The annual Nisei Showoff is a show with some serious roots. It's held in association with Nisei Week, a Japanese American festival that takes part in the heart of Los Angeles' Little Tokyo Historic District. The word Nisei translates to “second generation,” and of course you can't celebrate Japanese heritage without including its car culture. Ken Miyoshi has been hosting Nisei Showoff since before many of you were born or even knew what an exhaust manifold was. You want street cred? This guy was dubbed the founder of Orange County's import car movement.
Back in the day, Nisei Showoff catered to the JDM purists. This year it managed to gather a lot of Southern California's car show regulars. What was really unique was the Itasha movement presence, which if you don't know is a style that involves modifying cars with some sort of fictional anime character. These are the type of people you'll find at the bookstore with their faces buried in a manga comic – the Otaku lifestyle. The word Itasha translates to “painful car,” which can be interpreted in a few different ways. The car is either painfully expensive to modify or the car might be seen as painfully embarrassing. We suspect it's the latter. We can tell you that one car that isn't embarrassing to look at is Rick Ishitani's '71 Skyline, which also happened to win Best of Show honors. Rick is the founder of Sonkei Blue and cruised through with many other Japanese nostalgic cars. Another standout car was Angelo Angeles' mint Mazda RX-3 with a Bridgeport 13bt that sips e85.
Nisei is one of the oldest running import-centric car shows around and has always proved itself to be much better than some of the other shows claiming to be “the original car show.” Low key, we would've loved to see the wheel whores and JDM snobs, but hanging out in Little Tokyo with people who love car culture is just as good.