Meihan Sportsland, home of the iconic Naoki Nakamura and Team Burst, is a popular motorsport complex in Nara prefecture, Japan. The drift course (also known as C course) is famous for it's long wall ride coming in to the first corner, testing drivers skill, precision and bravery. Because of the exciting nature of the course, it's a popular spot for drift fans to pilgrimage to for a taste of Japanese drift culture, and is actually very easy to get to! Let me show you how.
The complex is located just off the Nishi-Meihan Expressway, a highway that winds it's way through picturesque mountains in Nara prefecture. To get here, the best starting location is the city of Nara, which is a quiet city (and the old capital of Japan) a relatively short train ride from Tokyo. Nara is actually a nice town to visit on it's own, with heaps of history and temples to explore, and we would recommend staying here for 2 or 3 days to enjoy it all. Line it up over a weekend that has an event on (most weekends do at Meihan) to make the most of it! For more to do in Nara, check out this blog: http://alluredbyadventure.com/5-reasons-stay-nara-japan/
Once in Nara, you will need to hire a car to get to the complex. Hiring a car is a breeze, and we used https://rent.toyota.co.jp/eng/ which is conveniently located just down the road from the train station. To hire a car, simply put in the details of pick-up, drop-off and vehicle into the on-line form with the appropriate store, then rock up a few minutes before your pick-up time. The stores usually speak good English, but if they don't they will have a tablet that will translate all the relevant info for you that you have to accept as you go along. To get directions, simply follow this Google Maps link (we have chosen the scenic route as it avoids tolls, isn't much slower and is a great drive through the hills): https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/Nara,+Nara+Prefecture,+Japan/Japan,+%E3%80%92630-2234+Nara+Prefecture,+Yamabe+District,+Yamazoe,+Kirihata,+1343%E2%88%921,+%E5%90%8D%E9%98%AA%E3%82%B9%E3%83%9D%E3%83%BC%E3%83%84%E3%83%A9%E3%83%B3%E3firstname.lastname@example.org,135.8420041,12z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x600137c578a70cc1:0x4afed9b0b9492622!2m2!1d135.8050002!2d34.6850869!1m5!1m1!1s0x60014c6626e0108b:0x8c75cf62f8f4d46d!2m2!1d135.9963676!2d34.6344938!5i1
The drive from Nara to the complex is actually very easy, however it does get tricky when you get to the complex, as it isn't signposted in English and is easy to miss. You will want to take this exit, which will take you to the small road that winds through to the complex.
Then take the second right that goes down alongside the highway
Keep going until you see this sign, then turn right under the highway
After this, simply follow the funny little road along the highway. On street view there is even a sick 180sx!
Then, once you have gone down this road and got to an intersection, turn left, go back under the highway, turn left straight away and you will see this
The staff here are surprisingly used to foreigners, and will guide you on where to park and anything else you might need. We paid for our tickets (500yen each), then followed the road down the hill into the carpark, which has some cool rides to scope out before you walk back up to the track
The seating for the track is great, but make sure you respect everyone's area! The Japanese are polite people and will often leave a drink bottle, backpack or small towel in their spot and expect it to still be there when they get back. Apart from that, enjoy yourself! There are vending machines for drinks, and often a crepe stand or something similar for food. If you're there on the right day, you will also get to watch Team Burst slide along the walls in spectacular fashion!
To get back to Nara, simply reverse the directions. Be sure to fill up your car with petrol before you drop it back. Most petrol station attendants will speak decent English, however a lot of the stations around Nara are self-serve unlike others in Japan.
Quick cost breakdown (shared between 2 people):
- Car: $45AUD for 8am to 5pm
- Petrol: $12AUD
- Entry: $15AUD for 2 tickets
- Food + drinks: $10AUD
- Total: $82AUD
If you want to learn even more about Japanese car culture and traveling in Japan, check out our Gaijin Guide to Japan here:
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