The popularity of drifting has grown around the world thanks to the manga “Initial D”, the car action movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”, and other such works. The Ebisu Circuit in the northern area of central Fukushima Prefecture, is referred to as a holy site in the world of drifting. The vast grounds boast nine different courses of a variety of types and difficulty levels from racing courses to drifting courses. At this holy site that attracts drifting fans from around the world one can see can people visiting to enjoy a thrilling and entirely unique one-off experience as well as drivers who have devoted their entire lives to drifting.
The Manager of Ebisu Circuit, Nobushige Kumakubo, was the 2006 champion of the D1 Grand Prix International Drift Championship (hereinafter “D1GP”), and was also handpicked to carry out driving stunts for the movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”. He has also put on drifting shows in Las Vegas and other places around the world and has helped popularize drifting techniques and drifting culture in 30 countries and regions such as European countries, South Africa, and Asian countries. Students and fans of Mr. Kumakubo from some of these countries began visiting him at the Ebisu Circuit, and this soon led to it becoming considered a holy site of drifting.
Drifting culture is characterized by the strong sense of comradery that exists between drivers. When someone’s car breaks down, one often sees other drivers bringing spare parts and tools and helping out with repairs. The culture of drivers supporting each other and helping each other to polish their skills is still alive and well at the Ebisu Circuit. Drivers of different nationalities and different linguistic and cultural backgrounds flock here from around the world to socialize and admire each other’s driving. It could be said that one of the charms of the Ebisu Circuit is the fact that drivers can engage in communication that transcends language barriers.
HOW TO PLAY
The Ebisu Circuit can be enjoyed in three ways: As a passenger, driver, or spectator.
For those who want to experience drifting but are unable to do it themselves, taking a ride in a “Drift Taxi” driven by a professional driver is recommended. The sense of speed and sideways gravitational force as you rocket up and down the steep slopes of the mountain course is truly thrilling. The opportunity to witness firsthand some of the world’s best driving skills is another reason for the popularity of these Drift Taxi rides.
There is also a school at the circuit where people can learn to drift themselves. There are lessons for everyone from beginners to advanced drivers covering the basics of drifting and how to set up cars for drifting. Some of the students who visit from abroad stay at Ebisu Circuit for as long as two weeks in order to give themselves enough time to study drifting techniques more thoroughly.
The D1GP, which is held every August at the Ebisu Circuit, attracts drivers from around the world as well as approximately 5,000 spectators from around Japan and beyond. In addition to drifting competitions, Ebisu Circuit also crams in a wide variety of other kinds of competitions and events such as motorcycle races and so on between April and November each year (the circuit is closed over winter from December through March).
The sounds of the engines, the sheer manic speed of the cars as they race along, and the screeching of the tires and the resulting billowing clouds of smoke all help to make drifting a magical experience and make the circuit a thoroughly entertaining place that is intoxicating to spectators, drivers, and passengers alike. How about visiting Ebisu Circuit to savor the magic yourself?