Yokohama Sunset, Wangan Sunrise: A Crazy Night in Japan
It was a Saturday night in Yokohama, Japan. We were in the popular Minato Mirai district, which is home to some of the most beautiful waterfront space in the country. A massive Ferris wheel displayed its colorful lights and the nearby Landmark Tower reached into the sky.
We weren’t there for tourist spots, though. Our destination was a parking lot set in the middle of all this—one that happens to be the site of one of the most unique and diverse cruise nights anywhere.
Kalifornia Look Cruise Night
Known as the Kalifornia Look Cruise Night, these bi-monthly meetings have been going on for a few years now. The man behind it is local Yokohama gearhead and photographer Manbu "KaliforniaLook" Kanda, owner of the gorgeous Volkswagen Beetle you see below.
What started out as a small gathering between Kanda-san and his friends has turned into quite a popular meet that draws cars from Yokohama, Tokyo and beyond.
Mooneyes Area 1
The night began at the nearby Mooneyes Area 1 in Honmoku where we gathered with Kanda-san and crew, before enjoying some tasty and authentic burgers at the Moon Cafe restaurant. The kind that are good enough to make you forget you are actually in Japan.
An eclectic mix of cars had gathered at Area 1, and before we knew it, it was time to fire up the machines and head towards Minato Mirai where the cruise night was to officially begin.
Our parade of cars was quite diverse, featuring everything from modified VWs to slammed lead sleds and serious drift cars owned by the guys from Team Free's.
It's that diversity of cars that makes these cruise night events so unique and enjoyable. When we arrived at Minato Mirai a short time later, the parking lot was already full of a very cool mix of machines.
While Kanda-san is a serious air-cooled VW fan, he loves and appreciates all sorts of cars, and the same goes for most of the people that come out to the cruise nights. It's the kind of place where you'll find modified, track-ready Hondas...
...parked just down the way from a chopped and slammed Shoebox Ford.
It seems that you can never go far without finding some lowriders in Japan, and needless to say there was a big turnout of them on this Saturday night.
If your tastes lean a little bit more to the performance side of things, you will dig this S130 Fairlady Z in full drag trim and looking quite mean.
The Z was just one of many vintage Japanese cars to make the drive out that night. The group also included several Nissan Sunnys, like this pair of modified B210s.
There were also some really cool homebuilt machines that came out to enjoy the evening, including this 1962 Toyota Crown that made the long trip all the way from Hamamatsu Prefecture.
While we dig the look of the stock body that's been dumped to the ground, things get even cooler when you look under the hood and see the LT1 Chevy V8 that's been wedged under there.
Equally cool was this V36 Skyline sedan from Team Free's, which looks rather mild on the outside...
...but has actually had its factory equipped 2.5L V6 swapped out for a single turbo RB straight six that's making over 500hp. Rad.
Another one of our favorites was this Z10 chassis Toyota Soarer, which has been built as a very authentic replica of the car featured in the cult classic comic book series and film "Shakotan Boogie."
Before we knew it, Saturday night had turned to Sunday morning, and slowly, the crowd of cars had begun to thin out. However, the fun wasn't quite over yet.
To the Afterparty
By the time we left Minato Mirai, it was already nearing 2:00 a.m. After bringing the official cruise to a close, we decided to hop on the expressway and head over to Daikoku Parking Area to see if there was anything going on over there.
The police had actually closed down the popular meeting spot earlier in the night as they are apt to do, but by this hour the parking area had just reopened. It was a bit surreal that our small group of cars were the only ones in the entire place.
After enjoying a can of coffee from the Daikoku vending machines, we said goodbye to the Team Free's guys and made our way to down the Wangan expressway back toward Tokyo, but not before one more stop.
Last Stop Before Sunrise
It was 3:30 a.m. by the time we arrived at Tatsumi Parking area in Tokyo, and not surprisingly, it was pretty quiet. However, the cars there were all business. It was like real life "Wangan Midnight," except this was getting closer to "Wangan Sunrise."
We enjoyed the show for a bit and eventually made it back to our lodgings in Tokyo just in time to see the sun beginning to rise in the east.
It was a perfect end to a wild night that took us all around Tokyo Bay and included the low, the slow, the fast, the crazy and everything in between. We can't wait to get back for more fun.