Tokyo Auto Salon (東京オートサロン Tokyo ŌtoSaron) is an annual mega car show held in Tokyo Japan. Unlike car show we are accustomed to, it is one or the biggest annual automotive event with focus on the aftermarket parts. Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 saw events ranging from performance and custom dress-up parts and technology displays by major Japanese automakers. Not surprising as it is hosted by the Nippon Auto Parts Aftermarket Committee (NAPAC). Let’s check it out!
Just like the 2017 Auto Salon show we visited sometime back, it is similarly located at the AKUHARI MESSE International Convention Complex, the show was held on the outskirts of town at the Makuhari Messe, Chiba City, Japan. Also, notably, it is situated east of downtown Tokyo not too far off from Tokyo Disneyland. Moreover, the venue is conveniently served by JR lines with Kaihimmakuhari station in front of the venue. It takes about 45 minutes train ride from downtown Tokyo.
A packed petrol head weekend
Furthermore, the event saw the occupation of 11 exhibition halls in the convention center grounds, This includes the event’s conference hall, event hall (auctions and concerts) and outdoor arena (drift shows). Typically, the show runs over a packed weekend. Notably, the show is so large, its takes an entire day to run through everything.
Moreover, the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon weekend began on Friday, 10th January and ended on the 12th. Also, the show typically run during the start of the year on the winter months of January. Full public days run the full opening hours from 9am – 7pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Additionally, if you wish for an early access to see everything before the weekend crowds, early entry tickets are available. This is on the Friday half-day trade and media day, where you can snag the best deals first. Also, the show is open to the public with a slight increase in entrance fees on opening day. This is also despite shorter opening hours on the afternoon.
Toyota Supra fest
Moreover, the hot car this year would be the new 2020 Toyota Supra. Notably the car was designed from the ground up with the aftermarket tuners in mind. You can see that the car was deliberately Japan for the 2020 segment Toyota Supra fest. Also, for musings, you could consider counting the number of BMW logos in the engine compartment of every Supra on display.
The Auto Salon is a major showcase for mainstream automakers usually in the early part of the year, with the Tokyo Motor Show usually at the end of the year.
Also, notable exhibitors includes Toyota TRD, Subaru STI, Nissan Nismo, Suzuki Motorsport and Honda with their Type-R. All racing and tuning variants of their mainstream cars are also showcased.
Additionally, cult favorites includes the Nissan GTR, as well as the Toyota AE86. Also, the event saw several manufactures such as Mazda using the show as a major event in their calendar line-up to introduce new models.
There is a strong German presence as well, with Mercedes and Volkswagen often having huge and impressive booths too.
In addition to regular automakers are technical exhibition showcases of impressive custom rides. Some are focused on technical excellence with their race drivers doing showcase of their rides in a walkthrough.
Also, some rides are built for attention, not to mention ostentatious too decked in chrome. Some craftsmanship on display includes focus on restoring timeless classics, giving them a new lease of life.
Moreover, there is a notable large section devoted to camping vehicles. This range from camper vans to sleep in conversion mods for passenger vans, catering to the vehicle camping market. Roof top tent included!
In addition, to the exhibition halls is the North event hall. It is a large hall used to hold rare car auctions, as well as concerts and simulator racing competitions. Do check out the daily paper which the show publishes and distributes freely within the convention grounds covering the key events of the day.
Pop Culture references
As the event appeals to a youth demographic, it is not uncommon to find several Japanese pop culture references you can find in the show. Also, Mitsubishi notably showcased their Neon Genesis Evangelion Outlander SUV, and MF Ghost was quite a force with a packed booth with their Initial-D merchandise.
Moreover, there are notable fun elements for kids too, such as kiddy-centric carts and elements. Like those found on the enabling corner in Honda’s booth. It is Fun for the kids!
Also, a staple of every Auto Salon is the Tomica car toys. The show runs a booth where limited-edition models made especially for the Auto Salon go on sale. These collector items are well priced at about 700 yen each and a must-have for every toy collector. Notably, these rare show-run items typically retail at least 2-3 times the retail price thereafter.
Moreover, as with every auto show comes their fair share of ladies with the rides. They are one of the more popular forms of eye candy here called the show’s “booth babes”. Also, Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 is not exception with a strong representation on both Automakers and tuner booths.
Additionally, “Booth babes” are a show staple and are extremely popular among the spectators and photographers alike. Also, they typically model for a particular car brand or store tend to have a following of fans from various other auto shows throughout the country.
Notably, it is not uncommon to see big groups gathering whenever these booth babes. There are even pole dancing performances conducted at some booth. If you see a huge crowd at a booth area, chances there are booth babes on duty there.
From exhausts, blow off valves, turbo kits, stereo, forged crankshafts, you name it you can find it here at the Auto salon. For the 2020 season, the Nippon Auto Parts Aftermarket Committee (NAPAC) has a sizable display this year, though not as large as what I saw on their 2017 Auto Salon.
Still, you have impressive rows of large and custom aftermarket parts, as well as technology displays. Moreover, the Tokyo Auto Salon is one of the top motor shows globally for modified and tuned cars. For the record, 330,666 attendees attended the event in 2019 with over 3600 booths.
Interestingly, we see the return of aftermarket car seat makers such as Sparco and Recaro with their seats on display for attendees to sit-in. It is a good place to rest for moments after a long day of walking.
Also, a new trend for car seats are gaming and office chairs, which this year seeing Sparco also releasing their line of gaming chairs, which is essentially their stand chair mounted on caster feet. This could be the answer to the rising popularity of gaming seats, such as those offered by UMD and Singapore-based Secret labs.
Outdoor drift segment
Moreover, last, but not least is the a highlight of every Tokyo auto saloon is the outdoor drift segment. This is a live skill showcase typically comprising of 2 drift segments on main show days and a single show on the preview day.
Also, do note it does take some time to make your way down to the outdoor drift area, so do start to make your way to the outdoor event area at least 15 minutes beforehand, also to secure a good viewing spot as it can get rather crowded.
Second hand auto parts
Furthermore, upcycling is a big thing in Japan. On top of used and kit cars on display which are also available for viewing and purchase, there are several part shops too. One example is UP garage, one of Japan’s largest 2nd hand car part trader.
Also, Up garage is one of my favourite spots to grab a bargain. Their presence here too is one to be reckoned with. Here, you can find walls of stereo systems to entire full exhaust sets for popular car brands.
All in all, Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 was a joy to visit and explore. The event is a highly recommended event for any petrol-head at heart. At it’s best an auto show complete with Japanese culture, displays and performance. Soaking into the car culture. All in pure Japanese hospitality.