The Tatsumi Parking Area has to be one of the most famous and recognisable places in Tokyo for petrolheads around the world. Known for its nightly meets and unmistakable background, Tatsumi has quickly become one of the car spot ‘meccas’ in Japan.
Though the appeal of rocking up to a motorway rest stop is a hard thing to describe. Most people on a Friday or Saturday night at around 10pm would either be at a nightclub or in bed watching Netflix. Me though, there’s something about seeing and meeting a variety of cars and people gathered in one place to share a universal love for cars. It’s brilliant.
Now for those planning to go to Tatsumi, it’s awfully confusing and difficult to go to. It’s a motorway rest stop so most of the locals won’t be able to help you. If you have a friend or someone who knows how to get there, it’s best for them to show you first before going there on your own. Or better yet get them to take you.
My first time going to Tatsumi was a nightmare and I wasted around $30 on toll roads going in and out of them trying to find the place. I gave up and eventually asked a friend to show me the proper way to get there. It’s only accessible by car, there’s no foot or rail passage so be prepared. The best way is to take the Bay Shore Route (C1) from Ginza and keep going until you see the Tatsumi PA signs on the motorway.
Once you’re there, as a certain Speed Hunters Senior Editor said, “it can be a hit & miss”. Some nights you’ll find some crazy creations such as epileptic Lamborghini and other nights you’ll be lucky if you see a GT-R. The best nights tend to be Friday and Saturdays, though random days throughout the week might just surprise you.
You can expect to find, well pretty much anything you can think of. I’ve gone to Tatsumi a couple of times now and there has never really been a clear theme, unlike the Daikanyama T-Site meets. One night you could have a group of Nissan Skyline owners, the next some Porsche pals. There’s literally something for everyone. If you like JDM-style cars, Tatsumi has that covered and some. USDM, exotics, businessmen saloons, Toyota Priuses, literally anything with a number plate could show up.
Below is a gallery of some of the highlights from the previous times I went to Tatsumi. They’re taken over three visits, so don’t expect to see everything here should you go there. And once you’re there, because it’s a rest area, there are many facilities to keep you staying there too. There are vending machines with hot food, drinks, and ice cream. Of course, toilets too. What more could you need?
Noise? Well as it’s slap bang in the middle of the motorway you can hear cars going past left and right. The entrance/exit of the parking area is also a nice straight road for people to floor their cars. Makes for a good place to video all the cars coming in and going out.
It may require some advanced planning but Tatsumi is worth a visit if you’re in town. If you’re not sold yet, have a look through the photos below and then decide.