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Off-Track Activities – Japanese Grand Prix

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The best things to do away from the track for F1 fans going to the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, near Nagoya. The next race is on October 7-9, 2016.

There is nothing noteworthy to see or do in the industrial areas surrounding the Suzuka circuit. It’s better to stay in nearby Nagoya or Osaka, where there is much more going on. When planning your Japanese Grand Prix holiday, try and add at least a few days away from the track to explore the country; Japan offers a fascinating blend of natural beauty, ancient traditions and history contrasted with high-tech modern cities and a unique culture.

Things to do in Nagoya

Most travel guides do not give Nagoya the attention it deserves. As the fourth most populated city in Japan, there are plenty of things to see and do in the city. For more travel info on Nagoya, check Japan Guide and Nagoya Info.

> Visit Nagoya Castle

Within the walls of Nagoya Castle lies a fantastic museum that displays armour from the Edo period, fusama-e (painting on sliding doors) and other creative works that survived the bombing during World War II. It’s open from 09:00-17:00 and entry costs around US$5 entry. You can also visit the Ninomaru Garden, located east of the castle, which is home to an original Japanese-style garden. To get to Nagoya Castle, alight at the Shiyakusho (City Hall) Station on the Meijo Line or the Sengen-cho Station on the Tsurumai Line. If you are taking the bus, stop at the Nagoyajo Seimon-Mae bus stop.

> Eat Hitsumabushi

The Aichi Prefecture is known for its unagi (freshwater eel), so it’s no wonder that Nagoya’s traditional meal – known as hitsumubushi – is a bowl of rice with slices of grilled eel. Some of the best hitsumubushi can be found at Atsuta Horaiken – it is about a 7-minute walk away from the Tenma-Cho Station on the Meijo Line. Expect to pay around $10-15 USD for a serving.

> Go shopping

If you are planning to do some shopping while in Japan, the 400-year old Osu Shopping District in Nagoya (pictured above) is a great starting point. With more than 1,200 shops in the area and prices cheaper than Tokyo and Osaka, it’s a great place to spend a few hours, or even the whole day. The easiest way to get there is to take the Nagoya subway and alight at the Osu Kannon Station; you will pass the Nagoya Osu Kannon Temple to get to the shopping area.

Things to do in Osaka

Osaka is a ‘rough and tumble’ city that is often ignored by foreign visitors. While it may not have as much charming architecture as Tokyo or the natural beauty of other Japanese cities, there some places you should see and things to do in Osaka, here’s our recommendations. (For more advice on things to do in Osaka, check Japan Guide and Osaka Info.)

> Visit the Umeda Sky Building & Floating Garden Observatory

Take an elevator to the 39th Floor of the Umeda Sky Building to enjoy a panoramic birds-eye view of Osaka city. Suspended 167 meters from the ground, a floating garden observatory lies between the two towers of the Sky Building. It is open during the day, but many opt to enjoy the night-time view of the city. There’s a small fee of approximately US$6 to enter the floating garden.

> Sample the local fare

Dubbed as tenka no daidokoro (Nation’s Kitchen), Osaka is a food lover’s paradise. Osaka’s most well-known dish is arguably the okonomiyaki, a cross between a pancake and an omelette. It can be customized with a wide choice of meat, seafood or noodles. Coming in a close second are the kitsune udon (a soupy thick noodle meal that is blanketed by fried sweet tofu) and hakozushi (sushi prepared in a bamboo box). If you’re feeling a little bold, try some tessa, sashimi made from fugu (poisonous globefish) – certified chefs skilfully extract the poison, leaving just enough to numb your lips. Make sure you also try takoyaki (baby octopus dumplings), the best streetfood in Osaka.

> See some sharks

Pay a visit to the majestic whale sharks at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the world’s largest public aquariums. Situated in Tempozan Harbor Village, it is one of the more popular attractions in Osaka, up there with Universal Studios Japan. Allocate around two hours to walk about the aquarium, which was designed in a way that visitors can feel at home with the sea creatures.

Holiday Ideas

There is no place quite like Japan – you need to use all your senses to truly experience the country. From the neon night scape of its cities to the serene sanctuary of its shrines and gardens, many travelers are mesmerized by this incredible country. Here’s a few of our ideas for other things to do in Japan.

  • Packed with neon-lit utopian structures, Tokyo is one of those cities that needs to be seen to be believed. It is a city that continually reinvents itself with outrageous concept cafes and the current pop culture craze, while preserving its shogun traditions such as sumo tournaments and Kabuki performances.
  • For a more subdued holiday, head to Kyoto (pictured above) – a soothing cure to Japan’s bustling capital. It is lined with ancient temples and shrines, tea ceremony masters, traditional ryokan inns and centuries-old lineage of craftsmen. While it prides itself on preserving Japanese traditions, Kyoto is just as modern as Japan with a flourishing technology industry and many universities.
  • For those who loves the outdoors, head over to Hokkaido to enjoy the autumn leaves as you hike in the mountains. The orange, yellow and red tapestry provides for some amazing scenery. The best can be found in the Daisetsuzan and Shiretoko National Parks
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About the Author ()

Andrew Balfour is the Founder and Editor of F1Destinations.com. He originally hails from Adelaide, where he went to his first F1 race way back in 1987. He's been resident in Europe for almost 15 years and travels regularly to F1 races around the world.

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