Saturday, September 24, 2016

In the Beginning Part 3 - Tokyo at Last

Fast forward to 2007 and, as graduation was approaching, I was in the midst of a full-on "quarter-life crisis" as I had no clue of what to do after university. Mind you that Italy boasts a staggering 45% unemployment for new grads and, unless you are very well connected or very smart (I was neither of them) your career prospects are virtually inexistent; forget about cars.

My major was International Trade and in order to obtain mandatory credits we were required to do an unpaid three months internship abroad. While I was far from being a role-model student and my grades were pretty poor, I decided to apply to an internship in Tokyo and, despite having no work experience and zero qualifications, I got accepted overnight (!). I still pat myself on the back every morning for sending that e-mail, which I refer to as THE best decision of my life, EVER. 

Now, in 2016 this may not sound like a big deal, but back in 2007 it actually gained me my five minutes of glory as I was the only student out of 500 to go to an Asian country and the first ever in the history of my university to go to Japan; so much so that I had to do the paperwork myself. For a few months I was known as "the guy who was going to Tokyo" and even had a couple of people confessing me that they "admired my courage" for going so far away (you know, we Italians like to stay local).

I landed in Tokyo on a humid morning in July and will sum those three months up in one sentence: summer 2007 was a blast and one of the best, spiritually intense (I'm sentimental, I know) and most rewarding periods of my life. 

I was super lucky to share an apartment in a residential area in Setagaya-ku and during my stay I repeatedly stumbled across some of my teenage years unicorns, like this zenki NSX NA1 parked next to the supermarket where I used to buy my groceries.
Not bad, hu?
Owner could have used a cover though
Or this black BNR34 V-spec II: my very first encounter with the mighty GT-R, of which I took as many photos I could before running away worried that somebody would call the police.
First encounter (but didn't like the protective silver lining on the door)
Yes, I used the flash
One of the highlights was the fact that my boss gifted me a press pass to the Tokyo Motor Show and allowed me to visit it during working hours as long as I'd write a coverage report (yes, paid to visit a car show - where do I sign?!). This was actually the 40th edition of the show and a pretty special one as well since it was during this event that Carlos Ghosn revealed the R35 GT-R to the world. It was all over the news and everybody was talking about it; I remember our receptionist - a petite lady in her late 30s clearly uninterested about cars - asking me right when I stepped back to the office: "did you see the GT-R?". Yes I did.
40th Tokyo Motor Show
The "new" GT-R
Up-close and personal

Below a few extra shots that I snapped with my sakura-colored Sony camera bought in Akihabara, of which, of course, I was pretty proud of.
Not only Nissans - F430 Scuderia, beautiful spec!
Murcielago Lp640
So much technology
This was before the global economy collapsed in 2008: the show was still at Makuhari Messe in Chiba and all the European makers were also present; hopefully it will regain its prestige in the future. 

Anyways, I was hooked: I loved Tokyo and Japan surprised me beyond my expectations - I was on a mission to stay. I guess I'm just another gaijin who ended up living in Japan, but if you do too, you know what I'm talking about. 

This is the last post of my introduction series to this blog and, since it's a car blog and so far I wrote a lot about myself and very little about cars, I won't annoy you any further: I basically left Italy and never looked back. Next year will be my 10th year in Japan and life is good - arigatou, Nihon!

From the next post I'll start cover the journey of how I bought my GT-R. 

Stay tuned!

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