2019 Osaka Auto Messe
Tokyo Auto salon isn’t the only major car show in Japan.
Without doubt, the annual Tokyo Auto Salon is a must-attend, bucket-list event we would encourage every Japanese car enthusiast to attend in their lifetime. It is, as advertised, the mecca for all things JDM, and should be experienced in person if at all possible. Not long after TAS each February, there is a second big show in Japan – something different, and arguably more representative of real Japanese car culture. What’s more, it attracts most of the same auto makers, aftermarket companies, and vendors as the Tokyo event. We’re talking about the Osaka Auto Messe (OAM).
OAM was established in 1997 and is held at the Intex Osaka in Suminoe-ku (except 1998 when it was at the Kyocera Dome). Spread across seven halls, Osaka Auto Messe is attended by more than 200,000 people over three days, and is easily one of the biggest events in the Kansai region of Japan. And like Auto Salon, Auto Messe paints a picture of the car scene in the country, one that has come a long way over the last two decades.
In the past, the aisles were crowded with built tuner cars, especially the JDM hero cars of the 1990s like the Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7. However, they were more sparse in 2019, sharing floor space with an equal amount of totally stock royalty from that era, namely the rare Nissan R33 Skyline-based NISMO 400R, an R34 Skyline Z-Tune, and an R32 Skyline VSpec-II.
Local Osaka Honda tuning shop Five Mart also had a large presence at Auto Messe. Five Mart deals exclusively with Honda Civic and CRX from the 1980s and ’90s, with several built examples on display.
As a sign of the times, Toyota unwrapped its Performance Line Concept by Toyota Racing Development (TRD) in Osaka. This was the division’s first stab at developing aftermarket aero parts for the 2020 Supra. The carbon fiber exterior add-ons include a front spoiler with winglets, side skirts, rear spats and door additions. There was also a more prominent duckbill spoiler, and the exhibition A90 also wore 19” forged TRD wheels. Toyota indicates these add-ons will indeed improve the new Supra’s aerodynamic efficiency, too.
It’s been years since an aftermarket hardtop has been developed for the Honda S2000, but Mode Parfume/Volsage used OAM to roll out its new roof for the car. Two small side windows join a large rear window and the sculpted rear portion separates it from the existing OEM option and others from Mugen and Amuse. A small wing sits at the back of the roof, and although it features a flat base in front of the trunk, Mode Parfume claims the trunk lid is fully functional with the hardtop.
Like TAS, there were also plenty of vans and kei cars on display at OAM – a trend of the last 15 years or so. The show also boasted a number of demonstrations by cars from Japan’s touring car championship, Super GT (erstwhile JGTC) throughout the weekend.
Additionally, Osaka Auto Messe 2019 hosted live performances by some of Japan’s brightest up and coming artists, like Doberman Infinity and Cream. With so much going on, Osaka Auto Messe delivers a great show show. And while it may not receive the same attention as Tokyo Auto Salon, it truly deserves consideration as the most JDM show in Japan.