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Monday, April 4, 2016

A Drift guide to Japan by Officer Dan Part 1: Top 10 ways to prep
Daigo Saito = Master
If you drift and are anything like me you drool or get "mad jelly" every time you see another drifter post that they are heading to Japan to do cool shit.  I asked Brandon Wicknick to do this on his last trip since he probably did it cheaper than anyone could have imagined, but he slacked so here I am. What is "Matsuri" you ask? It means festival in Japanese and there are tons of Matsuri events all over. I have no idea what this particular Matsuri is below but count me in.

In the U.S. drifting world, it seems as though the pinnacle to every drivers career, amateur to pro is to get to drive either drive in Japan at one event or another, or at the very least attend some events and or car meets there. Awesome cars, awesome tracks, awesome people, what more could you want? Since losing my FD license, I have nothing but time to plan stuff for this year, so plan I did, and share I will. If you ever wanted to take the plunge and make it happen, this is the guide for you. 

Head on over and grab yourself some quality suspension stuff!
The idea came about when Greg Kruse from GKtech said, hey, let's go to Japan for Spring Matsuri 3-4 months ago. 3-4 months of that sitting in the back of your head with no action feels like an eternity. It all snapped into reality when planets and budgets aligned and I actually sat down and started planning this whole thing out. We will be slapping a bunch of GKTech parts on a car, throwing some STR Officer D 903 wheels on and seeing what we can do! Below I will try to fill you in on as much pre-planned info as I can shove out and update as needed. Keep in mind I haven't actually gone yet, but I will update as needed.

#1 Know your dates

If you want to Matsuri, you need to pick which one suits your needs (In our case we are heading to Spring). Of course there are other events at other tracks all the time, so look online for those dates.
Courtesy of
2016 Spring Matsuri -
April 30th - May 1st
2016 Summer Matsuri -
August 13th & 14th
2016 Autumn Matsuri -
November 12th & 13th

#2 Flights

I was fully expecting to pay north of a grand for a round trip ticket when going into this and either had a stroke of luck, or hit the perfect time to buy but I found round trip tickets for about $470 bucks each. THAT'S CHEAPER THAN ROUND TRIP TO FLORIDA. Just sayin. Best thing about international flights? Free booze. For that price, take a buddy or two. In this case I choose you JWOODMEDIA.COM (otherwise known as Jesse Wood), and plan to meet up with Greg and crew later on.

I booked the flights Sunday Feb 21st, and made them for the 22nd of April till March 2nd so maybe if you make your purchases remain at that distance from the flights for the best price. I used the website Skiplagged to book the flights. It basically chops connected flights up into parts and lets you get the cheapest rates by skipping the last leg of the flight.

My sweet az Charlie Manson / James Hetfield passport photo
#3 Other shit you don't think about that you need to before you leave, not after.
  • You will need to get a passport. Give yourself at least 2 months before so you get it in time.  USPS can get you hooked up.
  • You need to get an international drivers permit or license as well, and that can be done here. It is only 15 bucks and it will save you a world of heartache when you go to get a rental / try and drive at the tracks.
  • Download a translation app. If you get stuck somewhere you are gonna need it. I use google translate. You can even hold the camera up snap a photo and it translates signs and stuff. FUTURE.
  • Get a rental. Most of the tracks are pretty rural, a van is a good idea if you plan on hauling luggage people and wheels and tires.
  • Travel insurance, not needed but a damn good idea. 
  • Bring cash with you for the week to exchange at the airport. Most places won't accept cards.
  • Entertainment on the plane, books, chess board, twister, sleeping pills, crochet etc. If none of the above are brought, it will be a long 12 hour flight. 
  • Chargers far any electronic devices, portable batteries should help since the tracks are pretty rural. Side note; Japan uses the same plugs as us here in the good ol
  • Reach out on FB, there are tons of folks who either live there or have been that will help. 
  • Your phone. How do you navigate, translate or check twitter?? Luckily you have a few options.
#4 Shit to do (made this list from reaching out on FB)
Obligatory Initial D post
  • Huge list of every tuning shop in Japan, if that doesn't keep even the fanniest of fan boys happy, I'm not sure what will. 
  • Rent a classic Japanese sports car
  • Daikoku futo, tatsumi pa., bay shore drive, aqualine run(15km tunnel),
  • UP! Garage Guide to Japan
  • Nismo Omori Factory in Yokohama and Toyota MegaWeb in Odaiba, both free, both awesome. 
  • Robot restaurant
  • Nikko circuit
  • Meihan 
  • Lots of delish Sushi, everywhere
#5 A car (the important part)

You wanna drive like Team Burst right? Better get a car first...
There are a few ways to go about this. You can find a decent missile car for around 2-3 grand,  and competition ready ones for 10k and up.
  • eBay Japan
  • Yahoo Auctions Japan
  • A Japan hookup
  • You are lucky enough to drive for someone and they give you a car
You are gonna have to work on what ever car you get.
Anyway you spin it you will more than likely have to purchase blind, and get there a few days early to start working on it to make sure that its up to par. This also means finding a place to work on it before hand, or risking working on it at the track. It will probably rain and you will have a bad day.
Budget spent on one round of Formula D Pro 1, 8-10k, Pro 2, 6-8k

#6 Coinage

Scratch spent so far on needed things:
$470 for round trip ticket to japan from LA
$165 for round trip ticket to LA

Scratch spent on non 100% needed things:
$960 for rental Van
$4,000 for a 93 skyline (much cheaper to rent or find more of a missile)

Total so far: $5,595 or less than the low end of one round of Pro 2.

Coming up in part 2, everything you need to know about not knowing anything about where you are going.

My best Japanese impression. Photo by Winding Hiway Studios.


  1. I'll have to file this into my fap folder... i mean bucket list...

    Good overview for any newbie travelers, I've only traveled within the US so there's a lot of other things to consider traveling overseas...

    1. Thanks man. Sometimes you have to take a leap and just go for it. Having a guide always helps

    2. Thanks man. Sometimes you have to take a leap and just go for it. Having a guide always helps

  2. I'm so happy for you man, that's awesome

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