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2012 Tokyo Auto Salon January 24, 2012

Posted by Dru in Japan, Tokyo.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2012 Tokyo Auto Salon” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-M4

Last week I had written about going to the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of 2011.  In January 2012, a second motor show of the season called the Tokyo Auto Salon is held.  This is a very different car show compared to the Tokyo Motor Show.  The Tokyo Motor Show is a typical auto show that focuses on new cars and concepts from the major car manufacturers.  The Tokyo Auto Salon is a tuner car show that is similar to the SEMA show.  For those who are unfamiliar with the auto industry, a tuner car is any car that has been modified from its original form.  This can be anything from upgrading engine parts, changing the paint or any other part of the car.  It can be very subtle to very crazy.  The Tokyo Auto Salon is the best way to see all of the potential craziness people can do to their own cars.

The first thing to understand about visiting the Tokyo Auto Salon is to know where to go.  The Tokyo Auto Salon is held in Makuhari Messe in Makuhari, Chiba.  It is one of the most famous convention centres in Tokyo with concerts and various trade shows being held at all times of the year.  Due to the layout and cheap rent relative to Tokyo Big Sight makes this a very attractive location for trade show organizers.  The Tokyo Auto Salon is a large show that encompasses the main 8 halls as well as a small exhibition outside.  While they don’t make use of the entire facility, they made use of a huge space nonetheless.  Compared to the Tokyo Motor Show, it felt somewhat smaller, yet more tiring.  The show itself has a lot more to see and it is all crammed into a somewhat smaller space than the Tokyo Motor Show.  There are relatively less people at the Tokyo Auto Salon but with the area being more cramped makes getting around the show floor difficult.  When visiting the Tokyo Auto Salon, like the Tokyo Motor Show, I highly recommend going early and being as patient as possible.

As I mentioned, the Tokyo Auto Salon is very different to the Tokyo Motor Show.  It focuses on tuner cars.  The entire Auto Salon in 2012 was loosely divided into sections.  There were the custom car areas, the manufacturer custom car division, accessories, sound systems, paint, and custom car displays.  While there are many sub-sections in each area, they generally kept close to their theme.  All of the major Japanese aftermarket tuners were at this show.        Many of the well-known Japanese aftermarket companies such as VeilSide, Tommy Kaira, and HKS were present at the show.  Wheel and tire manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Yokohama, BBS, and Rays were also present.  You could easily spend hours just visiting these booths to see what new and innovative products they had.  Each company had their own theme.  HKS was very much performance based while VeilSide was all about looks.  The major Japanese manufacturers had their own booths as well showcasing the products of STi, GD, Nissmo and others.  These names may not seem very familiar but companies like STi stand for Subaru Tecnica International.  They are subsidiaries set up by their parent companies to be somewhat independent but loyal to their parent company.  In fact, most of the companies were fairly loyal to one or two manufacturers.  RE Amemiya is a well-known tuner company that is known for their ability to tune Mazda RX-7s and RX-8s.  It provided a lot of variety into the designs of each car that can be both a blessing and a curse.

The other aspect of the show is to showcase individual cars.  At the Tokyo Auto Salon, some of the aftermarket companies brought cars to be judged.  Other individuals from around Japan also brought their cars to be put on display.  Most of the cars on display in the general area were street legal.  By far the most memorable was one by NATS (Nihon Auto College).  It is a school that teaches the students how to fix and modify cars.  They modified a Lexus SC430 (SoarerZ40 in Japan) to be a modern take on the original DeLorean from the “Back to the Future” movies.  It was a work of art and craftsmanship that was nearly unmatched in the entire show.  There were other great examples of their work that was present in the auto show but that one still sticks out in my mind.  NATS is a great college that probably doesn’t get much attention overseas.  It is a very creative group of students and teachers working together like a master and their apprentices.  In fact, I would say that most of the companies at the show acted in a very similar way.  From my very limited knowledge of the aftermarket industry, a lot of it is art with a healthy dose of mechanics.  With enough time and money, you could create anything you wanted but you still need the ideas to make something good.

