Juicebox in Japan: Steal a Persons Heart
We found it hard to sleep the first night. The anticipation was a little overwhelming. I haven’t had that many situations as I grew old where I had butterflies like being a kid, excited about the unknown of what you may encounter the next day, imagination was running wild.
Today would be a chance to check many things off of the nerdy car bucket list, the first of them was Visit and Up Garage. Up Garage for those who are unaware is a used car parts store, essentially a second-hand shop for modified car parts and they are scattered throughout Japan. Unfortunately, it was closed so we decided to set the sat Nav for a few Tuning shops.
Nothing was going to prepare us for a scene like this. It’s like your first car experience in Japan virginity being taken, that feeling is hard to replicate, the anticipation as we were driving down the road only to accidently stumble on this little gem, there was nothing like it.
Between a sea of suburban houses, this tuning shop stuck out like a sore thumb. I nearly made the guys crash the Van as I started shouting and pointing. Out of nowhere some of the coolest machines, I had ever laid eyes on were just casually up on the side of the road.
It was just like I had imagined. Cars scattered all around the premises. No fences, no security, nothing, just some super smart old guy playing around with cars. It’s hard to grasp just how safe Japan is and how nothing really gets vandalized, this type of setup just couldn’t exist anywhere else.
The shop was called APM factory, and just like I had always imagined a place like it to be the whole setting surpassed my expectations. Being the first shop we found I think the owner was a taken back, it was an early morning and he was tinkering with the Skyline and we were like little children.
He soon smiled and realized were loving every inch of the place, I asked if we could shoot photos… “Shashin,” I asked which means photography in Japanese, he smiled and gave me a nod. Still a little intimidated, I nervously walked around his little world taking snaps.
This was a pretty hardcore shop, specialising in Skylines and some pretty top end ones! I’ll never forget how sweaty my palms got, the whole scene was a little much to process at once so I just started snapping everything in sight. I had to laugh at my reaction.
I found myself repeating the same sentences over and over to Reuben…. “This is the best cars I have ever seen in real life” That would be a sentence I would wear out by the end of the trip.
It amazes me that Japan is just littered with little shops like this, some corner of a housing estate with a Garage and a few cars, easily a couple of hundred grand worth of Japanese goodness in various states. This sort of car culture is what makes this place so special.
Inside a whole other collection of madness was to be found. I didn’t want to be too nosey so I walked over and took a quick peek.
An R34 GTR being rebuilt next to a fantastic looking 33. A total overload for the mind this place was Skyline heaven, the best of the best.
I said it in the last post and I’ll say it here again, every idea of what I expected a tuning shop to be, this was it, nothing really prepares you for it, especially when you get a good one.
The premises looked to have a showroom and then living space, it was sort of like a mini block of apartments with the tuning shop completely surrounding it. Up the alley was a mountain of Skyline bumpers and all sorts.
At the rear was another part to the Garage, possibly the older workshop? Surrounding it was another collection of 32 GTRs.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea this place existed, I think this made for a better experience as we were caught off guard when it sprung up on us. This was the first proper taste of what we were craving all these years and it was only going to get better.
Not wanting to hang around for too long we thanked the owner and left, he still looked a little confused, maybe being so used to working on all this stuff he didn’t really get our enthusiasm or excitement, or maybe he just thought it was hilarious, either way, it was entertaining.
When we thought we had enough we stumbled upon this Bomex faced Supra down the alley which further added the Giddy mood we had just out ourselves in. Japan really does live up to its expectations.
Google maps are the real hero of this trip. As we made our way around the country it would bring us into the most unusual of places, down some weird back roads. Some of the best stuff we encountered on our trip was by accident.
The next shop on the list was Endless. I had to laugh, this place was in the middle of nowhere. One of the most famous shops in Japan just placed in between a sea of rice fields.
Asides from Having one of the best slogans ever, “Steal a Persons heart” Endless built their name in the nineties when Drag racing was king.
They had built some of the most infamous Japan has ever seen fully specialising in creating monsters. This GTR just casually parked up out front was insane.
The shop was very cool. A stack of their trophies from Various wins over the years and scattering of various parts and magazines all Skyline related.
Just like APM factory Endless had a relaxed vibe, everything outside of any big city does, just a bunch of very talented guys tuning cars with people traveling from all over Japan to get work done.
It was still quite early in the morning so the workers were a little confused by a guy with a massive ginger beard and one with ginger hair peeping in with a camera.
Eventually, we used a little bit of Google translate and everything was cool. I can’t put into words how epic this scene looks in real life. There is nowhere else on the planet where this kind of stuff goes down in such a casual setting.
The language barrier is tough, eventually, you find common ground to laugh. The owner started pointing at Reubens ginger beard calling him a Viking and workers started coming in for a look. We showed up uninvited to these places, which is a no-no as these are normal working hours. When on a holiday you tend to forget that pretty easily.
Reuben tried to buy a lighter and the owner gave us three. Not only that but he chased after us to ensure each of them was working before giving them out. Something ill never forget. We waited half of our lives to see some weird little shop in the middle of nowhere now we had some funny memories from this place
Endless and APM factory were like settings from a movie or magazine, the best Japanese machinery in the world casually parked in its natural habitat with us foreigners dropping jaws and yet these people it was just another business as usual day in Japan.
Our idea was to cram as many of these Iconic shops into our trip on our way up the country, after all, we were here on a car holiday to feed our eager little Japanese car obsessed minds, this stuff was like crack, we wanted more and more! We hit the road with one or two more in mind.
Stay tuned for more next week!