Sunday, September 29, 2019

Day Trip to Jogashima & Visit to Mine’s

Another weekend, another opportunity to discover new roads and explore places I’ve never been to. This Saturday I ventured to Jogashima, a small little island off the western tip of Miura Peninsula, facing Sagami Bay in Kanagawa.

I was completely unaware of this place's existence until Aki suggested I’d check it out on Friday night. The first half of the 80km ride from Tokyo was a bit busy with traffic, but once reached Kanagawa Prefecture the road opened up and I could stretch the legs of the Fairlady through a nice sequence of curves on the super smooth expressway. 

By 10:30am I was at Jogashima and decided to drive on top of the island and check out the park. You can hike up and down some of the cliffs and there are two lighthouses from where a great view of the bay can be enjoyed.

A day-pass parking ticket is available for 450¥ and grants access to the second area at the bottom of the island where the main village is located. 

I love these old Japanese towns and the fact that they are just a mere hour away from Tokyo; they are infused with tradition and local customs and even after so many years living here I still enjoy discovering them. The Z almost looked too modern and out of place!

I then ventured through the inner alleys of the island and realized that Jogashima seems to be renowned also for being a good diving spot. So far I have dived only in Okinawa and it might be worth trying something new.

The more I discovered the island the more I thought that there is enough to do and see that it would probably make a great place to spend a full day.

Apparently an historic car rally was taking place in the morning, as I reached the island with a convoy of classic cars from different brands. 

It didn’t take long for lunchtime to come and I indulged in a great maguro-don (マグロ丼 - tuna sashimi bowl) at a local restaurant. Forget about the fancy sushi: these are the true hidden gems of Japanese cuisine.

Jagoshima turned out to be a great find, but unless you partake in local activities, it can easily be explored in half a day, which meant that shortly after checking out a small local shrine I found myself wondering where to next. 

Well, as it turns out, a small yet rather famous GT-R tuning shop is located just 9km away from the island and en route back to Tokyo: worth a quick visit, perhaps?

When Dino warned me that Mine’s hasn’t changed a bit since 1999 I kind of had an idea (we all have seen the videos), but after visiting in person I have no doubt whatsoever that he was right. The place oozes a late 1990s/early 2000s vibe that is undeniable.

Starting from the odd design of the building that is carried inside the showroom, to the presence of 20 years old monitors and PlayStation 2 joypads, it feels like the whole place got stuck in time. And I love it.

Their world famous hand built RB26 with the signature midnight blue crackle paint finish was on display. I have always wondered why, despite being labeled as less expensive yet better than Nismo engines, cars with complete Mine’s power units are rarely seen.

A tasty titanium muffler for Z33 was also available for sale: priced around 200,000¥ is definitely not cheap, but surely a thing of beauty.

Honestly, the display area is quite small and doesn’t really offer much to see. Sure, I could have asked to be shown the workshop in back, but since I’m not a paying customer I didn’t want to be the annoying visitor that keeps the staff busy without buying anything; not to mention that their two democars were on display at R’s Meeting just two weeks ago. So, after roughly 15 minutes, I decided to jump in the car and head back to Tokyo.

Small, unplanned, day trips like this are exactly the reason why I bought my Fairlady Z and I look forward to the next one.

Until next time.

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