ズミー♪走 [Zummy Run] 2020 @ Tsukuba Circuit

Entering this year with no day job, after taking the voluntary redundancy option offered by my company, its safe to say I have plenty of free time. I feel like I may aswell share this bit of information with you, even though my unemployed status shouldn’t really make any difference to you. But I bet it has now spurred me on to take any opportunity I can to do what I truly value as worthwhile.

Originally I planned only on returning back to Japan next month, but since I had nothing better to do, I decided to get flights booked and make it out earlier than I had originally planned. I mean, Osaka Auto Messe was coming up, and its been a side of Japanese car culture I wanted to check out first-hand. This prompted me to get on Skyscanner and start scouring the cheapest dates to fly in and out of Nihon. I peer-pressured Luke into coming along for the journey, as I thought it would be interesting getting his take on the country.

Thankfully, we made it out of Manchester Airport on the 9th of February, as it was a close call with ‘Storm Ciara’ going crazy in the UK disrupting a few flights that day. I think as we boarded the plane, the wind and rainy onslaught calmed down, so our pilot must have just sent that shit and prayed for the best. Above the fog and clouds, it was all good and our 12 hours+ journey officially commenced.

We landed in Narita on the morning of the 10th, giving us a full day to get settled into our Shinjuku accommodation. It was cold. More so than I had expected. I have always travelled to Japan in the summer season so I presumed their winter wouldn’t be as bad as the UK’s. I didn’t have a clue though, winter in Japan gives your body a new type of chill and we were there during the tail-end of it! To top it off, the small apartment we stayed in had no insulation which apparently is commonplace due to the insanely hot summers.

Cold weather rant over. This was no Jet2 holiday to Tenerife. The first thing on the itinerary was completely worth perpetually shivering myself to sleep for. Luckily jetlag didn’t affect me as much as it did Luke, but we were as fresh as daisies on the morning of the 11th, ready to get trackside; TC2000 trackside.

I had contacted Karl (@hashiriyajapan) prior to arriving in Japan, as his continuous stream of images of car culture, in his now home country, caught my eye immediately a while back. Being a fellow Brit, he must have been open to my enthusiastic approach when I contacted him via IG, and being a kind enough bloke, he offered to give me and Luke a lift to the Zummy event at Tsukuba, as it isn’t easily accessible via public transport.

Its a given that Japan never fails to deliver on the automotive front, but Tsukuba on the otherhand – it knows nothing other than to provide us carnuts with a unique experience. Part of it might have to do with the nostalgic element derived from back in the day, playing Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, or watching the Best Motoring series, and discovering this brief – yet technical – racing circuit.

The most popular viewing area that’s pretty much accessible as soon as you enter via the paddock entrance, is above the pits, so we hung out and watched the ‘Premium’ group go out and run the session in the typical Attack format: 3 laps, one warm-up, a hot-lap, and end the run on a cool down. A few cars might have had a couple more, but the majority were using their seat time as a dress rehearsal for the [then] upcoming Attack Tsukuba event.

The vantage point gives you a chance to get some cool top-down angles of the machines in the paddock area. Not one but TWO Innocent Blue Mica FD RX-7s were present, so you know I had a good day. In Japan these Mazdas are quite common, on both the track and street. You can’t blame ’em…

The Toyota Supra hasn’t been synonymous with Time Attack, most likely with its disadvantageous heft rendering it a relatively poor performer in the tight sections, something TC2000 is mostly comprised of. Although, this angelic white A80 present on the day looked at home out on the track. The aero it was equipped with was really gritty and homemade, giving you a sense that it was built to be run hard.

The good looking one out of the Takahashi bros. was out running the course that morning too. I think that’s the driver donning the green Efini branded racesuit. A klassic look effortlessly achieved on a klassic car: RE-Amemiya GT-AD aerokit, sensible wheel fitment, and topped off with Ganador wing mirrors. All tied together by that Competition Yellow paint.

Congrats to the Hokkaido Dream Racing team and their monstrous 700HP+ 13B FD, becoming the fastest 3rd-gen RX-7, lapping TC2000 in 54.666 seconds at the weekend’s Attack round! I am glad I got chance to see this thing haul some real arse around Tsukuba earlier in the month, albeit briefly, but holy shit does it move!

