Editorial: Blueprint – Japan’s approach to Emotional Engineering

Editorial, Japan, 日本を見つけた



Kansei Kougaku (感性工学) – a design methodology that serves to elucidate the user’s emotional response into the realm, or sphere so to speak, of a product or commodity.  Founded by Hiroshima University Professor Mitsuo Nagamachi, the concept of Kansai Engineering, at surface level, allows us to link an individual’s physical and psychological reaction to the properties and essence of a product.  This theory has not only become a well-studied notion that can be applied to an almost endless amount of applications, but has also given us, as inherently unique individuals, an opportunity to view nearly everything man-made with a sincere empathy – whether we are conscious of it or not.



Feature: Deep Grip RE – Tomo’s Circuit-Bred FD

Action, Automotive, Feature, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports, Time Attack


Saitama native Nakajima Tomoyoshi, or Tomo for short, is an avid fan of the RX-7.  Unique in many ways, the car has stolen his attention for better half of several years.  Before he built the FD you see here, Tomo was the proud owner of a white Savanna FC.



Editorial: Morning Coffee – Friday Kamikaze

Editorial, Japan, JDM

I don’t know if it’s the coffee I made, the recent lack of sleep, or what, but I feel like riffing a little today.


I’m not a writer.  I mean, I can write a decent piece; obviously right? I’m published.  I don’t know if that’s a valued parameter or not, but it seems like it should count for something.  I want to write more though.  I think the problem is, and this is probably going to sound horrifyingly deviant I’m sure, writing about cars is fucking boring.  I think that’s why I always enjoyed Yuta’s articles back when he wrote for Import Tuner.  None of his articles were about cars; he always focused the theme around the individual (or Mexican food); half the time he wouldn’t even mention the car.  That was interesting!  People are interesting…for the most part.  I think we’re hitting a low point as a country though, but that’s an entirely different subject.  Of course this is just an opinion – my opinion.  Opinions can be powerful though can’t they?


Speaking of which, when did we reach that level where everyone’s opinions became equal?  In regards to automotive decisions, relevance and guidance I mean; or actually, in regards to fucking anything this day.  Where did the boundaries go?  Is it the ability to hide behind a computer monitor?  It’s like the Wild West out there.  There used to be this concept of “informed opinion” – yeah, informed.  There’s a word that doesn’t get tossed around too much anymore.  Remember the time where other people’s opinions mattered more than others?  You know, in scenarios where, not necessarily experts, but people who have experience in the topic hold opinions that have more weight than others.  There’s value in that experience.  I mean, personally it doesn’t happen to me often, but I see it literally fucking everywhere.  The internet is rife with slander and argumentative comments with no basis, coming from individuals who have no accreditation or experience in whatever subject is at discussion.  The worst part is there are people out there so influenced by shit that these individuals are actually being backed.  Why the fuck do people listen to this crap?  And for what?  What’s the end game for these people?  To get popular on the internet?  Do they throw their unasked for opinions in the ring to compensate for something?  I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist.  It’s getting out of hand to be honest.  It gets real alarming when it’s someone whose made a name for themselves (however the fuck they did that) throws out commentaries that are  incorrect by principal, but no one will call them on it because they have a prevalent endorsement via the internet or whatever.


Let me throw an example out there.  I’ve been to Japan, I don’t know, 26, 27 times? I forgot.  It doesn’t matter.  I’d say though, and don’t misinterpret this as  bragging or anything, I mean I’m a humble guy by nature (which is probably why this is bothering me so much this morning), but I’d say that going to a certain place over two dozen times gives me a pretty good foundation, a decent knowledge of what that place is all about.  Right?  Am I wrong?  So when I write something, or post something about Japan itself, regardless of whether it deals with the car culture out there, and someone who has never fucking been to Japan, hasn’t built a fucking decent car, or to be honest hasn’t done shit with his life, replies in a fashion that tries to discredit my opinion…I don’t know how to end that.   Some people will take that opinion as truth, and even maybe counter it with, yeah, what about that shit? Why?  Why even put it out there.  You throw no weight – not that I do, but my history counts for something right?  Like, I fucking know some people.  Opinions shouldn’t be equal.  I mean, look at Joey’s pieces on the culture in Osaka.  He knows people there, he visits often, he sees shit a lot of people don’t.  I fucking bet you, with his last post about Mecha-Dock, someone will say something that discredits or goes against what he posted.  Why?  No.  Just fucking stop.  Stop, and go outside.  Go talk to someone.  Listen for a change.  No one talks anymore.  I have this friend, good friend, Jack.  We’ve worked together and have been friends for, like, probably a decade now.  We go to Japan together a lot, or we used to, not so much anymore that I’m traveling every week.  Back in like 2006-2008 we used to stay at his in-laws house in Katsuradai – a small suburb outside Ofuna, in Kanagawa.  That’s partially irrelevant, but the point is Jack and I talk, all the time.  Just bullshit, stories, sharing experiences, whatever.  I feel like not many people just talk anymore.  Talk with reciprocated listening I should say.  Anyway, if you’re one of those people who throw their feather like opinions around, I suggest you go talk to some people with experience.  You’ll learn a thing or two, and it may shed some light on just how much you don’t realize in life.
Christ; maybe I’m getting old.  I drank too much coffee that’s for sure.  I need to go work on my car.


