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Postcard from Japan

1 year ago

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Joana Fidalgo | Engineer


25 January 2023

Visiting Japan had long been on my bucket list – a plan was in the works but it got nixed when the world closed its borders in 2020. Three years on, the stars aligned sufficiently for me to book an impromptu trip. And I loved every second of it, but I wasn’t quite ready for what I saw there…

We’re in Daikoku Futo, a man-made island just south of Tokyo near the vicinity of Yokohama. Nested in its middle sits a service station encircled by a towering network of motorways that snake all around us, lit against the night sky like long-bodied dragons. Like many petrolheads, I had first heard about this place years ago. I’d even driven these roads many times, albeit virtually on Assetto Corsa. Recognising the roads and the brightly lit signs made me wonder if I wasn’t really at home with my VR goggles on instead.

So why is Daikoku PA (which stands for Parking Area) such a famous place? Well, Daikoku is rather more than Japan’s answer to Beaconsfield services. While it might look like it on its quiet days, over the years it has become a safe haven for some of the best-attended car meets in all of Japan, building up a reputation within Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) lore. However, it’s a Monday night and the locals tell us this is not peak time. You’ll have to pop over during a weekend evening if you want to really see some action, they tell us.

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