For the better part of my life, I’ve had my hands in cars one way or another. Whether it’s driving up through mountains, changing suspension, replacing motors, painting panels or taking photos of cars; none of these amount to a single entry on the bucket list. One check box on this list though was to go to Japan and see the car scene there, home to many of the most beloved street machines. So when I went to Daikokufuto PA during September of 2015, I did just that.
It was almost unreal that day as I look back at how anxious I was. I woke up that morning trying to look for the cheapest and easiest way to rent a car for the night. Trains stop at around 12am, and I knew that if it was like the true Japanese car scene we hear of, it was going to be a late one. So it was just as much about getting there as it was about getting back home. Renting a car to get there thus seemed like a wise option as it would’ve cost me $120~ AUD to taxi it back to Tokyo. In the end, it only cost me $60-70 AUD to rent a K-car for 12-hours and another $40 AUD or so for the international driver permit. Now with wheels of my own — I was ready to get going as fast as the Suzuki Swift could go. And believe me, it was so slow that even trucks were passing me left, right and centre.
Upon arriving at the Daikokufuto area, I managed to spot out an R34 with neons behind the gate. At that moment, it felt like a spark had ignited a fire inside me, erasing my concerns that my efforts might be in vain. It took me an hour to find where the entrance was. I circled around the place, crossed the bridge and kept doing laps around the area until I was the time attack champion of Daikokufuto.
Then I saw this banged-up S13 floor it past me and so naturally I did the same. Tailing him on the toll bridge (which by the way going on the highway means paying toll in Japan), we finally found the famous Daikokufuto PA.
When I got inside it was just jaw dropping. Everything you see or read about the place is true. What I saw was what a true street car scene is, hanging out with friends and not ragging on anyone’s car. Treating everyone’s pride and joy with equal respect, something I think a lot of us in Australia could learn a thing or two from. Not just in the car scene, in any enthusiast community.
The best part of it all is there’s no set date or time to meet up with fellow enthusiasts, they didn’t need a governing body to tell them they can hang out. They just do it.
That particular night was a little special. A few hundred Bosozoku riders rocked up, revving their motorcycles around the circling highway above the carpark. Needless to say, I was there at the right place and right time.
It was a remarkable night to sum it all up. There were K-cars to supercars, JDM to USDM and everything in between. A scene made from people who took interest in each other’s prized possession and not just their own machine. I was glad I made the effort because it certainly made it an unforgettable trip.
And after that, I left Japan with a holistic view of a true community.