Ebisu Circuit a petrolheads heaven in the mountains of Japan. If you have an interest in drifting or Japan as a country you will have heard of Ebisu Circuit, unless you have been hiding under a rock.
This article is a list of 10 need to know thing's about Ebisu Circui before you visit, I have researched it quiet a bit as this is one of my top 10 places to visit when I finally get to Japan for a holiday!
1. Ebisu is in Fukushima in the Tohoku area of Japan.
Ebisu is about a three and a half hour drive north of Toyko sometimes it can take up to 4 hours if you experience traffic like everywhere in the world. You can take the bullet train to Fukushima but Ebisu isn't within a walk able distance from the train station so unless you have a Japanese friend who will pick you up and take you to Ebisu you will need to drive there, it also has lost of steep mountainous roads which are not great for walking either.
Picture Credit: Redbull/ Mad Mike. The steep mountain roads of Ebisu.
2. It is not 1 track it is actually several.
Ebisu Circuit is actually home to a number of different courses scattered throughout a huge portion of land with numerous elevation changes, what better place to drift? Hanging off the side of a mountain, the whole place is basically on the side of a mountain, I bet it is cold there this time of the year! There is a ‘Kita’ course, which is the highest of all the tracks/circuits and is known for its super fast entry coming off the main straight. The infamous Touge course, which imitates a winding mountain road, one of the reasons I want to visit Ebisu and the deceivingly dangerous and inappropriately named School course, which is supposed to be for beginners I think this may be the circuit for me, it is actually where most of the cars end up getting damaged. Then the ‘Minami’ course also know as the ‘Drift Stadium’ circuit which is where most drift the competitions are held, and it’s the track with the famous ‘jump’.
That famous jump....
There are two circuits which are more suited to higher speeds, Nishi which is situated in the west and Higashi in the east,these are only open to park-goers during Drift Matsuri which is a festival they are generally only hired out for private track days and testing. Fianlly there is drift land which is a large area featuring a small course layout, and Kuru Kuru Land which consists of two smaller areas ideal for beginner drivers to start out on. My ideal section!
3. You can buy a car from Power Vehicles and keep it at Ebisu.
Power Vehicles is a company based a Ebisu and if you have ever dreamed of doing some track time in Japan they can can source you a drift-capable car and have this ready and waiting for you up at the circuit. The idea is that the car is stored at Ebisu for you, it won't be road registered and most people visit there once or twice a year to drive in the tri annual Drift Matsuri events, so this is ideal for them, if you would like to know more about this service you can check out Power Vehicles website here:
4. Ebisu is also a zoo.
Ebisu's facilities are actually combined with the Tōhoku safari park,it is a theme park for racing and exotic animals. All around Ebisu you will see old safari cars and buses painted in zebra stripes and giraffe spotted colour schemes, enclosures with lions, elephants, cows yes they are an exotic animal in Japan as well as sea lions and monkeys. You can visit the animals in between drifting session at Ebisu if you desire, personally I would want to stay trackside.
5. It snows in winter....
This is worth a mention although us Europeans are used to cold weather but if you visit Ebisu from December to Feburary you are sure to encounter snow!Yes snow! Ebisu is located on a mountain after all but surely that means it will be easier to drift? Right? Nevermind the cold! Also less tyres will be burnt! Be warned there are times of the year when Ebisu is not accessible due to snow and other adverse weather conditions.
6. It has a restaurant on site.
Been on the side of a mountain shouldn't stop you from eating when it's lunchtime the good news is that Ebisu has an on site restaurant for when you get hungry mid drifting session. Both visitors and drifters using the track can visit the restaurant which is located between the zoo and the track, they serve traditional Japanese dishes, if your not a fan of Japanese food they also have fried chicken, chips even ice cream.
7. Ebisu is always open.
Unlike the tracks here in Europe, unless there is a special event on at Ebisu you can drive on the track anytime you want to, quiet the opposite to what we are used to here in Europe. You will need to purchase an all day ticket or pass, be warned there are different passes for all the different tracks at Ebisu so do some research about which one you would like to drift before going to Ebisu. There are only 3 rules at Ebisu, wear a helmet, wear gloves and report any incidents to reception, pretty easy rules to adhere to I think.
8. Accomodation near Ebisu is limited.
Another reason why you need to drive to Ebisu rather than take a train and rely on a Japanese friend for a lift to and from Ebisu. While you wont find a 5 star hotel near by you won't have to pitch a tent, while there are big events on at Ebisu, the guys and girls at Power Vehichles open up their lodges for bookings so if you intend on attending a big event at Ebisu make sure to booked ahead of time. Your best bet is to stay in the town of Nihonmatsu, which is a 15 minute drive away. If you are okay with something more traditional, there is Dake Onsen, a small resort town which is only ten minutes from the circuit. Lastly there’s the actual city of Fukushima, which is about a twenty minute drive away.
9. Some cars never leave Ebisu.
With the amount of track time you get at Ebisu plenty of cars become victims to walls, potholes etc some people don't help the cause by not giving a damn what happens to their cars or others. So much seat time does lead to crashes.
10. Ebisu hosts some pretty epic and exciting events.
While you can drive at Ebisu any day yourself, from research I have done it seems to be the in thing to go to a proper drift event here if your visiting. Ebisu hosts Drift Matsuri 3 times a year, and D1GP both drift event dates are announced on the power vehicles website.