A Spiritual Awakening

The Japanese city of Kyoto is best known for its historic temples, shrines and royal palaces. There also happens to be a big classic and custom car scene in wider Kyoto Prefecture. If only there was a way to combine the two…

Well, there is. If you’re partial to a little spiritual refreshment and the occasional sensory awakening, the Sports Car Heritage Gathering & Parade delivers.


Held on the grounds of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which was originally built in 947, around 50 cars parked up and puzzled more than a few passing tourists last weekend.


I was hoping the cars would be parked in the main courtyard of the shrine, but I believe access was limited and the cars would not have actually been able to drive in. I’ve seen other car events at Japanese temples – the RWB New Year Party is one that comes to mind – but considering this is the main shrine for this particular sect of the Shinto religion, the custodians here may not have wanted dozens of V12s kicking up dust and causing a disturbance.


So, the cars were lined up just outside the holy place of worship, where the narrow space soon became packed with people praising a very different kind of spirit.


There were some real gems on display, and most presented in near concours condition. The standouts for me included a full carbon Dalara Stradale, not one but two TVRs, and the Gumpert Apollo pictured below.


You might also notice an abundance of Lamborghinis, and that’s because this year marks the 60th anniversary of supercars from Sant’Agata. In fact, last month a Guinness World Record was broken right here in Japan when more than 250 classic and modern Lamborghinis assembled at Suzuka Circuit to celebrate. That’s the most Golden Bulls in one place ever.


At the end of the event the group paraded through the local streets to receive omiyage (locally made souvenir sweets) for their participation. As space freed up around the cars, I ran back to capture most of the photos for this story.


But this wasn’t my sole motive for traveling to Kyoto. Can you guess what’s coming next?

Until my next story drops on Speedhunters, there’s a lot more from the 2023 Sports Car Heritage Gathering & Parade to check out below.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

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