News

I Went to Japan on Vacation. Here Are the Sweet Cars I Saw.

A few hot wheels I wish were available on the right side of the road.

I recently went on a vacation to Japan, and while there, I rented a motorcycle to ride from Tokyo to Kyoto and back—and of course I took pictures of all the interesting cars I saw along the way. If you haven’t been to Japan but plan to go, know that spring and fall are the best times to visit, the Japanese drive on the left side of the road as in the U.K. (and other countries), and that you’ll need a AAA International Driver’s License with the proper stamps if you want to rent a vehicle.

Tokyo is the most populated metro area on the planet, and riding or driving through it can be intimidating at first. To get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time you have to use toll roads, otherwise you’ll spend hours trying to escape bumper-to-bumper traffic there, as well as in other larger cities. Fortunately, the locals are friendly and helpful, the roads around Mount Fuji are breathtaking, and the country’s rest areas are impeccable. One more tip: A basic knowledge of Japanese is quite helpful to decipher the signage in Osaka and elsewhere that serves to explain the pretzel-shaped highway interchanges. Parking, tolls, and gas are expensive, but you can find affordable hotels and meals if you do your homework.

Of course, the best part of visiting Japan (aside from the culture, temples, and food) is seeing all the vintage Datsuns and Toyotas still going strong, plus cool models like the Honda S660 roadster, Suzuki Hustler compact, and Daihatsu Copen coupes and convertibles that we unfortunately can’t get here in the U.S. Most cars and trucks are smaller overall, as if they’re in three- or four-fifths scale, and once you traverse some of the narrow roads and view the small garages you understand why. Still, there are plenty of Western vehicles to ogle, too. Without further ado, go on and see what I saw in the gallery below: