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.

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