I've been to Japan four times and all four times took place in the month of January for the annual Tokyo Auto Salon. TAS is undoubtedly the Big Kahuna when it comes to showcasing Japan's automotive scene. You'll find everything from big name tuners to kei cars, VIP culture, drift stars, and more. But at the end of the three-day event, TAS still feels a bit corporate — almost like a Japanese SEMA. And don't forget, it's a mega cluster f**k when you have to dodge the hundreds of thousands of people that attend (good luck getting a clean photo). So I decided that I'd take some initiative this year and make it out to a more grassroots, enthusiast-type event in Japan — the kind of show where irrelevant vendor booths and casual car fans would be kept to a minimum, while hardcore enthusiasts and quality builds would take precedent. And what better event to attend than a show series we're all very familiar with and quite fond of: Wek'fest.
I consider Wek'fest to be at the top of the game when it comes to car shows. Going on its ninth year, I'm always impressed with the show's focus. You won't find cheesy music, dance performances, model lounges, or any other silly gimmicks for that matter. Whether in California, Texas, or the East Coast, Wek'fest is about the cars, and each and every one of them is selected by staff to ensure the best representation of the scene. At last, it was finally my time to see the best representation overseas, so directly following Tech Day last Sunday, I immediately jumped on a redeye flight to Japan in order to check out the fourth Japanese Wek'fest show.
The interesting thing about Wek'fest Japan is that it falls on a Wednesday. Luckily, this is still considered "work" for me, and in Japan it's their Golden Week holiday — basically everyone has a week off. After arriving at Haneda International Tuesday morning, I spent the day doing things like eating ramen, visiting a shop called F Development, and getting a ride-along at the world famous Mazda Turnpike (more on this later). After sunset, I hopped on the shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya where Wek'fest would be held the following morning.
You can imagine my excitement. I was finally poppin' my Wekfest Japan cherry! Because I didn't want to miss a beat, I got up at 3:45am to ensure I could catch roll-in. I was pretty jetlagged and beat up from the previous day's duties, but once I touched down at Messe Nagoya, I felt the adrenaline kick in — yes, this is happening and my dream of checking out a real enthusiast car show in Japan had come true!
The line of show cars stretched for blocks, and right away I could see the high caliber of builds that's always carried throughout Wek'fest shows. The event undoubtedly has a U.S. feel — many of the cars looked as if they were shipped in from LA and San Francisco. While Wek'fest wasn't as diverse as something like Auto Salon, most of the cars were street and show builds with several classics, a good showing of Euros, and a handful of high performance machines.
I walked the exhibition hall row-by-row, car-by-car, and there was honestly too much to soak in and appreciate. Over 1,000 photos later, I can honestly say Wekfest Japan met my expectations and more. I'll be highlighting some of the top cars in the coming week, but for now enjoy this initial gallery and start making plans for Nagoya next May!