Another contender busting out his own PB was Ryo Kaneko, or as I would like to call him, Mr. Timeless, after reading about him as a person in 80R Vol.2 by Sean Lucas. The subtle but effective addition of the wide rear quarter panel and carbon hatch must have helped him attain the result on his hot lap. This Civic is a real NA powerhouse, as its ‘Frankenstein’ K-series engine churns out over 330bhp!

A familiar sight that morning was Usui-san and his NA Roadster, as its not a car you can simply just gloss over in passing even with its compact dimensions. I visited his shop in Gunma Pref. if you remember last year’s Japan blog post, where I got to meet the man behind such a wonderful machine. Its been dosed with a few changes, mainly consisting of new wheel and tyre setup, along with a livery delete.

The highly-modified Garage Vary widebody remains unchanged as far as I can tell, except for the removal of those roof-mounted vortex generators which I thought looked pretty snazzy. Everything about this attack build is right, with the rear-end being jacked, giving the little Mazda an aesthetic we need to see more of…

An FD I was surprised to not have seen before ever, was Oouchi-san’s white stallion. Many of the RX-7 chassis ran fitted with these ReadyGoNext vented carbon bonnets, which I think is a really good look that’s got to be functional with all of those louvres. I’m liking the vivid blue painted Enkei RS05RR aluminium wheels, the car looked great flying up the main straight!

A lot of this red FD was easy on the eye too. I like how it was kitted with a healthy balance of aggresive aero, but in keeping with the factory bodylines. Maybe that has a lot to do with how the chosen paint colour accentuates every curve. The fact that it retains the twin-turbo configuration is also highly commendable in my opinion.

Wow, clearly Seven’s Day occurs more than once a year in Japan. I’d be the last to complain about the relatively high volume of FDs present that morning. It’s arguably the best FR platform for time attack, and then to couple that fact with the huge aftermarket support available – default option if you ask me. This one wears an RE-Amemiya GT face that blends rearward nicely into a pair of TCP Magic front wings.

Was also cool to see both Okamura-san from Yashio Factory and Youtuber Sammit out at the event, giving the shop S15 a shakedown.

Having a seasoned spectator guide us around was handy, especially when it came to setting up sniper at this in-field spot where I was able to get shots of cars going into turn 3 after the chicane. Shout-out to Karl for the insider’s tour, haha!

This vantage point inboard of Dunlop corner also lent some good angles. Wish I had my wide-angle on me at the time but I made do with what I had. I can remember having my desktop background set to a photo of that KBC CP9A LanEvo you see above, as it wears a distinctive livery design which I think is inspired by a bullet train’s colour scheme if I’m not mistaken. Google ‘E7 series shinkansen’ and you’ll see what I mean.

A bunch of classic Minis were posted up on this overflow paddock area. Can’t remember if they were due to race or just had a running session booked for later on that afternoon. Luke and I chuckled when we saw the West Yorkshire-based custom wheels manufacturer windscreen banner slap on the pastel grey-green car. Bit of home away from home.

After having seen the ‘main event’ as it were, we headed back to the paddock area before making an exit. It was a public holiday that day (Emperor’s Day?) so Karl had plans to spend the rest of it with his family.

The Attack Premium class competitors started packing up their gear. Its always a cool sight watching the cars being loaded onto the articulating bed of the ‘car-carrier’ trucks. Oh, and here is a good shot (minus the distracting rusty lamp-post) of the TCS Usui MX-5 and its new RS Watanabe wheels in a bright silver finish which look the business!

One last walkaround; I could have stared at a lot of these motors for most of the day if we had time. There is so much detail some of these cars have, especially when it comes to bespoke custom modification. Not only that, its the style in which the cars are presented in – ‘how’ a car is built for Tsukuba-running transcends ‘what’ is built.

Forget the fancy, schmancy cookie-cutter parts that you see in abundance on those IG and YouTube “builds”. Enhancing a vehicle’s character and truly enjoying it is what I define as a manifestation of automotive enthusiasm.

Something you certainly do not see often is a 1-of-200 Tommykaira ZZ!

A very clean targa-top 300ZX was about to tear it up on TC2000, sat behind its younger 350Z/Z33 Nissan bloodline relative.

Mazda2 / Demio love in the carpark, with this beast of a Mini parked a couple of spaces away. Carbon roof + riveted fenders + gussetted cage + split rims + lampless front = one hardcore boi.