I should attach a picture or something to this so the people who click the article expecting something good won’t be too disappointed.  Not that my photography is good, but it’s something.


Here you go.  Here’s a warm picture of Yokohama station.





Locale: ADVANCE Hello’s and Harajuku Strolls

Automotive, Japan, JDM, Locale, Motor Sports, Time Attack

Awhile ago, I had messaged my friend Masahiro that I was in the area and if he was at the ADVANCE, I would stop by to say hello.  Fortunately he was there, and while Sekinei made a quick trip to the DMV, I was able to chat with him and snap some pictures around the shop.  There’s always something new going on here, as many of the NSX owner’s (and other car enthusiasts in general) in the Kanagawa area know, ADVANCE is one of the most knowledgeable shops for their chassis.  When I arrived, one of the lead techs, Yagihashi, was working on a white NA1 but was able to take a break to chat.



Feature: Nagano’s Battleship – Amemiya’s War Ready S15

Automotive, Feature, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports




No stranger to magazine interiors, Hiroshi Amemiya’s S15 has been the center of attention for many publications throughout the past year or so including Super Street, Hyper Rev, Option2 (twice!).  In fact, Enkei even brought it on as the poster child for it’s marketing campaign awhile back.  No doubt, if you’ve opened an Option or Option2 this year you’ve seen his car (especially the issue that featured the two Mak S15’s) in their advertisements.  With that being said, I doubt you’ve seen it like this before.

Along with Baki and Seki, Ame-san made the trek to Yokohama to attend Winter Cafe as well – and just like the others, I was able to get an up close look at it.






Up until now, on our site anyway, you’ve mainly seen shots of Baki’s S15.  As we’re good friends, I see him more often than the other Mak crew.  Though, comparing the ‘Grey Shark’ to Baki’s blue counterpart, you find yourself with a car built with a completely different mindset.  Where Baki’s S15 is like the younger, ‘hit up the club on the weekends’ type of sibling, Ame’s build would be the mature, older brother who is married with two kids.  They share many outer Garage Mak body components, but utilized a bit differently.





For example, the rear overs left in an unpainted state, exposing the beautiful, black carbon weaves to contrast against the shiny grey of the paint.  He even says, because the aero is so gorgeous, and the color so subdued, that the graphics were a no brainer – black!  Keeping it simple has never been so perfect.






Ame’s car is the perfect combination of street and circuit; an amalgamation of the two if you will.  Where else are you going to find a car with gullwing doors that does a 59 second lap around TC2000 (59.3)?  Oh, you didn’t know?  Well, yeah, NOB piloted this very car around Tsukuba under one minute, and no doubt, with a bit more testing it could be closer to the 58 mark.  Garage Mak, although known for it’s beautifully crafted builds, is also nothing to be passed over on the circuit.






Before reaching the first location we were able to get onto some open road to take a few rolling shots – this one inside the Bay Bridge.  I like how the sunlight shines in through the West side of the bridge.






Ame’s car would almost blend into the asphalt if it weren’t for the sunlight accentuating the curvature of the Garage Mak aero.





Leaving Landmark Tower ~




The two S15’s share front bumpers, fenders, side skirts, and rear overs, differing only in rear ends.












Foregoing the rear canards in favor of an integrated carbon rear diffuser, Ame’s car takes on a bit more of street look from the back; aside from the massive GT Wing atop the trunk.





The peak of automotive aesthetic achievement.






