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日本を見つけた: The Eastern Snowfall

Japan, 日本を見つけた

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It’s been quite some time since I posted something about the ‘日本を見つけた’ series; I believe the last one was on the Sky Tree.  I suppose now that we have some new followers I should bring them up to speed on it.  The ‘Finding Japan’ posts are just my way of taking a break from the automotive side of this blog, and focus more on Japan itself.

I’m a little late with this, but no doubt you’ve heard of the record snow fall in Tokyo over the past few weeks, and for good reason.  Japan was hit with over a foot of snow last weekend (27cm), that’s the most snowfall in decades.  Dramatic weather like this always comes with it’s downsides, and this instance was no exception; major transportation delays and cancellations, injuries, and unfortunately even some deaths came about as a result.  This is definitely a noteworthy event in Japan both good and bad.

The picture above was taken from my good friends porch at his house in Yokohama.  This is the street I’ve driven on countless times and it’s completely invisible.  Buried under feet of snow…

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The next morning just down the street revealed fields just blanketed in fresh powder.

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Untouched streets as no one dared go out and drive in the snow – as not many people were prepared for such weather.

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While it was still fresh, and since no one was out and about, it was good for playing and sledding.  You can see the water that used to drip down this pole frozen in place.

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Even my friends in the Chiba area were messaging me about the insane amount of snow.  I’ve been to Japan quite a few times in the winter but I’ve never got to experience something like this.

I thought it was really cool, so I figured I’d share.  Thanks to Sekinei for the shots!

One Shot: 出発点 – タツミPA

Automotive, Japan, JDM, One Shot

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Spent a good amount time at Tatsumi PA last night with a couple friends.  The moist, warm air, the late night atmosphere, good people, the coffee, the cars; it’s nice being back here.  It’ll be pretty quiet in here over the weekend, as I’ll be in Motegi at Idlers, but I’ll have plenty to share in the coming weeks.

 

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日本を見つけた – Solamachi & Tokyo Sky Tree

Japan, 日本を見つけた

I’ve recently been noticing that many of NDF’s viewers are not only interested in learning about Japanese cars and motor sport culture; they are also interested in learning about Japan itself.  Looking back on my first visit to Japan almost seven years ago, I can definitely say that it wasn’t for automotive photography, but for many other reasons.  So after toying with a few thoughts, I came up with this idea:

For 2013, I’d like to begin a new series named “日本を見つけた” (Nihon wo mitsuketa); which roughly translates into ‘Finding Japan’, or something along those lines.  In these posts I will do my best to highlight and provide information on certain architectural landmarks, famous locations, various activities, cultural exploits, and other points of interest.  I feel that these will be a nice compliment to the motor sport and automotive lifestyle coverage, who’s existence is ultimately due to Japan being the country that it is.  By sharing more than just one aspect of Japan, I hope to broaden the range of people who might be interested in Japanese motor sport and what it has to offer.  Perhaps through these posts, you will be able to see similarities and ties between the two when you take a look at the country outside of the automotive view.

Let’s start it off with a trip to the Tokyo Sky Tree.

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Completed in February of 2012, with a public opening date in May, this 634 meter broadcast tower is now the tallest structure in Japan.  It also takes home the prize for tallest tower in the world, and comes second in tallest structure in the world, just behind the Burj Khalifa.  This project was undertaken as a means to replace the aging Tokyo Tower, which is used mainly for broadcasting television and radio signals throughout a good portion of the country.

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I took the above picture in 2010 from a park just above Ueno station.  At this point in the construction, the Sky Tree was already the tallest structure in Japan.

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Walking up to the base…

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Which is literally in the center of a neighborhood in Sumida.  My friend and I had climbed some stairs on the side of a relatively large apartment complex to get an overview.  Very organized don’t you think?

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Fast forward two years to today and the pile of ruble, and debris that was once a construction site, has been transformed into the city’s newest hub for dining, shopping and entertainment; with the Sky Tree as the focal point.  This new surrounding area was named ‘ソラマチ’, or Sky Town.

