Juicebox in Japan: Mountain Drifting in Fukushima
An hour had passed and I had started to feel like things were going sour. It started to drizzle so we stood in under the 24-hour vending machine area as we eagerly waited to see what would next.
Just as we had given up hope, someone comes running back over and asks us to get hop into another person’s Impreza. The Impreza owner seemed hesitant but it was too late we were already in the car.While some cars stayed behind a crew of us rolled out, the butterflies were at an all time high, I literally couldn’t believe what we had gotten ourselves into.
Somehow we were in the back of a total strangers car, three morons overly excited as S-chassis whizzed past.
The drive was long, almost an hour but it went by pretty quick, we were making small talk with the Impreza driver up front who appeared to be just as wiped out that three foreigners had made themselves at home in the back of his WRX.
We pulled into a car park and a convenient store, the guys had silencers put on pretty crudely with vice grips not to attract attention as they moved through residential areas, smart idea.
This shop was at the very base of the mountain. We parked up to get some food and drinks to wait and regroup with the others.
I never had such butterflies.What was basically a regular occurrence for a group of friends was a bucket list dream for any foreigner interested in drifting.
This is where it began and it doesn’t any further back to the roots of drifting than a couple of Japanese teenage friends heading up the mountains.Right out of the store car park the climb began. It was still a little residential so the guys drove slow, crazy turns traversing as the climb steepened.
With ever turn I could feel my heart racing, I’d have a quick look back from time to time just to absorb the fact there was a convoy of drift cars heading up the side of a mountain.
The drive up the mountain was an experience in itself, you could see the damaged guardrails but the roads were perfect. It baffles me how amazing that even these little B roads in Japan could have such a good surface. Bend after bend of absolute paradise.
Finally, we made it to a lay-by, the cars neatly packed in behind each other, it looked like a well-rehearsed maneuver. Quickly they popped the boot of each car and pulled out jacks, spare wheels, and other bits and rested them against the guardrail.
Quickly they popped the boot of each car and pulled out jacks, spare wheels, and other bits and rested them against the guardrail and started checking tyre pressure.
Regardless of the language barrier, we were all on the same page, language didn’t matter at this point, we were absolute buzzing for what came next.
They had a chat and then one of the younger guys asked me to jump in, Reuben jumped into the car behind me and both vehicles descended down to another lay-by below.
He waited for a moment, the suspense, another two cars came down to line up behind. Here turns to me and shouts “OK, I do nothing but nod back with a smile. He plants the accelerator and points the car for the first corner, the trusty SR began to scream its way up the mountain pass.
These kids were young; they were very excited by our presence how much we were enjoying the situation. To them, it was just another night of messing about.The young guy with the Red 180sx was nervous at first, not wanting to put on a bad show he kept missing gears and getting frustrated.
Once he loosened up he put on a proper show, I wish I had better photos but there was literally no light on the mountain except for that of another car’s headlamps.
Run after run the guys would head to the bottom and chase each other up the hill, no cops, traffic just perfect mountain roads to practice on. I had to keep pinching myself, a well-orchestrated scenario. Was this really happening?
We stayed up there for hours, laughing and joking about looking out over Fukushima city in the distance. How the fuck did we get so lucky to end up in such a situation?
This to me is honestly as genuine as drifting gets. Every icon to ever come out of Japanese drifting started this way, a bunch of friends on the mountain hanging out and pulling skids their domestic machines for a bit of adrenaline and excitement, something to do on the weekends as an escape from the strict life of Japan.
Trying to take in the fact that we were in the mountains of Fukushima prefecture, many of these guys have been through some serious shit, god knows what they had to deal with over the last few years and yet in this moment nothing mattered, it was pure joy.
All the years of watching old VHS footage of guys up the mountains and somehow we stumbled upon this group mirroring what the elders did, all these teams that westerners are trying mimicking now, the fact there was still a group of guys trying to come up with their own little team, something to behold indeed.
Each team we have obsessed about over the years, we felt honored to get a glimpse into what that was like. These guys called themselves “Crazy Street Style”. They even have a little blog and handed all of us some of their team stickers.
Young guys who were hooked on drifting in Japan. It was a reality check to hear that kids in Japan just aren’t into cars anymore. The guys told us they were a rare breed, street drifting and teenagers getting this stuff has become scarce over the years.
The cars that we have plucked from Japan are starting to dry up and become quite an expensive item for the younger generation which makes it hard for them to get into it. A cheap 180sx or AE86 is a thing of the past.
I’d imagine seeing a gang of young friends like “Crazy Street Style” up in the mountains is something you just won’t see anymore in the coming years and that’s pretty sad. The candle is burning at both ends…
Sad to hear how much it has shrunk in the place that created it but let’s not put a downer on such a great experience if anything allows it to be some food for thought. It became a topic we discussed quite a lot over the coming days in Japan. To think just how far drifting has come, fuck we were in Japan on this holiday because of this very activity,
We rolled back into town, the guys were racing each other through the deserted streets of Fukushima as we made our way back to the rest stop to get some sleep.
Rough and ready cars that had their own strange appeal.
It blew my mind how in such a regulated country these guys literally gave zero fucks rolling through the streets with proper rough and ready street cars drifting and doing drag launches at the lights.
Somehow stayed around laughing and chatting for another hour, still buzzing from the night language at this point did not matter.
That barrier was broken down hours before. I find it hard to explain and it may sound corny but the whole activity just transcended language and a translation didn’t make a difference come morning.
What more can be said, one of the best nights of our lives that happened by accident…
The crazy thing is this wasn’t the last of it! Stay tuned for more….
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