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2010 Tokyo Motorcycle Show April 6, 2010

Posted by Dru in Kanto, Sports, Tokyo.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2010 Tokyo Motorcycle Show” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-oT

From March 26th till the 28th, the 37th Tokyo Motorcycle Show was held at Tokyo Big Site convention centre.  It was my annual pilgrimage to check out the new bikes being offered in Japan.  With the worst recession in years happening in 2009, I wasn’t expecting much out of this year’s motorcycle show.  It is true that the show was noticeably smaller, but it was much better than I could have expected.  All of the major motorcycle manufacturers were there, including all of the big name foreign companies.  It was a very important marketing campaign for most companies as the riding season has pretty much begun in Tokyo.

The motorcycle show has occupied the same two halls at Tokyo Big Site since I came to Japan.  They take over the lower floors of the West Hall, an outdoor parking lot, and the roof of the West Hall.  It may not be the biggest motorcycle show in the world, but it is a very interesting one.  The show itself is centred in West Hall 1 and 2, which form a U shape around the atrium.  Upon entering the ticketed area, you are funnelled into West Hall 2 where you are immediately greeted by motorcycles.  Generally, the manufacturers line the outer wall of both halls, while parts and accessory companies take the middle.  Lining the inner wall are the local companies that sell things such as T-shirts, insurance, and magazine subscriptions.  You will almost always find people on the outer wall, rather than the inner wall.  For this year’s show, Hall 2 was dominated by foreign manufacturers, and Hall 1 was more domestic.

There are many things to do, other than just look at bikes while at the motorcycle show.  Most manufacturers hand out surveys, in Japanese only, where you put your name, address, and what you liked about their booth.  In return, you can get some free things, such as a catalogue.  It may not seem like much, but in good years, you can get pins and file holders.  Sometimes you spend the time to fill out a form only to discover you got something you didn’t want.  If you can’t read Japanese, you are better off not trying as they will send you junk mail if you don’t tick, or leave empty in some cases, the correct box.  The only downside to this aspect of the show is that people just mill about within the showcase making it difficult to take pictures and look at the bikes.  At the Tokyo Motorcycle Show, you can also test ride many of the new bikes.  Behind the halls, there is a parking lot where they do test rides of various motorcycles.  They even have starter lessons on scooters.  This year, they added a used bike display where you could actually purchase a used motorcycle.  I generally don’t go outside as I usually don’t have the time or patience to wait for a motorcycle to ride.  If you are like me, and finish the show within half a day, you can spend a lot more time following the scary men who take pictures of all the bike girls.  It’s a phenomenon that follows every motor show in Japan.  If there are nice cars, there will be nice women dressed in next to nothing, helping to display the bikes.  It can be difficult to see the bikes when they are “on display”, but if you are finished with the show, it can be interesting.

This year’s show, as I mentioned, was better than I expected.  All of the major manufacturers were there.  There were some very interesting new bikes.  The Japanese manufacturers weren’t very interesting, but they did provide a few new variants of their base bikes.  Yamaha finally unveiled their Super Tenere bike that was created for the Dakar Rally.  It wasn’t as cool as the concept version, but it did look ready for the Dakar.  It still had the “first edition” stickers all over it enticing more people to pay for it.  The best concept was by Moto Guzzi.  They produced the V12 LM which was, albeit impractical, a very interesting bike.  The tail was shaped like a bird, and they included bird cut outs on the tires.  Unfortunately, they forgot to put a nice headlight on the front, but that’s just my opinion.  There were several other cool race versions from other manufacturers, and there were the obligatory MotoGP bikes that were on hand.  Yoshimura had their typical display with the same standard Suzuka 8 Hours Superbike.

While the main focus of the show is on the bikes, there are displays showcasing the various circuits of Japan.  Generally, Ebisu, Tsukuba, and Motegi are represented by booths.  The others can be found in pamphlets given out at other various booths.  If you are into custom motorcycles, there is always a custom bike show, usually in the Atrium.  The police are also on hand to show off their riding skills, which are excellent, and to promote safety when riding.  If you are in need of help, JAF (Japan Auto Federation) provides demonstrations on how they can pick up your bike if it won’t start.  If you are a bike nut, and you are in town during the Tokyo Motorcycle Show, this is a must do on the list.  It’s easy to visit in the morning, and still have time to look around Odaiba in the afternoon.  Hope you can make it next year.

