2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Fast cars and sedentary living in Japan's Mie Prefecture

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Kai Sedgwick

Kai Sedgwick
HomeAway travel expert

Japanese F1Japan: synonymous with sushi. Synonymous with all things weird. Synonymous with Formula One? Arrive here in October and the answer to the latter is a resounding 'Yes!'. While Japan's contribution to the automobile industry is well documented, the Land of the Rising Sun is better known for manufacturing than racing.

In October 2014 however, the F1 GP comes to the country's Mie Prefecture, heralding a whirlwind weekend of high-speed thrills and late-night partying, for those with blessed with an insatiable appetite for destruction. And yet, away from the Suzuka Circuit, life in Mie Prefecture couldn't be further removed from this bacchanalian model. Better known for its spectacular mountains, ocean and ancient temples, Mie is the antithesis of all things F1. The juxtaposition may be stark, but it certainly makes for an enthralling adventure – one where you get to dictate the pace. Go fast; go slow; go any which way you like. It's your holiday after all.


Need for speed: Suzuka


The F1 circuit at Suzuka The F1 circuit at Suzuka

The distinctive figure-of-eight circuit has the fingerprints of Japan's most famous racing company all over it. Constructed as a Honda test track in 1962, it is currently owned by a subsidiary of the firm, who operate a test facility close to the circuit. The Suzuka track is a firm favourite with F1 racing drivers, who relish the track's many quirks, including the raised back straight which passes over the front section to form the trademark figure eight.

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Schedule for the F1 Japanese Grand Prix Schedule for the F1 Japanese Grand Prix

The F1 GP at Suzuka takes place on the weekend of 3-5th October 2014. Qualifying starts on the Friday, with the race itself taking place on Sunday afternoon. On Friday 3rd October, the first F1 practice session will run from 10-11.30am. That afternoon, the second session will start at 2pm, followed by a final practice at 11am on the Saturday. Qualifying starts at 2pm that afternoon, before the race commences on Sunday 5th October at 3pm. While some petrol heads will show up just for the 3 o'clock race, many more will choose to make a weekend of it, dividing their time between the Suzuka grandstands, the adjacent bars and restaurants and – for a lucky few – a visit to the pit lane.

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Ticketing for the Japanese GP Ticketing for the Japanese GP

With a capacity of 155,000, the Suzuka Circuit certainly can't be accused of being esoteric: everyone's invited to the F1 GP here in October. The only catch? You'll need to stump up enough for your ticket. The V1 and V2 grandstands are the dearest, but provide an unfettered view of the action commensurate with their premium price. At the bottom end of the spectrum, a three-day pass for the Q1 grandstand can be snapped up for a couple of hundred quid. Children under 16 enjoy cut-price admission – the benefits of which will mostly be felt by their deep-pocketed parents.

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2014 Japanese Grand Prix: Mie Prefecture 2014 Japanese Grand Prix: Mie Prefecture

Japan is divided into a series of prefectures, with Suzuka part of the Mie Prefecture on the main island's southern coast. Suzuka, an industrial city of 200,000, isn't particularly riveting: it has an awesome F1 circuit and major Sharp and Honda factories, but that's about it. Thankfully the Mie Prefecture, whose human history can be traced back 10,000 years, is a different proposition. Back in the day – like, way back in the day – Mie was a major producer of food for the country's emperor, earning it the title of 'miketsukuni', or 'land of imperial repasts'. Today, its natural larder and natural beauty are still every bit as rich.

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2014 Japanese Grand Prix: Mie attractions 2014 Japanese Grand Prix: Mie attractions

If your F1 trip to Japan allows just enough time to catch the racing, down a bunch of sake and then drag your weary frame onto a red-eye flight home, that's cool: you'll still have a great time. Temper your trip by spending a few days exploring Mie's pastoral pleasures however and you'll return home richer – culturally at least. Ise Jingu is a complex of sacred shrines dating back to 720AD whose distinctive architecture lend them an ethereal charm. Head to the coast, meanwhile, to witness the ama – female divers – who descend to the ocean floor to catch shellfish, pearls and seaweed. Want to learn more? Ask the ama (Ask Me Anything?) and they'll be happy to share their tales while you share a simple but so-fresh-it-may-as-well-still-be-moving dinner of grilled seafood.

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