Takashi Kikuchi was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1966, a fate that would ultimately help to shape his destiny. Yokohama established a reputation as the leading port city for imports and exports in Japan, with shipping documents dating as far back as the 19th century. Takashi never knew that his hometown would play such an important part of his life, but it did as he has grown to become a legendary Lowrider importer.
His love affair with the culture began at a young age. Takashi was drawn into American cars and recalls seeing his first Lowrider in a pictorial spread at an Angelo’s Burgers Cruising night in a Japanese book. A few years later he saw the first Lowrider hit in Yokohama, Japan and that’s when he knew he wanted to do more than just be a fan of Lowriding. In the mid 80s Takashi was the only person with a Mini Truck that was juiced and had an F-B-S-S setup. In 1989 he attended the Los Angeles Super Show and that’s when he got hooked on the Lowrider and Hip Hop scene. He then purchased a ’79 Malibu, which he had fixed up with custom paint and interior. These introductory rides were not Takashi’s only brushes with American culture. In fact, another influence on Takashi’s life was his father, a hard working man who would teach the U.S. Military Judo and Karate during the down time when he was not busy fulfilling his duties as a customs agent.
Takashi was so drawn to the uniqueness of American culture that when he decided to move to Los Angeles, his father could only support him. “It seems like you don’t fit in Japanese society; maybe it is a good idea for you to move to America,” he said. Takashi made the brave move to the states and flourished. Even though he faced a big language barrier and culture shock, Takashi was able to do business with many Lowrider Legends, including Chino Gonzales of Classic Auto, Anthony and Ralph Fuentes from Homie’s Hydraulics, and Miguel of Chevy Classics. Takashi started to build friendships and business associates all over the Los Angeles area, and in 1991, he hit up Alberto Lopez to ask if he could export Lowrider Magazines to Japan. In 1992, he took Alberto to Japan to check out a Japanese Car Show, after which Lowrider Magazine held their first sanctioned show in Japan. The show had such a positive outcome that a Japanese publishing company purchased the rights to use the Lowrider Magazine name, and they hired Takashi to supervise the entire project. In 1993 Lowrider Magazine held their first ever tour stop in Japan.
At that time, Takashi began shooting events, car shows, and features for the Japanese Lowrider Magazine. With no prior knowledge of photography, Takashi became a self-taught photographer who took his skill to a professional level by practicing and asking other photographers questions. Soon enough, he started to shoot for LRM and assisted with special features and articles. His career in photography has opened up many doors for Takashi, and his hunger to learn has certainly taken his skills to the next level.
Nowadays Takashi keeps busy shooting features for different Japanese magazines, but he has stayed loyal to Lowrider by not shooting for any U.S. publications which conflict with LRM. Even though he is not importing as many cars as he used to, Takashi currently fills his time with many other responsibilities, including working as a translator and business coordinator, while also spending time with his wife and kids. Takashi Kikuchi is still one of the most influential people in Japanese Lowriding, and he has made his mark in the Lowrider culture and history here in the U.S. He has lived his life through a lens and is also an avid car builder too. We would like to thank him for always being supportive and for helping to spread the Lowrider tradition through the Japanese market.