours before flying. Most PCR tests take 24 hours and I was 16 hours out... but somehow I managed to find a spot that would have results for me within 12 hours. Things were lining up to be in my favor all the while being on the verge of it all going downhill.
My flight was on Tuesday at 10:30am and I ended up arriving in Narita at 3:15pm the following day. By the time I got on the Narita Express, it was already evening and I walked right into rush hour in the subway. Walking out of the Shibuya subway station was chaos but felt amazing to be back in Japan after 7 years.
Rest of the night, I caught up with Ravi from CSF Cooling and Ryan RyWire where the boys helped me get settled in my Airbnb tiny room and then off to grab a small bite to eat and hanging out a bar for the rest of the night. When they took off around 1am, I ended up lounging around Ebisu looking for a place to eat. I looked like a sus dude hanging out on the corner playing PokemonGo in the freezing cold.
On day 1 of the trip, met up with Ryan at a Honda Cafe where there was suppose to have been a Honda F1 racecar but when we got there, there were mostly passenger cars and a FL5 Type R out front. Bought some souvenirs and then we headed off to Roppongi to grab lunch and kill some time before heading out to the first gathering of the trip in Chiba for the RWB Shrine meet.
People who know me, know that I really don't enjoy seeing cars at shows and meets because it is a bit contrived and not as exciting as seeing it in the wild. I always use the analogy that seeing a bear in the mountains is so much more exhilarating than seeing it at the zoo. So when Ryan and I were strolling around town, can you imagine how pumped I was when a wild 964 (what appeared to be a modified turbo) can driving past us. Seeing 964s in the wild even in the USA is tough but to see it in Japan was absolutely the best.
RWB Meet at Kashiwa Shrine
Now if you have never been to Japan, know that a majority of the population gets around by train/subway and sometimes it can take a minute to get somewhere. Starting off in Shibuya and heading to Kashiwa Shrine takes roughly 75 mins by train and even longer by car (~90 mins) so getting to the RWB gathering took some planning.
Luckily for me, Mark Arcenal came through with an invite with his vanpool to Kashiwa Shrine. Mark had a van full of his friends where he had them shuttled around so it was very low stress and everyone could hang out together. It was a blast getting to know everyone in the van and checking out parts beyond just the city. Good conversations and super deep conversations help the 90 min drive pass by much faster.
In one of the deeper conversations, I found out 4 of the guys close loved ones battled cancer and beat it, some even having stage 4 cancer. It was an eye opening conversation but also super endearing to hear how they fought and won. Life is short folks, need to live our best lives. Good conversations are one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world.
We pulled up to the shrine when it was already dark and a majority of the RWBs were already parked. A good sized crowd gathered and only continued to grow throughout the night. The location, although small was a perfect venue as it hosted the size of the crowd and kept things compact. Plenty of lighting to make it interesting. If you take a closer look throughout the crowd, you can see all sorts of high level social media and automotive cultural icons.
Not too long after we arrived, Nakai-san pulls up passenger in a 997 RWB driven by Cody Walker. Nakai-san came out of the 997 and quickly tried to help out with the parking the cars and greeting people who stood near by. As you can imagine, the crowd was heavily drawn to the Legend as he got ready to thank everyone for coming out. Nakai-san stood at the top of the staircase leading into the main Shrine but I did not get any photos of that as I got caught up in the crowd for the group photos but you can see more of that in the vlog I will have coming out.
The rest of the evening I spent meeting new car fanatics and catching up with other car buddies and just being in the moment. I tried not to work too much because I know that I was in a special time and place and I didn't want it to escape me too fast. It was a trip talking to friends from all over the world and even ones that lived there in Japan. Sometimes it is hard to put all of it in perspective so that is why I try to narrate things as if I was there again to keep you in the loop of things.
Before the event was fully over, I ran to dinner with Hansel from Leen Customs to grub on some A5 and sorry I didn't grab any photos to get your mouth watering but it will be on the vlog! I did have to split in the middle of the dinner to get back with Mark and the crew for the vanpool but before we called it a night, we headed to the famous Daikoku PA by Yokohama port to check out the 24 hour car gathering you have seen all over your IG feed.
A quick visit to Daikoku PA (Parking Area)
On our drive back to the city, I think the jet lag was catching up with everyone and the entire van minus the driver was knocked out. When I woke up, we were at the famous Daikoku PA which I have seen so many times 0n my feed but really never knew much about it. I was a bit groggy from the nap and it also happened to be freezing (about high 30s) and no matter how bundled I tried to get, the cold eventually beat me over as couldn't feel by limbs after 45 mins. Anyways back to the story...
What makes Daikoku so special is that it is a place where car enthusiasts gather 24 hours a day and when you come into the space like I did, then you'd think you'd died and came to car heaven. The space is surrounded by 360 degrees of high rise freeway over passes and it doesn't seem like there is even an entry and exit. Just stuck in a place where badass cars just come and go.
Functionally D.PA is where truckers stop as it is right next to Yokohama Port where cars and other goods get exported out of Japan. Hence the hours and location of it all. I guess at some point, someone thought it would just be a cool spot to hang and they weren't wrong at all.
The time we were there, it was a much smaller gathering I am assuming as it was Thurs night close to midnight so the diversity at this time wasn't as crazy as it was a few nights after.
As I close out the first blog post, I just can't began to think how things would get much better in Japan but oh they do. This trip was nothing short of epic so bare with me as I try to put all of it into words.
Big shoutout to Mark Arcenal for always being the icon you are but also being a great friend and showing me around on this night.
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Stay tuned as there is so much more to come.