Classic Cars on the Roads of Japanese Tradition

A short account of a great experience

The Tour organized by Hidetomo Kimura for participants at the Kyoto Concours d’elegance has become a must for collectors interested in getting to know the real Japan from the inside. The event, which doesn’t involve points for the classification of the award-winners, takes place from the Monday through to the following Wednesday. The departure point is Kurashiki Ivi Square, and getting out of Kyoto is not that easy, what with the heavy traffic and the road signs in Japanese. But everything works out fine. The cars taking part are truly superb, like the Lamborghini 350 GTZ that wins the Best of Show award, the Alfa Romeo SZ, the Cisitalia 202 Nuvolari and many others. Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo follow the procession with their new models, including the URUS and the Giulia Quadrifoglio Verde. Outside Kyoto, the roads reveal the added delights of cherry trees in flower, a show within the show.

What an astounding view we enjoy from the Great Set Bridge, the eight-mile double suspension structure that links Okayama to Kagawa – the longest bridge of its sort in the world. And this is just one of the amazing experiences that the three days have in store for us. There’s also Kuribayashi Park, one of the loveliest gardens in Japan with its incredibly rich collection of indigenous botanical species, from trees to shrubs, grasses and flowers. The attention to detail is incredible, with fourteen gardeners working year-round to keep everything in such perfect condition. For us these are richly colorful memories that will never fade.

Another very special event is the “pilgrimage” to Kenpira Shrine, the famous temple near Kagawa. It’s situated in a forest on a hilltop, and to get there you have to climb up over 500 steps – but it’s not only this that takes our breath away: the views over the surrounding landscape are magnificent! What’s more, we are able to attend a Shinto ceremony, with the monks chanting while two young female adepts dance. The atmosphere is infused with mysticism, and we feel privileged to be able witness what few tourists can hope to see.

Every evening together we enjoy the traditional Japanese hot springs, and thus restored we are ready the next day to take to the road once more. We drive on the left, our classic cars and our own perceptions gradually getting used to orderly driving and the sense of safety of the Japanese highways and byways.

The Tour of the Kyoto Concorso is a wonderful way of coming into direct contact with magical places that would otherwise be hidden to western visitors. And all this is accompanied by the delight of driving one’s own classic car: an opportunity not to be missed.

Image copyright and courtesy of Jacopo Salvi

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