Yokohama (横浜), located to the south of Tokyo (東京) in the Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県) of Japan (日本). It’s Japan’s (日本) 2nd largest city with a population of 3.7 million residents. We’ll be visiting some iconic places in Yokohama (横浜) and doing most of it with little to no sleep. So sit back, and enjoy what we call one great day of automotive hunting in such a famous city like Yokohama (横浜).
Where we currently live in the Chugoku Region (中国地方) takes approximately 9 hours by car to Tokyo City (東京都), according to Google Maps. However, with multiple stops, and a short 1-hour nap, the whole journey took around 11 to 12 hours. We left Friday night after work and spent the whole night and morning driving to our destination in Yokohama (横浜).
Tolls, tolls, and more tolls. It was an expensive weekend regarding these fabulous roads. I’m actually rather grateful for them, because without toll roads, the route would be much less direct. Our whole drive was done sticking to only one toll road, which ended up putting us back around 12,000 yen, not too bad if there is more than one person in the car.
We arrived in Yokohama (横浜) around 9 am. If you’ve been to Japan (日本), you’d know nothing is open in the morning. It’s Japan’s (日本) style. Everything opens late and closes late. So while we waited for the doors of our first stop to open, we had an all too delicious breakfast at one of the many convenience stores located at every street corner in Japan (日本).
10:00 am, and the doors to Nismo (ニスモ) had opened for us. A shop that I honestly didn’t know that much about. The first thing you’re welcomed to when you open the door is one of their championship winning cars plastered to the wall. The real thing, just hanging there, on its side.
The shop was home to only a few show cars, and a few iconic legends, three in fact. Pictures don’t portray the presents that these cars have well enough. Definitely recommend viewing the Nismo (ニスモ) headquarters for yourself. The right side of the showroom consisted of three fully Nismo (ニスモ) equipped Nissans (日産). The brand new GT-R hiding down in the back, and of all things a March.
The walls were lined with trophies from their many wins in various championships, along with engines hiding in the back, brand new RB26s sitting in their product showroom, old helmets from past drivers on show behind glass cabinets. Even the toilet room handles were made from camshafts from retired Nissans (日産).
The workshop next door separated by only a wall of class was where all the magic happened. Every kind of Skyline was sitting in the shop, anything RB of VQ lay under all of those bonnets. Full-scale wind tunnels, painting booths, multiple lifts. They had it all, everything that is needed to make an ordinary Nissan (日産) into one with the Nismo (ニスモ) badge that is loved by so many.
The next place we wanted to visit wasn’t actually open until midday on the weekends. Midday? That’s something that really confuses me in Japan (日本), I guess they’re not morning people as a whole. We made our way over a few bridges, avoiding all of the toll roads we could, as they didn’t save much time when travelling a short distance, but usually cost a fair amount, or have a fixed price even if you are only travelling 3km on them.
Autobacs (オートバックス) is a pretty common place in Japan (日本), with every city having at least one of these shops. They usually stock common car accessories, and I have come to call them more of a dress-up shop rather than an actual shop that has car parts to help fix your car. Although Super Autobacs (スーパーオートバックス) is another story, there are only a few of these ‘Super’ shops located throughout Japan (日本).
With most car shops in Japan (日本), you can usually find something nice outside. While we were admiring this modified 86, a foreigner came up to us. Where I live, foreigners aren’t so common, but in big cities like Yokohama (横浜), they’re not so strange. This man started talking to us about how he tried to leave Japan (日本) for a quiet life back in New Zealand. He then went on to tell us that he transported his 6 or so cars with him. Then all of a sudden he changed his mind and said he liked living in Japan (日本) better, so he came back. I’m not sure how much I believed or why he was telling us about it, but it sure made the day that little bit more interesting.
If it’s your first time visiting a Super Autobacs (スーパーオートバックス), give yourself about an hour or so to look through the whole shop! There is so much stuff, maybe too much stuff for just one car shop to hold in stock. Downstairs was home to all the usual stuff, and upstairs was where the expensive aftermarket items lay, like full exhaust systems, expensive adjustable suspension, cafes, and vending machines, as well as rest areas. Downstairs, you could find items such as, seats, wheels, tyres, lights, gauges, gear knobs, dress-up items, seat cushions, car covers, speakers, navigation systems, dash cams, just to name a few. By this time the clock was ticking, and we decided to fill our stomachs with some food at our next stop.
