GRAND TOURING: Driving the Chubu Touge, Part 02 | Japanese Nostalgic Car

13 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on GRAND TOURING: Driving the Chubu Touge, Part 02 | Japanese Nostalgic Car

GRAND TOURING: Driving the Touge, Part 02

In Part 01 of our grand tour, we escaped by expressway northwest into the Our return trip took us on less traveled, over of Japan#8217;s most famous passes known as touge . We had it as far as Matsushiro, Nagano Prefecture, but had a ways to go yet.

As we climbed into the hills, on the outskirts of one town we stopped at a local dealer to investigate their Minica .

We were more however, by the Isuzu -built Minx also parked in In the 1960s Isuzu licensed and knock-down kits shipped the UK. A number of references detail differences between Hillman and built versions, but we could not them apart.

On the consult of a car otaku friend, the main between Isuzu and Hillman of the same year are that had more chrome and a different cluster. This friend a Sunbeam Alpine and they a lot of parts. Imagine the possibility of an Alpine!

As we made another connection between touge . we a car shop with another truck, a slightly newer 221 time.

A four-door Isuzu and a few other interesting vehicles up the rest of the forecourt.

We called in at the office and politely asked if it be possible to have a look at cars, in particular an attractive red Familia Coupe . The Familia was Bertone designed, built in and particularly well-proportioned. The red body and wheel trims gave lithe little coupe a nice presence.

The subtle chrome belt-line podded instrument binnacle, and steering wheel contributing to an feeling of sophisticated European

Wandering around this example, we wondered what it look like on a set of gunmetal e eight-spokes and a ride height not lower than it already After perhaps admiring it for a too long, the shop manager out and asked, #8220;So, you really do kyuusha?#8221;

#8220;Errr… yes, a we replied, to which she started to out, #8220;Hey, Boss! Where are you? Boss.

Sheepishly, a tall man in blue — obviously on a discreet cigarette somewhere in the back of the shop — out and introduced himself as Ishida-san, the of Mikuro Restorations Car Shop . asking us the same question — you really like kyuusha?#8221; — he us out to the back of his property, unlocked a double-doored garage, and proceeded to us to his full collection.

A red Mitsubishi Minica Skipper notes scribbled into the that had accumulated on its window occupied the main shop

However, Ishida-san#8217;s personal held a pile of Honda s, a few Monkey s, and other various motorcycles. Gazing past we spied his mint, black Nissan Gloria .

Squeezed the space against the back was a Daihatsu Midget and a Subaru 360 .

the shacho had a thing for Showa Era kei . and a rear-engined Mazda Carol out the collection.

Ishida-san#8217;s favorite though, was one of Soichiro#8217;s greatest, a 1300 Coupe 7 .

He quite displayed the five (!) parts including a fuel-injected 145 . he had acquired the years in order to keep it

On our way to the Manza Highway . we waited for a to pass as we quickly climbed a barren volcanic landscape above the treeline.

The many hot in the area fill the air with the of sulfur and steam, stunting the of what little vegetation could cling to life the snows and poisoness waters.

The Onsen attracts both and whose who enjoy soaking in water alike, and is the highest of Japan#8217;s expansive National system at an altitude of 2172 (7126 feet).

As a result, the Highway presents magnificent over valleys dotted dramatic barren rock Not widely known outside of the area is full of small hot springs, and of course the gloriously touge .

Coming around Asama-yama, the of one of Japan’s most violent events in modern times, we to observe the temple dedicated to who lost their lives in the 1783 eruption.

Connecting Karuizawa via the Nihon Romantic . we were fascinated by a local dry who advertised their shop as a Factory.#8221; Parked on their terrace was a Daihatsu Midget in looked like running

There was also a truly 30-series Nissan Cedric out front, and tucked away in garage was yet another early truck, the third we’d to photograph on this tour.

If there was a car associated with region, it would be the AE86 . single-handedly brought the word to the west. Several chapters of D took place on the road we about to travel, and the panda we found on a used car lot beside a foreshadowed what lay ahead.

Our touge of this tour was the run Karuizawa to Yokokawa — National 18. Known locally as the Nakasendo . it has since been renamed the Touge in some places. Six ago our initial excursion into hidden pass was an exploration of with no signs and little of access or even what we expect to find.

Since then, however, the — bypassed by an expressway and shinkansen in the — has developed as a tourist destination. on a combination of its famous drift local train lines and views, it now sports sign-posted (in English, even), souvenir and parking areas where existed before.

One of the noted along the route — approached a suitable set of short straights and ideally on a near-180 degree — is the Usui Megane-bashi . a railway built in the English arch of the early 1900s. As stout as the day it was it traverses the gap between two cliff and an appropriate set of tunnels.

The Megane-bashi traces the path of the old line the bottom of the touge to a period-built station halfway up the hill, but the are gone and it carries a walking instead. A parallel train with greater capacity was in the early 1960s, eliminating of the original#8217;s curves, but it too closed a of years ago and now carries a tourist from the visitor center at the of the touge to the old power station.

While a number of years ago the was narrow and in disrepair in a number of it is now being widened and resurfaced in the smooth Japanese style. One hasn’t changed though, and is the pure driving pleasure of a of tight second-gear corners, straights, soft climbs and If you were to sit down and design an touge circuit, you could not do than Usui as it already

It is simply that good.

At the of the touge, the remains of the Holiday still stand. Its signs are gone and it#8217;s no longer in but it would have provided a fuel and service stop for driving from Tokyo to in the 1960s. Outside, the owners of Renault 4, a Mini, and what was their shop truck, a Prince Miler . still

Lunch took place on the terrace of the newly restored Gardens, a historic site on the former Obata castle The castle town is built a series of canals along many ancient samurai and a  silk mill still

On our last day leaving Gunma we were again pleasantly when we passed by a collection of appeared to be 1980s racing s led by a Trust -liveried widebody .

Once again, upon interest the owner was more happy show us both his and the secret stash of machines behind his house. There sat an hakosuka missing many of its and A TRD widebody Starlet battle-scarred its glory years.

In the nearby the owner showed us even derelict machinery, including a and G-nosed Fairlady Z that had not moved under its own power in years.

Many of these would be totally lost had he not them a place to rest. The Starlet looked as if there be some life left in it the Honda might sacrifice of itself so that others may

By his garage more Skyline s, s and Starlet s were parked to doorhandle. A spread like definitely would not be allowed in where police must your parking space you can register a car.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful, but visitors to Japan who lack can explore this region on own. Whereas the Usui used to be a destination for nothing than local macaque, the weekend drifter and the odd haikyo it#8217;s now a viable day trip Tokyo on the trains.

Skorj is a living in Japan. See more of his at Filmwasters .

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