For the first time in a long, long while, I did some traveling unrelated to work. Pretty much every trip since I started with HT has had some editorial goal attached to it, so recently when my wife and I were invited to Japan to attend a family wedding, I jumped. Having gone to the Tokyo Auto Salon in '05 and '06, and picking up a thing or two about the place while there, I thought I'd tag along to at least try to bridge some of the cultural gaps I'm sure my gaijin clan would encounter while in the Land of the Rising Sun. Plus, the Mexican/Irish/German group I come from was about to take on a decidedly Eastern flavor-who'd wanna miss that?
Free of the burden of covering a trade show or pursuing other car stuff, I soaked up the role as tourist. My wife and I day tripped the city. I went to more temples in a 3 1/2-day period than I have in the rest of my days bumbling around this planet. We could only get away for a few precious days, but we managed to hit the sights-Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, the harbor-and, to end one day, karaoked our brains out 'till the wee hours of the morning. It was the most conventional look at the city I could imagine, but I enjoyed every second of it.
That's not to say my eyes weren't wandering every time I was on a bus or the back of a cab. I saw Type R's of the DC2 and EK varieties, S2000's, and even an NSX cruising around. There were Fits aplenty, lots of an Odyssey that shamefully will probably never come stateside, and models I couldn't immediately recognize. There was no denying the subtle thrill that always comes with being in Honda's homeland.
Given the harried nature of covering TAS, though-rushing to the show every morning, scouting the expo halls all day 'till your dogs are barkin', and then hanging out with car dudes late into the evenings afterwards-admittedly I was relieved to be visiting for different reasons. Aside from the sightseeing, tasting some of the local culture was exceedingly refreshing. Mingling with the new Japanese part of my family was really cool. I continue to be impressed by the remarkable courtesy and humility of these people. In a weird way, it felt good to be a foreigner.
It had an invigorating affect, my visit to Japan. The great time recharged me in a way I'm not sure I expected. I'm already looking ahead to my next major outing, which will likely be to Ireland, where I've got family, too. Inspired in part by the story we're running this month about a S2000/Corolla bastard pairing in Dublin, of all places, it turns out the tuner market here in North America and in Japan have inspired similar scenes to spawn elsewhere. As you'll read, JDM is not just an American expression anymore.
In the unlikely event this book ever makes it to the Emerald Isle, we'd appreciate knowing what's up from our Irish readers. Just visit www.hondatuningmagazine.com and click on the link to email us - BH