It was not 1989.
At the famous 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, Japan's auto companies displayed a cavalcade of dramatic concept cars. This year's show was but a shadow of 1989.
Despite the best efforts of designers and engineers, Japan's somber economic mood crept into the halls of cars.
Anemic Japanese car sales prompted several Japanese makers to skimp on their displays. Nissan Motor Co.'s restructuring plan also dampened the mood.
Still, Tokyo had cars to tantalize.
Crowds swarmed to Mazda Motor Corp.'s RX-Evolv, a four-door sedan with the looks, power and built-in child seat to prove that it is and is not the next RX-7. Minicar specialist Daihatsu Motor Co. unveiled six new 'reference' models and said four will go on sale. Toyota Motor Corp.'s WiLL Vi, aimed at the under-35 market, left most over-40 viewers perplexed.
Besides the sheet metal, virtually every Japanese stand had a hybrid powertrain car, a fuel-cell powered car, or both. Japanese makers are beginning to follow Europe's lead and explore diesel engines.
Instead of harking back to 1989, the Japanese industry was preparing for the millennium.