Japan is a vast place to be in. Many tourists will be familiar with Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Kyoto and many other major cities.
A drive a few hours north yields hidden gems, particularly if you head for Tochigi Prefecture. You will find the Bandai Museum in Mibu, which houses various characters created by the famed company such as Godzilla, Ultramar, and of course Gundam, essential to Japanese pop culture and swarmed over by otaku (obsessive Japanese fans).
Tochigi is also home of the famed Twin Ring Motegi, a motorsports complex owned and operated by Honda.
Opened in 1997, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda to promote the Indycar open-wheel racing series in Japan.
The Twin-Ring Motegi complex has two race tracks: a 4.8-kilometer grand prix road course, and a 2.35-mile high-speed oval.
There are many secondary facilities, such as a large flat section for skid-pad testing and driver tuition/training, a scenic road tour for test-drives and even facilities for non-motoring activities (a picnic park, an amusement park for children, and a small commercial strip filled with shops and restaurants), and of course, the Honda Collection Hall.
Highly storied history
The Honda Collection Hall houses anywhere from 350 to 400 vehicles, and other Honda oddities from its highly storied history.
Soichiro Honda loved to dream big, and from the ashes of World War II, Honda’s expertise in motorsports bloomed, from road racing at the Isle of Man TT, to Formula One Grand Prix.
Today, Honda is involved in Formula One, Indycar Championship, World Touring Car Championship, Super GT, GT Racing, rally races, the Motorcycle Grand Prix, World Super Bike Championship, and so many more.
The Honda Collection Hall houses many of the firm’s most incredible and memorable race cars and bikes, stretching all the way back to the 1960s where Honda first became both a constructor and engine builder/supplier, to the later McLaren-Hondas in Marlboro livery.
You’ll also find many memorable race cars from more recent years, such as a pair of Honda NSX’s that campaigned in the JGTC (precursor to the Super GT) wearing the Avex Group and Raybrigh livery, respectively; the Team Kunimitsu-Kaneko longitudinal mounted V6 engined NXS driven by an all Japanese squad at Le Mans’ GT1 category in the 90s; the Motul-Mugen EF9 Civic from the JTCC Series in the late 80s to early 90s; and the red, yellow, green and white-liveried JACCS Accord touring car, also from the JTCC.
Not just cars
Of course, it’s not just cars, but bikes as well, with a plethora of MotoGP and SBK machinery on display.
It’s also filled with Honda’s illustrious road cars, particularly those borne directly from Honda’s love affair with motorsports.
King of these, of course, is the Type-R Trinity, the original NA1 NSX, the EK9 Civic, and the DC2 Integra, all recognizable to enthusiasts world-wide.
It’s not just cars and bikes, but also lawn mowers and genesis, as Honda as a huge collection of them on display.
Not just Hondas
Lastly, it’s not just Hondas, as the collection hall is an ever-evolving display. This time, during our visit last October, guests were present at the display area: a Toyota TSO40 LMP1 Hybrid form Le Mans was present, as was a Mazda-powered LMP2 car, and an older Panasonic-Toyota F1 car beside a modern McLaren-Honda F1 car.
There was also a Nissan 350Z that campaigned in the Super GT Series in the early 2000s, and so many bikes, I got confused just trying to learn their history.
So, if you want to see something different, head up north 120 kilometers to Tochigi, and check out the Honda Collection Hall at Twin-Ring Motegi. You will definitely not regret it.
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