Coming off an amazing trip to the motherland of all things Subaru and JDM parts. The culture and people of Japan are simply amazing and I can’t recommend it enough as a travel destination. Even the 12 hour flight was a nice break from the daily grind – as I had my laptop, enough travel pillows to built a pillow fortress, 8 full hours of sleep, and nobody bothering me!
Spent the majority of the trip doing non-strictly-car-related sightseeing and eating (though any time a sweet GT-R blazed by I pulled out the new telephoto lens bought just for the occasion – grabbed pics of modified scooters, Japan’s “van culture”, those modified Semi trucks with the crazy light setup, Bosozuko, JDM classic cars, VIP style cars – name it), however that didn’t stop me from making a side trip at the end to Super Autobacs Tokyo Bay aka East Cloud.
Japan has probably the best infrastructure systems of any place I’ve ever been. Within 100 meters of wherever you are, you can almost certainly find a subway stop that with a few transfers and a bullet train will land you halfway across the country in a few hours at 180mph. In my case I hopped Tokyo’s Yamanote loop train and transferred at Osaki station to a local subway (Rinkai line) that took me to the Koto/Odaiba area of manmade islands in Tokyo Bay where I got off at Shinonome station.
The subway drops you off within a 2 minute walk of Super Autobacs which is super nice if you aren’t renting a car unlike some other car-related activities (such as Daikoku Futo car meet which on the other hand is pretty impossible to get to unless you can find someone to drive you or a tour like jdmtours.com or some other method).
As you get closer you begin to see the size of it. It’s not just any rinky dink Autobacs (a car chain store in some respects similar to a AutoZone/Advance Auto Parts/Cragers if you’re on the west coast etc.) – this is SUPER Autobacs.
In the two block walk I saw this guy on a classic Japanese roadbike
The Bosozoku are a real thing in Japan – I was woken up one night in Kyoto by car or bike with a super raspy exhaust just banging off the rev limiter – i.e. a ‘Bosozuko throttle call’ which bikers and even some ‘Kaido racers’ (who will even install a second throttle cable and motorbike throttle on the car steering column) do crazy and often creative revs. Getting a hotel next to a tunnel entrance was SMRT. But you hear them from time to time throughout the city.
Don’t know if this guy was one although I’ve read the style is less the impressive chopper motorcycles and now more basic modified road bikes and scooters due to cost. The worksuit, bat symbol, and classic racing number are indicative of the Japanese counterculture though. In any case I was very discreet in taking these two pics.
Autobacs will also install your parts for you – there was a sweet GVB STI sedan with a titanium exhaust and wheels in for work.
But at heart, Super Autobacs is a parts store. The AutoZone comparisons end when you see some of the in-stock on the shelf in the showroom parts they offer. A better comparison for that would be some aftermarket parts shops in the U.S. which might have an install bay and a small showroom with one or two glass parts display cases and a wheel display of a half dozen wheels.
This is Tokyo and this is their flagship store – think a “Big Box Superstore” style showroom where they even have people carting around exhaust boxes on those “extra large merchandise” carts you might find at a Home Depot.
Some GT86/BRZ taillight options.
One of many exhausts on display – the newer iteration of HKS’s predilection for combining carbon fiber and aftermarket exhaust (what we might recognize as the HKS Carbon TI exhaust for bugeyes).
Even more GT86 taillights
The “coilovers aisle.” Let’s break that awesomeness down: There is an aisle devoted only to coilovers √. The suspension department is bigger than just one aisle – they had to break it into multiple aisles √. There are thousands of dollars of high end/rare JDM car parts just sitting on the shelf (not behind glass) to touch/drool on and even put into your cart (assuming it’s an item you don’t need them to get from the warehouse).
The strut braces aisle. Just grab one off the rack and go.
One of the exhaust aisles, organized by brand. Osaka-based rare/JDM exhaust manufacturer Kakimoto at top (I have their lightweight and loud GT1.0Z system on my bugeye and still love it). Trust (Greddy) at bottom. Oh, and super rare Ganador exhaust at right/middle.
Ganador even had an interactive exhaust sound clip station beside their parts – you can select a car and an exhaust and watch video of that very setup idling, driving, revving to 5K, WOT, and close ups, driving around, driving away, and in-car sound.
It was only for Ganador brand exhausts but credit to Ganador for such a clever and useful idea!
Titanium tipped Kakimoto Racing exhaust – a work of art.
Modern iteration of a classic the Apex’i N1 exhaust
If you’ve spent any time on eBay you’d go down the aisle and shrug until you realize that these are all 100% REAL versions of the oft-replicated Mugen oil caps and shift knobs.
Another HKS carbon exhaust setup
Just stickers and stuff you might find on eBay until you take a step back and realize where you are – 100% REAL / made by Spoon stuff here. The same Spoon of “a couple of Spoon engines will pull a premium before Race Wars” fame 😛
Moving to the Subaru-only department (of which, again, there was a SECTION OF THE STORE with MANY AISLES !). Prova colored rear view mirrors for Subaru.
Prova colored side view mirrors for Subaru.
The one thing about Japan I found is that it wasn’t as expensive as I expected. The hotels were kind of pricey at least in Tokyo but you could find deals or stay in a Japanese business hotel (which I did in part to defray cost and in part as just a thing to do). Meals weren’t too pricey either – mind you I wasn’t eating at Sushiyabaki Jiro, and subsisted mostly on Gyoza and Ramen.
But Super Autobacs snaps you back to reality. Expensive car parts prices you see over here are largely the same expensive prices as the Japanese pay (maybe minus international shipping). I saw this green Subaru biner clip for $15 that Subaru of America was giving away as a freebie at Boxerfest a year ago.
Can’t forget the SUBARU exhaust aisle (different than the regular exhaust section).
Oh hey random multi-thousand dollar Endless racing big brake kit sitting on a shelf next to a “Tax Free Shopping” placard…
I see you random Prius bumper sitting on the shelf. I noticed quite a few people modifying Priuses on my trip – particularly in a ‘baby VIP style’ fashion.
The broken English wasn’t quite as pronounced as ARC Magic would have you think, but when you see it it makes you smile a bit :). Wanted this Varis oshirt bad but it had Varis pricing too – a good nearly $50.
Wall of wheels. No replicas here.
Some VIP style offerings
These ‘TWS’ wheels were a new one to me and they look incredible!
$5,000 set of SSR’s :O
Take a seat
Serious business meeting going on in the racing seat section. I wish I got a picture of the additional seats on the shelves (upper left) because the selection of in-stock look at it, touch it, drool on it, seats was astounding.
Nardi race steering wheel section.
Box o’ “Dampachi” aka Tein coilover-man dolls.
There were some USDM manufacturers at Super Autobacs, most notably APR Performance and “Wheel-whores.com” stickers. The price was wild though.
The very comfy waiting room for bored significant others and kids has TV and Wifi. Smart!
I love Osaka rare / jdm exhaust manufacturer Kakimoto Racing – heck I have their exhaust on my car! But ¥9000 / $80 for a vinyl sticker pack that is essentially free advertising (from someone who likely has the exhaust installed) is a bit much?
Couldn’t leave without a souvenir or three!