Suzuka Circuit: Fast Family Fun at a Huge Amusement Park

Suzuka Circuit: Fast Family Fun at a Huge Amusement Park

A few times a year, I notice an influx of foreigners around Suzuka and wonder, “what’s going on?” I’ve come to realize the answer is always that there is an F1 race at Suzuka Circuit.

Suzuka is reason enough to make the trip all the way to Japan for many race fans. Offering classy accommodations, an entire theme park, restaurants and cafes, the rest of your trip could very well be footnotes compared to your time at the track. Officially known as the Suzuka International Racing course, the 5.8 kilometer track opened in 1962. It’s been modified a few times, but remains quite similar to its original design. And with events like the Japanese Grand Prix, the Suzuka 8 Hour motorcycle endurance race, the Suzuka 10 Hour sports car race, and the Super GT, there are multiple opportunities throughout the year to head to this gem of Mie Prefecture.

Written by Chad Martin
-Author's Introduction
My otaku side brought me to Nagoya, Japan in 2012, but I stayed for the food, countryside towns, and gorgeous mountain scenery. I was born and raised on the east coast of the US, but I dare say I never grew up. I never shut up about Japan.

Caption: Hop on in, partner. Lemme show ya the ropes around the ol’ Circuit.

I headed to Suzuka without a specific event in mind, on a random day in December, just before the typical winter vacation starts for most people. 

Entering from the main gate, you can see the stands of the track in the distance, through the amusement park. A huge ferris wheel looms over everything. From there, you can get an amazing view of the track, park, and Suzuka Mountains. Led by the distant roar of engines, I made my way across the park, but something stopped me dead in my tracks.

Snails?! This snail, the mascot of the track, is known as “Denden”. He’s been representing the park for a long time! 

Caption: The last corner of the track, heading into the pit or toward the checkered flag.

The pizzeria by the last corner, Gran View, is a really cool place to get a view of the course. There’s even a viewing deck on the roof that you can head up to with your slice of heaven. Lo and behold, most of their patronage were foreign tourists! But the cars roaring by, presumably practicing or qualifying for a future event, were just a tease from there. I wanted to feel it in my chest.

Caption: The view from the Grandstand.

While there’s something to be said for the roar of the crowd and the excitement of a full-blown race, just being up close to the occasional growl of an engine in this otherwise serene setting was really nice. Despite my best efforts, the videos I took with my phone just could not capture the atmosphere, or even the actual speed of the cars. 

Caption: A lone racer heads out of the pit toward the first corner.

Unfortunately, the day I arrived, the Circuit Challenger times were already over for the day. On the Circuit Challenger, you get to run the Eastern Short Track of the circuit in a go kart! But it gets even better than that. The point of the experience is to train you to drive like the pros and to score you on how well you accomplish certain “missions”, such as how well you time your shifting and how accurately you choose the correct gear for a certain part of the track. Be sure to check the times and weather before you go, because it’s canceled if there’s rain. 

Caption: Up close and personal at the track!

“But how about that amusement park?” you might be impatiently asking. Well, first of all, it’s actually called Motopia, and there’s so much to do there. But before I can explain anything else about it, you’re gonna have to become acquainted with the park’s mascots.

Caption: From left to right, that’s Kochira, Chirara, Pipira, Batto, and Puto. 

The park is divided into each mascot’s particular area. There’s also the Aqua Adventure water park, open only in the summer, and the GP Field, where you can see an educational driving museum of sorts, and experience a realistic racing movie in a theater with a screen nineteen meters wide! Batto has the safari-esque adventure area, Puto’s “Mobi Park” has lots of driving attractions and also teaches about a lot of the science and engineering behind driving. In Kochira’s Putti Town, you can learn all about safe driving via lots of rides and hands-on attractions. You can even earn your Putti Town driver’s license! Chirara has a nature-themed area from which you can look out over the park from airborne snails. Pipira’s Moto Field is all about motorbikes! Each zone has a bunch of different attractions and distinct designs.

Roller coasters, boats, motorbikes, all kinds of cars. If it’s got an engine and wheels, you can ride and learn about it here.

There are loads of restaurants and stands selling snacks all over the place. Of course, there are souvenir shops, too. You can get all kinds of racing-related goods and tasty snacks to bring back to any spoilsport friends that were like, “I’m just not that into racing...” They deserve some of these.

Caption: Race down to the hidden village of flavor with Ise Prawn crackers! 

Take it from me, the whole Suzuka Circuit experience is one to be remembered. I went in to this place knowing nothing about racing, other than that it’s cool when things fly around really fast. Anyone would have a blast out here. Also, it’s a very foreigner-friendly place. Lots of clear English signage. I actually used to teach English to a guy that would go out to the station during races in full ninja costume, just to help foreigners find their way and take pictures with them. So here’s hoping you run into something like that!

Admission to the park is \1800 for adults. The Motopia passport grants you admission and lets you ride all the rides without paying the individual fees for them. It’s \4400. When the Aqua Adventure water park is open in the summer, you can get the Summer Passport, which is all of the above plus the slippy-dippy wet stuff, and that’s \5500. Children 7-12 get a discount, and kids younger than that cost about half the price of adults. The ultra-cool Circuit Challenger is a separate \1600 per car. Up to 3 people can ride together.

Getting to Suzuka Circuit is a breeze. Take the Kintetsu Railway to Shiroko Station. From there, you can take a bus to the track. All-in-all the journey takes a little over an hour. Be sure to check the times so you don’t miss the last shuttle! If you do, it’s no big deal as long as you don’t mind paying for a taxi. 

7992 Inoucho, Suzuka, Mie 


Tourist attractions covered by this article