One other aspect of the show is the women.  No auto show would be complete without having beautiful women posing in front of the expensive cars.  The Tokyo Motor Show was the same yet very different.  The women at the Tokyo Motor Show had to either fit in with the theme of the manufacturer.  Many times you would see women in the strangest costumes just to fit the theme.  At the Tokyo Auto Salon, that seemed to be less apparent.  Most of the women at the show were there to get as many people to their booths.  You could tell which booth had a woman modeling by the crowds surrounding them.  If there was a large crowd, it was highly likely that there was a woman there.  It was a bit sad as the most beautiful women, rather sexy looking, were getting the most attention.  The women who dressed in a regular way or those who didn’t go the extra mile to look beautiful or sexy didn’t get large crowds of men with cameras in front of them.  It is an unfortunate part of life that men usually think predictably.  Each booth that had girls had a slightly different taste but in general.  When you see a few booths, you have basically seen all of the girls as they all have girls that are differentiated by the colour of their clothes and a little difference in taste or style but generally it is similar and gets numbing after a while.

There are several final thoughts I have about the show itself.  My first thought is that it was cramp and crowded the entire time.  At the Tokyo Motor Show, I had a lot more energy to see the entire show whereas at the Tokyo Auto Salon, after an hour or so I was exhausted.  I would also say that the types of people that went to the show were different.  The Tokyo Motor Show is geared towards the average person.  I saw more families at the Motor Show compared to the Auto Salon.  I also saw more young people and “gangsters” at the Auto Salon.  While I would not say that they are gangsters, some of them did fit the bill in terms of style.  There were also more camera geeks who would do anything to push their way forward to get dozens of photos of the same girl.  It was annoying and difficult to manage.  For those who love fixing cars and seeing tuners, I highly recommend visiting the Tokyo Auto Salon.  In fact, you might enjoy it a lot more.  Unfortunately, since it is a tuner crowd, expect to see a plethora of Nissan GT-Rs, Toyota Prius’, and Mazda RX7s.  It is an unfortunate reality that domestic cars will get more attention as it is cheaper to buy a domestic car than an imported car and easier to get parts for it.  Either way, there are some great cars to see and if I had the time and patience, I would go for a second day as well.

2012 Tokyo Auto Salon is part of a series of posts about various car and bike shows in Tokyo.  To read more about the other car and bike shows, please follow the links below:

Information:

Tokyo Auto Salon:  http://www.tokyoautosalon.jp/

NATS (Blog with Tokyo Auto Salon information):  http://www.nats.ac.jp/pc/as/ebizo/index.php?day=20120114

2009 Tokyo Motor Show November 3, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2009 Tokyo Motor Show” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-ij

The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show is being held from October 29 until November 4 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba.  As of posting this, there are only a few days left until the end.  This year, due to the economic downturn that started in 2008, the show was left in limbo up until this past summer.  There are less than half of the exhibitors in this year’s show compared to the last show in 2007.  In 2007, there were over 240 exhibitors, and this year it’s just over 100.  This is a significant decrease, and it shows.  The event space is more open, and reduced.  There are no longer any outdoor exhibits, and they only make use of the convention centre’s main hall.  The North Hall and central Exhibition Hall are no longer used.  The outdoor element in the central plaza is also discontinued for this year.  It’s a bit of a shame that there are only two foreign car makers present at this show, but it was still a great show to visit.

The first thing to do when heading to the show is to actually head to the show.  Makuhari Messe is a huge convention centre, and without the North Hall being open, it’s a bit of a walk to the main entrance.  From there, there are three major halls to visit: the East, Central, and West halls.  Each one has its own group of manufacturers.  This year, the West Hall was occupied by Honda, motorcycle manufacturers, and various other parts companies.  The Central Hall had Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, and a special Car of the Year Japan exhibition.  In the East, Nissan and Mitsubishi had large displays while the Gran Tourismo and Tomica moved into the main hall from a side hall two years ago.  The amount of space needed was dramatically cut down, but there was always a lot to see.

With the European and American companies opting to not go to the show, the Japanese companies made up for it with their concept cars.  The theme was the environment.  It was great to see so many hybrids and electric vehicles.  They even displayed various walking machines similar to the Segway, but seated versions.  All of the cars were busy with photographers taking as many pictures as they could.  Toyota and Honda were one of the busiest exhibitions.  There were also several “race queens” at each booth modeling all of the cars.  While the size of the show was reduced, the number of girls showing the vehicles was the same, proportionately.  Interestingly enough, each maker seemed to choose their women based on their overall theme or target audience.  Some chose women in their 30s, and some chose women in their 20s.  Some had more elegant clothing, while others made their girls look trashy.  Image is everything, and as long as it fit, anything would go.

