My name is Park Baker and I’m a Tokyo-based car fanatic and amateur photographer from America. From a very young age I’ve always had an interest in cars, my favorites being German and Japanese cars of the 70’s and 80’s. A little over two years ago, I got my first DSLR camera and began to take it along with me to try and document my own view of the rich and diverse automotive culture that Japan is so famous for. Last autumn I started a photoblog called hightopfade, where I post a selection of car-related images that I capture at the many different local events and meetups I attend.

I really live for those moments of luck in my photographs where the subject and its surroundings begin to tell a story. This classic Nissan meeting at Fuji Speedway was suddenly swallowed in a deep fog, which has made for some of my favorite shots to date. While I’m not an experienced photographer, I push myself to capture not only the cars, but also the unique mood of each event. I hope to get better at telling this kind of story through my images as my skill improves.

The majority of events I tend to gravitate towards are classic Japanese car meets. As a kid, my family had a Datsun 610 Bluebird Wagon and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to all kinds of Japanese cars from that particular time. Although I have an appreciation for cars from all manufacturers and eras, I have a particular affinity towards vintage wheels, fender mirrors, and low-down shakotan style. The Japanese nostalgic car lifestyle is what interests me most.

Besides classic car meets, amateur drift events are also at the top of my list of things to catch. There’s something really exciting about watching street cars at their limit and drivers perfecting their method in the very same cars that they drive to work on a daily basis.

Among the circuits that I’m able to reach easily from Tokyo, Nikko circuit remains my favorite. It is compact, easy to see the entire course, and has a certain energy that other courses can’t seem to match.

True to the legend of Japan’s diverse automotive and motorsports culture, there is something interesting to take in nearly every weekend in Japan, all year round. From VIP meets to circuit time-attack events to grassroots drift days, there is constantly something to keep even the most discerning car fan occupied. Its often difficult to decide which event to attend on any given day.

As I mentioned before, I have a love for German sports cars as well. While they are a bit harder to spot at events in Japan, they are definitely around.

Coming across rare cars seems to be an almost daily occurrence in Japan, as seen with this R34 GT-R Z-Tune at Fuji Speedway.

One of my favorite classic cars is the S30 Fairlady G-nose. I am absolutely in love with this particular example.

The Ebisu Drift Matsuri is one of the events that I always look forward to each year.  The atmosphere and locale are something that pictures and words can’t describe. It’s an experience that must be seen to be believed.

While attending various events throughout the region, there’s always the chance to see some famous people and cars. Here’s Orido Manabu arriving at the Option Magazine 30th Anniversary Meet in his Ridox Supra.

The largest meeting of AE86’s in the world is held each year in late summer. First a huge meeting near Tokyo and then a circuit day near Okayama in central Japan. Definitely a couple events to be sure and catch if you visit Japan.

I’m always on the lookout for rare and classic JDM wheels. The legendary Techno Phantom is one of my all-time favorites.

Tsukuba circuit is yet another great place to catch motorsports events near Tokyo. Here’s a look at the busy paddock at last spring’s Idlers Games.

No matter what the style or origin of a car, I really have a lot of respect for car owners and their ability to show their own personality and often their own craftsmanship in their automobiles. At least in my mind, no place can match the sheer variety of various automotive cultures and high level of attention to detail seen in Japan.

With different opinions around the world about what is seen as right or wrong in car culture, there is often a lot of hate and disrespect seen on internet forums, threads, and other sites toward certain styles and scenes. To me, being a car fan of any kind is not about that at all.

Seeing the way the Japanese view people’s tastes that differ from their own, there is almost never any disrespect given to those outside their own group or scene. I think there is a lot to learn from the people I meet at events and am always impressed by the care and respect Japanese people express not only for their own cars, but for all cars in general.

As the format of my photoblog echoes, I prefer to exclude text and try and let the images do most of the talking. While there is always important information to include regarding each meet, or the specs, details, and specific make/model of each car, I try to focus on conveying a certain spirit or mood in my images apart from technical figures. Of course, I am happy to discuss such details and am always open to any tips or questions about what is seen in my photos.

I’d like to thank Downshift for inviting me to create a guest post and also thank readers for taking the time to have a look at my work. I still feel as though I’m finding my own style and I hope to push my abilities in photography to a higher level as I continue to attend  and document automotive events here in Japan. Most importantly, I hope that my love of cars shows through clearly in my photographs and that automobile fans from around the world are able to appreciate the vast array of car cultures that Japan has to offer. If you’d like to stay up to date on my recent work and sightings, check out my blog hightopfade.


-Park Baker