Glimpses into the contemporary state of Japanese car culture can be hard to access; some of the best stuff’s especially tough to find in English for us westerners. But Australian Alexi Smith’s Noriyaro YouTube channel is a great window into the scene for us. It mixes the knowledge of living in Japan for over a decade, owning a few cars in Japan, and being able to beautifully contextualize the mystique surrounding Japanese car culture.
My first awareness of Noriyaro came when I stumbled across Smith’s series on his R32 Nissan Skyline GT-S drift car in-residence at Ebisu circuit. Affectionately called the “Beercan Skyline,” because of its weathered and beaten appearance, and the parody to the Asahi beer can that the car is styled around. It’s the first tasteful adaptation of anything beer related i’ve seen on any car.
The majority of his videos are fun, first person accounts of Japan. With a genuinely interesting mix of western and Japanese culture in his perspective, with a healthy dose of authentic love for everything Japanese. Most interesting is his ability to speak fluent Japanese, and translate everything to English. Not just the language is translated, but the attitudes, customs, and the granular cultural differences, or even just common phrases used daily in Japan.
What fascinates me most are the hangouts or casual greetings he has with legends in Japanese motorsport. Alexi himself competed in some D1 Street Legal events, built a reputation, and made friends with just about anybody you can imagine. Alexi has brought awareness of all the small shops that perforate Japan, and has consistently shown that their culture is alive, well, and just as excellent as it ever was.
Give his channel a look here. Support his unique perspective on car culture and keep these sorts of creators thriving!