Japan, June 2014: Day Twenty Five

It’s been a couple of days since I last wrote, I’ve been feeling rough and looking worse thanks to a couple of insect bites.

We reluctantly left Gunma and headed down the expressway in our little 86 for the last time. There’s something that been bugging me about the car and until Emma mentioned something about it’s appearance, everything fell into place. A lot has been written about it’s lack of pace – the original 86 wasn’t exactly rapid out of the box either though – but I can see why enthusiasts and journos were a little underwhelmed on launch. Emma mentioned that it kinda looked like a Hyundai and that pretty much sums up the 86. If you need to sum it up in a sentence; it’s a rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Coupe. Looks fast, drives ok, but ultimately could have been so much more (like if the Hyundai took the 4G63T instead).

After pondering this for a few kilometres, it was time to pull in for a break. As we rolled into the parking area our jaws dropped. The south of France had moved to the side of the Kan-etsu expressway. This was a ‘Le Petit Prince’ themed parking area (we’d never heard of it either, but apparently it’s a big deal). Still in shock, we explored the gift shop and found biscuits from Scotland as well as all manner of British exports. The Japanese may not have nailed French just yet, but the Frapanese (as we’ll call it) is superb.

Awestruck and slightly frightened from what we’d just witnessed, we ploughed on into the Tokyo area. Rice fields were replaced by high-rise buildings and traffic became heavier. A few kilometres from our destination, we needed fuel and my plan to visit a certain gas station came to fruition. Unlike the majority of Initial D, one key location (the gas station where the main characters work) isn’t based on a place in Gunma, it is in fact within the Tokyo area. I don’t know why, but it meant that the one and only time we needed petrol, we could fill up like a proper fanboy.

The guys in the gas station came out to see the car, help me get my change and chuckle as I ran out to take photos. I don’t think any other Esso station has been visited so enthusiastically. Full of high octane fuel and adrenalin, we ploughed on through the labyrinth of roads and onto our drop off point in Ikebukuro. We were sad to see the car go, but looking forward to getting in from the awful rain.

Feeling exhausted, sick and absolutely shattered, we eventually checked in at the ironically named Super Hotel and fell asleep for a couple of hours. Venturing out in the evening for a meal at Denny’s of all places.