STORY 8 attractions for car and motorbike enthusiasts visiting Japan
Explore these attractions for car and motorbike lovers visiting Japan
If you’re a fan of Japanese cars, such as Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Honda – or motorbikes like Kawasaki and Yamaha – there is a museum or attraction in Japan for you. Here’s your ultimate car and motorbike enthusiast’s guide to Japan.
1. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology in Aichi Prefecture. Image: Pixhound/Shutterstock.com
If you’re looking for an insightful deep dive into Toyota’s extensive history and the way it has helped shaped Japan, you need to visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.
The museum showcases the history and cultural importance of one of the country’s most important companies. Discover Toyota's humble beginnings as a textile machinery manufacturer to its now modern-day industrial superpower status. Expect a fun, hands-on and informative exploration into the past, present and future of the Toyota company.
Technoland provides hands-on educational experiences where you can learn about textile manufacturing and automobiles through interactive displays, simulations and activities. Kids can enjoy pedalling the Virtual Weaving Machine or driving around the Techno Circuit.
There’s also fun in store for the adults with interactive demonstrations showing how steering, suspension and gearboxes function. This museum will definitely awaken the inner engineer and techie within!
Getting there: The museum is around a 3-minute walk from Sako Station on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line. From Nagoya Station, it’s a 20-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride.
2. Mazda Museum
Mazda cars at Mazda Museum in Hiroshima Prefecture. Image: Pecomag
When in Hiroshima, consider visiting the recently renewed Mazda Museum at the Mazda Motor Corporation’s headquarters. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020 and the museum offers an inside look at the company’s journey to becoming a famous and well-respected automobile manufacturer.
In this museum, you can relive Mazda’s groundbreaking journey through the development of its renowned engine structure and car making. Split across 10 zones, you can go back in time to the origins of Mazda and see its groundbreaking development into the automotive powerhouse it is today.
The zones invite you to take a first-hand look at Mazda’s history, offering inspiring insights into the brand's creations and technological advancements throughout the years with an on-going commitment to achieving carbon neutrality and contributing to an accident-free automotive society. Zone 1 explores the origins of Mazda’s manufacturing spirit and the passion and independent spirit of the founder, Jujiro Matsuda. Zone 2 displays the transformation into a general automobile manufacturer. The other zones encompass Mazda’s groundbreaking transitions into race cars, innovative technology, design, global expansion, and brand strategy.
Travel tip: Admission is free but reservations must be made online before visiting as the facilities can only be seen on a guided tour. Tours for individual travellers are available twice a day and last for about 90 to 120 minutes. Tours are currently only held in Japanese but there are plans to resume English tours soon.
Getting there: Take the train on the Sanyo or Kure Line from Hiroshima Station to Mukainada Station and walk 5 minutes to Mazda Museum.
3. Nissan Zama Heritage Collection
Nissan sports cars at Nissan Zama Heritage Collection in Kanagawa Prefecture. Image: Sudhir Matai
Nowhere showcases the vast history of the Nissan brand quite like the Nissan Zama Heritage Collection . In a nondescript warehouse, you can find about 300 cars on display at all times depicting the history and evolution of the company.
Expect to see old production cars made in the 1930s to successive race cars and dive into the on and off-road history of the Nissan brand. Famous Nissan models such as the very first Datsun 12 Phaeton to Le Mans racers, Super GT legends and possibly every version of Nissan’s GT-R can also be found in this collection. Around 70% of the cars in the collections are kept in drivable condition.
Besides Nissan cars, the collection is also home to cars that have been used in motorsport races and cars that have carried the torch at the Tokyo Olympics.
Travel tip: You must submit an application on their website (Japanese only) to request a tour. Please note that general tours for customers are currently suspended until further notice.
Getting there: Take the train on the Sotetsu Line from Yokohama to Sagamino Station, then board the Sotetsu Bus bound for ‘Minami-Rinkan Station’, alight at Hibarigaoka 1 chome (Koki Iriguchi) and walk for 7 minutes.
4. Honda Collection Hall
Honda racing cars at the Honda Collection Hall in Tochigi Prefecture. Image: Morio/Wikimedia Commons
Follow in the footsteps of Honda founders, Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa at the Honda Collection Hall . This museum illustrates the trajectory of the company through its start-up period, its groundbreaking ideas and how the brand progressed to be a well-known and respected name in the world of races and automobile technology.
The Collection Hall houses approximately 300 restored motorcycles, automobiles, power products and racing machines on display. After watching the exhibition’s video ‘Honda: The Locus of Dreams and Challenges’ on the first floor, you will understand the thinking and passion that went into creating the remarkable Honda brand. On the second floor of the exhibit, you will see Honda’s original bicycle engine and the progress of Honda manufacturing with displays of products that have been loved for generations. On the third floor, you will be introduced to the history of Honda’s excellence in motorsports and the brand's spirit of challenge.
