cars

Mr. Sato goes to Tokyo Auto Salon 2015, forgets to take photos of the cars…

While Japan makes some rather unique cars, itasha aren’t the only custom cars in the country. From oni-kyan wheels for drifting to Chibatman, it sometimes seems like half of the vehicles in the country have been modified to extremes. But to get an idea of just how popular custom cars are in Japan, you’d need to head to Tokyo Auto Salon, which saw nearly 300,000 attendees last year!

This year, not wanting to miss out on all the fun, our brave Mr. Sato donned his most garish, chinpira outfit and headed down to look at some cars…and the women who get paid to stand next to them.

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Indian man still insists on driving backwards at full speed after eleven years

There’s a particular type of male who when in possession of a vehicle strives to make it the most outstanding machine on the road for better or for worse. This generally involves painting obnoxiously loud colors onto their cars, which have been fitted with even more obnoxiously loud speakers. The result is a visual and audible horror show only appreciated by those with a similar mindset.

And then we have Harpeet Devi of India who has reached new heights of annoying car customization. He had his transmission customized to have four speeds in reverse and only one speed forward so he can drive backwards everywhere he goes.

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Japan’s hydrogen fuel cell stations begin to open, but are they worth the switch?

With Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), Mirai, now available, many wait to see if this revolutionary car with take off or fall flat in Japan. On 25 December, JX Nippon Oil & Energy began selling hydrogen for these new vehicles at a cost of 1,000 yen per kilogram (US$8/kg – $3.60/lb).

So is that worth giving up the pumps for…whatever hydrogen comes out of?

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Dirty Car Art is the perfect excuse not to wash your car ever again

Have you ever doodled in the dirt on your car before you finally got around to washing it? Or perhaps when you were younger you wrote something rude in the dust on the neighbour’s rear window? American artist Scott Wade took his doodling many steps further and now creates this stunning Dirty Car Art that you’d never want to wash off.

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Hugh Jackman stars, sings J-pop cover, and speaks Japanese in ads for Toyota【Videos】

When you get to be as big a company as Toyota, you can afford to go out and get A-list talent for your commercials. Over the last few years, the automaker’s created a series of ads starring boy band SMAP’s Takuya Kimura and film icon Beat Takeshi.

In the commercials, collectively known as ReBORN, Kimura and Takeshi play historical figures Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, reincarnated in modern Japan. The latest installment even has a special guest star as Hugh Jackman, Wolverine himself, shows up to help spread the word about Toyota’s newest eco-friendly cars.

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Man parks over sidewalk guide for the blind, gets lesson in manners from Okinawan fourth-grader

There’s still a lot of room for improvement regarding the availability of elevators in Japan’s train stations and other public facilities, but the country doesn’t have a totally sub-par record in helping the disabled retain their mobility. For example, on the sidewalks of most moderately large streets, you’ll find a row of bumps that operate as a guide for blind pedestrians, indicating not only any curves in the walkway but also warning of intersections and steps ahead.

Obviously, good manners dictate keeping the path clear, but in all that empty space one Japanese motorist saw a perfectly-placed parking spot. And while Japanese culture often errs on the side of not sticking your nose in other people’s business, it looks like one elementary school student couldn’t let this go without giving the driver a piece of his mind, even if the inconsiderate owner wasn’t anywhere to be found right then.

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New smartphone game turns car models into anime girls with model-worthy looks

For generations, automobile marketers have relied a tried and true method. Whether it’s an elegantly dressed woman stepping out of a luxury sedan in a TV commercial or a mini-skirted model draped over the hood of a sports coupe at an auto show, a quick way to make a car look appealing is by showing it next to an appealing-looking woman.

The company Autoc One is taking that concept one step further, though. What if, instead of showing a cute girl next to the car, you made the car itself a cute girl? You’d end up with something like Shanago Collection, Autoc One’s smartphone game starring anthropomorphized cars from Mazda, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and more.

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Make your business memorable with a license plate phone number

There’s a lot to be seen and learned from your car seat while driving on the roads around Japan. While cat-patterned tail-lightsunique modes of communication and building your own Batman bike are some of the more obvious ways to get noticed, there are also more subtle yet equally effective ways to create an impact in traffic, and do a bit of advertising while you’re at it!

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Ouch! Ouch!! Ouch!!! Man in China hit by three cars while “crossing” the street

Context is everything in determining what constitutes a long time. For example, if your boss rewards you for finishing up a long, difficult project by permitting you to take a seven-second vacation, I’m guessing you’d find that amount of time to be less than sufficient. On the other hand, if I asked you to calm a hamster that’s both frenzied and weaponized by pressing it firmly against the warmth of your breast for seven seconds, I have a hunch that’s longer than you’d be willing to hold out for.

Seven seconds is also way too long to be chilling in the middle of the road as you cross the street. That sort of lollygagging is liable to get you hit by a car, or, if you’re this man in China, three of them.

While you won’t see any blood or gore, be aware that this article’s title is not a clever play on words, and it really does contain video of a dude getting hit by multiple automobiles.

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What happens when you mistake the brake for the accelerator in Japan

Parking can be tricky sometimes, but when you’re trying to manoeuvre a large vehicle around tight spaces in a Japanese carpark, things can get a little scary.

Thankfully nobody was hurt in the accident pictured above, yet after the photo was posted on Twitter there was one thing everyone wanted to know: how come the rear wheels were hanging in mid-air?

