Osaka city, my new favourite place in the world, located in the Kansai region of Japan. It’s the second largest metropolitan area in Japan, and to some is known as the nation’s kitchen. Consisting of 24 wards, and just under 3 million residents, it is home to an uncountable number of activities. One of those activities, the one that I was most interested in, was automotive.
I found home base in the Yodogawa ward in the north of Osaka. My accommodation was booked through Airbnb, which I had used throughout my entire trip in Japan. I got lost trying to find the accommodation as I got off the train station at the wrong exit. The reason I’m telling you this, is to get the name of the train station into this story. The only train station I will remember from Japan, for a good reason too. It was called Nishinakajima-Minamigata Station. Literally West, Inside, Island, South, Person. The longest station name I saw in Japan, so long it even took up two lines on every station map.
My day started at that train station, just like every other day in Osaka. Today was no different. I had been planning this day for a while now; we were only meant to shoot one car, however, that didn’t actually happen. I was in Osaka by myself this time, but I knew of another person from back home that was floating around. I had been in contact with Michael during my trip asking for advice and what not. When the chance came to meet up, we did just that. Michael also had his own means of transportation, so it meant only one train ride that day instead of multiple.
This day was actually set-up to shoot the pretty well-known car of Toshiyuki-san, his 180sx. Toshiyuki-san was coming over from Kyoto, so had a rather long drive. He was also working on the car in the morning to get it ready for the photoshoot, so didn’t actually appear until the early afternoon. Luckily Akifumi-san from Yama Channel had introduced me to some other people during my last visit. I had called upon Kuriyama-san who owns Apstyle, which is a personal blog/photography website based in Osaka. Thankfully, he agreed to come along for the day and meet up with us early in the morning from around 9am.
Michael and I arrived at the Tempozan Ferris Wheel around noon that day, only to find that Kuriyama-san was already there waiting for us in the white R32 GTR that you can see to the right. The location looked alright from google maps, but in person wasn’t actually the best. So after some bad Japanese was exchanged we managed to move to a better location. It was called the Seventh Wharf and had the best backdrop of the Minato Bridge.
As soon as we got there, we set up the cars to take some photos. Only seconds later, before we actually took any photos, to then be told to move out of the way so someone else could use it. Because these people were older than us (and wannabe yakuza spec) we moved for them to put their black BMW seen above in the most desired spot on that wharf. They were only there for a minute or two before heading off to do whatever it is they do.
It’s going to be rather hard to fit the day’s activity into one article. To help me portray just how good the day was, I’m going to skip over the cars and their details and put all that information into future articles. This article will focus on how the day went and what we got up to. Apparently this spot is one of the better spots in Japan to come and view the sites. Google actually labelled it as a tourist location. So as you can imagine a huge arrangement of cars that turned up throughout the day.
We were probably rather naughty as we occupied this spot for a good 5 hours until the sun set. Other car’s and even a car club of 5 or 6 cars waited patiently to use the spot, which didn’t happen because we luckily got their first. The second car to appear over the day was this slammed S15 owned by Haruki-san, a Photographer for Happy Stance. I don’t know what it is with Japanese people, because I invited one or two people to come and join us, however, I think over 10 people ending turning up to hang out with us on the wharf.
I’ve got to also give credit to the amazing weather in Osaka over the few days I was there. I had just experienced snow a week before, now I was witness to days of blue sky and bright sun. It wasn’t a hot sun either, there was still a nice breeze and cool air to bathe in. Sadly, the time of the day meant that the sun was going to be behind us for every photo. I didn’t have any flashes with me as I had to pack light.
As it would have it, my luck continued and Kuriyama-san brought along all of his gear so I was able to use it. I hadn’t played around with using flashes in the daylight, so Kuriyama-san gave me a little lesson using three flashes to light up the side of the car lacking light. Along with the flashes, he had a wide lens and a zoom lens that I was able to try out. Super generous human being!
As well as shooting some seriously epic cars, cool JDM cars just rocked up to enjoy the view. It was a bit of a brain overload. If I had been able to pause time, I’d have inspected each car that arrived top to bottom. This VW had an airbag set-up hidden inside the trunk, as when it parked up, the owner made it literally hug the ground.
