The Ultimate Roadtrip in Japan! Part 2/3

This road trip had been three years in the making. The first time I lived in Japan, I visited a few iconic places like Daikoku & Tatsumi, of course in a rental car. Fast forward a few years to a time when I’m again living in Japan, but this time, with my car! This 3 part article will cover exactly what I did on my 15-day road trip around Honshu (the main island of Japan).

A quick FYI, all photos were taken on my phone camera.

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Day 6 – Aug 08 Thu – 1hr 20mins
Ebisu Circuit & Mt. Azuma Kofuji

Let’s start part 2 of this epic adventure. It was another day at Ebisu Circuit with Matt and Co. Thankfully not much went wrong with his car and we were able to have a good day of drifting.

This night the 3 of us met up and went for a drive to a volcano! It was a spectacular drive, the roads were hugging the mountainside all the way up. Then we got to a sign saying there was gas leaking out of the mountain. We had no idea what to do, should we turn back, or just keep going? After some consideration and a short chat with another person who had stopped at the same sign, we decided to keep going. At the top of the volcano you were welcomed with a panoramic view of the cities down below. A must visit side-quest on your future Ebisu trip.

I decided to try out the short stay free housing next to the race track. As you can see from the last photo it was very creepy. Almost horror movie spec creepy. Especially when I went to sleep alone and woke up to foot steps and someone else in the room. Certainly not sleeping in there alone again.

Day 7 – Aug 09 Fri – 36mins
Ebisu Circuit / Drift Day

This was the day that before my trip I was struggling to decide on. Whether to drift my car at Ebisu or not. Over 1000kms from my house and my means of transport for the rest of the trip it was a decision not taken so lightly. In the end, it came down to the fact that I could drift with Matt from NZ, whereas up until now I’ve never drifted with people I’ve known before, or could effectively communicate with.

This was also the 2nd track in Japan I would have drifted at, so nerves were high. But yolo right? After emptying the car and replacing the rear vs-kfs with my drifting r33 gtr wheels I was ready to rock. We (Matt and I) went down to Kurukuru Land to start off with some tandem Os which was so much fun! After that, we headed up to North Course where I said I wouldn’t go into 3rd gear because I didn’t want to bin it.

That didn’t last long, after a few runs I was entering at the top of 3rd gear like everyone else. Again, yolo right? Haha. Later that evening we headed back into the town at the bottom of the mountain to look around and grab some dinner. In the last photo, you can see how I spent most of my nights on this trip. On a tiny bed folded in half inside the s14. Great fun! (not)

Day 8 – Aug 10 Sat – 42mins
Ebisu Circuit / G1GP & Kasumigajo Castle

After that banger of a day at Ebisu, it was time to take a chill pill, relax and watch some G1GP. As well as watch Matt kill it on the track. Unluckily for him, he spent the first half of the day fixing more water leaks on the car. I supplied massive amounts of doughnuts from Mister Donut to try and raise the spirits of the group. The G1GP was good to watch, ZERO wait time between battles, and battles that were rather close for non-top-tier drivers.

That night saw us going to a home centre to find something to cover Matt’s car while it was put into hibernation after the drifting had ended. Afterwards, it was a short drive to a castle just around the corner. Kasumigajo Castle was similar to the castle in my city, in the fact that there was no actual castle left, just a base where it once stood. That doesn’t matter though, because the view was stunning anyway.

Day 9 – Aug 11 Sun – 30mins
Ebisu Circuit / Matsuri Day 1

MATSURI! The time that we had been waiting for and the main reason for this trip. 2 days of uninterrupted drifting, all through the night. The problems that Matt had yesterday had all been fixed and he was back driving his car non-stop for pretty much the whole day. We spent most of the time up at Kita Course except for a few trips around the other tracks.

When the sun set and the rain came, it felt like people were drifting on normal mountain roads up at the north course. It made for a spectacular sight. I decided that I would sleep in my car up at the pits this night, which is exactly what I did. Lights out at around 10 p.m

Day 10 – Aug 12 Mon – 4hrs 48mins
Ebisu Circuit / Matsuri Day 2 to Tsuruga Castle to Nikko Circuit

An early wake-up call from a car drifting at around 5 a.m had me out of my car and walking around in the thick fog. It was finally time to leave my friends behind and start the solo part of my trip. I had to wait for Matt to come back to Ebisu before I headed off so I could give a proper goodbye and farewell.

Today I would be driving around 5 hours down to Nikko Circuit closer to Tokyo. But before I could make it there, I wanted to stop in at Tsuruga Castle, which is super close to Ebisu Circuit. It was very busy and hot so I didn’t stay long at all. I grabbed myself a lemon drink from a vending machine and headed down to Nikko. I stopped many times, at konbinis, at viewpoints, really anywhere that I wanted to. I had no time limit and no set schedule. In one particular hotel car park, I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eyes. I turned around and went back to have a look at it. Still don’t know what it was, but it sure was interesting.

Later that afternoon I got to Nikko Circuit with a few hours of light to spare. I’d never been before, and hadn’t checked their schedule, so wasn’t sure if anything was going on. To my surprise, there was a drift day! Lots of cool cars. I stayed until 5 p.m when they closed up shop then headed to my accommodation. YES ACCOMMODATION, I had somewhere to sleep this night.

Matt’s friends from Maple Sport had come up to Ebisu to visit them, and they kindly offered me a bed when I was down their way in a few days, how could I deny? I have also purchased parts off them before so it was nice to meet them in person! Akabasan also had 2 cute dogs that they let me walk a couple of times.

That afternoon he showed me around his garage (He is a rally champion who has competed all over the world and owns many Evos. Then he called up his friend and we went around to check out his rotary powered S15, which he told the owner to take me for a ride at Nikko Circuit tomorrow (Guess I’m going back to Nikko in the morning).

Later that night, some of his team turned up and took me out for some mountain runs in the Evos and Stis. I’ve never been out doing grip touge, but damn did it make me need a fresh set of pants. It was wet, foggy, and just a crazy experience, much crazier than any drift ride along I’ve been in. That night was spent in a nice double bed, with a massive fan blowing right in my face. Bliss.

Stay tuned for part 3 coming soon…

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Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable

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