The FR version of Fiesta/Focus STs of Japan(?)…

Karl’s FD2 sat-nav displaying the famous course layout we all know and love.

If in Japan and in doubt of where to eat, save time and just run over to a 7-Eleven. And take the photo. Obligations.

After some good ol’ pieces of seasoned beef, smoked mackerel and a hard-boiled egg, we headed back down to Saitama where we would catch the train back to Tokyo. Karl pointed out these expansion joints most bridges in Japan have built into them for when earthquakes occur. This avoids cracking and fracturing of the structure – nifty.

Cannot believe I missed Tsukuba Circuit’s gift shop when I first visited for Idlers Games last year, so you know I had to grab a couple souvenirs. Very reasonably priced official merch, might I add, quality is pretty nice too.

Thats all I have for you from our first proper outing a couple weeks ago in Japan. I reckon I’ll throw up all the Osaka Auto Messe content next, so keep an eye out for all of that! Thanks for making it this far down!

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Street-Sleeper Beauty with Titan Spirit | Josh Harbour’s OEM+ Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R

Styles come and go. The phasic nature of any trend or fashion is what enables something new to flourish, because nothing can stand the test of time. Exceptions do exist, however, and its those anomalies that I want to highlight and share with those of you who come to find this site; this article in particular. My aim is to bring to people’s awareness of builds that might sometimes fly under the radar amongst all those IG-famous cars that are always popping up in your “Explore” feed.

The first of which I will open with: a street-spec R32 Skyline GT-R done so right, so subtly.

To me, the R32 is the greatest of the GT-R pack, and I honestly think its a car that has remained timeless since its original inception in 1989. Okay, maybe not so much as the FD RX-7 or S2000, but in a way that it made an impression on the automotive industry with its game-changing, futuristic technology; less so in the looks department perhaps. Yet, thats got to be the reason I am drawn to the R32 – it means business and there’s evidence of that in its demeanor.

If you remember the post I uploaded back in July on Instagram, I made a whimsical visit to the Fueled Society show up at Harewood this year, and came across this aforementioned anomaly. A wolf in black sheep’s clothing. Now, if it weren’t for me dissolving my prejudices about a show I’d never really heard much about, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet up with Josh and his GT-R. Its purely because I did something a bit of my comfort zone – attend a car show on my ones, that I had [wrongly] predicted wouldn’t deliver satisfaction.

Thankfully, I chose to ignore the ignorant voice, which is a virtue to be honest. Its usually the emotional part of us that screams the loudest when we try to think, and I reckon that causes us to become deluded in whether or not the thoughts we have are objective. (If I am coming across as too philosophical, its probably due to the books on G.I. Gurdjieff I have read recently, pardon me).

Long story short, I messaged the owner of the pristine, prize-winning Skyline, via Instagram asking whether he’d be up for being the first to be featured on the site as a “spotlight” article. Before I knew it, we arranged to meet up near Fewston, so I could get some photos of the car in the wild on a quality countryside pass.

Like-minded carboys have no problem making conversation. I had no idea who Josh was beforehand, and all he knew about me was that I took photos of cars. As soon as I pulled up, I saw his car and it was so clean, I felt so guilty asking Josh to bring it out to some gravelly car park beside a reservoir. Josh being a calm & collected type of guy didn’t seem too bothered though. Josh is also fanatical about Japan, so it was inevitable for us to both go off on a tangent about our trips to the holy land. I also found out that we rented the exact same DC5 Integra Type-R you may remember from my previous blogposts!

Josh did happen to have a white DC5 Integra Type-R of his own, in Champ White. I guess he felt like he had to part with it and make a move into new, unknown territory. And what better than a transition from an iconic FF coupe, to an undoubtedly emblematic Japanese AWD two-door saloon/sedan.

Once he found the Black Pearl example online in September of 2015, he knew from that moment there was no alternative, and I reckon you’d agree. After what probably felt like a long wait, Christmas must have definitely arrived early when his R32 showed up on UK shores 3 months after he committed to the buy.

There is without a doubt more to this Skyline than meets the eye. But I am not going to spew out a copy-and-pasted parts list, for the sake of word count and perhaps maybe losing your attention. A lot of work had already been done on the car during its life in Japan, including the trick HICAS lockout kit by Midori Seibi which is a textbook modification for GT-R owners who want a purer handling experience.

