I’m back in sunny Singapore after a weekend in Japan for the Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS) 2012! The weather here is soooooo hot, warm and humid; completely unlike the cold and chilly temperatures in Tokyo.
It was my first time attending TAS and I went for two days – Friday and Saturday. I took a night flight out on Thursday night and landed at Haneda Airport at 5am on Friday. A friend picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to the car parks at Messe Makuhari, but the doors to TAS only open at 9am so I slept in the car for a while first. I wasn’t the only one doing that – the car parks were full of cars from all over Japan (you can tell from the number plates – some drove 500 over miles just to come for the show!) and they were sleeping in their cars as well.
The car parks of TAS could have been another TAS altogether with many crazy modified cars such as this one:
Friday morning (up to 1pm) was open to press only and so it wasn’t crowded, giving us journalists and photographers ample space to get the shots we want. However, Saturday was a totally different story altogether. Any way you turn you will knock into someone and you had to wrestle your way to get a shot of the girls or wait for people to walk past or get out of the frame before you can capture any shots of the cars.
It was just amazing – amazingly crowded. I can’t even imagine how crowded Sunday would be – I didn’t go back to find out. :p
I worked hard on Friday to get most of the shots I needed so I could take my time to stroll on Saturday, although not without fighting the crowds. I was hovering at the Liberty Walk/LB Performance booth when Keiichiro Sugita of Liberty Walk came up to me and said he remembers me from 2009 Asia Auto Salon in Singapore. That was two years ago! Good – means I haven’t changed much:) He gave me a copy of their Liberty Walk promotional DVD featuring all their works and insisted on taking a photo of me with their GOLDEN Lambo…
For Saturday, I took a train out from my hotel in Shinagawa to the Auto Salon and it took me almost 2 hours to get there! By the time I got there it was already 1pm and the D1GP demo was in progress. Our dear Formula Drift ASEAN 2011 champion Daigo Saito was performing and he won the little competition they had as part of the demo! (That’s Daigo in the red car – it’s his No. 4 car btw and it was running on Achilles’ ATR Sport 2 tyres which Daigo loves and gave positive feedback about.)
At the drift demo, it was nice to see familiar faces and for a fleeting moment it felt like Formula Drift ASEAN. Some of the M150 Overdrive drifters from Thailand were there, along with Achilles’ senior management Edward Mamahit and Robbie Nishida, Daigo’s best friend and translator.
That night we went for dinner at a Yakiniku restaurant in Shinjuku that was featured in some Thai TV programme and the M150 Overdrive guys wanted to try it.
We ate too much that night – from meat…
… to tongues! (No, I did not try these tongues at all.)
I decided not to return for a third time to Tokyo Auto Salon on Sunday and instead took the day off to go exploring in Tokyo. I was putting up in a hotel at Shinagawa and check-out time was 10am! I assumed it was 12nn and so when the reception called me at 10.30am I was still unpacked and in my nightgown, oops. I managed to get out by 11am and walked around Shinagawa a little before heading out to Shibuya.
Right outside my hotel (I was staying at Keikyu EX Inn at Shinagawa GOOS) was a Singapore seafood restaurant called Singapore Seafood Republic! More about that in a separate post…
As it is a Sunday, the trains were pretty packed and people were everywhere in Shibuya. I shopped by myself for about 2 hours before going to Shinjuku to join Formula Drift USA 2011 champion Daijiro Yoshihara and his friends from the US who were in Tokyo for the Auto Salon too. After judging at Formula Drift Malaysia last month, Dai flew straight to Japan and has been home since, before returning to the States next month to start preparing for the 2012 FD season.
His friends were doing a beer-gutting/bar-hopping day-long stint (they just finished lunch!) and I joined them for the first two rounds. Here’s Round 1 at a place owned by Asahi:
Part of the group included GREDDY USA president Kenji, Mackin’s motorsports GM Edward and Road & Track’s assistant road test editor Calvin… I had a dinner appointment so I had to break away from the group, how sad!
Dinner was a quiet affair with PETRONAS Syntium Team manager Gen and his daughter Runa (left in picture above) at TGIFridays at Shinagawa GOOS. My luggage was still there so for my convenience we had dinner there, thank you for driving out over an hour from home just to take me to dinner and then send me to the airport!
Runa is such a sweetie pie! She’s only 15 years old and still in high school – that makes me an entire decade older than her, sheesh! She speaks wonderful English as she goes to international school so we could communicate well. In fact, she had a grammar test the next day but wanted to come out and meet me! Aawww, thanks sweets!
That was my brief TAS weekend in Japan – it’s Chinese New Year next week so it’s home for the time being.
Till my next trip!
For more of my photos from the 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon, view here: