Kobe Night Meeting

After stopping off at Takashi’s garage, Akifumi-san and I headed over some mountains to a more industrial area of Kobe. An area filled of concrete and unpainted buildings, deserted office blocks and dark alleys. An area where soon enough I wouldn’t be able to hold in my inner happiness, because in only a short few hours I would bear witness to some of the sickest S-Chassis Kobe has to offer.

After a quick pit stop at the local 7-11, we headed towards our location, if you couldn’t already guess, a parking building. Just like Tokyo Drift style, the parking lot had a mechanical arm to grant you entrance. After driving over the skinny mountain roads surrounded by Japanese scenery, then arriving at an all too familiar location (from watching FF Tokyo Drift way too often), the feeling of being inside a movie or comic book felt all too real.

Akifumi-san had organised some of his S-Chassis owner friends to come along for a meet and greet. Starting around 1pm we stayed in this abandoned parking building long into the night. Car after car, after car kept showing up all the way up until midnight when my camera batteries decided they’d had enough.

Maybe you’ll recognize a few of these cars from the internet, or the body-kits they had on. The wheels, or the paint. Over the 12 hour period about 20 S-Chassis showed up, each one completely different and unique in its own right. That’s one of the things I love about the Japanese car culture, or from the Kobe culture from what I saw. They modified their cars how they liked them, not how other people liked them.

Kenjirou-san was already waiting for us in his blacked out 180SX. The thing that made this car one of my favourites of the night was the wheels. The amount of effort that went into cleaning them must have been unreal, as they looked like a mirror. The multi-coloured studs really gave it the edge that it needed as well. Throughout the day and into the night I had the opportunity to shoot each car individually, Kenjirou’s 180SX was the first S-Chassis to be pushed in front of my lens that night.

Another photographer turned up during the day, Kuriyama-san from AP Style photography. Seeing as I only had limited space in my luggage, I could only really fit one lense in my suitcase. Luckily Kuriyama-san was kind enough to let me use his lighting set-up and additional lenses to get some shots I just wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise. This S13 here, belongs to Naofumi-san. Maybe you’ve seen him before drifting his track only S14 around Meihan Sportsland?

My favorite car of the meeting, and also the most character stuffed into one person on the day was Hidemaru-san and his crazy, jaw dropping, neon kitted, lambo door fitted, Garage Mak styled S15. This is the car that pushed me over the edge. The time and effort these Japanese people put into their dress-up cars is totally next level. Attention to detail is an understatement.

The S13 seemed to be the Chassis of choice in Kobe on the night, so we lined them up for their own little same generation photo. From this photo alone you can easily tell that each owner has an extremely different flavour of taste. We have on the left, Rocket Bunny styling, and then as low as you can go, followed by bolt ons and flares, and lastly plain and simple.

For the trip to Kobe from Osaka, Akifumi drove me in his pretty immaculate Bayside blue S15. I think the big wing really sets the look off. As mentioned in our previous feature of Takashi-san’s S13s, Akifumi is also a photographer, taking photos that day. So we had three photographers on board over the long day, but we had so much fun the day felt like only a short moment in time.

For your normal car meeting, well in New Zealand anyway. You’d see yourself at that one location for around an hour or two, depending who was there. Maybe three if you’re all a bunch of good mates. Not in Japan, we starting playing soccer at one point, people were actually studying for a few hours while hanging out, we ate dinner and had snacks and hot tea from the vending machine. It felt like a family get together, even though I had only just met them and I could barely communicate in their own language.

If my memory is correct, it was now around 4-5pm Japan time. The sun had set and I could hear a faint rumble in the distant. Akifumi-san goes running to the entrance to greet his friend in this V2 Rocket Bunny S14. In true Tokyo Drift style, that’s when I felt like I was actually in the film. Akifumi-san opens up the bar, and this stunning S14 drives through in absolute style.

I think I actually tricked some of my friends that I was on the set of the next F&F film with the quality of cars present. This S15 on the left, belonged to a man who makes some of the biggest S15 meets in Osaka possible. Just after I left Japan, I was being told that they had a meet where over 500 S-Chassis turned up all in one parking building, now doesn’t that sound like heaven to you?

Another S15 that showed up during the night was this sexy 326 power inspired example. With a paint colour that some people really desire, and some not so much. Is it a yay or nay?

Time was flying by! The clock was hitting the 8pm mark and still, more S-Chassis were turning up wanting to get behind the lens. Mae-san’s S13 was just so unbelievably low that I really wanted to shoot it with a mate, but up until a few minutes ago there was no mate. Now however, there was.

This identically low and stanced S14 showed up just in time to sort out a dual photo session with both cars. It’s a style that’s rather hated in the world, just because it’s unpractical. However if we did things to our cars that were only practical, things would be much less interesting I think.

For example. This red lip. There is no practicality to painting it red, it’s impractical. It cost the owner time and money for no practical returns. Although, if we were to remove the red lip, the car would be a lot less eye grabbing from the front.

These two S15s belong to the Nissan Silvia Gathering group as well as the previous blue S15.

Sometimes, in rare cases. There aren’t many words you can use which would describe a car better than just seeing it in person. This was one of those cars. It just didn’t look like any S15 I had ever seen before. I was also told the body kit was extremely rare.

Also sporting the same paint as the other brown S15. They paired up as a good match. At this point I was nearly dead from exhaustion of 10+ hours of straight photography. Enjoyable exhaustion, but exhaustion none the less. With midnight fast approaching, it was time to soon head off.

But not before the very last car of the night shows up. This one was one of the most eye popping with lights escaping out of every crevasse on the S15. TVs took the place of the sunvisors and headrests, light poured out from behind the wheels, neons lit up the under chassis and orange lights shined onto the foot pedals. Some of the group had started there own lineup of cars to take some photos. Although it was now bordering on midnight, the Japanese were all still happy as can be. Grateful for the time they had spent with their friends. This was a car meeting I would be at in the future in a heartbeat if I had the chance, it was just that good.

Before parting ways, I wasn’t really too sure what was going to happen. In true Japanese style, we gathered in a circle (about 20 of us) and they all just stared at me. Akifumi introduced me again incase anyone had missed out, and then he left the floor to me. Never being in this situation I didn’t know what to say! In Japanese, I used what I knew, I told them (or at least I think I did) that I had made many new friends tonight, I had too much fun, and that all of their cars were seriously crazy. We finished off with a clap and a shout (In Japanese) before saying goodbye multiple times and then heading our separate ways. It was a hell of a long day, but the most epic adventure I’d had in Japan so far.

Photography and words by Shaun Constable

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