Noteworthy in the powertrain department: R34 GT-R twin-turbo setup, air filter and feed by Apexi, oil cooler, downpipe and sports cat-converter by HKS, triple-core radiator by Koyorad, along with supporting mods such as the twin-plate clutch and oil catch can by Nismo. Of course, the Nismo reppin’ continues onto the exterior in the forms of the N1 front bumper ducts, side skirts, bonnet lip, and those show-stopping LMGT4 wheels sized to perfection in 17x9J dimensions.

Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and my camera was producing some disgustingly noisy images. We seeked out a multistorey car park, luckily one random find on a Harrogate side street provided a well-illuminated location.

What grabbed my attention when I first spotted the car sitting on the grass up at Harewood were the front axles’ Alcon RC4 brakes sized at 355 x 28mm, which make a lasting impression and should give us an inkling about the tuning philosophy Josh demonstrates – balance. Big power can be unnecesscary. Big brakes aren’t exactly a hindrance, and it gives Josh the confidence when driving spiritedly. These stoppers weren’t carelessly thrown on either. In fact, they couldn’t have been, because at the time Alcon didn’t sell the mounting components for both the calipers and discs. The custom carriers and bells were CAD-drawn and CNC-machined by Josh himself. Now that to me is outright cool. Even though its a detail many would miss when walking by at a show, its a commendable action making something fit with a factory-like finish.

Before heading off back to my car in a parking area I was praying for not to be locked, I got a couple shots of the interior. Nismo accessories adorn the cabin with their floormats, and shifter & handbrake leather boots, which – if I remember correctly – Josh bought from the Omori Factory on one of his visits to the car’s birthplace.

Engine vitals are displayed on Defi triplet gauges, accompanied by that critical boost pressure digi-readout Josh fitted himself, all mounted in custom 3D-printed cubbies. A part I recognised immediately was the Nardi “Deep-Corn” suede steering wheel, only because I had the exact same (in a smaller diameter) for my MX-5.

Firing up the Pro Stock Racing Japan built, balanced and tuned RB26DETT, that happened to once sit in an R34 GT-R, we made our way back to the reservoir car park.

GT-Rs are machines that will always have presence, no matter what state of tune. This one speaks volumes, without being shouty at all, and I am grateful to both Josh for bringing it out that day, and also that whisper in the back of my mind telling me to keep driving to Fueled Society’s event. Otherwise, I’d never have this high performance legend grace a blogpost on the site…

Japanaholik’s Journal | The Kansai Chapter (2)

It was the next day, and that meant finally visiting the garage I was probably most looking forward to. Rotary-engined machines are an endangered species, and this place is a conservation sanctuary. Okay, maybe thats a bit over exagerrant, but when it comes to rotary-powered Mazdas, this joint will FEED you well.

If balance is your aim, then ‘Fujita Engineering Evolutional Development’ are one of the top players in the automotive tuning game. Its apparent that quality is held in much higher regard than quantity with these guys. How I found out about FEED was when I came across an FD RX-7 for sale online, equipped with one of their Aerobonnets which was that cool and unique of a design, I went and scoured the internet until I found the source, in the form of yet another Hot Version video.

The company fokuses on parts manufacture and vehicle services for all rotary-engined Mazda chassis, but also produces offerings for the NB MX-5 and Mazda 2/Demio, such as strut braces, dressup accessories, and aero-enhancing add-ons. Even though I left empty-handed, I came back with some pretty kool photos of their premises. The workspace isn’t so much of a clinical area, with a tired looking lathe in a dingy corner, which I prefer to be honest – piles of parts and empty wheel boxes just lying about – it probably creates a laid back atmosphere for the guys working there day in, day out. The founder and owner, Fujita-san, happened arrive after us, but he wasn’t fussed about us foreign visitors at all.

Its not a huge place, located on a patch of industrial estate surrounded by paddy fields. But square-footage doesn’t necessarily equal significance, you could have the biggest place and churn mass-produced garbage out.

