Now that Japan is open for tourist visas, many car enthusiasts are excited to either return to Japan or visit for the first time. Over the years there has been a lot of hype around visiting UpGarage and other parts stores. Looking back at my past trips, I would like to offer some advice that I wish I knew before going.
For those that aren’t familiar, UpGarage is a used car part store. They buy used items and then resell them in store, along with offering installations. They also have a few other stores like UpGarage Riders (focused on motorcycles and scooters) and UpGarage Wheels. Their mechanical work is limited to installing wheels and tires, muffler, stereo, and suspension items like coilovers.
Sounds amazing, right? You head down to your local store and get a good deal on some aftermarket parts. It makes you wonder why we don’t have that in the states! (We kinda do, but its just a warehouse).
But there are a few downsides to this for foreigners visiting Japan looking to score some used parts. Here is a few of my personal downsides:
- Many of the locations are far outside the main tourist areas
- Many of the parts are for cars not available in the US
- The inventory is used parts, so finding parts can be a gamble
- If you do find something, it might be difficult to drag it back and fly home with it.
So lets say you are feeling really adventurous and you still want to visit an UpGarage. Lets say you are staying in Shibuya. It is 1 hour away, consisting of a $5 two train trip with a 22 minute walk just to get there. This is the closest location if you have to get your fix.
Now this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people visiting decide to rent a car (although it is a very expensive option) and travel around Japan that way. This would be the easiest way to visit an UpGarage.
Once you arrive you are greeted with a huge wall of wheels and tires. Sounds exciting right? Kinda-ish. If you are into a very specific style of tuning, like kaido racers for example, you probably already know there is specific wheels and sizes that are better than others. Chances are you wont find the style and size you are looking for unfortunately. But if you do, are you going to roll 4 wheels back to the train? Let’s say you even rent a car, pick them up and then package them up for the plane ride home. They better be a good deal otherwise it would be easier to just hit up Streeter and have him order and ship them home for you.
Ok, so wheels are out of the question maybe… how about stereo gear? All of the car navigation systems will have Japanese maps and the radios will have Japanese FM tuning frequency of 76-90 MHz versus our 88-108 MHz.
So you stumble down the exhaust aisle. Many for the cars we don’t have and if we did, try explaining to TSA why you need this Fujitsubo cat back.
Once you hit the seat aisle you start to get excited. “Finally a part I can use!” The prices arent usually too bad, and shipping a seat to the US can be fairly expensive. But now you have a large item to drag back to the airport. Only for the resourceful.
Obviously if you want to check it out for yourself, please go. If you do want to check if they have something for your car, you can check out Croooober to see nearby stores inventory. You can also order parts directly through their website and skip visiting the store all together, but their shipping prices are sometimes quoted very high. I know this is coming off fairly cynical, but part of it is from my own personal experience. I had the nerve to drag my girlfriend to two of these before I realized that hunting for specific parts is better on Yahoo Auction. Especially for kaido racers.