Our next guest to turn up was Akifumi-san, he was the man behind me having so much fun last time I was in Osaka. He organised the whole meet-up in Kobe where over 20 truly JDM cars turned up. In the trunk of his S15 he had a little ladder that he let me use today to get this shot from a higher angle than just standing height. Japanese people are so resourceful.
The three cars looked great all lined up next to each other like this. Each one of the owners, Akifumi-san, Kuriyama-san, and Haruki-san are all actually photographers as well. I have no idea how they afford all of the sick camera gear they have plus run these exceptional examples of Silvias and Skylines.
The Skyline wasn’t actually owned by Kuriyama-san, that was a fib. He told me that with having a family and a couple of children it was hard at the time to also have a modified car. The Skyline was in fact owned by his neighbour, who was over 50 years old, and just let Kuriyama-san borrow it for the day. How awesome is that?! Here you go neighbour, just take my extremely expensive Skyline out for the day, no worries.
While we had the 3 cars lined up, I took a step back just to take in all that I was surrounded by. It was a rather strange feeling. Leaving my home in New Zealand to come to a foreign place, where they speak little to zero English, then, through the internet, find people with similar interests to meet up with. Not only that, but proceed to take photos of their cars while being in this land that I had only seen from the confinements of my computer screen.
These guys next to us had spent most of the day here as well. Just chilling out and drinking some tea. The Laurel actually looked to be owned by a woman, and throughout the day, she used the wharf as her garage to change over the suspension to a better set. After she had finished changing her suspension, the other car on the end rocked up. So, I asked them if I was allowed to take a photo of all three of them together.
Toshiyuki-san had actually shown up by this point, I’m just leaving his car for a separate article as it deserves its own one, like all of the cars here today. While we had a bit of time, We took Michael’s car down to the 7-11 which was only a minute drive away even on the docks (convenience stores are literally around every corner). I took a while to choose what I wanted as there is always so many goodies to choose from. When going to pay, I was stopped by Kuriyama-san and he told me I wasn’t to pay for my food. I, of course, told him don’t be silly, but he insisted that he would buy me lunch. I just kept getting blown away by these people I have met in Japan, so kind.
When we headed back to the dock, another car had turned up. A drift-spec Toyota Mark II Grande, owned by Itachi-san. And what do you know, he happens to be another photographer, taking photos under the name Itachi. This thing sounded so nice, a proper ‘I’ma fuck shit up’ sounding engine. We were so close to moving location, but he convinced me to take a few quick photos of his Mark II, and was very grateful for it.
The sun was setting fast as you can see from the previous photo, so time was running out. Along with this, we had two more cars turn up. A total of 7 throughout the day. The new S15 you can see in this photo is owned by Masayuki-san. Masayuki-san actually came to the meet that Akifumi-san had hosted for us in Kobe towards the end of 2015. So to see him again was a nice surprise! More on his car coming soon in the form of a spotlight feature.
I don’t think I had done a photoshoot this big, apart from in Australia when I shot Club X from Queensland. However this was different, I found an old staircase so had an opportunity to shoot high up. I wanted to produce a nice staggered look like I’ve seen some other photographers do. I had it pretty much how I wanted it and was rather pleased with the result. We then moved the cars over a little bit and lined them up all side by side in the usual form.
If you can spot it, which I’m sure you can. The last car was owned by a female that I didn’t get the chance to speak to. It was amazingly clean and tidy, and fitted right in with the rest of the white cars. The only car that didn’t suit was Akifumi-san’s blue S15, we put it in the shot at the end just so he wouldn’t miss out on the fun.
At the end of the meet, (It wasn’t actually supposed to be a meet, but turned out to be one in the end anyway) just like the one in Kobe, we all got together for a group photo in front of all the cars. It was now time to head home, as the sun had set and all our lighting had gone. Michael had to leave early so I had no way of getting home, or did I? Kuriyama offered to take me to Osaka station in the white R32 GTR that his neighbour owned. Oh man, was it fast. I hadn’t been in so many fast cars until I went to Japan. We may have done one or two highway runs that night on the way home. I know I didn’t want to leave the car when we got to the train station, that was certain. It was only a short train ride back to Nishinakajima-Minamigata station, with a quick stop at Family Mart. I was then walking the dark roads of Osaka, thinking about a day that I never want to forget.
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Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable | Proofer: Chadd Davis
© Ambition Works 2015