If you have read my day 1 in Japan post, you will know that I had some concerns with staying in Roppongi after I found out about its dubious reputation. You may then be surprised to learn that it is the fancy car capital of the world (this is perhaps a slight exaggeration)!
There is some serious cash driving around on the streets of Roppongi, and as a car admirer from way back, I can’t help but feel my neck crane automatically whenever I hear more than 8 cylinders idling at a set of traffic lights.
Emma, whose interest in cars ends at the point at which she is no longer inside one, quickly became bored of my constant pointing out of exotic rides. Because Emma wouldn’t indulge me, you, the people of the internet, will have to put up with my schoolboy levels of car excitement instead.
Were I to list every exotic automobile that I spotted during my time in Roppongi, I would run out of internet. Below are the ones I found most interesting:
Mercedes-Benz – The Cars of Roppongi
Driven by those residents of Roppongi that lack any imagination or ability for original thought. I say this because EVERY SECOND CAR was a Mercedes-Benz.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about your run of the mill C-class sedans. AMG-tuned S-class appeared to pass for entry-level rides, while G-class SUVs were also an extremely common site. The most spectacular of all was the GT-S Coupe, and even that wasn’t a one-off. Mercedes-Benz were everywhere in Roppongi.
For extra Kudos (apparently), the steering wheel should be located on the wrong side of the car. I assume that shows off just how imported it is.
Tesla – The Cars of Roppongi
I’ve mentioned before about the time that I went for a ride in a Tesla Model S. It was the most exhilarating automotive experience of my life. Since that ride, a Tesla has been way up high on my most coveted cars list.
I see the occasional Model S on Sydney roads, but nothing compared to the sheer volume of the electric vehicles that can be found in Roppongi.
I think I am yet to walk past Roppongi Hills without seeing one. In fact, there is one intersection that Emma has dubbed “Tesla intersection”. Not that she cares even slightly when a Tesla drives past, it’s just that every time we have stood at that intersection she has heard the words “ooh, Tesla” escape my mouth.
They aren’t just Model S ones either. The occasional Model X makes me even more excited.
Jaguar – The Cars of Roppongi
F-Types. F-Types everywhere.
Ferrari – The Cars of Roppongi
In my boyhood days I was a Prancing Horse fan through and through. If you had asked the ten-year-old me what I would drive when I grew up, he undoubtedly would have replied a Ferrari F40.
That ten year old would be disgusted that I now drive a Camry, but he sure would be delighted with the sheer amount of Ferraris in the Roppongi area. I have spotted several each day, either driving past or parked in carparks. White seems to be a surprisingly popular choice, but I have seen the occasional Rosso Corsa beauty.
Maserati – – The Cars of Roppongi
What the poor, rich people of Roppongi drive. As common as Corollas in Sydney (way more common than Corollas in Roppongi).
Rolls Royce – The Cars of Roppongi
I think I could count the number of Rolls Royces that I have seen in Sydney on one hand. Here in Roppongi, it’s at least one a day. I think it’s probably to do with Roppongi’s proximity to the embassy district. Then again, I’m not sure this gold Rolls Royce is Embassy standard issue…
Add to those the slightly-less-impressive-but-still-bloody-expensive Bentleys, and the place is littered with classy limousines.
Porsche – The Cars of Roppongi
The 911 GT3 was common enough to make me yawn whenever one went past. Seriously, don’t the wealthy elite of Tokyo have any imagination when it comes to spending money on cars?
Nissan GTR – The Cars of Roppongi
I have seen exactly one of these. You’d think they would be on every street corner, given that they are perhaps the finest home-grown machine Japan has ever produced. But no. Apparently those with money in Nippon believe that European imports carry the status. I think that’s a shame, the rich Japanese folk should be proud of their home-town hero.
These don’t carry the same hefty price tag as the exotic imports, but they are just as good at turning my head. In fact, some of them must be the cheapest vehicles on Tokyo’s streets. I never get tired of the little three-wheeled motorbikes, for example. They are just downright practical, which is why they are the favoured mode of transport for food and small package delivery.
I also get a kick out of the tiny trucks and vans. They mustn’t be able to carry very much at all, yet they are so prevalent that they must play a significant part in the everyday running of Tokyo. One time I saw a tiny van with a tiny step ladder strapped to the roof. It blew my tiny mind!
I continually find myself stopping to watch the emergency vehicles go past. Some of them look like 1990s mini vans with lights attached to the top. On our first day in Japan we saw a sedan with a blue light slapped on the roof, just like something out of a 90s detective film. My favourite feature of the emergency vehicles is the attached loudspeaker. It is operated relentlessly by the officer inside, who is constantly shouting what I can only assume is the Japanese for “get out of the way!”
The strangest novelty vehicle of all, however, is one that left me wondering if I had consumed to much vending machine beer, and was now seeing things… Mario kart. I promise I’m not making this up, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t imagine it, because I’ve seen it twice. Both times I was too slow to photograph it (one of the times was because I was too distracted by a guy with bright yellow hair and a Pikachu tail… Yes, I got a photo of him… Yes, you can see it).
I’m taking about three go-karts, driving in a row, down the main streets of Roppongi. One of the drivers has definitely been dressed in a Mario suit, I’m a little hazy in who the other two were. The first time I saw them, they were followed immediately by a blue Ferrari. What a crazy town!
The fancy cars are not strictly a Roppongi indulgence. I have seen Ferraris in Shinjuku, Lamborghinis in Nihonbashi and an incredible 1930s Rolls Royce Wraith in Ginza. It seems that wherever we go in Tokyo, there are people with money who like to show it off.