F1 2023 Insider's Guide No. 17 – Japan

21 Sep 23

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F1 2023 Insider's Guide No. 17 – Japan

The Japanese Grand Prix is always an exciting occasion. And what could be better than exploring this dynamic and historic country after the race.

Japan’s ancient traditions mix effortlessly with high-tech futurism and visitors love to indulge in both. One of Japan’s greatest traditions is that of the samurai and the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One® Team is celebrating the ‘Spirit of the Samurai’ while they are in the land of the rising sun. Inspired by AMF1 Team driver Fernando Alonso, who has a keen interest in samurai culture and adopted many of their teachings – he even has a tattoo of a samurai on his back – the team has embraced the indomitable spirit of Japan’s ancient feudal samurai warriors, displaying courage, discipline and boundless energy on their journey to becoming World Championship contenders.

Keen to discover a surprisingly subtropical side to Japan?

OkinawaJapan’s subtropical island chain, Okinawa, is the ideal place to get away from the hustle of much of Japan. Warm weather and clear seas attract visitors who want to learn about the unique culture and traditions of the islands, which have a distinctly Polynesian flavour. Incredible natural landscapes, brilliant beaches, upmarket hotels and surf dudes all come together in this unique land far from the mainland of Japan.

How can you get back to nature?

Mount Fuji and Shizuoka ProvinceShizuoka Province is the place where you go if you want to get to know the different sides of the real Japan. Step outside of Tokyo and see cities like Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, which display typical traits of Japanese cities away from the tourists. On the coast, explore Atami. And the icing on the cake – Mount Fuji. Japan’s greatest natural set piece, this mountain has attracted sightseers for centuries, with its perfect snow-capped peak. There are so many walks and forests in this region.

Where can you do some glamping in a beautiful setting?

Glamping Villa HanzSet around a glorious green campground, this glamping resort comprises traditional white-walled Japanese cabins and high spec glamping accommodation. There are fires, BBQs, and plenty of chances to get back to nature – nearby walks, lakes and fishing and bird watching spots will allow you to wind down. Tokyo citizens love to come here to chill out.

How can you experience Japan's art islands?

NaoshimaJapan’s Art Islands have become known globally for the proliferation of outdoor sculpture on the tiny cluster of islands, and the art galleries showing international work, like that of David Hockney. Yayoi Kusama’s giant yellow pumpkin on the pier jutting out into the water on Naoshima Island is a famous symbol of this new cultural ecosystem. There’s also the Benesse House art museum and boutique hotel designed by Tadao Ando. He also designed the Chichu Art Museum, another must-see.

How can you hang out with the cool crowd?

Trunk restaurant, bar, roomsTrunk is the epicentre of Tokyo’s hipster scene, where fashion photo shoots happen in the morning and ad agency lunches give way to PR dinners and evening design events. Live music, DJs and the buzzing bars keep things jumping until the early hours. Foreign correspondents, travel writers, influencers, touring musicians and expat actors doing Suntori commercials stop in to eat here in the restaurants and stay in the bedrooms. If the Park Hyatt was the coolest place in the Lost In Translation era then Trunk (which now has several different locations) is the place to be seen today.

Where can you stay in style in Tokyo?

WestinTokyo’s many attractions like the Meguro River Cherry Blossom Promenade, the Teien Metropolitan Art Museum, the Team Lab immersive digital gallery, the famous T-Site book store and the Samurai Museum are all easily accessed from The Westin. Newly refurbished, this tall tower offers sumptuous suites, stirring views and all the modcons you could want. Its restaurant is well regarded and it’s truly a comfortable place to stay in a full-on city.

How can you relish Japan's metabolist megastructures?

Tokyo CathedralJapan’s post-war modern architecture is the stuff of legend. The site of the Osaka World Expo is now a park and the Tower of The Sun from 1970 still stands as a monument to this progressive and thrilling brand of building. In Tokyo Kenzo Tange’s brutalist Tokyo Cathedral has an unbelievable raw concrete interior. His stadia for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics are also concrete wonders. The Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza was pointlessly demolished last year, but a couple of dozen of the ‘capsules’ have been saved and are being moved into position at museums around Japan where you’ll be able to experience this 70s visions of future living once more.

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