“Where can I see some cool cars without having to go to Daikoku PA or Tatsumi PA”? That’s the question I get most frequently from people wanting to get a glimpse of the best cars Tokyo has to offer. Rather than answering the same question several times, hopefully this guide will help everyone wanting to do a bit of car-spotting while they’re in Tokyo. Also, selfishly, it gave me an excuse to drive an Aston Martin Vanquish S.
(Full disclosure: Aston Martin Japan loaned me a Vanquish S for a few days, albeit with a limit on the mileage which is typical of cars in this price range. I made it work.)
While Tatsumi PA and Daikoku PA are still my recommended “must see” places simply due to their size and diversity, not everyone has the time to rent a car to go to those places. For those wanting to remain in the city and only have the public transportation and their feet available, this guide should help you see some cars out and about on the streets.
For that reason I enlisted the help of the Vanquish S to hunt down some supercars for to make this guide. Winters in Tokyo aren’t exactly ideal for walking around, so I figured why not take one of the most accomplished grand tourers on a ‘Grand Tour of Car Spotting’ in Tokyo and see how it works in the urban jungle?
It was surprisingly fitting for this job. With a 6.0-liter naturally aspirated V12 producing 600 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, it’s got more than enough power and balance to keep up or chase after any unicorns that might show up.
Another plus is that it’s not hopelessly low or wide like other cars of this type which meant navigating through a dense city like Tokyo is stress-free. Aston Martin calls this a “Super GT,” combining supercar power with all the amenities of a grand tourer. Having done something similar in London and Los Angeles I’ve realized I haven’t done one for Tokyo yet.
So here are my four favorite ‘spots’ in Tokyo to see some cool cars without having to go to some far off parking area.
Let’s start off in Aoyama. Aoyama is quite accessible, as it’s about 10 minutes from Ginza Station on the Ginza line. The junction right outside Aoyama-itchome station is always a good place to see exotics on a daily basis. The road connects some of the most affluent parts of Tokyo together.
To the east are the Ginza and Marunouchi districts, famous for the many high-end shops and for being a prominent business district. To the west is Shibuya and Omotesando, another wealthy and trendy area. To the north is Shinjuku, another business district, and to the south is Roppongi.
Aoyama also benefits from having a long stretch of straight three-lane road, perfect for doing pulls that makes up part of Route 246. Early Gran Turismo players will be familiar with this name.
The Vanquish’s glorious engine shone here with that wonderfully charismatic old school V12 being able to stretch its legs. It’s one of the few roads in central Tokyo cars are able to get some speed. While the speed limit is officially 60 kph and there is a police box on this junction, there are no speed cameras so most people don’t mind a bit of careful misbehavior.
The result means Aoyama is probably the most popular place for supercars and supercar spotters to gather. There are also several dealerships nearby that use this road for their test drive routes so it’s almost a guarantee you’ll see a McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, Maserati, Jaguar, Land Rover, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Lexus demo car out and about.
All these supercar dealers naturally attract other supercar customers too, which is never a bad thing. As an added bonus the famous Jingu Gaien Icho Namiki Avenue is nearby, which is a popular gathering area for supercar owners to meet up for lunch at one of the restaurants on this road.
But perhaps the best thing about about Aoyama and Route 246 is the famous local hypercar owner, Dr. K, who daily drives his cars on this road to and from work. Seeing a Koenigsegg or a Pagani during rush hour is something that’ll never get old.
Onwards to Roppongi. About a 20 minute walk from Aoyama, or one stop on the Toei Oedo Line, Roppongi is a mixture of residential and office space. There’s a few clubs around the area too but that’s for another time.
The area near Tokyo Midtown and the main Roppongi Crossing are decent places to spot too however I prefer the area around Roppongi Hills. Unlike Aoyama, which has supercars there nearly every day, Roppongi tends to better in the weekend.
Most of Tokyo has smooth roads but around Midtown and the Crossing are some (relatively) harsher roads than the rest of Tokyo, and this was a good test for the Vanquish’s ride.
Unsurprisingly it dealt with imperfections on the road well, certainly better than other cars of this type. Again, the “normal” ride height meant I wasn’t worried about scraping it on uneven surfaces either.
The Vanquish blended in nicely. The ‘Silver Blonde’ color wasn’t too shouty but was interesting enough to catch some glances from onlookers.
Roppongi has smaller roads than Aoyama so traffic tends to be a bit heavier here. The Aston spent most to the time in first or second gear, third if I was lucky. Leaving it in Auto would’ve been the smart thing to do but I couldn’t help but keep it in gear for longer just to hear the exhaust note a little bit longer.
