The idea was simple: Two Irish drift fanatics would fly from Ireland, following an Irish drift car over to Japan and document it competing in the home of drifting. What actually happened: The car got stuck at the port, and, uh, now what?
I just came across this big doc/vlog from Juicebox after hearing about them on the wonderful Scared Too podcast. These ‘foreigners go to the homeland of tuner car culture’ documentaries spring up every so often on YouTube, and I usually find them overly saccharine, but this one is different. That’s maybe because it’s hosted by two Irish guys who spend pretty much the entire trip on no sleep, talking shit and goofing off.
It took the channel two years to put the whole thing together as, basically, the entire plan fell through from the very moment they landed.
But as our two Irish hosts Neil and Reuben say in the video, everything that went wrong turned, somehow, into something more wonderful than they could have expected.
One night they get turned away from hotel after hotel in Fukushima, possibly because people worried that they were disaster tourists in the wake of the nuclear plant’s meltdown, or possibly because one guy didn’t have any pants after their secondhand Nissan leaked over them.
They end up stopping at a parking lot off the side of the road only to bump into a car show, where they meet a crew of local street drifters. Only halfway able to talk to anyone through Google Translate on their phones, they sort of communicate that they want to see some action. The crew disappears, but comes back a few minutes later with a friend in a chase car and tell them to get in. Off they go, up the nearby mountain roads, drifting as these guys had seen their heroes do in magazines, imported DVDs, and ripped YouTube videos.
The whole doc is a nice watch, with them visiting a number of little shops dotted across the country, always smaller and more humble than their global reputation would have them believe. They manage an actually interesting takeaway, that a lot of the car modifying scene in Japan was, at the time, run by old timers who were young in the boom days of the 1980s, when the Japanese economy was going absolutely nuts, or in the 1990s when the previous decade’s performance cars had become cheap as hell. The scene that these Irish guys came to love was sort of dying out. One famous shop, Kid’s Heart, for instance, has shut its doors since this footage was shot.
But so too do they find a lot of youth car culture springing up, in Tokyo parking lots and on mountain roads.
Whether or not it’s fading away is hard to tell from overseas, but this video is a reminder that visiting and seeing it for yourself isn’t a terrible idea.