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The Sky Town is filled with lots of neat shops and activities; one I particularly enjoyed was the Donguri Garden, where they sold all sorts of Studio Ghibli goods. Although they were sold out of Neko Bus plushes…

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While the Sky Town is a great ancillary attraction, as well as a great place to blow wads of cash, the view from the Sky Tree’s observation decks is what people truly come for.  The first of which stands at a modest 350 meters (~1,150 feet) high.  Needless to say, the views are breathtaking…

 

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To be able to see the entire length of the Sumida River as it cuts through the bridges of Nihonbashi, and leads into Daiba was pretty cool to me.  Literally, you could see all of Tokyo; and this wasn’t even the highest of observation decks.

 

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It’s fun to pick out all the architectural design features of all the buildings next door – like the open terraced garden/park thing in the roof of this building.  If you didn’t know any better you’d think this was a computer rendering.

 

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Before getting my second ticket (another $25) and heading up to the second observation deck, I enjoyed a cup of coffee from the Sky Tree Cafe.

 

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I walked out of the second elevator in front of this guy, who was wearing a rather appropriate wind breaker (or very inappropriate if you view it a different way).  The second observation deck is much smaller, with a winding path that spirals the tower’s core.

 

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I took a minute to reach as far as I could to grab a shot like this, in which you could see the roof of the first observation deck.  This is zoomed in obviously, but the very top deck stands at a massive 450 meters tall (almost 1,500 feet).  Little note of interest – the foot bridge at the bottom left of the picture is Oshinarihashi, it is where I took the 5th picture in this post ^^

 

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A look down at Solamachi and the Tobu rail lines.

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All around the windows people gathered to take in the views; it makes for a very relaxed, special atmosphere.  Despite living in Tokyo, and seeing it every day, it’s nice to escape to places like this and see it in a different light.

 

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Since I visited in Autumn, the staff had placed nice, minimal decorations throughout the tower; a nice touch that some would overlook.

 

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I was meeting a friend at the base of the tower that night, so I decided I would stay inside until the sun set.  It was nice getting to see the transformation of the city as it transitioned from day to night.  I’ll leave off with this shot towards Daiba at dusk; can you recognize any famous buildings?  I hope you enjoyed the first part of this new series – although I don’t plan on doing these often, depending on the reaction I get, I will try do them more frequently.  Thanks for visiting.

One Shot: アキバ EVO cruise

Automotive, Japan, One Shot

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I had to make a quick run to Akihabara one afternoon (I say ‘had’ because I don’t particularly enjoy going there) to pick up something from ヨドバシカメラ, a.k.a  12 story Mega brain hemorrhage electronic/everything store, for a friend back home.  One good thing about walking through the city though is that you get a chance to get shots like this.  I like seeing tuned cars on Japan’s city streets; it’s such an unusual backdrop for a subject that looks more fitting on circuit rather than waiting at a red light.  I caught this mildly tuned EVO9 making a left as I was walking back to the station.

 

 

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Close-Up: オミオさんのlowdownスカイラインHCR32

Automotive, Close-Up, Japan

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Looking back at the pictures from Nao’s 90’s Cafe Meet at Heiwajima PA, I’m realizing that the turnout was quite good; better than I had anticipated actually.  Throughout the night, various cars from the 90’s era came and went, made greetings and introductions, made small talk over coffee and cigarettes, and left to go enjoy the rest of the evening.  Of the many cars that turned out, this HCR32 was one of my favorite.  The car belongs to Omio-san, and I’m thankful he happily obliged to stage it for me to take a couple photos.  The parking spaces are quite narrow, so you really can’t get any good shots without moving the cars around.

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The first thing you’ll likely notice about this coupe is how incredibly clean it is; literally it is very clean, as in not dirty.  Even the inside of the wheels were spotless.  The sleek profile is achieved thanks to a set of modified ZEAL N1 dampers.  Assisting in the steering are a set of GP Sports tie rods, and ends up front.