As far as I’m aware, Fujita Engineering has always targetted the ‘grip’ circuit in aftermarket performance tuning. They lean towards the ideal of perfecting the already excellent chassis, through subtle and progressive means. This is reflected in their grey FD RX-7 demo adorned in the shop’s new GT3 widebody kit, which is stunning in photos, and even better in the metal. As soon as I entered the garage, it was perched up on the lift, towering over a whole load of stuff as you can see in the pic below. One of the technicians kindly moved some of it from underneath so he could drop the car down a little so I could peep the engine bay.

Even I’m not a fan of some the wild conversion kits that have been created by some aftermarket companies, and I tend to think of myself as open-minded and more eccentric than most! But the Afflux kit designed by FEED is actually a well-done take on that trend. It could even pass as being penned by a manufacturer’s concept design team. This customer was having the car prepared for its roadworthiness test (a.k.a. shaken in Japan, M.O.T. in the UK), hence the RX-8 wheels with awkward fitment. From a certain angle, it looked like it had no wheels bolted to it; hoverkraft-flex! Funny how in Japan you can modify a car to the brink of becoming a UFO, but the gap between wheel and arch has to be wide enough to fit a monster truck tyre…

Out in front was almost like a graveyard of decaying bygones. I doubt that they have been completely neglected, and I am hoping Fujita-san chooses to ressurect them someday. I assume most of them were previously demo cars, the one that surprised me the most was the off-white (now beige) Mazda Eunos Cosmo, Mazda’s answer to the ‘luxury-sports coupe’ segment back in the early 1990s, which was the first production car to be armed with a built-in GPS satnav. All I really care for, though, is whether or not it packed a 20B three-rotor twin-turbo unit under its bonnet.

Loads to look at, so little time. After spending a decent hour or so at the FEED shop, we said bye and headed to Glion Showroom, located on Osaka Bay. A red-brick warehouse complex is a home to some proper gems. I came across cars I had never seen before, along with classic heroes we have all seen in films and on TV. Some of them were even for sale,

This old Mustang GT had a prime spot just around the corner from the Museum entrance. It’s metallic gold skin definitely got my attention, even though I would probably keep walking if it was a bog standard model, but this California Special had a cool aura. That notchback shape is still awkward to me, the fastback is way more suited to the Ford’s body.

A BMW E9 is what came before the 6 Series, and its not hard to tell with its long nose and striking front-to-rear swage line making the coupe look longer than it actually is.

I didn’t plan this spot in the itinerary for any particular reason, it wasn’t like they had some crazy rare car that I was hoping to see. With it being out of the way, not many people travel from Osaka’s centre to visit, which made the atmosphere less “museumy” if that makes sense.

A Cosmo Sport 110S lingered in the corner next to two 2000GTs. I know which of these Japanese legends I’m having if I ever grow a money tree. Even when its stationary it looks fast (for something that was made in the late Sixties).

All sorts of flavours inside each section of the unit made for an interesting wander around. There was a whole host of pre-1950s BMWs, including that 507 Roadster which was pretty nice. Almost resembles some kind of mix-up consisting of a C1 Corvette and a Shelby Cobra.

The next room was something of a gift shop for those with a fat wallet. Some of those model engines cost as much as an ACTUAL motor. Alright, maybe you can’t buy an RB26DETT for 200 quid, but that much money would get you a used BP out of an MX-5! The incredible detail found on these models were crazy to be honest, I wonder if the turbos and pulleys spun.

The C2 Corvette is still the best thing to come out of an American car manufacturer’s design office.

After the self-guided tour of Glion, it was time to drop our rental car back off at the depot and do a lot of walking and waiting, for our overnight bus back to Tokyo.
All in all, Osaka was decent, I wish I saw more of the Kansai region, but that is always the case in hindsight.

Well, I reckon that’s the ‘Japanaholik’s Journal’ for 2019 complete. Hopefully, you enjoyed what you saw/read.

Next stop: the other car capital on the Globe…

Japanaholik’s Journal | The Kansai Chapter (1)

Japan’s system of addressing locales is not as straightforward to us Westerners as we’d probably like, with the island being divided into geographical regions, then a cumulative 47 prefectures within those, then subdivisions of cities and districts, and then villages and towns identified within in and amongst them, and then the building numbers aren’t ordered like they are in the neighbourhoods in the UK, because they are based on WHEN the building was constructed as opposed to odds and evens on either side of the road ascending/descending in numerical order.

