Shin-Maiko Sunday, Nagoya: The Japanese Car Culture(s) in One Parking Lot
(Not just Oldies on this one, but still worth sharing I think) Shin-Maiko Sundays started as your typical car aficionados’ meet, back in 2010. Just like everywhere else in the world, a few people would gather, show off their cars, talk about them and make new friends. It usually takes place near Nagoya Airport, but for the next 3 months, it joins forces with the local Cars and Coffee, bringing even more cars to Auto Planet’s parking lot, a massive dealership in Aichi prefecture, that primarily focuses on imports. The Japanese society is known to be one of the most homogeneous there is. Only 1.5% of the population comes from a foreign country (some of those accounted “foreigners” are actually born and raised in Japan and only speak Japanese but come from parents that don’t have Japanese blood), very few Japanese can speak any other language and being an island, Japan is often seen as a country that is a bit cut off from the outside world’s influence. People are taught from a very young age to do their best to fit in this society and not try to stand out, be noticed. This is a behavior you see every day when living here. And you do notice it when looking at cars. Every day cars in Japan kind of look the same. Box shaped kei-cars driven at an average speed of 25mph for their entire lifespan. To escape this daily routine and all the pressure often put on them at work, Japanese need hobbies. Some spend time in ear-splitting Pachinko parlors, other go fishing or build figurines. A few, on the other hand, will decide to spend their hard-earned money and free time on a car. And, based entirely on my own experience, backed by no statistics whatsoever, when Japanese get into a new hobby, they don’t mess around and REALLY get into it. This is where things start to get interesting for us, car geeks on this planet. Those people want something unique and they make sure to bring their precious ride, be it a slammed R35 GTR, a kei-car filled with “kawaii” dolls or a perfect looking E30 M3, to local events, allowing us to see how some of the remaining people to enjoy cars, in a country where new = good and old = bad, fight this normalization of their society.