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Welcome to
You might think this site is all about cars. Okay, I admit that they do occupy a significant part of the site. But that's only because it's my job to write about the Japanese auto industry for a dozen or so global publications. Sure it's a blast, but it ain't everything. The food in Tokyo is superb and the wine selection just keeps getting better. It's the cultural and business hub of Asia and one of the safest places on the planet. And having spent just on 20 years here, well, I think this country has a lot say. So, if you're into cars and driving, good food and wine, music, travel, nightlife, stuff on Australia (coz I'm an Aussie!) or inter-cultural insights, stop by some time. You might find something interesting. Oh, and please bear with me as I piece this site together...


When Nissan asked whether we’d like to have a closer look at their electric Pivo concept, first seen at the last October's Tokyo Motor Show, they didn’t have to twist anyone’s arm. Widely recognized as one of the show’s big hits, the three-seater bubble-shaped car with its amazing rotating cabin has done away with the need to reverse. And women love that fact. They told us so!

But, in a strange way, the Pivo resembled the space pod in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. A coincidence? Hmmm. "Open the pod bay doors Hal!"



Or at least we think so. In Tokyo for a quick business trip? Or here for the long haul like me? Then one of the best places to sample authentic Thai cuisine is the Erawan restaurant. Perched on the 13th floor of the Roi building in downtown Roppongi, the combination of a dark wooden decor set against Tokyo's neon skyline creates the ideal atmosphere for a night of spice and rice. Try the Tom Yum Kung.


If you're a diehard Beatles' fan, (and come on, who's not?!) then Abbey Road is a must-see club in central Tokyo. Resident band The Parrots are celebrating their 10th anniversary playing nothing but The Beatles, and whoah, are these guys good! Close your eyes, and you'd think John, Paul, George and Ringo were back together. Listen to their cover version of Why My Guitar Gently Weeps, and you can't go back to the original. I kid you not!

One of my favouite Japanese words is komorebi. A combination of four characters, it eloquently captures the essence of a phenomenon which cannot easily be expressed in English. Arguably the best translation might be sunlight shining through the trees.

---Not pressured to return my test car - a Nissan 350Z Roadster - by a certain time, I took a quiet scenic route in the borrowed convertible, soaked up the komorebi sunshine and reflected on how and why I started learning Japanese around 30 years ago.

STi S204 FIRST DRIVE --- (New Car Test)
Engineers at Subaru's secretive tuning arm, STi, have a new mission in life. No longer satisfied with making high-performance Imprezas, the group has declared: "We want to build the world's ultimate Subarus. We want our relationship with Subaru to be like BMW's M badge or Mercedes' AMG." But does the new S204 have the prestige to match its performance?

A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING --- (Story next week)

Kazunori Yamauchi's lines were perfect. The creator of Gran Turismo, the world's biggest selling driving game, had arrived at Tsukuba Circuit to squeeze in some much needed practice. He's driven every major racetrack in the world, but he's never actually raced. It took some persuasion, but I finally got him into a fully race-prepped Mazda MX-5. He'd be co-driving with yours truly in a 1-hour endurance race. Kaz proved that more than 2000 laps around a virtual Tsukuba Circuit in his game do have meaning in the real world. He's quick, very quick! And it looks like he's caught the bug.

A GOOD DROP - EAGLEHAWK CHARDONNAY 2004 --- (Travel, food and wine)
Made by Wolf Blass, an internationally renowned Australian winery, this Chardonnay is one of the most cost effective vinos I've swilled in the last couple of years. Priced at under 1000 yen, you'd have to go a long way to find a wine with such good oaky balance and fruity overtones for that price. Perfect with pasta or chicken.

January 28, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Tokyo:

The Australia Day Ball is one of the biggest events on Tokyo's social calendar. And this year the theme was masquerade. As a celebration of Australia Day (Aussie Day is actually Jan 26) in Japan, more than 500 mask-clad expats and their guests sipped Aussie wine and enjoyed a special performance by Australia's foremost transgendered star Carlotta. Wondering maybe? Yes, Carlotta was the inspiration for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.