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The AVS Model T5’s do a mediocre job of hiding the Nismo brake setup in front, but a great job of looking good.  This wheel is a nice change up from the Model 5’s we see quite often.

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The LED lighting on this car matches the sharp exterior.

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Many thanks to Omio-san for positioning the car and allowing me to take a couple shots!  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at 90’s Cafe again in a couple months!  Hope you enjoyed this unique R32, and have a great holiday ~

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Event: Super GT Motegi 250km – The Final Battle V.2

Action, Automotive, Event, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports

 

…and as the rain began to fall ever harder, the Super GT cars charged on; fueled by the calm determination only those behind the wheel know.  We pick up on the continuing coverage mid way through Super GT’s eighth and final round of the 2012 season at Twin Ring Motegi.  In the last post I talked in length about the team and car positions in regards to the race and championship, so in this post we’ll just take it easy and enjoy the shots.  These purple Cosmos surround the walkways of the race track and add a nice touch to the landscape.

While it’s performance might not have been ideal for the Mugen team, at least they had a great looking car out on track.

The Green Tec & Leon AMG SLS does it’s best to run from the Epson HSV for as long as it can.  This team ended up 8th in the Motegi 250km.

Massive GT300 fight heading into the easy left that twists into a chicane.  This is one of my favorite places to shoot because of the head on angles, and the way you can see a large portion of the track from where they come out of the right hand turn.

The two cars in the middle of the pack, behind the ARTA, were the Mugen CR-Z and the DIJON NEON CALLAWAY WAKO’S ED Corvette, a.k.a. the team with the longest name.  The CR-Z ended up trumping the Corvette by a few spots.

The ENEOS SC430 passing the Green Tec SLS coming out of the left hander.

The WedsSport SC430 creeping up on the BMW that had subsequently been recovered from it’s spin into the gravel.

GSR Hatsune Miku BMW partially piloted by Tanaguchi himself soared to a respectable fourth position.  This team had a great year, and I hope they can continue it into 2013.  The Good Smile Race team is very unique and special to Japan.

It’s incredible to see the GT500 machines overtake the GT300 cars so easily.  The power difference is quite visible at this distance.

A crowd favorite, the Calsonic GTR ignites it’s converter as it downshifts into the hard left.

Neck breaker.

Honestly, before I knew it the race was over.  My friend and I were actually surprised when we saw the flags drop because it had seemed so short.  Super GT is an endurance series after all, but this seemed much shorter than the other races I’ve attended.  I think it’s partially because we were caught up in photographing it.

So we made our way back to the now soaked paddock to watch the ending ceremonies and trophy presentation.  Because it was the last race of the season, all the drivers from every team line up and give things away to the crowd who comes onto the track.  I ended up getting an APR Prius mouse pad ^^

The GT500 podium ceremony.

The GT300 championship podium.  Endless Taizan team ended up with a clutch win in the race to put them on top for the 2012 championship.  The Hankook Porsche team in a very close second, and the Triple A Vantage team third.  The team director for Endless Taizan was very thankful to all the fans and supporters.

Lastly, the GT500 champion standings.  The S Road MOLA team snagged the championship in the previous round, claiming their second consecutive win; a very successful result.  The ZENT team claimed the second spot with their victory in Motegi, and in third, another SC430 team, the Kobeco Denso team.  Sorry about the angles on these – I was standing on track pretty close to the podium.

Just so happens that we were standing right in front of NOB when the drivers came out.  I’m pretty sure the race queens were trying to take his pants off in this picture because he’s such a cool guy.

That wraps up the final round of Motegi here at NDF.  With the JAF race already over, the 2012 Super GT series is officially done.  We’ll have to wait a few more months until we get some more Japanese racing action, but you can bet NDF will be there to grab it.  Thanks for visiting!  Oh, two posts on a Monday morning ~ lucky guys…