As Baki’s S15 was the flagship for the LINK Series, Ame chose to take on a more subtle approach to representing the collaboration, with smaller ‘Achieve’ type decals on the window…







…and the official Total Auto Support Mak LINK decal on the rear bumper.





Craft Square mirrors providing a glimpse behind the car for you know, lane changes…or incoming circuit traffic.








Hiding behind the new RS05RR’s is an upgraded GReddy 6-pot brake system that, no doubt, does a great job at bringing the car to a stop.







Which is somewhat necessary with the massive power output of the SR underneath the hood.  The engine, now equipped with a VE head, is powered mainly by the GCG GTX3582R turbine, which has been retrofitted to the VE head.  With boost at just about 2 bar, the power tips the scale at just over 730 horsepower.  The HKS 1,000cc injectors working double time to feed the engine enough fuel for the massive amount of boost.


The car has recently been equipped with a HKS 6-speed sequential gearbox!











I know what my personal best victory lap around TC2000 would look like…door up.






So, you’re probably wondering at this point why I still consider this car more of a street build, and like most cars, the answer can be found on the inside.  We typically look towards the ‘creature comforts’ when dictating the build of a car, and in this case they are all sustained.  Air Con, Stereo/ICE, all power everything, no roll bar, etc…despite the plethora of gauges and monitoring equipment, the car is still very much OEM (as OEM as a carbon dash can get).













Doesn’t it look like it belongs on the street?





I am ecstatic that I was able to get the opportunity to not just see this car in person, but to get the privilege to shoot it as well.  I experienced the same thrill I did as a photographer as when I got to shoot Baki’s S15 for Import Tuner, except this time for my own website.  It really is a beautiful car, and testament to the work that Garage Mak does.  They are truly a ‘Total Car’ builder, and I will back that in every way.

Big thanks to Ame-san and everyone at Garage Mak for making the trip out to Yokohama.  I am glad, and proud, to call the folks at Garage Mak my good friends.





Encounter: Super Speed – Seki Motor Sports S13

Automotive, Encounter, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports


For a good sixteen years now, the Miyagawa brothers have been designing body panels for a wide variety of cars under the Garage Mak name.  Creative to say the least, they are able to envision their ideal end product and from start to finish execute the process flawlessly.  Each chassis taking on a completely different look, but still retaining the flagship style that Mak is known for.  The aero pieces they created years ago for the S13 are a good example of such style.  A style that Nagano resident Yuichi Seki has taken to an entirely new level…


While it may seem a bit unfortunate that Garage Mak has since discontinued many of the parts on Seki’s car, it’s also something that makes it that much more special.  The Type 2 bumper in combination with carbon, ‘undercover’, or splitter for lack of better terminology, is however still available.  Seki’s choice of painting some parts, and leaving the carbon exposed on others is a style that’s prevalent on all the GM demo cars.


Basking in the afternoon sun of Yokohama.


Refreshing to see three of their demo cars together at once.  The ‘completeness’ of them goes without saying, and the fact that their owners put their own unique characteristics into each is great.


Quick cell phone shot ~


The highly modified SR20, built by Toshitake, puts out an adequate 593 horsepower; more than enough to get him sideways on track.  Actually, that’s pretty much more than enough for anything you’d want to do with the car.  Seki chooses to drift ~


The matte bronze Work Meisters match the red paint beautifully.


Seki’s own brand.


Similar to Baki’s S15, the color of Seki’s car stood out brilliantly against the dull backdrop of our secret spot.


Strong profile.



Another piece that is still offered is the rear canard and diffuser setup.  Something very unique to Garage Mak design.



Browsing through Seki’s Minkara just now I came across the small video he made of their trip to Yokohama for Winter Cafe.  I’m pretty sure I linked it during the posting of the coverage, but it just reminded me again how cool of a guy he is.  On top of that he asked me to sign his car – which I was a little taken aback about.  Then shortly after Baki asked me the same thing hahaha I’m glad I finally got to meet him after chatting online and following his build for such a long time.

See you again soon!


One Shot: Winter Evenings at Advance

Automotive, Japan, JDM, Motor Sports, One Shot


Masahiro-san invited me to stop by Advance the other evening to check out a customer’s NSX that was coming all the way from Shizuoka to get, among other things, a new differential installed.  I’ll begin processing those photos soon, but until then enjoy this crispy white Type-R.