So you've watched Takumi slay the touge of Mt Akina on Initial D and you've heard the rumours that it's based on a real place and you've thought, "man, I'd love to drive Mt Akina one day!" Well, be prepared to live the dream! Getting to Mt Akina and driving it is easier than you think, and you can tee it up with a few other cool Initial D themed activities on the way! Let me be your guide.
Mt Akina is based off Mt Haruna in Gunma prefecture, Japan (the name "Haruna" means springtime in Japanese, while "Akina" means autumn time). The touge used in the anime is directly based off one of the routes up the mountain, and most of the iconic landmarks are still there to be seen!
Getting to Mt Haruna is actually quite easy if you are based in Tokyo, but you will need a car (obviously!). The best place to rent a car from is the Toyota Rent-a-car shop based in Takasaki, as this is a central location and is a single train ride from Tokyo. The staff all speak conversational English, and the process is quite simple. Just order online, then rock up a few minutes before your booking!. You will want to catch your train from Tokyo to Takasaki station (find your best route using this app: Japan Travel), then exit the train station on the east exit, turning north. The Toyota Rent-a-car is only a few hundred metres up the road.
Once you have your car, will need to plug in Mt Haruna into Google Maps or a similar app. the route you want to take is outlined here: Takasaki to Mt Haruna
In this route, we have also included a stop at Ikaho Toy Doll and Car museum (which has the actual Fujiwara tofu storefront used in the live action movie, as well as 2 2000GTs and a Ferrari F40, among other things) and D'z Racing Cafe Garage, which is an Initial D themed cafe with tonnes of memorabilia, cars and cool things to check out.
Fujiwara tofu shop at Ikaho
Our ugly hire car at Racing Cafe D'z Garage
After leaving the cafe, you will use the north-east pass up the mountain. This is the pass used in the anime, and driving it will give you tingles down your spine! The day we went was misty and cool, and it was really quite an experience!
When you get to the top, you can stop at the floating swans, from where you can see the actual hotel that Takumi used to deliver his tofu to! You can drive around there if you like. Once you've enjoyed your stay, head back down the way you came, so you can tell everyone you drove the Akina downhill! Make sure you use the gutters, just like Takumi!
The pass is actually an amazing driving road
Don't forget to try your hand at gutter driving!
To head back to the rental car drop off, just reverse the directions. Before you drop it off, make sure you fill up the tank. You might want to head to an Up Garage while you are out and about, the closest one being at Maebashi, which is quite a large store.
Train to Takasaki: $20AUD
Ikaho museum: $12AUD
Snack at cafe: $8AUD
Being Takumi for the day: priceless