While I was at Tokyo Auto Salon I’d been tipped off about a small drift event that would be taking place at Meihan the following Wednesday, organised by the N-Style crew (Naoki Nakamura etc.). The only problem was that the weather forecast was predicting heavy snow, so I held off making any travel plans until the day before so as to ensure that the weather wouldn’t be too extreme.
In the middle of the afternoon on the Tuesday while at Tokyo Disneyland with my girlfriend, Shane from Stacked Inc. shot me a message to let me know that the chances of snow looked slim and that I should head down to Osaka that evening. If I’d have been in the UK, the thought of travelling 300 miles or so on public transport to go to a drift event would put me off the idea completely but, of course, this is Japan, so it’s no problem at all to rock up at the station, buy a ticket for a super fast Shinkansen train and relax in the knowledge that you will actually arrive at your destination on time.
After rushing to catch the train back to Tokyo from Disneyland, hopping on a couple of subways to the hotel in Akasaka, grabbing my camera gear and then riding the subways back to Tokyo station, I was quickly on a Shinkansen heading towards Shin-Osaka station at high speed.
Catching trains and subways in Tokyo isn’t too difficult at all as the majority of the signs and tannoy announcements have English translations, but the further away you get from the city things become progressively less tourist friendly. I was reminded of this when I arrived at Shin-Osaka and had to figure out how to catch a local train to Izumiotsu, which is the nearest station to the Stacked Inc. yard.
After catching a train heading in completely wrong direction for half an hour (thanks to a very friendly but perhaps confused station attendant) on a line that had no English signage, I managed to fluke my way onto a train heading to the more familiar Osaka station where I hopped on the Osaka Loop Line and then caught what would be my final train that travelled down the Osaka coastline until it thankfully reached Izumiotsu after what felt like forever.
Extremely relieved to have arrived where I needed to be, Unimpressed Rob from Stacked collected me and drove me the short distance to the Stacked yard. After the gleaming show cars and bustling crowds of Auto Salon, it felt good to be back amongst an array of beaten up drift cars and related parts. The PS13 above was Rob’s car which he was trying to sell at the time (it might still be for sale).
Rob had also been driving around in this Honda Vamos, which at the time was sat in the yard playing music to soundtrack the work going down in preparation for the following day’s drifting.
I’d never imagined myself owning one of these little kei vans until I experienced them in person during my first visit to Japan. The practicality of having an economic little van with a sliding door, a flat rear floor and a huge amount of luggage space is massively appealing.
Toshihiro rocked up in his beaten 180SX; it was cool to see this car in person after having seen countless Instagram videos of it flying along the Meihan wall.
Jamie had every intention of drifting his 180 at Meihan the next day, which was no mean feat considering his engine had been out of the car and receiving new bottom end bearings during the afternoon. It was not long past midnight at this point and all of the major work was done, with the usual fluid bleeding and fine tuning being done with help from Stacked’s trusty forklift.
Frustratingly, the clutch master cylinder pin seemed to be causing the most issues and didn’t have enough adjustment to allow for safe and reliable clutch operation.
Between Jamie and Rob though they sussed it out and time could then be spent getting the S13 looking presentable again, along with fitting a new pair of crystal side lights.
At some point between 2 and 3am the work was done and it was time to get some sleep. This involved me setting up camp in the passenger seat of Stacked’s V36 Skyline outside the yard gates and throwing my coat over my head to shield me from the dazzling light from the nearby lampposts and to try and mask the noise of the heavy and relentless rain.
I was almost relieved to wake up and realise I’d managed to oversleep but thankfully the guys were running a little late, so I quickly headed over to the nearest Lawson to pick up food and drink supplies (along with the standard Japan convenience store umbrella) for the day ahead.
On a side note, eating in Japan is very difficult as a veggie; even if you can translate the labels on the packaging, you’ll still be non-the-wiser as to what’s in the food! Admittedly, the explosion of new vegetarian and vegan restaurants in central Tokyo has made things a lot easier for those travelling through the area but the idea has definitely not spread any further around the country. A tip for any other veggies travelling the country to race tracks and other places off the beaten path is to always stock up on as many egg sandwiches from convenience stores as possible, as well as croissants and various other pastry items.
I’ve had a weird goal of one day being able to drive a car to a Lawson/Family Mart/7-11 and take a photo outside of it, much like we see so many Japanese car guys doing week in week out. Sure, I’d always imagined it being a battered S-body of some kind but, nevertheless, it felt good to tick this weird little achievement off my Japan to do list.
Once back at the yard, daylight meant I was able to check out the Shirtstuckedin Suzuki Wagon R in greater detail.
There wasn’t any time to waste though; I was soon back in the V36 Skyline (with Rob driving again) and heading to Meihan, wishing that the seemingly endless rain wouldn’t ruin the day’s action. Stay tuned for more Meihan coverage.