Why Suzuka is A Must-Visit for Racecar Fans

People who travel to Japan usually opt for areas like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. These places are the ones usually packed with tourists and famous for their restaurants, shopping districts, shopping malls, and all the other good stuff. If not for that, these places also house several tourists attractions like shrines and museums. On the other hand, there are also other places in Japan that are worth checking out depending on one’s interest. If one is more of a fan of racecars, the place to be would be none other than Suzuka.

Suzuka, Japan: Map, Weather/Typhoons, Airport, and Plants like Honda and Sharp

By Morio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as Suzuka-shi by the locals, Suzuka is situated at Mie Prefecture in Japan. With a total area of 194.46 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 75.08 square miles, Suzuka has an approximated population of 196,853 and a population density of 1,010 persons per square kilometer, which is equivalent to 2,600 persons per square mile, as of the month of August in the year 2015. Sitting on the northeastern side of Mie Prefecture in the northern part of the Kii Peninsula, the city is bordered by the Ise Bay to the east. There are also portions of Suzuka that are within the borders of the Suzuka Quasi-National Park and the Ise-no-Umi Prefectural Natural Park.

Located in the Kansai, Tokai Region, Suzuka has various neighboring municipalities, which include Kameyama, Yokkaichi, and Tsu, Mie in Mie Prefecture and Koka in Shiga Prefecture. With the coordinates of 34°52′55.1″ N and 136°35′3″ E, the government mayor of Suzuka is Noriko Suematsu since the month of May in the year 2011. Under the time zone of Japan Standard Time (UTC+9), the tree of Suzuka is the Japanese zelkova while the flower of the city is the Satsuki azalea.

History indicates that the historical Tokaido passed through Suzuka back in the day. It was also the home of the provincial capital during the Nara period. Come the Sengoku period, Suzuka was under the control of Oda Nobutaka, who was the third son of Oda Nobunaga, a ruler from the Kanbe Castle. This leadership ceased during the Edo period when Suzuka became controlled by the 15,000 koku Kambe Domain, which was ruled by the Honda clan.

From the year 1732 up to the Meiji restoration in the year 1871, the clan had two post stations built within the limits of the city, namely, Ishiyakushi-juku and Shōno-juku. Because of the pilgrimage traffic caused by the Ise Grand Shrines, these two post stations thrived. Once the Meiji period had finally begun, this area became a part of the Suzuka District in the year 1889. On the 1st of December in the year 1942, the modern city of Suzuka was finally founded.

Weather in Suzuka varies depending on the time of the year. There are weather forecasts that visitors can check prior to going to Suzuka. For tourists who wish to visit the city, the primary months would be from the month of May to the month of October, wherein the weather is nice and the temperature is average. Generally, the warmest months in Suzuka are July and August. On the other hand, the city also has its rainy season, which begins in the month of March. Probably the wettest month of the year in Suzuka in June. Hence, for people who dislike rain or precipitation, it would be best not to go to Suzuka in June as there would be dark gloomy clouds. Generally, the coolest month in the city would be January while the driest month would be December.


By Morio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Today, the industrial market in Suzuka is among its assets. With major manufacturers like Honda and Sharp generating their production within the bounds of the city, Suzuka generates a high-level market for industrialization. A portion of the labor of these companies usually outsource to South American nationals so as to maintain a workforce that is based on contracts.

While the government of Japan strongly encourages the use of the English language in their education system all over the country, the city of Suzuka maintains a lot of courses that are offered by private schools, which in turn are funded by organizations that support Spanish and Portuguese. There was even an issue in April in the year 2004 wherein the governing body of Suzuka mandated all local signages and even garbage information to be both in Japanese and Portuguese but not in English.

As for the education system within Suzuka, there are four main colleges and universities in the city. These would be Suzuka Junior College, Suzuka National College of Technology, Suzuka International University, and Suzuka University of Medical Science. The city also houses 30 public elementary schools, 1 private and 10 public middle schools, 1 private and 5 public high schools. There were previously two international (Brazilian) schools in the city, namely, Escola Sol Nascente and Escola Alegria de Saber, but the former is no longer in Suzuka.

As for transportation, there are four railway networks in Suzuka. These would be the Central Japan Railway – Kansai Main Line, the Ise Railway Ise Line, the Kintetsu Railway Nagoya Line, and the Kintetsu Railway Suzuka Line. Furthermore, there are also six highways in the city. These highways are the Higashi-Meihan Expressway, the Shin-Meishin Expressway, the Japan National Route 1, the Japan National Route 23, the Japan National Route 25, and the Japan National Route 306.

The main attraction of the city of Suzuka is the Suzuka Circuit. For racecar fans, they should be well aware of the Suzuka Circuit as it has held the Japanese Grand Prix from the year 1987 to the year 2006, and again beginning in the year 2009. Highly popular among drivers, the Suzuka Circuit is the one and only figure-of-eight circuit in the championship tournament. Situated just beside the Suzuka Circuit is the Honda Safety Riding/Driving School, which is famous as the training ground of car of motorcycle drivers. Even some police officers and instructors from all over the world travel to this driving school just to be trained by some of the best driving instructors out there.