Information:

Tokyo Motorcycle Show (English):  http://www.motorcycleshow.org/english/index.shtml
Tokyo Motorcycle Show (Japanese:  http://www.motorcycleshow.org/index.html
Tokyo Big Site (English):  http://www.bigsight.jp/english/index.html
Tokyo Big Site (Japanese):  http://www.bigsight.jp/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。

Tokyo (Odaiba – Part II) September 22, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Odaiba – Part II)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-gU

After completing a museum tour, heading to the southern area, just east of the museums is a couple of famous attractions.  The first is Palette Town.  It is a large complex that holds various activities, one being Venus Fort, a theme mall.  It’s very similar to the shopping malls on the north side however Venus Fort is modeled after a European city.  On the exterior, it looks like any regular building, but once you enter, you’ll be greeted by a grand walkway full of Italian styled stucco wallpaper.  The shops in this mall tend to be more upscale and there is a huge fountain in the back of the mall.  It’s a famous place for photos and the staff of the mall will happily take your photo.  The end of the mall has a stage for various performances and Mariah Carey made an appearance at one time to promote one of her albums.  In grand style, she was over an hour late for a 15 minute appearance.  If you head to the second floor, you’ll enjoy small walkways connecting various restaurants.  The other main attraction is next door to Venus Fort.  Toyota’s Mega Web, and the Palette Town complex.  Mega Web is a large showcase for Toyota and Lexus cars.  If you have a Japanese driver’s license or an international one, you can, for a fee, test drive any of the Japanese spec Toyota cars around a small private track.  You can easily enter any of the showroom cars, buy a brochure, or take a look at a few of their displays.  There is usually an F1 car, other race cars, a theatre showing Fuji Speedway, and a race simulator.  There is even a corner for children to drive around or just have fun.  If you want to, you can take a tour on an electric, automatic car that will drive around the entire showroom.  Heading over to the far end of the complex, you’ll come to one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world, and an amusement centre.

From the eastern edge of Palette Town, you can walk over a famous pedestrian bridge, Yumeno Ohashi, which can be picturesque.  It was used in several TV dramas in the past but only a few people ever walk over it.  It is generally too remote for most people to use it, but it’s very good for most movies and dramas for this very reason.  Tokyo has very strict film laws, so closing any other bridge is very difficult.  The size of this bridge makes it very convenient to film on.   From here, there are various buildings that are mainly for office workers, but you can see the odd cosplay event from time to time.  In all honesty, there is almost nothing to see or do in this area.  If you can walk all the way to Ariake station, you’ll be able to visit the Panasonic Center.  It’s a small showcase of Panasonic’s latest technologies and green movement.  They even have a small Nintendo corner, but in reality, unless you love technology, it’s not worth the long walk.  In the past, this was a nice destination as it was the last stop of the Yurikamome line.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, but it does provide a nice trip to see the edge of Odaiba.

The bigger attraction in this area of Odaiba is Tokyo Big Site.  It’s the scene of various conventions and exhibits.  The popular Design Festa is held twice a year showcasing some of Tokyo’s craziest artists.  Everything you see will be strange, different, and unique.  It’s something that must be seen to understand.  There are several comic and anime conventions where you’ll be able to see your favourite characters, and even see all of the crazy fans that dress up as their favourite characters.  The annual Tokyo Motorcycle Show is also a popular exhibit, including various technological exhibitions.  It’s impossible to describe each and every convention that can be held in Tokyo Big Site, so visiting their website is essential.  If you don’t want to go to any conventions, or if none of them are interesting at the time of your visit, visiting Tokyo Big Site itself is still pretty interesting.  You can get very nice views of the planes coming in to land at Haneda airport and there are several public works of art.  Unfortunately, unless you want to see an exhibit, there really isn’t any reason to be in the area unless you have time to spare.

Overall, Odaiba is a wonderful place to visit.  For seasoned residents of Tokyo, there isn’t much to see or do.  Most people either come as a couple, usually in their teens, or to drive around.  Odaiba is, for some reason, considered a nice place to drive.  Is Odaiba really a place to visit in Tokyo?  The simple answer is no.  If you don’t have time, it’s not that important.  However, like any other city, if you have time and you finished seeing everything else, by all means, spend a day in Odaiba and you’ll have a great time nonetheless.

This is Part II of a II part series.  Please head back to Part I if you haven’t read it.

Odaiba Information:

Japan Guide:  http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Odaiba
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odaiba
Map of Odaiba:  http://www.tokyoessentials.com/odaiba-map.html

Palette Town (Japanese Only): http://www.palette-town.com/
Venus Fort: http://www.venusfort.co.jp/multi/index_e.html
Toyota’s Mega Web: http://www.megaweb.gr.jp/English/
Panasonic Center: http://www.panasonic.net/center/tokyo/
Tokyo Big Site:  http://www.bigsight.jp/english/

Design Festa:  http://www.designfesta.com/index_en.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。

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