The Car Lovers Guide to Japan! Part One, Non Car Stuff to Do in Tokyo and The Nissan Crossing Part 1

So in crowded Japan, most people in Toyko live in tiny apartments and pet ownership either isn’t allowed or is very impractical.  So pet-themed cafes are pretty popular. You can go in, pay a small fee and relax with different animals.  They have dog cafes, owl cafes and the most popular seem to be cat cafes. There seem to be many of these in the Harajuku district so being cat owners, we decided to try some Japanese culture and visit a cat cafe.  The funny thing is the Japanese cats hated us!  The would not let us close and if we tried to pet them they would run away.  We have had up to 3 cats at a time at home so it’s not like we don’t know how to treat a cat!

The cats loved the Japanese customers though so we were like WTF. Racist cats! Since we are largely Japanese ancestry we came to the conclusion that we must smell funny to them.


Akihabara is known as Electric City.  It is a major area to buy electronics.  It used to be stuffed full off all sorts of electronics but the advent of the cell phone which can do it all to a large extent has killed much of that off.  Right now Akihabara is more like the center of Japanese pop culture.  Because of this, it is the mecca for anime stuff, video games, manga, and computer stuff.  There are also many theme cafes from PG-13 to R-rated for things like maid cafes where you are served by real-life hot anime maids.

Before Akihabara used to cater to camera nerds computer geeks, gadget geeks and have the most awesome toy shops. Now that is still there but to a lesser degree and shops that cater to Otaku culture have taken over to a large degree.  An Otaku is someone, usually male who is fixated with anime and manga who prefers to live in that world vs the real world.  They are sorta like a gamer as they are technology shut-ins but their obsession is a fantasy world

As you can see in this picture, there are multiple stories of shops that cater to the Otaku culture here.  You can tell by all the graphics in the windows.  Since most Otaku are male, the is a creepy amount of shops that sell figurines of every popular female anime character ever in sexy poses with the oddly Japanese mix of cute and sexiness.  Christa found all of this disturbing.  Anime stores for perverts she muttered.  She does not understand the culture but maybe she is right!

Otaku culture is wrapped up in many subcultures.  Car people, camera nerds,  pop idol fans, umbrella girl fans, computer nerds, gamers, cosplayers, and manga freaks are all part of the Otaku culture and all subtly intertwined.  It is also associated with socially awkward outcast shut-ins who live in a fantasy world.  The Japanese trend, the herbivore man where up to 70% of Japanese men between 20 to 40 feel asexual and isolated also has something to do with Otaku culture and Japan’s rapidly falling birthrate as well.

So Otaku is a very strange concept to Americans and Akihabara caters to the Otaku in a weird colorful and fun way making the district a must-see.


  1. Kind of confused by the exhaust situation on that concept car, It clearly has side exhausts, plus a big center exhaust at the back, you said it also has a blown diffuser.

    I’m gonna guess that center exhaust at the back is fake, and the “blown diffuser” is the side vortexes from the front exhaust that seal up the diffuser from coanda effect losses.

    If this ever goes to any kind of production they would probably move the side exhausts to that big rear exhaust so that you don’t gas yourself at every stoplight. They could bypass to the sidepipes at higher speeds.

  2. Mike, as a suspension guru, do you have any experience with removing some of the anti-dive geometry a the front to help weight transfer during braking.

    I know it’s not feasible on a low car like that concept car but I know it’s a normal mod for gravel/dirt/snow rally cars.

    Is it a concept that translates to road cars at all or is the grip of a tarmac surface enough that it would negate any gains from that weight transfer.

    1. Thanks, dive and squat are much less talked about than other parts of suspension setup and some cases are still a mystery to me like FWD drag cars.

      Your “Ultimate Guide To Suspension and Handling” was one of the first things I read when I was just starting to work in cars. It mentions dive and squat in that it makes excessive body roll worse “…The driver feels this as a car that is twitchy and unstable at the limit. Dive and squat when combined with roll can make all of these issues worse.”

      Even Herb Adams’s awesome “Chassis Engineering” mentions anti-dive only when talking about how its undesirable for the effect it has on caster. But it does go in depth about anti-squat (those live axle boys sure love anti-squat).

  3. Many years ago I took one of my friends to Manhattan. We planned on eating in China Town (Ajisen ramen the best) But he wanted to go to this mall under the Manhattan bridge.
    Apparently you could get the software to play foreign market DVDs and ps1 games (that’s how long ago it was)
    Well the mall was nice. But in the bottom bottom story of the mall (in a dark corner) they sold things like those figurines. It was a little creepy. But I did find a Star Blazers model. And Gundam figures. So the creepy had a plus.
    I remember he bought about $500 worth of Anime.

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