Tokyo Auto Otaku 2023 – Visiting Crank Tokyo and the streets of Jimbocho

While I did relish my time spent trawling through the vast halls of Makuhari Messe during the Tokyo Auto Salon, one of the most enjoyable moments of my trip to Tokyo was actually spent in a cosy, warm and tastefully curated shop located a stone’s throw away from the book district of Jimbocho.

Going by the name of Crank, this establishment provides “car-matching” services for the discerning car enthusiast whose tastes are of the more vintage variety, and in addition to sourcing and maintaining such vehicles, the proprietors of Crank have also put together a lovely retail store showcasing a variety of imported and original goods all related to classic car motoring.

Their beautifully assembled interior is no coincidence either because they are also staffed by (automotive-geeky) architects and designers, and in addition to sourcing vehicles and selling merchandise, Crank also operates as an interior design consultancy. And if you’re like me, a big fan of “Garage Life” magazine, I’m certain you’ll be in love with Crank’s aesthetic once you step inside. It is beautiful, and I dream of having a home with an attached car parking space just like this. Imagine my 2002 sitting in such a space. Perfection.

Alas, there was no 2002 here but I’m not complaining at all because sitting in the shop was a lovely Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV, right-hand drive, fully original down to the seats and quite simply, stunning. Price of entry? Approximately SGD$70,000.

I know what you’re thinking! But while that amount is nowhere near exorbitant by any means to us living in sunny Singapore, It’s probably a tidy sum of money in a place where you can pick up a brand-new Supra for almost the same amount! Which would you go for? A beautiful and elegant Italian lady or a young, fresh-faced Japanese lass? Or would you just cough up the dosh and have the best of both worlds with both in your garage? Quite a tough decision don’t you think?

On the afternoon of my visit, I was lucky and also managed to meet Crank’s representative Yoichi Hayashi-san, who very kindly showed me not just around the shop but also brought me outside to take a look at the cars they have parked nearby. As we were having a chat outside, a tow truck pulled up and sitting right on top was a minute little Fiat 850 Coupe that had just arrived back in Japan after an extensive restoration process in Italy. These guys don’t play around. When they say fully restored, I reckon they mean it. This Fiat was immaculate. I refrained from taking any pictures because the car had just arrived and they had not made any post about it yet. But here’s a tease.

Sadly, while I would have loved to spend more time chatting with Hayashi-san, it was a working day for me and with my lunch hour drawing precariously to a close, I had to take my leave since I also wanted to have a look at the book district. Before I left though, Hayashi-san offered to take a picture of me outside the shop. I think this was the only picture I have of myself for this trip! I will definitely have to return for another visit the next time I’m back in Tokyo.

After carefully placing a sticker I purchased from Crank, I bid Hayashi-san farewell and made my way towards the nearby book district. Isn’t it funny how after coming to Tokyo for so many years, there are still so many places in this city I have yet to visit?

For those of us who have yet to visit Tokyo’s book town (Japan really does have a “town/district” for every niche), Jimbocho has over 200 bookstores littered about, stocking both old and new Japanese and English publications. Jimbocho also happens to have several shops dedicated to vintage and retro books and magazines. So, let’s be honest, my remaining 20 minutes here ain’t gonna be enough to even scratch the surface of what it has to offer.

That said, armed with whatever knowledge I could gather about this district from the internets, my goal for this short sojourn was simple. Vintage automotive magazines, in particular, anything with a BMW 2002 in it.

One man’s treasure is another man’s trash. Or was it the other way around?

Sadly, try as I might, I could not find anything of interest as it seemed most of the publications in stock catered mainly towards pop culture, especially music and movies. The only automotive-related content I could find featured F1 material from the 80s and 90s. Interesting, but not interesting enough for me to drop any Yens on.

Perhaps if I had a bit more time to browse around I could have found something, but with my lunch hour now well and truly over, it was time to head back to a cafe to continue my work. Jimbocho, I will be back!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s