Wow, that was a major, unnecesscary veer-off, but I don’t care, I’m gonna leave it in. It might act as a heads-up for someone who wants to go out to Japan, although there’s probably full-on guides if you give Google a quick ask.

Osaka and Kyoto are the Kansai region’s largest prefectures after Tokyo and its greater area. Back in the day, there was a East-West rivalry between Edo (what is now Tokyo) and Osaka. If you want to know more about the history of Japan in a nutshell, check out a well-delivered video created in MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker, titled ‘history of japan’ by Bill Wurtz. I thought it would be interesting to see what the contrast was like between both major cities, and whether their characters are distinct enough to make me notice. To be honest, wandering around in Osaka centre is not THAT much different from Tokyo, except that its a bit more “down-to-earth” and not as pristine as the country’s capital.

Anyway, day#10 of the trip, I wanted to start the morning off in nature. Cities are overrated, I prefer towns, but I can’t pin down why exactly I am attracted to places with a good balance of liveliness and tranquility. We decided to grab a cheap, runabout rental car, so we booked out a Toyota Passo (that white thing below). Why are modern Toyotas so drab to drive? It didn’t help that it was an automatic, however, atleast it sipped on fuel even when I wound that CVT ‘box out from every set of traffic lights.

Minoo Park was not too far according to Google Maps, and it was a decent size for us to spend the first half of the day. I parked up at the nearest multi-storey, and its the same old story: Japan Love Cars. Walking down each level towards the exit, there was something lurking in the bays around the sides of the parking floor. Most, as you can see, had dustcovers on, which made for a good game of ‘guess the car’. I have both naff-all knowledge and not much interest in ‘supercars’, but I am glad the ones that laid bare were some of the koolest of klassics.

So, yeah, having a holiday in Japan that’s completely sterile of automotive lures is near enough impossible.

The forested valley is situated at the top of a hill, so it was a bit of a strenuous uphill walk to reach. It was worth it though; not that busy and you can just relax on one of the benches at the foot of the 33-metre waterfall.

Looking at trees for too long can get mundane, and I resisted the urge to whip out the Instagram feed that morning (well, there was no phone reception up in the forest anyhow), so I thought we might aswell head out back in the direction of Osaka centre to visit a couple “Car Meccas”.

The first was GT Net, a used-car dealership with some very fine pieces of kit. Its awkward going to a car-dealer with no intention of buying anything (me and a friend are guilty of doing this after school, years ago, just to check out manufacturers latest and greatest).

We got there and outside they had not one, but three, kouki FD RX-7s, so you can already imagine me frothing at the mouth. To top it off they had a Millenium Jade R34 GT-R, which is another beautiful paint colour offered by Nissan, which needs to make its deserved comeback.

Okay, now onto the hottest Honda tuner in my opinion, and that’s due to their #FIRE #LIT livery designs. I remember watching ‘Hot Version’ and seeing the J’s Racing S2000 tear up the touge for the first time. Its a phenomenal car, in both practice and on paper: 345 horsepower from its naturally-aspirated, stroked F20C 2.7 litre belter, and a kerbweight of around 1100kg with interior still in place, the streetable Honda roadster is a strong contender. Get yourself on YouTube and see for yourself. But check out the rest of my pics first…

The garage wasn’t even supposed to be open on the day I was there, but luckily some of the staff were in the office, and president, Murakami-san, kindly let me in and have a look around. The place is small, but like everywhere in Japan, given space is used to the maximum in terms of efficiency.

These guys know how to make Hondas look great, so even if all you have is a Jazz/Fit, I would recommend reaching out to this shop if you haven’t already. I could tell from the customer’s cars on the lifts, that these lot know what to do and how to do it.

After a jam-packed day of driving and walking, we headed back to our accommodation and called it a night. Looking at the content I have remaining on my desktop for my ‘Japanaholik’s Journal’ series, I reckon the next will be the LAST instalment, but definitely not the LEAST, so keep an eye on the Feed…

Thanks for swooping by!

Japanaholik’s Journal | Spoon Sports’ TYPE-ONE

The morning after our first day in Tokyo, we awoke early welcomed by the scorching sun at around 8:00am, and it was only going to get warmer. A lot of people dislike the muggy climate, but it really doesn’t bother me. Anything above 20 degrees should be bliss for us Brits.

