Norifumi Kobayashi is the man behind this perfectly executed, USDM-styled Honda Tourer (Acura TSX as we know it), and he's had quite an interesting history of cars. He got his start from his father, who owned a Nissan Bluebird, which they would often drive to meets and circuits together. Helping wash and wrench on the Bluebird was a common occurrence for the young boy, and it was only natural that Norifumi developed a deep appreciation for fine automobiles.
As soon as he picked up his license, he purchased his first car, a JZX90 Mark II Tourer V. He enjoyed the Mark II for several years, then decided to choose a completely different car to replace it—a '68 Impala. Norifumi had developed an interest in American culture but wanted to see if he could tackle a full build, in this case a complete frame-off restoration integrating classic lowrider styling. During that time, the need for a reasonable daily driver resulted in the purchase of an RA3 Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey gave Norifumi his first taste of USDM culture, and he realized that many OEM parts had several variations, depending on where the car was sold, and tracking down these parts was a process.
When the Impala was completed, Norifumi enjoyed it for several years, attending lowrider shows and simply cruising around town. When the time came to move onto the next phase of his life, he sold the Impala for a nice chunk of change and purchased this Honda Accord Tourer, hoping to settle down for a while. It started out innocently enough, a simple white wagon lowered on coilovers with a few sets of wheels he changed every once in awhile to keep things fresh.
Meanwhile, on the northernmost island of Japan lived a girl who also grew up around cars, Mami Kato. Mami's father was an avid car and plane enthusiast and had often brought her along to shows, allowing her to experience far more than the average girl. From a young age, it became apparent she was anything but average. While many of her friends were developing an interest in fashion and makeup, Mami was honing her skills behind the wheel in competitive radio-controlled racing. As she grew older, the responsibilities of adulthood kept her from continuing R/C racing, but her interest in cars remained.
One day, while surfing Minkara (a social networking site for automotive enthusiasts), she came across a car that captivated her—a white Accord Tourer slammed on Work CR Kiwamis. In Mami's own words, "It was love at first sight." She followed a series of links and tags until she found the profile of the car, and then pored over each photo. With the discovery of each detail, her intrigue grew. She was familiar with the Honda Accord and the wagon variant, the Tourer, but this one was unique because the trim pieces were different. And what the hell was that "A" where the iconic Honda "H" should be?
The Accord and its owner were from Oyama, a city in Tochigi prefecture on the largest island of Japan, about an hour and a half north of Tokyo, whereas Mami had been born and raised in Ebetsu, Hokkaido, more than 650 miles away. The islands of Honshu and Hokkaido are not connected by land, so travel by boat or plane would be necessary if Mami were to see the Accord in person. Few would classify planning a trip around a car that you've only been acquainted with through blog posts as reasonable. Reasonable or not, that's exactly what Mami did.
Norifumi had mentioned in a recent blog entry he and the car would be attending a car show in the Tohoku region, just shy of halfway between Tochigi and Hokkaido. Mami decided that it was now or never and booked the flight. Upon her arrival at the show, she quickly found the car that had somehow become an integral part of her life. Norifumi happened to be near the car and patiently accommodated Mami's requests to see the interior and engine bay, giving her all the time she needed with the car. They chatted for a few minutes; she walked the rest of the show and headed back to Hokkaido.
Upon Norifumi's return to his hometown, he noticed a message in his inbox thanking him for his kindness; it was from the girl he had met that day—the one who seemed unnaturally interested in his Accord. He had only done what any gentleman would do, but he sent a reply. Before they knew it, sending messages had turned into texting and phone calls. A chance encounter with a photo on the Internet had created a friendship. It wasn't long before Norifumi caught himself checking often for upcoming shows in the Tohoku and Hokkaido region. If it wasn't deliberate at first, once he started taking trips up north on weekends without an event to attend, there was no denying the focus of his interest.
Mami had never even considered the possibility of leaving her native Hokkaido; everything she loved was on that island—her family, her childhood memories, her entire life. She now resides in Tochigi with her boyfriend of five years and his Accord Tourer. She claims she followed the car there, but the way she looks at Norifumi tells a different story. When asked which aspect of the Accord best defines what the car is as a whole, Norifumi answered logically and technically, bringing up three key points: the wheel fitment—not only the proximity to the fenders but the practically non-existent clearance from the StopTech calipers; the full color change—the car has been completely repainted Milano Red, an iconic Honda color that was brought back for a special-edition Acura TSX; and finally, the glass—all the glass on the car was imported from the States and bears the OEM Acura insignia.
Obsessive doesn't begin to describe the amount of work put into this build, and there's no shortage of other equally impressive aspects, such as the USDM-styled shaved engine bay, but the way Mami answered the same question perhaps sums it up best. "Balance—this car looks simple at first glance, but a closer look reveals that much thought and very deliberate action have been put into every aspect." Regardless of whether that was simply an answer to our question or a metaphor for something else this car has brought into her life, we'd say these three are a perfect fit for each other—Norifumi, Mami, and their Accord.