Most car fans known of the popular Japanese comic-turned-animated-show Initial D. For those who don't, it's the story of a young boy coming of age using his Toyota AE86 to best his peers in illegal touge racing through the mountains of rural Japan. Despite the show debuting in 1995, its relevance as a cultural phenomenon is still evident today. In fact, it even inspired one man to open up a small Initial D themed cafe that attracts automobile enthusiasts from around the globe.
Welcome to D’z Racing Cafe Garage, a small shop nestled in the heart of Shibukawa, Japan—the same town where one would find the fictional Fujiwaras and their Toyota Sprinter Truenos delivering food by day and tearing up the streets by night. It was here at the base of Mount Haruna (known in the series as Mount Akina) where 52-year-old Makoto Okada founded the business in 2016.
Outside of the business are exhibition cars which can be ogled by customers. Most of which are modeled after vehicles seen in the show, though there also is a recreation of the VeilSide Mazda RX-7 driven by Han in The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift.
The cafe is packed full of Initial D and automotive culture memorabilia. This regularly attracts car lovers from across the Gunma Prefecture and surrounding areas who attend events hosted by Okada, or come just to take in the environment.
A projector and Playstation is set up in one area, along with various automotive parts scattered throughout the shop with numbered photos of cars tandem drifting awaiting eager eyes. And if you're there to take a load off, you can pop a squat in furniture crafted out of Bride racing seats.
Stopping in for lunch means a simple selection of curries and desserts. Even the selection of puddings and custards at the cafe feature branding of teams from the show like the Akina SpeedStars, Myogi NightKids, and Akagi RedSuns. One jar even features the Fujiwara Tofu Store branding as seen on lead character Takumi's Toyota AE86. If you want all four flavors, you can even buy them in a commemorative package that is meant to resemble the engine block of an inline-four.
Whether or not you enjoy watching animated shows, any automotive-themed restaurant is exciting to see, especially one dedicated to bringing the community together. If you happen to find yourself nearby, this is surely a tourist attraction you'll want to make time for.
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