I have good news for fans of the hit sports manga series “Initial D.” A new Initial D inspired cafe named D’z Garage Racing Cafe just opened and it’s right where the story was set! Now, you can look forward to feeling like a character in the manga and getting the chance to talk to fellow automobile fans. Interested? Let’s go ahead and get to know three reasons why you should check out the D’z Garage Racing Cafe!
The location of the cafe may seem insignificant to others, but as fans of Initial D know, the manga was set in Shibukawa and other areas of the prefecture. How many manga or anime inspired shops situated in the place of the plot setting do you know about? I bet there’s not much. This is also what the cafe owner and automobile fan, 49-year-old Makoto Okada, had in mind when he bought and renovated the one-story building that is now known as D’z Garage Cafe. “I wanted to open a spot where automobile fans could get together at the foot of Mt. Haruna,” he said.
It is certainly exciting to enter D’z Garage Cafe and be hit by the realization that you are at Mt. Haruna (described as Mt. Akina in the manga) and that you are quite literally stepping on the same ground as the characters of Initial D sped on in their cool racing cars. It’s also easier to imagine yourself drifting on the same mountain passes as described in the book because those places are right in front of you.
If that’s not enough of a selling point for you, the view in Shibukawa itself is amazing so it’s definitely worth visiting.
Just by looking at the interior of the cafe, you can tell that a lot of thought went into designing the place to look straight out of a racer’s dream. For fans of Initial D, there are actually life-sized standees inside the shop in keeping with the you-live-in-the-story vibe going on there. There are miniature cars inside the cafe and the chairs are reminiscent of racecar seats. Even the floor is made out of black and white tiles arranged to look like a checkered racing flag.
Outside the cafe, seven of Okada’s sports cars are on display, including one AE 86 Sprinter Trueno (dubbed “Hachiroku”) and an RX-7.
Before D’z Garage Cafe, Okada actually already owns a pudding shop nearby so it makes sense that one of the bestsellers of the cafe is their five different types of pudding priced at 600 yen each excluding tax. The puddings are placed inside bottles that match the car colors of the lead character Takumi Fujiwara and his four rivals. For example, Fujiwara’s pudding is a white soya milk placed inside a bottle that has black horizontal lines on it because it matches Fujiwara’s black and white Hachiroku car. It also has inscribed words that read “Fujiwara Tofuten (jikayo)” which means “Fujiwara tofu shop (private automobile)” because it represents Fujiwara’s family who owns a tofu shop.
For 65,000 yen plus tax, you can also get an aluminum pudding carrying case in the shape of Hachiroku’s four-cylinder engine made by Okada’s friend who is a wooden mold maker. The container can hold up to four bottles of pudding and measures around 9 cm long, 27 cm wide, and 10 cm deep.
Another bestseller in the cafe is the black curry and white rice priced at 860 yen plus tax which also matches Hachiroku’s colors.
D’z Garage Cafe is quickly becoming a tourist attraction with people coming from all over the country just to eat at this unique spot. So if you would like to visit the place, you better hurry because the cafe can only house 45 people and that number can quickly be filled up especially during the weekends. What are you waiting for? Start your engine and ready, set, go!