Driving from Aoyama to Roppongi there are two tunnels on the way, which was perfect for making a bit of raw British music.
You’ve got high rise apartments, Michelin star restaurants, and offices of some of the biggest companies in Tokyo here, so it should come as no surprise there’s a whole host of exciting cars passing through. Most of the cars do just that; pass through, up and down the roads around the Roppongi Hills complex to show off, but some live or work around here too. There’s no guarantee of what you’ll see in Roppongi; compared to Aoyama it’s more of a crapshoot. Unlike Aoyama which has opportunities for cars to stop, Roppongi is more of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-them situation.
Again, Ferrari and Lamborghini dealers use the roads around Roppongi as part of their test drive route as well so you can see some of the newest cars from the Italian companies testing here. It’s also a sign the dealers know their customers well as the Aoyama and Roppongi loop are well known for owners wanting to flex.
Ginza can be a mixed bag. On weekdays during the day, you might get a surprise or two. But on weekends they close the main road to traffic to accommodate the extra foot traffic Ginza gets from locals and tourists wanting to visit one of Tokyo’s most famous areas. That brings all the cars out to the narrow and often busy back streets.
This is also one of the few places in Tokyo with on street parking readily available. Due to the restrictions on land and space, most parking in Tokyo is done in underground garages or high rise machine parking, which are basically vending machines for cars.
I haven’t spent much time here during the day, but at night Ginza comes alive. Some of Tokyo’s best restaurants can be found in this area and that means a lot of fancy cars. You’ll soon realize there are a lot of black luxury sedans ranging from Toyota Crowns to Rolls Royce Phantoms. Most of these cars are used chauffeur around businessmen and executives to the bars and clubs after work.
The main road sees a lot of action no matter what. During the late 19th century, in the Meiji-era when Japan opened up to the world and modernized, Ginza was one of the first districts to get Western influence. People would use this as a stage to show off the latest fashions or products from abroad.
I mean, Ginza was home to the first Starbucks and McDonald’s in Tokyo—it doesn’t get much more Westernized than that.
That showing off still continues on today. It’s no surprise most of the supercars you’ll see here are of the flashy “look at me” variety. Stuff like Lamborghinis, Liberty Walk supercars, and bright colored McLarens can be found driving loops around Ginza. Out of the supercar hot spots in Tokyo, Ginza has by far the largest number of crowds on the sidewalk.
Another great thing about Ginza are all the tall buildings on either side of the main road because of the echo it makes for cars with particularly loud exhausts. The Vanquish was especially great here.
The layout of Ginza is quite straightforward and similar to New York in a way. All the roads are parallel to each other, and apart from the main road that goes straight through the middle, all go one way.
They’re quite narrow too but that was no problem in the Vanquish. The problem came with the heavy hydraulic power steering. At higher speeds and on more interesting roads this old school setup is great for feel and character.
At low speeds and trying to navigate through the bustling back roads of Ginza, it was quite annoying. Nevertheless, I was in an Aston Martin, so while I was struggling inside it looked cool from the outside. Probably. In my mind.
The other three areas have are heavily saturated with exotics but if you want to get away from all of that or simply don’t care about those sorts of cars, Akihabara will be a welcome change.
Sure, you might see the odd Lambo or Porsche here but short of visiting Tatsumi or Daikoku, you’ll find a the strongest amount of JDM cars here.
You’ll also see a lot of itasha cars in Akihabara, which is what you get when car enthusiasm and anime obsession come together. Friday and Saturday nights tend to be quite lively in Akihabara but of course if you want to see more it’s worth visiting the UDX parking garage near the station.
Now, there were a couple of problems with using a Vanquish S for hunting down supercars, fuel consumption being the main one. Unsurprisingly, the big V12 isn’t exactly frugal. If you want to take friends with you the rear seats are completely unusable for anyone with a head. You’d need to know where you’re going because the sat-nav was indecipherable, and the buttons to access the menus would only work occasionally. Rearward vision wasn’t that great either but that’s the price you pay for the stunning looks.
Sure, there are better supercars for the same money, but few are as charming or charismatic as the Vanquish S.
Hopefully this has helped you figure where you’ll want to visit in Tokyo if you want to see some cars on the street. This is only an introduction on a few of the many places in Tokyo to see some interesting cars. Walking around on foot and getting from each district via subway is probably the best way to do it.
Unless of course, you have access to an Aston Martin, then by all means use that instead.