The Tokyo Auto Salon is one of the biggest events in the car modification and tune-up world. Held annually in January, over 1,000 cars and 4,000 booths showcasing accessories and add-ons attract about 300,000 visitors, including press members and celebrities from the auto world.
Massive. The 4,000 booths are spread over 4 exhibition halls each of which look like they’d be capable of holding 1-2 jumbo jets. In addition there is an indoor arena and an outside event area which holds drift shows and other demo runs. Even if you plan on casually strolling around just to look at all the glitz, you’ll need about 3 hours. And that’s before you’ve looked at the scheduling for the special indoor and outdoor events.
What can I see?
While the event is famous in the tune-up world, that doesn’t mean that every vehicle looks like it is bound for the set of Fast & Furious. Among the booths you can also see souped-up sound systems, people carriers renovated for 5-star dining, off-road rally cars, tool-kit manufacturers, and the like. You can also purchase merchandise and sign-up for more information if you’re interested in getting a new body gloss job for your car (for example). Moreover, the big car manufacturers also want a slice of the “cool” and so there are booths displaying the latest models from Honda and so on.
But it’s not necessarily the cars that get all the attention: the most popular booth when I visited consisted of three scantily-clad Japanese girls dancing on the back of a pick-up truck to promote… either a sound system or a pick-up truck (I’m not sure anyone cared). Not even the crystal-encrusted pink Lamborghini nearby could compete.
How much is it?
Tickets are ¥2,500 on the day (¥1,800 for junior and high-school students; free for elementary school and below) or ¥2,000 if booked in advance. Tickets are valid for only one day and cannot be refunded.
What are the opening times?
The event is held over three days, but open to the public only on the Saturday and Sunday. However, non-trade and media members can enter on the Friday but a premium ticket is required (+¥1,000 on the standard prices). The event times are 2pm to 7pm on the Friday, 9am to 7pm on the Saturday, and 9pm to 5pm on the Sunday.
There are limited places to eat inside the exhibition area (especially given the sheer number of visitors), but re-entry is allowed so long as you get your ticket stamped at the exit by staff.