A combination of bus and train travel landed us drop dead centre in Shinjuku Station: the world’s busiest with about a billion commuters and travellers passing through annually. Managing the maze the train stopped at, then finding out Type-One was not open yet, I figured we might aswell hang around near the station and check out the shops in the vicinity.

I found a camera equipment store – a few were dotted about the area outside the station, actually – but it wasn’t open for an hour, so I killed a bit of time in an arcade. (Some of the following photos were taken with my new Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8 – 4 lens I bought for a steal of a price).

These places are nuts, you will see full-blown RPG-adventure game stations being button-bashed to death by teens and salarymen alike. I suppose its an escape from bitter reality for some people, thats why gaming is so addictive. I clocked one race on Wangan Midnight and saved the rest of my change for the countless train tickets I’d have to buy during the rest of the trip.

After strolling through the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo at peak-hours (which is pretty much all day and night) we hopped back on a train to Suginami, heading west out of the capital.

Spoon Sports, for those who may not know, is the holy grail when it comes to tuned and modified Hondas. If I were to give my ranking of the Japanese automakers, Honda would easily occupy one of top three positions. I used to own one, albeit a very lukewarm, slow model of the FN / 8th generation Civic (Type-S).

Here is a photo of it pre engine failure due to me driving through a “puddle” (flooded waste water drain) with a cold-feed air intake kit that sounded the dogs bollocks, up until it snorted the sewer system up, bent a rod and then proceeded to spit it out through the block.

Okay, it wasn’t from the glory days of Hondas such as the DC2 or EK9 Integra and Civic, but the chassis was very sharp and made you work that 1.8L engine; a proper momentum car. It was decent and for a decade year-old model, it still looks modern today.

Anyway, as we all know, the aftermarket sector of the automotive industry is huge when it comes to anything with a ‘H’ badge. But Spoon Sports springs to mind, often when a VTEC addict wants to get a move on. Spoon is known for the highest in precision and durability when it comes to their performance parts. Tatsuru Ichishima, the founder of the company, started up racing Civics and testing out his bespoke suspension and engine components live on the battlefield, so you can be guaranteed said parts will take plenty of use and abuse.

Spoon Sports Type-One isn’t just a typical tuning centre with over the counter parts available to the public, but they also offer their customers education on how specific components will affect the overall feel of the car. I don’t know if they still do, but the company did deliver ‘Engine Lectures’ to those who wanted to brush up on their skills and understanding of engine and suspension tuning.

The S2000 you see above was Team Spoon’s weapon of choice when entering the Super Taikyu endurance race series in Japan during the year 2000’s campaign. Fast forward from then, the No. 95 car has progressed and now sits as shown. It features an assortment of visible parts, including the fastback hardtop made by Mugen (if I am not mistaken), Spoon aero-mirrors, Spoon V2 front bumper, and Spoon S-Tai(kyu) bonnet and rear bumper, Spoon Monoblock brake calipers, and wheels by Prodrive (which suit the car well, maybe its coated in bronze) just to name a few.

There were two technicians tending to a customer’s EK9 Civic Type-R, I didn’t want to distract them as they were working so I just snapped away and they seemed fine with it. They are probably used to seeing a lot of visitors, particularly foreigners, so its just another day in the office for them.

Honda’s new sportscar, that is not the mental NSX, is the S660. These things are so sick, I regret not hiring one out when I was there. Mid-engine kei cars are the shit for real, and I can imagine them being a bit lairy at first when set up with track-ready suspension and tyres due to its short wheelbase, but I would 100% daily drive one.

The ground floor is the where the clean room is situated and can be very blatantly seen through the front glass screen as you approach the shopfront. Technicians are busy working away meticulously with the world passing by in front of them. Interesting how this area of the garage isn’t tucked away in a corner in the back, I could imagine this would really test your fokus and concentration skills.

Not much was occurring downstairs. A couple of S2000s and a demo FK7 Civic resided on the shopfloor not being worked on, so we decided to dip out of there and quit being a nuisance haha. I reckon I took enough decent photos whilst there, but Spoon Type-One is definitely a shop I would return to, on the off-chance they would have the NA2 NSX there for me to shoot!

I’m done here, so keep an eye out for the next entry in this Japan series. Hope you enjoyed, as always, I appreciate your time.