You and the family can also have a go at becoming manufacturing superstars yourselves at ‘Pit Kobo’, where you can build an electric cart by yourself and go on a test drive! Afterwards, head to the Museum Shop where you can find some limited-edition goods not found anywhere else.
Travel tip: Admission is free, but please keep in mind that there is an entrance fee for Mobility Resort Motegi (Twin Ring Motegi).
Getting there: It’s approximately a 90-min bus ride from Mito Station Bus Terminal No.7 or about a 100-minute bus ride from Utsunomiya Station Bus Terminal No.3 to Mobility Resort Motegi.
Please note buses to Mobility Resort Motegi are only available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
5. Intersect by Lexus
Intersect by Lexus in Tokyo. Image: Bloomberg
Car showrooms are taken to the next level with Intersect by Lexus , a unique display concept featuring Toyota’s luxury brand. In this three-storey space in Aoyama, guests can expect to see sensational art, fashion, films and music. Intersect by Lexus includes a cafe and restaurant area (with some great views of Lexus’ latest cars).
The showroom's grand exhibition space called the Garage is both an art gallery and a peaceful spot for adults to relax and see incredible displays of Lexus cars. Featuring innovative installations, it is a must-see when you visit this exhibition.
For rest and space to relax, head to the Bistro where you’ll find gourmet meals created with seasonal ingredients.
Getting there: Intersect by Lexus is around a 3-minute walk from Omotesando Station.
6. Kawasaki Good Times World
Kawasaki motorbikes at Kawasaki Good Times World in Hyogo Prefecture. Image: Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd
Kawasaki is renowned for producing diverse products covering not just land but sea and also air. Kawasaki Good Times World illuminates the brand's pioneering technologies and shows the extent of Kawasaki’s contributions to society. It also highlights the wonders of technology and the importance of craftsmanship.
Divided into 9 sections, start from the very beginning at the Meet the Founders Area then head to the History Area, Kawasaki World Theater, Motorcycle Gallery, Land Zone, Sea Zone, Air Zone, High-Performance Robots and Kawasaki Good Times World TECHNO-LAB. Each of these sections will give you a first-hand look into the manufacturer’s thoughts behind the products and how they brought their ideas to life.
Getting there: Take the city loop bus from Sannomiya Station and alight at Nakatottei Pier (Kobe Port Tower). Alternatively, it’s a 15-minute walk from Motomachi Station or Hanakuma Station.
7. Yamaha Motor Communications Plaza
A collection of Yamaha motorbikes at the Yamaha Motor Communications Plaza in Shizuoka Prefecture. Image: Auto Museums
Discover a space that explains the past, present and future of the Yamaha Motor Group at the Communication Plaza .
Once entered the first floor, it will be hard to miss the eye-catching Toyota 2000GT painted in glittering gold, a car developed by both Yahama and the Toyota Motor Corporation. Expect to see old epoch-making cars and Yamaha motor technologies as the plaza boasts an array of new and old Yahama products, including its motorcycles, electric-assist bicycles and marine products such as boats, yachts and outboard motors. Kids can also enjoy some fun and educational hands-on activities in the Hands-on Learning Corner.
Please note that the Plaza Café on the third floor is currently closed.
Getting there: The Communication Plaza is a 15-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride from Mikuriya Station on the JR Tokaido Line.
8. Suzuka Circuit
Cars racing on the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture. Image: Jay Hirano Photography/Shutterstock.com
Want to visit one of the most renowned racing tracks in the world? Head to Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture. It has emerged as one of the world’s most demanding and rewarding motor racing circuits, gaining popularity because of its uncommon figure-of-eight layout. The circuit has hosted many world-class racing events such as the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka 8 hours and Super GT and now you can race on the same turf as racing legends!
Get the adrenaline pumping with driving or riding sessions for amateur drivers/riders or visit Suzuka Circuit Park with rides that you can operate by yourself. For something more educational, head over to the Traffic Education Center which offers a variety of hands-on programs including safe driving for cars and motorbikes.
Travel tip: If you start feeling peckish on your adventure at Suzuka Circuit Park, there are many restaurants and food trucks available in the area. From tasty snacks, desserts and grilled foods to stomach-filling western and Japanese dishes - the food choices are diverse and endless.
Getting there: Catch the train on the Kintetsu Line from Nagoya Station to Shiroko Station, then take the Mie Kotsu Route Bus (20-min ride) to Suzuka Circuit. Alternatively, it’s a 25-minute walk from Suzuka Circuit Ino Station.
Here are some other attractions to consider visiting:
- Hino Auto Plaza, Tokyo Prefecture
- Humobility World, Osaka Prefecture
- Isuzu Plaza, Kanagawa Prefecture
- Mitsubishi Auto Gallery, Aichi Prefecture
Note: The facility is temporarily closed until further notice.