If Yokohama Mooneyes Car and Bike show was at the heart of the custom scene in Japan last weekend, then every road in Japan must have been utilized as a vein to transport the blood on December 4 and 5. Here, I will make a small attempt describe the parking lot scene alone. The lot contained a sea of one of a kind bikes that went on and on. To add to the heart metaphor, there was an unrelenting flow of unique machines into the lot.
The show itself was astounding, but the parking lot symbolized the sheer amount of riding that gets done in Japan. It seems that there is a happy marriage between bikes that are as unique as their riders and bikes that are road worthy. Most of the bikes walk a delicate line between function and form. Many balance perfectly on the line.
This, to me, seems to be a statement about the character of both the cycle community as a whole and the individuals in it. Their hearts are on the road. Their bikes are extensions of themselves, which is part of the reason so many unique details are articulated in Japanese built customs. Lets not forget also, that many riders don’t own cars here, adding necessity to their list of purposes. They are loyal to their machines, believing that the the care that they take with their bikes will be reciprocated in milage.
Before I left the U.S. to live in Japan, it seemed like many folks in the cycle community around me where in awe of Japanese built customs. I was too. Now that I have lived in Japan 5 months I think I am starting to see a connection between the culture as a whole and the bikes in the Mooneyes Yokohama parking lot.
Like many ideas in Japan, a large part of the custom scene here is imported. But like other imports, they take the idea to a level only truly understood by the Japanese. They add their distinctly Japanese respect, patience, work ethic, and romanticism to the work. More than anything, they make it their own.
A large part of Japanese culture that I have noted seems to be about conformity and following rules for the good of the whole. You would never know that if all you saw was the Mooneyes Yokohama parking lot. This dichotomy is a source of wonder. In Japan it is almost against the social fabric to stick out. The group always takes precedence over the individual. This fact makes the uniqueness of these bikes and their riders quite intense here. The general sense of respect for others is kept, while individuality is expressed through more personal venues, their bikes.