Suzuka Circuit: The Place to Be for F1 Drivers

With its official name being the Suzuka International Racing Course, the Suzuka Circuit is a motorsport race track specifically situated in Ino, Suzuka City. Also known as Suzuka Sakitto in Japanese, Suzuka Circuit is operated by Mobilityland Corporation, which is just a subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Currently, the circuit has a capacity of 155,000. With the coordinates of 34°50′35″ N and 136°32′26″ E, Suzuka Circuit was designed by architect John Hugenholtz and opened in the year 1962.

The idea of Suzuka Circuit began in the late 1950s when Soichiro Honda decided to create a permanent circuit within the Mie Prefecture. Initially designed only as a Honda test track, Suzuka Circuit is among the few circuits on earth that have a layout of “figure eight.” With the means of an overpass, the back straight, which is 1.2 kilometers in length, passes over the front part of the circuit.

Through the years, the circuit has undergone four modifications. The first modification was in the year 1983 wherein a chicane was placed at the last curve in order to slow the vehicles into the pit straight. The Degner curve was also separated into two corners instead of just a single long curve. For those who are unaware, the Degner curve was named after Ernest Degner after the driver crashed his factory Suzuki 50 on the said curve in the inaugural All Japan Championship Road Race Race meeting of the circuit back on the 3rd of November in the year 1962. Furthermore, crash barriers and more run-off areas were also added to make the circuit safer for the drivers. Straw bales that led to vegetation were also removed.

The next modification happened in the year 2002 when the chicane was modified. Another modification was made on the 130R. Also, some of the snake curves in the circuit were modified to be slightly straighter, which enables the cars to run faster. A year after, another modification was made on the chicane so as to make it a bit faster and also closer to the 130R. The motorcycle variant before the final turn was also reconfigured after the fatality that happened at the 2003 MotoGP round. This is what is now known as the Hitachi Automotive Systems Chicane. A second chicane was also added between the 200R and the hairpin.

Five configurations can be done using the Suzuka Circuit. These configurations would be the motorcycle full circuit, the car full circuit, the "Suzuka west car," the "Suzuka west motorcycle," and the "Suzuka east." The “east” part of the course is comprised of the pit straight to the first half of the Dunlop curve prior to going back to the pit straight with the use of a tight right-hander. On the other hand, the “west” part of the course is comprised of the other portion of the full circuit, which includes the crossover bridge and the straight that leads to the overpass, which is utilized for the start and finish line and the grid. The chicane located between the 200R and the hairpin acts as a separation between the west part of the course and the full course sections between motorcycles and cars.

Motorsport Events in Suzuka Circuit Such as Grand Prix


By Morio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Considered as among the oldest existing tracks of the Formula One World Championship, the Suzuka Circuit is hailed by many F1 drivers and fans as among the most enjoyed tracks in the world. It holds a long history of races due to the fact that the circuit was the venue for the Japanese Grand Prix. The decisions for several world championships were also made at the track of this circuit due to its traditional role as among the last Grand Prixes of the season.

One of the most notable events held in this circuit was the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix. It was a Formula One motor race that occurred in October of 1989. It is considered as among the most notorious races in the history of F1, as it was where the rivalry of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna culminated as teammates at McLaren.

Sadly, the circuit was removed from the Formula One calendar in the years 2007 and 2008 when the organization opted for the Fuji Speedway, which is owned by Toyota. This was because of the transformations of the Fuji Speedway under the design of circuit designer Hermann Tilke. On the other hand, both Fuji and Suzuka hosted the Japanese Grand Prix alternately in the year 2009. From the year 2009 to 2011, Suzuka signed a contract to host the Japanese Grand Prix after Fuji announced its permanent removal from the Formula One calendar on July in the year 2009.

To make the circuit compliant to F1 regulations, Suzuka Circuit closed its doors for a year to undergo renovation. A re-opening was held on the 12th of April in the year 2009 after the upgrade. During this time, other annual events were still held at the Suzuka Circuit. Examples of these include the Suzuka 8 Hours and the Suzuka 1000km. Various models of vehicles can be seen racing through the tracks of the circuit during events.

Another sports event that Suzuka Circuit hosts in the Suzuka 1000km endurance race. Presently a points round of the Super GT Series since the year 2006, this endurance race is the only race that holds that specific length in the said series. As for the Suzuka 8 Hours, it is a program meant for motorcycle riders. Running since the year 1978, this major motorsport event is a huge attraction to big name riders. Hence, getting tickets for this occasion may be a challenge.

On the 21st of June in the year 2010, it was announced that the eastern portion of the circuit would serve as a host to the Japan round of the 2011 WTCC season in replacement of the Okayama International Circuit. At the event in the year 2012, the pole position time was just 52.885 seconds for an average speed of 152.687 kilometers per hour, which is equivalent to 94.875 miles per hour.

The Miracle Behind the Ferrari Crash in Suzuka Circuit

There is a number of crashes that have already occurred in the Suzuka Circuit. One of the more notable ones would the Ferrari Crash that occurred on the 21st of April in the year of 2013. The driver of the vehicle lost control of the car and crashed into an inside wall at almost 322 kilometers per hour, which is equivalent to 200 miles per hour. Another victim of this accident is the track worker who was standing right at the place of the crash. Thankfully, both of them survived the crash and recovered.

Accidents like this cannot be 100% avoided as these depend on many factors such as the vehicle and the driver. Nonetheless, racecar fanatics still love the thrill of it all. So, if one would like to witness some of the best tournaments in all of Japan, head on over the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka City and have the time of your life.