When I first arrived at Car Craft Boon, better known as Osaka JDM, a strange thing happened. I was overwhelmed. After years spent professionally seeking out and capturing amazing cars I had thought that the days of becoming instantly awestruck were gone. I was wrong. It wasn’t any one car or part in particular that blew me away but rather the volume of awesome, it was too much to take. Prior to arriving at Osaka JDM I figured I’d probably end up shooting a car or two, depending on what we uncovered upon arrival.
What I didn’t expect was a whole fleet of feature-worthy rides. After meeting the owner Kazuhiro Furukawa and the mechanic, Takada-san, I took a quick look around. Tetsu and Jonathan were talking amongst themselves and then asked, “so which ones do you want to shoot?” I looked around again in three-hundred-sixty-degrees, let out a sigh and shrugged. “All of them?” I said, only half jokingly. Normally this would be an awesome way to spend an afternoon, but since we were running on a Japanese schedule this could only mean one thing—a mad dash to shoot as much as possible as quickly as I can.
But, let’s back up a minute and look at just how it became that the Super Street staff, in almost its entirety, ended up at this obscure place. I recall walking into former Associate Editor, Charles Trieu’s office at the old Super Street headquarters and picking up a copy of G-Works from his desk and flipping through it waiting for him to finish a phone call. In the back of the magazine, I noticed a very sick collection of E-ATs (3rd generation Civics) or as the Japanese call them, “Wonder Civics.” I thought wow, these guys have great taste, and I wouldn’t expect to see relics like these still being tuned in Japan.
A heavily-modified E-AT is a rare sight; so seeing a whole crew of them running wild on the streets of Osaka was quite exciting. With a lack of aftermarket support (comparatively speaking to EG/EK etc) and crude torsion bar front, solid beam axle rear suspension design, the 3rd generation Civic is overlooked by most Honda fanatics. Outside of Auto-X guys who prize the car for its low curb weight and short wheelbase, enthusiasts scoff at the chassis. In fact there’s only one guy I know that’s ever taken a 3rd gen build seriously, and as it turned out that’s who Charles had purchased the magazine for.
This was almost four years ago, and since then “those guys from Osaka with the Wonder Civics” have been busy, very busy. I started seeing a few people “in the know” posting up an image or two here and there on miscellaneous Internet forums. It used to be very difficult to locate images of these cars and when you did, they were essentially thumbnails, but even still you could tell there was something special about these cars. They had that raw Osaka style that the likes of Kei Muira have become famous for, but only in recent years have they begun to take on a mass appeal.
Most enthusiasts probably got their first taste of Osaka JDM, whether they realized it or not, via a Work Wheels ad for the CR-01. The ad is a drawing that depicts an E-AT and an EF hatchback in front of their shop, “Car Craft Boon!” (The “drawing” is a still scene from an actual manga series that uses Osaka JDM as a backdrop, and will soon incorporate Furukawa-san as a character. Pretty cool, huh? - JW) I’m sure many of you are going “ahhhhhh, I remember that” right about now. The resurgence of retro wheels has become a bit of a hot commodity in Japan in recent years and Work decided to promote their wheels in a different way, and rightfully so, by having them installed on a few cars from an underground shop.
Since that ad, the wheels have become the quintessential part on all of Car Craft Boon’s cars and the two are literally inseparable. In fact, Osaka JDM actually have a limited-edition version of the wheel, called the Loop 5, which we’ll get to a little later. For all intensive purposes the wheels are a perfect fit for their lifestyle, they’re racy enough for the circuit but stylish enough for meets and daily driving. With the recent surge in popularity of the “Hellaflush” style in Japan, the custom sizing and color options have proven very successful. They’ve even stepped away recently from their usual track builds to create a one-two knockout duo embracing the fitment lifestyle.
The CR-X and EF9 that Osaka JDM displayed at Hellaflush Fuji set the forums ablaze with comments. Their clean USJDM style (think SoCal Honda scene) surprised many and the cars feature buff USDM conversions including lighting, moldings and even aftermarket pieces from stateside brands like Password JDM. When mixed in with goodies from fan favorites like Mugen, the cars appear as if they were literally just plucked from our shores. While some didn’t know what to make of them, the pair of EFs enamored the rest of the tuning scene, including our very own EF owner, Jonathan Wong.