The Morning After

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After quite the wild night of partying on the streets of Tokyo and at WOMB for their Halloween bash, I woke up to a rather quiet (and almost unrecognizable) Shibuya. And by “quiet” I mean there was still a million people everywhere except just getting along with their daily lives instead of dancing in the middle of the road. Time for day two in Japan.

The schedule for the day was simple: all I had to do was go back to Haneda Airport, pick up my rental car, and slowly make my way to Tochigi where I would be staying for Super GT for a couple days. A couple posts ago I mentioned that if you’re going to be using the GPS in a car in Japan to search by the phone number of where you want to go. DO NOT try searching by name, address, or map code, as for some reason it will almost never find the correct place. This is something that I would later find out from both my friends as well as some of the locals, but in the meantime I had to learn the hard way (incoming funny story of my life).

Because I had all day to get to Tochigi (which is about a two and a half hour drive from Tokyo), I figured I’d make a couple stops along the way and just take my time in general. A quick glance on Google Maps showed that Daikoku PA was actually pretty close to where I picked up my rental, and even though it was early in the day with no car meets going on there, I figured I’d drop by to at least take a look. NOPE. That didn’t happen. Instead my GPS led me right outside of Daikoku and then I somehow ended up on the C1 instead (yes that C1).

What is the C1 you ask? It is a stretch of highway that is part of the Shuto Expressway which is a network of toll expressways in the Greater Tokyo Area. It is also one of the many sections of highway that were once used by certain infamous street racing teams back in the day and connects to other famous highways such as the Wangan, Rainbow Bridge, Bay Bridge, and Shin-Yamashita expressways just to name a few, all of which I drove on because MY GPS TOOK ME IN THE WRONG BLOODY DIRECTION FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. I literally drove in the complete opposite direction of where I was supposed to go for an hour and a half, all thanks to my lovely in-car navigation. After missing Daikoku PA I figured whatever, I’ll just make my way to Tochigi and make some other stops along the way instead. Like I said earlier this is (or rather was) a two and a half hour drive, so I didn’t think much of just driving along and just taking in the sights around me; it was only after an hour and a half of driving that I decided to check where I actually was and proceeded to curse at my car for giving me this free tour of Yokohama Bay. Lovely.

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Long story short (and after using my phones GPS instead of my cars), I ended up at Izanami Wheel located in Chiba Prefecture. I was actually planning on messaging them ahead of time to make sure that it was okay to drop by the shop, but thanks to my unplanned Yokohama Bay tour I completely forgot to. Thankfully both Park and Kenji were super friendly and more than willing to show me around their shop.

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There’s a full in-depth feature about Izanami Wheel and their work on Speedhunters so I won’t be going into detail about that here. I do however highly recommend giving it a read as there is so much more to what they do than what’s on the surface.

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Park was kind enough to pull out his X60 Mark II so that I could get some better photos of it. This car rides static on those amazing looking Work Equip Silhouette’s (the one Longchamp on the rear is temporary while one of the Work’s gets some work done do it, no pun intended).

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Parked out front was a customer’s super cool looking Mark II awaiting some attention.

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Kenji’s Mark II GSL rides on Bell Racing BRS108’s and also sports an NA 1JZ with ITB’s under the hood.

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Of course I couldn’t forget about their famous wheel wall!

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This is literally a Kyusha lovers dream and even I was in a little disbelief when walking up to it. The wheels shown here are part of Izanami’s stock and can be selected for their full Wide Custom treatment as well.

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One more shot as I couldn’t resist.

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The shop itself has that unmistakable old school vibe to it, but despite that they actually do all of their work in-house!

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Kenji’s freshly imported Suzuki GT550.

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After chatting for a little bit and telling them about my Japan trip, it was time for me to head off into the night and continue on to Tochigi. Besides trying McDonalds in Japan for the first time (which was great and had 10/10 customer service by the way), that pretty much sums up my second day.

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Days two and three were spent at Twin Ring Motegi for Super GT and the Honda Collection Hall which I’ve already made separate posts about, so we’ll jump straight into day four of my adventure. The plan this day was to go from Tochigi all the way to Osaka, but first I had to drive back to Tokyo to return my rental car.

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And here it is in all its misguided GPS glory. The car that I had been driving for a few days (and also acted as my tour guide of Yokohama Bay) was this Nissan DAYZ ROOX Highway Star. This is a neat little (but incredibly tall) Kei car powered by a 659cc, three cylinder, OHC engine producing a whopping 52PS and 42lbft.

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I specifically wanted something that we don’t have here in Canada and the DAYZ was exactly that. I know 52PS doesn’t sound very exciting (and it really isn’t) but most of the speed limits in Japan are anywhere between 30-50KPH in the city, and only up to 80KPH on the highway, so unless you’re trying to chase down R34 GT-R’s (which I tried to but that is a story for another time), then the tiny tall car was perfect for my use!

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There is a particular racetrack that was on the way back to Tokyo that I just had to visit, but first I stumbled upon…well to be honest, I’m not 100% sure what exactly.

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Right across the street from said racetrack was a rather large collection what appeared to be old race/track cars of sorts.

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From what I could tell, it looked like these were the remnants of an old tuning shop called D’s Tsukuba, but honestly I couldn’t really find a whole lot of info. There was still a ton of cars and parts lying around, some of them just sitting unlocked with the keys in them too…

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Some of the cars there seemed to have been ex-Micra Cup cars, some looking like they’ve seen better days than others.

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Very randomly as well, I happen to come across the old Blend A4 sitting in this lot too.

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Despite some aero additions, looks like the car hasn’t changed a whole lot and even appears to be sitting on the same Volk Racing TE37/G2 combo as it did years ago.

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There were multiple shop bays here as well which you can see in the background. Some were still in use too as a couple guys were working on a Miata in one of them, but otherwise everything else seemed pretty much abandoned.

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Another very random thing that also happened here was that Toshio Kumakura (president of Techno Pro Spirits) walked right by me while I was poking my head around the lot.

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No idea what this was or what it even used to be…

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This CR-X looked to still be all together but the interior was filled with all sorts of spare parts.

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Another mostly complete looking CR-X on Mugen MR-5’s.

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After poking around for a bit it was time for me to cross the street…

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…and go straight into a motorcycle track day that was going on!

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If you can’t tell from the barriers in this photo already…

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…I was at the home of time attack itself, Tsukuba Circuit!

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I had no idea if anything was even going on that day so I was quite lucky to stumble into this track day.

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I should also mention that I have absolutely no idea if I was even supposed to be there or not, but no one seemed to mind me walking around and taking pictures…

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It’s also been years since I’ve been to my last motorcycle track day so this was pretty exciting for me!

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They were running multiple run groups so there was always something going on around the circuit.

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View from atop the pit garages.

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Like any other track day, it would appear that they had all kinds of different participants of varying experience, from novices to advanced level riders as well as even instructors.

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Dunlop corner looking a little faded.

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Random 911 driving through the paddock.

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Screaming down the front straight!

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As you can see here, the paddock was pretty full and there were bikes lined up from the entrance all the way to the back by the final turn.

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Tsukuba Circuit also has a very tiny gift shop run by a nice old lady who also runs the Shell gas station there, so be sure to grab some souvenirs before you leave!

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After watching the bikes for a bit longer…

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…I eventually had to make my leave as I had a deadline for returning my rental back in Tokyo.

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I also promise you guys that I didn’t just come to Japan for motorsports; there are other things coming! Next stop, Osaka!

-brandon.

Click here to view the full photo set on Flickr.

See more from my Japan trip here !

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