Here’s why you’ll find American-style lowriders roaming the streets of Japan

Prior to our internet-connected world, car culture was much more segmented. Toss a body of water as vast as the Pacific Ocean into the mix, and it’s safe to say that the sharing trends and ideas between different groups of enthusiasts was difficult at best. This, however, didn’t stop one man from successfully importing the Chicano lowrider tradition to his home country of Japan.

On a trip to the United States in 1987, Junichi Shimodaira was absolutely awe-struck by the brightly-colored, chrome-clad lowriders of Southern California—so much so that he took it upon himself to bring the concept to his homeland. Following multiple trips back to the States to immerse himself in the community, Shimodaira started his business, Paradise Road, in Nagoya, Japan, which is dedicated to importing, repairing, and restoring classics to traditional lowrider specifications.

The lowrider collective only grew stronger over the years, as more enthusiasts discovered Shimodaira’s community through various shows, cruises, and events hosted by his car club, The Pharaohs. Just like their SoCal forebears, members meld the characteristic paint and custom work with Japan’s famous meticulous attention to detail.  

Perhaps there was some imitation involved at first, but there’s no denying that today’s Japanese lowriders have developed a character and style of their own. It’s an unlikely union, but just like some of the best-tasting cuisine, it’s a flavor combination that just works. Here’s hoping we’re able to sample more of these tasty, car-culture fusion dishes in the future.

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