A short drive away took us to another famous place in the Yokohama (横浜) area. This one was known for modifying American cars, but it also had a cafe situated on the premises. Outside the front of the shop on the main road sat four of its old classic American cars, which look to be in the same condition that they were in 30 or 40 years ago.
MOONEYES (ムーンアイズ). If you don’t know what this means, who this is, or even just heard of the name, you’re missing out. My first encounter with the brand was through a Speedhunters article a couple of years ago. Without reading that article, I might not have been able to visit this shop and all the crazy yet satisfyingly different things it had to offer.
The inside was packed, and I mean packed with items upon items of Mooneyes (ムーンアイズ) branded equipment. Front shirts to magnets, buckets, stickers, number plates, and so on. Downstairs was the same situation, lots of interesting and unique products to Mooneyes (ムーンアイズ), as well as a diner. An American styled diner where we would have lunch. It was good to have a normal burger again, Japanese (日本人) aren’t really known for making European style burgers. So I ordered the biggest burger I could find with extra toppings and a nice thick shake. Boy was it good, but also extremely expensive, hitting around the 3500 yen mark.
Out the back of the shop was a show workshop, where they presented a few of their creations. Colourful paint and pinstripes were the usual at the Mooneyes (ムーンアイズ) workshop. Today there was this modified 2 wheeler with an orange painted fuel tank and rear wheel cover, sitting in front of an old American engine.
Z28, the mighty Chevrolet Camaro. The Moon Automotive Speed and Customs shop was set-up to please the onlooker, and they sure did that. It was starting to hit early afternoon and without any sleep that night, we were slowly turning into the walking dead.
Before we left, we happened to run into some people wearing a Circle Jerk Crew t-shirt from New Zealand, what are the chances? I didn’t know them personally but they had come to Japan (日本) for their own adventure. We told them about Stance Nation the following day, which they didn’t know about, so hopefully, that event made their trip a little bit better.
We made our way to the accommodation we had purchased in Yokohama (横浜), a massive house beside the river where we caught up on some sleep before heading out that night. Only a few hours, but it was needed as we wouldn’t see the bed again until early hours of the morning the next day.
As you would have it, one of New Zealand’s pro-sport drivers from D1NZ was in Japan (日本) the same time as us. We picked them up from the Yokohama station (横浜駅) and made our way to the place we would be having dinner. During the short trip, this crazy inspired 86 popped up out of nowhere, how cool is it?
Our last stop for this article, but not for the night, was Bunny Cafe (バニーカフェ)! This was where we would have dinner, in this drift inspired cafe. I wasn’t expecting too much food-wise, but it was actually rather impressive and priced well. After dinner and a few beers, we tried our luck on their VR racing simulator for a few rounds at Ebisu (エビス) , not as easy as you’d think it would be, that’s for sure.
After our stop at Bunny Cafe (バニーカフェ), we visited Daikoku Futo PA (大黒ふ頭駐車場), where it was absolutely packed, and then followed the many mazes to Tatsumi PA (辰巳第駐車場), only to find out the police had shut it off to the public. Our heads hit the pillows back at our apartment sometime around 3 am that night. That’s how you experience Yokohama (横浜) in one day, we went to Nismo (ニスモ) , Super Autobacs (スーパーオートバックス) , Mooneyes (ムーンアイズ), Bunny Cafe (バニーカフェ), and Daikoku Futo PA (大黒ふ頭駐車場) which is also located in Yokohama (横浜). If you’re interested in doing a trip like this around the Yokohama (横浜) area but don’t know where to start, feel free to message us.
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Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable
© Ambition Works 2013 – 2016
New Japanese words and how to pronounce them:
Yokohama (横浜) = yoko-hama
Yokohama station (横浜駅) = yoko-hama-eki
Tokyo (東京) = tou-kyou
Tokyo City (東京都) = tou-kyou-to
Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県) = kana-gawa-ken
Chugoku Region (中国地方) = chuu-goku-chi-hou
Japan (日本) = ni-hon
Japanese (日本人) = ni-hon-jin
Nissan (日産) = nis-san
Daikoku Futo PA (大黒ふ頭駐車場) = dai-koku-fu-tou-chuu-sha-jou
Tatsumi PA (辰巳第駐車場) = tatsu-mi-dai-chuu-sha-jou
Nismo (ニスモ) = nisumo
Autobacs (オートバックス) = outobakkusu
Super Autobacs (スーパーオートバックス) = suupaa-outobakkusu
Mooneyes (ムーンアイズ) = muun-aisu
Bunny Cafe (バニーカフェ) = banii-kafei
Ebisu (エビス) = ebisu