Driving Dreams

When competitors become friends, anything is possible

By Mike Kato    - 5 min read

Last night's party at Dream Drive was one reminiscent of many a party I've been at since I was in college. Instead of the iconic keg (or more), it was two small jugs of excellent craft beer, the ice cream was vegan, and there was no need to caution any drunken louts. But despite the rooms were mostly empty and the cavorting mostly spilled onto the street, alerting the neighbors, and even encouraging some of them to join in and see what’s going on.

Characteristically, a cop eventually did show up, asking at first for the revelers to tone down, finding difficulty in conveying their message to the non-Japanese party organizers, and eventually amping up the message (whispered to only a few of the apparently Japanese guests) to please disperse soon.

Early evening at the Dream Drive Depot launch party
Early evening at the Dream Drive Depot launch party

The incident didn't escalate, nor did the neighbors complain further (if at all), and the party I believe did accomplish its objective of putting Tokyo’s newest and most central camping car depot on the map of the international community in the city. The Depot is not only the workshop where Dream Drive builds their camper vans, but a boarding facility, with space for perhaps 20 vehicles, and shower facilities. There is even room to grow as the makeshift club, with DJ, remained empty all evening (especially after the kids swimming pool filled with beer was emptied) and is currently unoccupied, a space that is perfect for another budding entrepreneurial organization that seeks ample space and room for expansion. And a car park.

Expansive room is the 1st floor of a container block. Lonely DJ in far corner by rear door. The boarding rooms and showers are upstairs.
Expansive room is the 1st floor of a container block. Lonely DJ in far corner by rear door. The boarding rooms and showers are upstairs.

Most importantly, though, is that with the launch of the depot, Dream Drive is well on their quest to build a camping van every week. This is certain to expand greatly the opportunity for many people and internationals to experience first hand, off-the-beaten path Japan.

And their vans - are incredible! In fact, I would say that it's more appropriate to call their vans "hotel rooms on wheels."

Bed on the road!
Bed on the road!

But really, one of the most impressive things I saw last night, wasn't anything to do with the Dream Drive Depot or the vehicles. It was a human matter.

One of the party guests was Koki Miyashita, who was there with his newlywed wife, Kaori. Koki is the CEO of a company, CarStay, that is roughly speaking a competitor to Dream Drive. I knew that they met last week and that they believe that the market is just starting to grow, that there is room for both of them to expand and thrive. But what’s more, Koki and Dream Drive Founder Jared Campion are rooting for each other.

Both CarStay and Dream Drive have extended their support for our Kokoro no Kintsugi campaign. Both are listed on the Kickstarter story as partners. Both Koki and Jared are good friends. Their hopes and aspirations, to make the back roads of Japan accessible to adventure travelers is extremely well matched with my aspirations to cycle its countryside.

I had some great conversations with many people, including a leading Japanese downhill mountain bike racer, a spokesperson for a vegan ice creamery from Maui, the Japan agent for a premium Australian mattress manufacturer, a cutting-edge web/AR/tech developer from Kyoto, and many others, including a great friend who is a former Japanese football (American football) player who was an ex-MVP of his sport and now a coach of his former team. Good friends, old and new, are a big part of what makes life mysterious and wonderful. But, in the excitement and lively activities of the evening, I forgot to take many of the photos I’d been planning to take.

But I learned that life is best when competitors become friends. Even in professional sports, it is something that happens often, especially as one grows older and, really, become professional. As KJ and I rode back together on the train towards home, we talked about how in the early stages of life and on the field, hard stares and toughness seem like the only way. Sometimes things can explode and led to fisticuffs. But at the end of the game, there's a camaraderie among players, handshaking and even hugging. And, as one grows as a player, there's less of the former and more of the latter.

It's funny, but happens with most players and in many sports. But I think it's funny, because I think that's actually not unusual, but it's wisdom. Competition is great; war is not. We should compete, not to win, but to push each other to be better. This is how we grow, not in stature, but with character.

Thanks, KJ, Jared, and Koki. Thank you for your wisdom.

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Mike Kato

Mike Kato @mike.kato

Crowdfunding for healing & cycling in Shikoku until 20 August 2019. https://en.japantravel.com/life-cycle-kokoro-no-kintsugi

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