Monday, 28 April 2014

Nagoya - Beer, BBQ and Cruising with Junichi

Still buzzing from Mooneyes HRCS we took the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Motor show (it is held the same week as Mooneyes) at the "Tokyo Big Sight" an absolutely amazing venue, the best way to approach it is via the monorail, you get to see the amazing city scape of Tokyo while traveling to the motor show and it drops you at the "Big Sights" rail terminal leaving you only a short walk to the entrance of this wonderful piece of architecture, we thouroghly enjoyed the show, I highly recommend a visit, even the food there is great.

The following day we left for Nagoya, our plan was to visit Junichi Shimodaira at his workshop "Paradise Road Customs" arriving Wednsday afternoon we checked into our accommodation and as usual went for a walk around the area, Nagoya is a blue collar city steeped in traditional crafts with a proud manufacturing history, most of Japans large manufacturers are located here, we stumbled across some very interesting little workshops one, a shop run by a lovely gentleman who produced exquisitely hand crafted fishing gear, I bought a bait box made from bamboo, the simplicity and beauty of this most utilitarian of articles is a joy!

Later that evening we went out for a drink, the bar we were in did not serve meals, the publican suggested that we walk to the bar at the other end of the street, he said that it was famous for it's BBQ, we thanked him and followed his directions, we found a typically small Japanese bar, with the entrance set right on the corner of the building, the exquisite aroma of  the charcoal BBQ wafted from the doorway, as we entered we found that the grill was directly inside the door. At first we felt as if we were intruding this was very traditional "Izakaya" bar, serving food for eating whilst drinking we ordered BBQ skewers and beer, the beer came in 750ml bottles, long necks we call them in Australia, the food was good and the atmosphere very traditional.

The following morning we made our way to Paradise Road Customs to meet up with Junichi Shimodaira, (one of Japan's best Custom Car builders) when we arrived Jun's business partner told us that Jun was out but that we should feel free to look around the workshop, which we did, Jun's workshop was an Alladins cave of awesomeness custom cars, motorcycles, parts and just simply cool stuff everywhere and all the while Mariachi music played in the background, there was even a Mooneyes shop upstairs, whilst in the shop upstairs we took the opportunity to lighten our wallets somewhat. an hour later Jun arrived back at the shop, welcomed us and gave us the cooks tour the highlight of which was getting to sit in his award winning Hot Rod the "Galaxian" after the tour we sat for  a while drinking beer and talking, it's great the way a love of Custom cars and bikes makes friends of folks you only just met.

Eventually we got our stuff together and jumped into Jun's 63 Impala hardtop for the cruise over to Arts Body Customs run by Shingo Deguchi after meeting Shingo and the boys we spent an hour chewing the fat and checking out the shop, their speciality was traditional and Rat style Rods, we were made to feel completely at home they even shouted lunch,  they had a sweet traditional 32 five window Coupe in the shop which we had seen a couple of days before at Mooneyes as well as a T model rat looking long lean and low, and were currently putting together a Chev pickup as well, after lunch Shingo joined us in the Chevy as we waved farewell to the guys and headed for our next stop, Cholo's Customs.

Driving around Nagoya was an amazing experience the looks we got from the other drivers as we cruised past in the air bagged Chevy, Cheech and Chong blaring from the stereo was hilarious, we were obviously seen as being undesirables, however funnily enough the children traveling with their parents smiled and laughed with joy as Jun raised and dumped the Chev at each set of traffic lights, just as evening was decending we arrived at Cholo's Customs to be met by Hisashi who greeted us and invited us into his workshop again we were humbled by the way we were accepted, we spent a couple of hours eyeballing his fabulous 54 Chev, one of the nicest paint jobs I have seen, there was also a 68 Caddy and 49 Buick being worked on, Cholo's were more into Low Riders, with the Buick having the mother of all channel jobs, it was laying frame! As all things must our time there came to an end and Jun drove us back to central Nagoya, we thanked him for his hospitality and made our way back to the Hostel.

Again we stepped out of a few drinks and some food before turning in. The next morning we ate at a small cafe in a nearby shopping precint before setting out to do some more sight seeing, the range of beautiful wares for sale in the shops was mind boggling, beautifully handcrafted dolls, second hand kimono's and collectibles all caught our attention as we enjoyed our last day in Nagoya, we were hoping to visit the Smash Head Bar a Motorcycle workshop and Bar combined the problem being we had only the vaguest of ideas as to it's location, as luck would have it we stumbled across a diminutive Kustom Kulture store called Vise Clothing run by a young Biker (Yoshiki) and his wife, what a discovery so many goodies in such a small area, and best of all the Smash Head Bar was just around the corner and owned by friends of Yoshiki's, talk about serendipity, Yoshiki, Steve and I walked to the bar and sat down to some of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten, washed down of course by a Kirin or two, the owners invited us to return for the band that night, as luck would have it we were leaving for Aomori in the morning and had arranged to meet some people for drinks that evening.

So our stay in Nagoya ended in a haze of, I think alcohol, I am unsure because we had a night similar to that in the movie Bucks Night, suffering from De-hydration and lack of sleep as we borded the train to Tokyo where we would catch the Shinkansen for Aomori,  we were totally blown away by the friendliness of the people we had met during our stay in Nagoya.  

