Rev Speed Magazine Super Battle Time Attack 2011 @ Tsukuba Circuit
by Eric Hsu
Japan was my last stop in Asia after country hopping and doing a little work here an there. I decided to go to Japan almost at the last minute. I figured it was a good time to catch up with my post college roommate, Jeff the ex-Tokyo pimp, meet up with the guys from DSPORT Magazine, and the Australians from World Time Attack. DSPORT was in Tokyo for the Scion FR-S media day and the Aussies were in Japan to party. Oh and of course to recruit RE Amemiya and a few other teams for the World Time Attack Challenge 2012.
I was supposed to make it out to Tsukuba the night before the Hyper Meeting to meet up with the Aussies, but Jeff and I had three bottles of wine at this cool little restaurant that night in Azabujyuban so that didn't really work out. I ended up in Tennozu Isle that night and stayed with the DSPORT guys instead. The next morning, we trekked it to Tsukuba Circuit by train. How do you make it to Tsukuba Circuit by train and without the ability to read Japanese? Do a little train route map studying on the internet, cross your fingers, and ask questions when needed. At the larger train stations, there is some English (not much), but once you're in rural Japan, English might as well not exist. So for those of you who want to get to Tsukuba Circuit from Tokyo in the future without a Japanese friend to translate, here's how to do it:
- Get to Akihabara station. Akihabara has a large station so many train lines pass through and you can transfer to and from other lines. It is on the Yamanote line so getting to Akihabara should be a no brainer even if you aren't familiar with the JR. If you're a baller, take a cab to Akihabara station. It is also the electronics and otaku capital of Tokyo so if you want to get the newest Sony gadget before it comes out in America, then this is where you want to do it (bring your passport for duty free shopping). Or if you want to check out a maid cafe, this is also the place to do it.
- Take the Tsukuba Express Rapid to Moriya station. You'll want to take the Rapid if at all possible because then you can skip a bunch of unnecessary stops the Local train will stop at. Once on this train, just put on the headphones, crank up the J-pop, and chill because it's about a 25 minute ride.
- Then once at Moriya Station, transfer to the Joso Line. There is a Local and Rapid train, but there isn't too much time saved between the two unless you're going to the end of the line. If you're used to the new, comfortable, and electric trains in Tokyo, you're in for a surprise here. The Joso Line is diesel powered and the train driver has to actually shift gears. It felt like a big rig on rails actually. The train we hopped on looked like it was probably built in the 1970's. It was clean in typical Japanese fashion, but old. I guess it matched the rural landscape. Get off at Sodo station.
- Don't be surprised that Sodo station has no staff on or off the platform. There are no gates or anything. You just insert your ticket stub in the machine or slap your Suica card on it and walk out. The honor system still does exist somewhere in today's society after all.
- If you're in luck, there will be a Taxi waiting at the station. If there's no Taxi around, then you're basically fucked unless you had enough forethought to find the phone number to the local Taxi company. I lost the business card or else I would have put it here. Fortunately we were in luck and there was a Taxi at the station. It's a 20 minute Taxi ride to Tsukuba Circuit that'll cost you around 3000 yen (~$40) or so. Make sure you get a card from the Taxi driver so you can call for a pickup when you leave the track.
This is the entire Sodo Station. Its so small that you can even walk across the tracks.
This doesn't sound too difficult, but that's because I just broke it down for you. Feel free to ask train station staff at the various stations in case you get lost and they will help you as much as their English will allow. The quality of signs in English on this route are questionable at best so there is a little luck involved too. But if two white dudes with a bunch of video gear and my ass with zero Japanese language ability got there ourselves, you can too.
If you add an R at the end, it almost has something to do with Thomas and Friends.
To get back to Tokyo, just take the same route in reverse. Enough about how to get there. Pictures at Tsukuba Circuit begin on the next page. I don't have a long lens so I basically just took pictures of random cars in the pits.