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Art’s 2004 Tour of Japan with the Volvo Cross Country Club of Japan

Group PhotoArt's 2004 Tour of Japan with the Volvo Cross Country Club of Japan
XC Club of Japan Gathering Aug 7-8, 2004 (Nagoya City)

On August 4th, my wife and I began a trek that would take us back to her home prefecture of Yamanashi, Japan located near the base of Mount Fuji. The main purpose of this trip was to synchronize our arrival with the traditional Buddhist ritual called ‘Obon’ Each year in mid-August, people across the country take time off from their busy work schedules and journey back to their birth homes to commemorate their ancestors. Since our stay in Japan would last for three weeks, I thought that it would be an ideal opportunity to connect with a few members of the XC Club of Japan. Fortunately, as on our three previous trips, my wife would again play the vital roles of both translator and navigator.One week prior to our departure, we corresponded with our Japanese contact, XC member Volvic(Haruchika Adachi), and arranged to meet him at the main train terminal in Nagoya City. When we arrived at the station, it wasn’t long before we spotted a familiar looking banner held up by three members of the club. The welcoming committee that greeted us consisted of members Volvic,Yasu, and Genius. As we left the station, I quickly scanned the area for any sign of their cars, but quickly discovered that they had all arrived by alternate means. Instead, we were whisked away in taxis to our hotel accommodations that the club had pre-booked for us. The plan was for us to meet up later that evening over dinner with a few of the other members.Several hours later, the same group that met us at the train station picked us up at our hotel and escorted us to the dinner engagement. Thirty minutes and a couple of train transfers later, we arrived at the restaurant which was considered to be one of the more popular venues for their GTG’s and it was there where we would hook up with other members of the club. Incidentally, the restaurant owner’s son, who is also an active member (Sin-Yu), drives a silver XC90 T-6. Parked in front of the restaurant was a sharp looking and, I might add, a well-cared for ash gold XC sporting beefy 18″ VST wheels. It belonged to yet another member named Carpenter.

That evening we feasted on a grand meal of Robatayaki, which is essentially a visual buffet of sorts consisting of raw/cured meats, seafood and vegetables. Food items are chosen by the customer and then expertly grilled over charcoal by the chef who uses a long set of tongs to grab each morsel from behind the counter. Chilled mugs of Japanese beer are served up by the chef on the blade of a large wooden paddle and appropriately offered to the diners. Quite a unique eating experience to say the least. All-in-all an evening of superb food, great company and lasting memories.

The next morning, our hosts had arranged a short driving tour of the city which included a quick stop at a Volvo dealership, a pre-lunch photo shoot, followed by lunch at a local eatery and finally a group gathering for yet another photo opp at the Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology. It was quite interesting to view all of the different wheel/tire combinations that are available to the discerning Japanese XC owner. Even though this meet was supposedly a gathering of XC’s, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pair of R’s that showed up. Both were meticulously maintained by their owners and, of course, were loaded with all of the goods. Almost all of the XC’s that were present sported some combination of aftermarket upgrade or accessory. Whether it was +2 or +3 wheel/tire upgrades, tuned exhausts systems, sport suspensions, nav/tv systems, HID light systems, brake components….there was always something to peak my interest.

Watching the members drive their cars into the parking plaza, one at a time, was a poignant reminder of the high level of efficiency and organization that the Japanese display in every day life and their uncanny ability to work in unison as a team. After talking to them about Canadian life, some of the members even spoke of organizing an offline ski meet in Whistler, B.C. Now wouldn’t that be something, eh Taylor! 😀

Prior to our train departure, we had time to drop in to a PCS (Protect Coat System) detailing shop where I took time to watch a technician meticulously work on a WRX. While there, I also picked up a couple of bumper protection coating kits which I hope to test on the XC’s cladding before the end of the season.

The meet ended with plenty of fond farewells and left me with a deep sense of awe and gratitude towards my fellow XC’ers. There was talk of follow up meet with some of the Tokyo clan but we were unable to secure a suitable date for the following week. Special thanks go out to Volvic and his wife,Yuki, for the mementoes, for acting as our gracious hosts and finally for taxiing us around in their Adventure Ltd Edition XC. Also, thanks to members Yasu and Go-ji for the coffee/dessert and the DIY manual and member Kuma for the PCS/Heico brochures.

Misc. Comments
Mini vans abound in Japan, particularly ultra compact versions such as one popular model from Nissan aptly named the Cube. One of the nicest wagons that I encountered was the Nissan Stagea which also comes in a 4WD version.

Riding the rails is by far the most accessible way to tour the country. Our JR (Japan Rail) Passes, available only to foreign visitors, allowed us virtual carte blanche on all of JR’s public transport system, including the bullet train.

Eating on the train doesn’t pose a problem either as bento lunches are available at most stops. A great bonus if you are either travelling on a budget or just want a quick and nutritious meal.

The Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is a definite must see if you happen to be anywhere near that area. To view the complex tuna auctions, one must rise at 5:30 a.m.to catch the start of the action. The amount of live seafood that pours into Tsukiji from all parts of the world is a mind blowing 2200 tons a day!

Vending machines in Japan pump out everything from fresh eggs to designer condoms to 1L bottles of beer, hence the variety of selection is almost endless.

Parking can be a problem particularly in the larger cities so automated parkades with turntables are a common sight.

NOTE: Check out the Volvo Cross Country Club of Japan’s website at

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Discuss this story in the forums!

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A Serene Moment in teh Ken Rokuen Garden
Volvic's Dual Decals
Hanging out with the gang
The new Volvo V50
Group Photo Shoot
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View of the Rears
Following the procession
WRX Receiving PCS Treatment
A Nissan Cube
Bento Lunches on the train
Tsukiji Fish Market
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