What’s trending at the 2020 Osaka Automesse
What is ‘Kansai style’? Is there even such a thing?
For those who have been to both Tokyo and Osaka, you’ll notice that the atmosphere is a lot more laid back in the Kansai area as compared to Tokyo. This also translates to how people build their cars in the region. From Hondas to VIPs and everything in between, today, we’ll be taking a deeper look at the styling trends we saw at the 2020 Osaka Automesse.
While it’s smaller than the Tokyo Auto Salon, the Automesse is still a rather large show. As a result, the usual big-name brands were there on display; Brands like Liberty Walk, Wald, and the RH9 Group made their presence known here as well. We can continue going on about show cars like the LB-SilhouetteWorks R34, but these cars aren’t really what the Kansai scene is about.
Possibly the vehicle most synonymous to the Kansai area and Osaka is the Honda Civic. Sure, you can come across a bunch of stripped out EK and EGs in Tokyo once in a while. But, for the Kansai region, the Civic seems to be ingrained into their culture. From the various Kanjozoku groups to the hardcore time attack teams based in the area, the Civic has and always will be a part of Osaka.
Go around the show and you’ll see a bunch of Civics in different halls in various styles. From the older EA bodies on display at the Five Mart/Osaka JDM booth to the US-styled EKs and EG being showcased by Mode Parfume, there’s really a Civic for everyone. Time attack? The legendary Aslan Racing EG6 was here too complete with battle scars and all. Meanwhile, No Good Racing had an EK, EG, and EF each sporting liveries inspired by a highway maintenance vehicle and even one disguised as a police car.
Apart from the Civics of Osaka, VIP themed builds comprised the majority of the show. In fact, one hall was fully dedicated to them. The most common vehicles included popular Japanese sedans such as the Toyota Celsior, Lexus LS and the Nissan Gloria. Nothing was sacred though, a Rolls-Royce Wraith and a Lexus LC500 also got the same acrophobic VIP treatment. The new Hiace Super Grandia (or GranAce in Japan) was quite popular too with a few examples already on display.
We know, VIP cars aren’t limited to the Kansai area. In fact, there’s a huge group of them in Tokyo and everywhere else in Japan. What makes VIP wild in Osaka is how far owners are willing would go. Some owners went great lengths to fit the wide wheels they had on by creating beautifully radiused fenders which still flows with the body line. There’s even a first-generation Celsior retrofitted with the front end of the all-new Century.
To no one’s surprise, the Suzuki Jimny is very popular even in Osaka. If you’re a Jimny owner better have your wallets ready; Big name brands and others you’ve probably never heard of before all have something to offer. You can even get inspiration so your cute off-roader won’t look like anyone else’s in Manila.
An interesting sight at this year’s Automesse were the Mercedes G Wagens on display. Sure, these boxy SUVs might be a common sight in Europe or elsewhere in the world, but it’s surprising to see good number of them at the show. To give you an idea, there seemed to be more G Wagens than exotic supercars on display. By our count, there were at least 16. They’re far from stock as well; all have been fiddled with one way or another.
Bosozoku Culture is pretty much alive in Osaka too. At the K-Break booth, you can get a preview of how Zokusha/Shakotan cars and bikes are. They even managed to apply the same Zokusha styling to a Hiace complete with the wild livery and overfenders.
Sure you get to see more mainstream JDM things at the Tokyo Auto Salon. But if you want to see a different and much wilder side of Japan car culture, you should definitely check out the Osaka Automesse. Next time, we’ll give you a quick tour of the parking lots and car scenes you’ll see just going about the city.
Words by Jose Altoveros