Please join me for the next instalment of our 2011 Japanese adventure - Pure Tourism in Aomori and Hakodate, for a white pre Christmas.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Bonnie and Clyde, Rods, Rats and Rides :- Rockabilly Lifestyle Festival 2014

The first of the Bonnie and Clyde, Rods, Rats and Rides :- Rockabilly Lifestyle Festivals was Held at Tatura, a small farming town north of Melbourne Victoria, Ron, Dave, myself and a friend of Rons Jim made the one and a half hour run upto Tatura on Friday afternoon arriving around 3.00 pm we had booked into the Tatura Caravan Park in Hastie St which was next to the show venue, Shayne our host was terrific very friendly and loved a laugh he showed us to our cabins which were clean and very comfortable, I would recommend the park as a great place to stay.

Just finished putting together a video of the event, Enjoy!

After unloading our gear I set up my Cameras and we headed to the venue to register, there was already  some nice rides, and their owners who were having an ale or two, we had a quick look around then headed into town to pickup some groceries and beer, then it was back to the Caravan park for a relaxing night, with a shared meal plenty of good conversation and a "few" drinks, we turned in early expecting Saturday to be a long one.

Saturdays weather was perfect blue skies and sunshine Tatura had really turned it on, the show was under way as we parked up then went for a look the show was held at Tatura park an ideal spot for this type of event, with fabulous facilities and plenty of space to display the vehicles and for the vendors to set up there was even a camping area. the organisers had aimed to bring a wide variety of cars together setting a cut off date of pre 1976 model Cars and Bikes, there were Rods, Customs, Drag Cars, even a 1965 Falcon drift Car, all of which did quite a few laps of the cruise track, it was fantastic watching lumpy blown V8 door slammers, Gassers and even a front engined Rail cruising the sound was to die for.

The organiser did not neglect the Musical side of things either all throughout the day a selection of musician and bands played entertaining the considerable crowd, food was excellent supplied by the locals in the Football club rooms, the Vendor stalls were selling Vintage clothes, hand made furniture some made from wine barrels, some made using Beer kegs (seems like a theme running there), after a full day of admiring the Cars and bikes we relaxed with a few more drinks then got changed an went for a meal at one of the local pubs, it was a bit of a disappointment next year we will try the other Hotel I think.

After the meal we returned to the Venue to catch the Elvis tribute show which was part of the evenings entertainment, I am not that into Elvis impersonators, so was not totally looking forward to seeing the show, but by the end of the show we were all singing a long and having a ball, no complaints here although I can't work out why so many impersonators only do the later overweight Elvis, you don't see to many young hip swinging Elvis's. After the show it was time to retire for the night, yeah right! we ended up talking or should I say bullshitting until the wee small hours, oh well someones gotta do it.

Sunday was a carbon copy of Saturday, fine weather and and lots to see, a couple of other guys from our Car Club Strangebreed CC came up for the day and with them came a could of girls Toby's Girlfriend Lyndal who has modelled for me before and a friend of hers Vonnie, they had come prepared and looked Gorgeous so we took the opportunity to do some pinup pics, I was pretty happy with the results and would like to thank the folks who allowed us to use their Cars and Bikes. I had a ball at the show as did the other guys and Gals with me, I got some fabulous photos, and shot a heap of Video which I will cut into a movie of the event and spent a weekend away with good friends sharing our love of Custom Vehicles, as this was the first year the number of Cars and Bikes on display was not huge, however I am sure this show will grow to become one of the best in Victoria, Thanks and well done to the organisers, see you there next year.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom Show 2011

After Leaving Tokyo steve and I headed to Yokohama for the Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom show, held at the Pacifico Centre, the HRCS is usually held on the first Sunday in December and runs for 1 day only, however having said that you can front up on the Saturday and watch everything getting set up, no one seems to mind, if you are an overseas visitor or an invited guest they hold The little get together party on the Saturday evening it is a fabulous chance to meet up with some mazing people from the very famous to average joes, but the one thing you will all have in common is the love of Kustom Kulture.

Shige puts on a feed and some bands then the invited guests are introduced to the audience, everyone stands around talking and getting to know one another and in typical Japanese style everything is very well organised, there are usually one or two parties to go to afterwards as well so pace yourself, you will be in for a big night and you need to be up early if you are going to see everything, remember you have one day to see everything Mooneyes has to offer and you will need every minute of it.

When the doors open and you along with god knows how many others stream int the venue you will find any where unto 250 Cars maybe 600 plus Motorcycles, an Art Exhibition, Pinstripers bands and  Vendor Stalls, your head will spin with the Variety of Custom Machinery on display, the quality of work is in some cases beyond belief but mostly just plain amazing, the Japanese do Custom very well, by the end of the day 15000 people will have come through those doors to admire some of the best Custom Cars and Bikes the world has to offer, and it is not all American based Vehicles the domestic Japanese stuff is killer with Toyota, Nissan and Isuzu's customised to the point where you will not recognise them and bikes such as Honda CT 90's and Yamaha XS 500's which have been Customised in ways you would never have imagined.

This was my introduction to Mooneyes HRCS, don't take my word for it, go and look for yourself.

Check out some pics of the show

Bye for now