Unfortunately, this year was a bit small.  Many people say the Japanese show is no longer an “international” show.  While I agree that it isn’t as grand as before, it’s also a tough year.  With other cities being more important, it’s natural to think that the Shanghai show will be bigger.  Will it always be bigger?  I’m guessing that in the future, the Tokyo Motor Show will increase again as the auto makers make more money and have the ability to display their cars at more shows.  It’s a little expensive, but if they want to keep their business in Japan, they’ll have to keep at least a small presence at these shows.

Tokyo Motor Show Information:

Official Site:  http://www.tokyo-motorshow.com/en/index.html
Official Site (Japanese): http://www.tokyo-motorshow.com/index.html

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Japanese Baseball September 17, 2008

Posted by Dru in Sports.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture over there to read “Japanese Baseball” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-NN

On Saturday, August 16th, I went to my first baseball game in Japan.  I went to see the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles VS. the Chiba Lotte Marines at Chiba Marines Stadium.  The stadium is about 15 minutes away from the station, but it was a nice walk.  Unfortunately, I was covered in sweat by the time I arrived at the stadium due to the hot and humid Tokyo summer.  I went to the game expecting nothing.  Being Canadian, you’ll always hear me talk about how great hockey is and how it’s probably the greatest team sport in the world.  However, after a few innings, and a beer or two, I was starting to enjoy baseball.  Rather than watching teams fight it out as hard as possible, it’s more about strategy.  Both teams have their own cheering section out in the outfield.  Obviously, the Marines side was full, and the Eagles side was half empty.  I had a good view of the outfield stands sitting in the upper deck to the right of the catcher.  Each player had their own special song.  While some were almost the same, some were very distinct and very easy to learn.  It is impossible to describe it, but the chants definitely made me want to cheer for the Marines.

Eating at the stadium was also a very new experience for me.  We were allowed to bring our own food in.  That’s very strange for me as I’ve never seen it happen in Canada.  Maybe a small snack, at most, but never food.  The only thing you couldn’t bring was beer, I think.  However, that problem is easily solved.  With at least 20 or more different high school girls, and some boys, running around, you can buy any kind of beer you want.  Dressed in their brand’s uniform, they have a backpack full of beer and a stack of cups.  Just raise your hand, ask for a beer, and give them money.  All fresh and cold.  The only problem is when the beer you want is on the other side of the stands, or no where to be seen.  Then you either wait, or buy another brand.  I was also a little ignorant about food in Japanese baseball games as my only experience is watching “Mr. Baseball” with Tom Sellek.  (Fun movie to watch, but very dated and I doubt it’s accurate) I was half expecting to see people eating bowls of ramen or udon, but I was informed a long time ago that this was, indeed, a false image.  It’s generally kakikori (Japanese style snow cones) and beer.  I must say, I love the beer girls.

The game I went to was a night game.  Apparently it’s a special type of game.  We were a little sad at first thinking the mid-game fireworks would be cancelled.  However, the weather held up a little and we had a nice short fireworks display.  Around the 7th inning, the stadium starts to come alive in a different way.  By now, the chants are all the same and you start to get sick of it.  However, you start to hear a whistling sound.  People are filling balloons with air and there is a small plastic device at the mouth of the balloon.

Once released, the balloon will “scream” as it rises into the air.  Both sides release the balloons, but obviously the Marines side had more fans.  It’s fun to watch, but a big pain to clean up afterwards.  Beware of falling balloons.  By the end of the game, the chanting from the outfield gets louder and louder.  People are jumping up and down, flags are being waved.  The team is pushed and encouraged to win at all costs.  Down, 2-0, at the bottom of the 9th, the Marines bring in a pinch hitter, Benny.  I thought it was a bad choice.  Benny struck out leaving only 1 out remaining.   In the end, the Marines lost the game and everyone went home.  It seems like the gods knew the Marines lost.  Before the end of the game, there was thunder and lightning.  As we were about to leave the concourse, it started to pour.  30 minutes later, things were nice and we could head home.  It was a great night, and a great experience.  It would have been better if the home team won.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a second baseball report.  I will be attending the Hanshin Tigers Vs. Yakult Swallows game on October 3rd.  Should be a good game.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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