Shizuoka Hobby Show: The Coolest Car Event You've Never Heard Of
If you head west out of Tokyo on one of Japan's speedy bullet trains, you'll soon find yourself in Shizuoka Prefecture—home to a beautiful stretch of coastline and Mt. Fuji, among other notable landmarks. But for modelers, diecast collectors and other hobbyists of all types, Shizuoka is known as the birthplace of Japan's hobby industry.
Home of Model Kits
The region is the home of most of the country's makers of model kits, radio control vehicles and the like. Every May, the Shizuoka Hobby Show is the place where they all gather to show off their latest products and celebrate the hobby life.
The show draws members of the industry and fans alike—thousands of them from all over Japan and the world. Unlike a lot of big indoor events, admission is completely free. While making your way through the crowds at Shizuoka's Twin Messe can be tough, it's well worth it, because you are guaranteed to see some awesome stuff.
The Shizuoka Hobby Show includes everything from military models to scale robots and drones, but of course, it's the cars that draw us there—and the selection of scale automotive goodness on display is unrivaled. You might consider it the Tokyo Auto Salon of scale vehicles.
There are any number of reasons why the show is such a big draw, and it includes three primary areas—all of which are jam-packed with people.
First up, there are the manufacturer displays. It's here where all of Japan's major hobby companies set up large booths full of their latest products.
From model makers like Aoshima to the diecast masters at Ebbro and industry giants Kyosho and Tamiya, they are all there. You'll also find plenty of smaller niche brands as well.
Not only will you get to see all of the current products, but companies also use the event to announce and tease upcoming releases, which are often displayed in prototype form.
However, the biggest draw in this area is the sales. Not only do the manufacturers display their products but they also bring plenty of stuff to sell—usually at discounted prices. You'll often find them blowing out overstocked items and offering some incredible deals, so if you ever come make sure you bring plenty of cash.
The manufacturer hall isn't the only place where you'll be tempted to part with all of your hard-earned money. The show also includes a separate flea market area where you can find an endless selection of rare vintage model kits, diecast cars and more.
Whether you are looking to score a super rare model kit from the 1970s or one of the latest diecast releases from Tomica, there was something for every budget—and not many people were walking away from the flea market empty-handed.
This is all before you get to what many consider the best part of the Shizuoka Hobby Show—the modeler's club displays.
This is where modeling clubs from all over Japan gather to display their latest creations. Whether you're a model-builder or not, it's a true spectacle to see.
Some of the modelers clubs have a speciality or favorite genre, while other groups have members who build everything from Second World War fighter planes to Gundams and WRC cars.
There was no part of motoring culture that wasn't recreated in stunning detail. The tables were full of everything from vintage F1 cars to Japanese kaido racers, RC drift cars and "Dekotora" trucks complete with LED lighting and engine sound effects.
There were so many amazing creations on display that we'll be returning with a gallery loaded up with images from the club display area. From one-off builds to extremely detailed automotive dioramas, you won't want to miss it.
While the Shizuoka Hobby Show is all about scale recreations of vehicles, there were a handful of life-size machines that were getting plenty of attention as well, like this beast of a machine that was displayed by the Japanese Self Defense Force.
Here's a 1:1 scale version of the amphibious VW Schwimmwagen, displayed exactly as if it were on a Tamiya model kit box.
Speaking of Tamiya, their booth also included one of Toyota's current Yaris WRC cars. How many other shows will have vintage WW2 vehicles displayed alongside modern rally cars?
Last but not least is Aoshima, whose display included a Liberty Walk R35 GT-R that perfectly went with the brand's extensive lineup of scale Liberty Walk models kits and diecast cars.
Whether or not you consider yourself a scale modeler or hobby fan, the Shizuoka Hobby Show is something that can be enjoyed by anyone who has a love for vehicles and an appreciation for creativity and craftsmanship.
Even if you can't make it yourself, we've got you covered. Stay tuned for a ton more when we return with an extra-large gallery full of stunning creations from this year's show.