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Things to pick up at 7-Eleven: Milk, melon bread, Evangelion sports car

Last summer, we thought the heat might have been getting to the executives at 7-Eleven. Sure, offering two-meter (six-foot, seven-inch) tall Evangelion statues as special promotional prizes was a cool idea and all, but did they really expect anyone to pony up the 1,836,000 yen (US$16,000) they were asking for the 25 more giant figures they was selling outright?

Well, not only did all 25 of those Eva statues find homes, they sold out in just two minutes. Emboldened by that success, 7-Eleven has teamed up once again with the hit anime franchise to release the most expensive item the convenience store has ever sold: the Evangelion car.

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Want to see right through your car? Amazing video projection system lets drivers do just that

Almost all of my time behind the wheel has been in a small, two-seat convertible. This has really spoiled me, in that whenever I find myself in the driver’s seat of a fixed-top, full-sized car, I can’t help but wish for better visibility because of how many lines of sight get cut off by the car’s structure itself.

A team of Japanese researchers has solved this problem, though, with a clever system that allows the driver to see right through a car’s side panels and back seat.

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Chinese woman in no mood to have SUV towed shows she has towing capacity too 【Video】

Given my pick of cars, I’ll always chose the one with rear-wheel drive. All else equal, it tends to give more maneuverability than front-wheel drive, and weigh less than an all-wheel setup.

Still, there are times when it’s good to be able to put power down through your front tires, as shown by this video of a Chinese woman’s daring rescue of her about-to-be-towed car.

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Shocking, snowy commercial is the saddest ad we’ve seen this fall

Last year, we found terror in an unlikely place: a tire commercial. Wheel and tire retailer Autoway, in an effort to remind us all about changing to winter tires before driving down snowy roads, reminded us all that “Winter roads are scary,” especially when they’re haunted.

Now, Autoway is back with a new ad, and while it doesn’t deliver the fright of last year’s video, it’s no less shocking.

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China and the US have very different stereotypes for the same cars

The Chinese auto market is a young one, but it is already the world’s biggest, and a key region for the global auto industry.

But to sell cars there, it’s more than a question of translating manuals and opening a few dealerships.

Over the last 30 years, according to the New York Times, the Chinese public has also formed some very strong opinions as to who drives a particular make and model and why — and those views are often at odds with how brands are perceived in the U.S.

For non-Chinese automakers, understanding those perceptions is key to putting more cars on the road.

[An earlier version of this article was written by Alex Davies and Travis Okulski.]

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How to say every Japanese car brand’s name, and what they mean 【Video】

In college, I had a classmate who, almost every day, would talk about the list of tuning mods he had planned for his car. Sometimes, he’d talk about his plans to order some sweet JDM parts from Honda’s in-house aftermarket division, Mugen, and you can’t imagine how much it drove me up the walls.

I didn’t begrudge the guy his daydream, but what I couldn’t take was the way he pronounced it “Myu-gen” instead of “Moo-gen,” adding in a phantom Y sound that has no place in the Japanese word for “without limits.”

But hey, a lot of people in the U.S. mispronounce it that way, and can you blame them? Pronouncing foreign words can be tricky, which is why there’s now a video which will teach you the correct way to pronounce the names of all of Japan’s major car makers. And, once you’ve mastered them all, we’ll even explain what they mean.

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Japanese racer takes million dollar Ferrari on camping trip, fries eggs on it

There’s just something about young men ostentatiously showing off their expensive wheels that gets to us. And then some of them have to go that extra mile and start doing things like frying eggs on their million dollar cars, just because they can.

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Did a Dragon Quest slime car just appear on the expressway in Japan?

As fun as it is to step into the shoes of a video game RPG hero for a few hours, imagine how it would be to live your whole life, day in and day out, under the in-game rules and systems. Some of the differences would be pretty inconvenient, such as a mysterious force preventing you from ever going anywhere with more than three friends at a time. Others would be a definite plus, though, such as working hard at your job periodically making you not only more intelligent, but stronger, faster, and luckier, too.

But perhaps the weirdest change would be knowing that anytime you left your neighborhood and wanted to go from Point A to Point B, there was a chance of monsters randomly appearing, like two Japanese businessmen thought was happening to them when they spotted what looked like a Dragon Quest slime car on the expressway.

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Smartphone GPS system lets you bring your favorite anime voices along for the ride

Almost none of the streets in Japan have names, and even when they do, civil planners are pretty haphazard about putting up signs to let you know what they are. As a result, it’s hard to get anywhere in a car without a GPS system guiding you.

But after enough time behind the wheel, you might find yourself getting bored of the default voice chirping out you to “make a right turn in 30 meters.” So if you’re feeling a little burned out on your navigation system, or nabi as it’s known in Japan, now might be the time to update it with the voice of Evangelion’s Asuka, Attack on Titan’s Arumin, or one of dozens of other available anime characters.

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Ordinarily-looking van gets transformed into amazing Japanese-style living room 【Video】

There are two paradigms you can aim for in designing a car. One is a great vehicle, accelerating, turning, and braking with speed and precision. The other is a great living or hotel room, with stylish interior appointments and spacious seating.

The owner of this van is obviously in the second camp, and has modified his ride so that it doesn’t look anything like a car on the inside, but rather a Japanese inn on wheels.

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