The word ‘touge’ invokes a flood of emotions and ideas for motor enthusiasts all over the world. Small, narrow roads sometimes not even wide enough for one vehicle to pass through snake their way all through the vast mountain sides that Japan has to offer. We’ve all seen the videos of tuning shops taking their demo cars and chasing each other in downhill battles at breakneck speeds (on close roads of course) to prove which one had the superior build.
We have seen the videos of street drifters starting from the top of a touge and having tandem battles all while making their way to the bottom in a series of continuous drift. Of course, how could we forget about Initial D, the manga series that focuses on illegal Japanese street racing in the form of uphill and downhill battles on these mountain passes.
The amalgamation of all these factors have caused us to dream scenarios on how we would attack these magical touges that Japan is blessed with. What car would we use as our weapon? What style would we focus on – drift or grip? Which touge would we go after first? The list goes on.
However there are a few massive obstacles stopping most of us from living out these dreams – the obvious one being you probably don’t live in Japan followed by owning a car. Ok, sure you could get a car from a regular rental agency but driving on a touge in a k-car van is no fun at all – trust me, I’ve done it quite often.
No, what you need is to get your hands on something with a little bit more power. Better Handling. Better overall everything. Now if only there was some type of services that would help solve this dilemma….
Here’s the part where I tell you about Fun2Drive
A while back, a fan of Tokyo Tuner once reached out to me and had asked if I knew anything about a service called Fun 2 Drive. Truth be told it was the first time ever hearing the name so I asked him to tell me more about this company. After sometime with Google Sensei, I found myself contacting Chikara-San, owner of Fun 2 Drive and scheduling a date where I could stop by the shop and join him on a tour while we discussed “other business” which you will all know about in due time.
Chikara-San is an enthusiasts that bought a R35 as his weapon of choice for attacking the touge as his hobby, however he quickly found himself only being able to go out maybe twice a month. The other times, his R35 sat idle waiting for their next spirited drive. Feeling this was a waste of a GTR, Chikara-San thought there had to be a way he could share the experience of attacking a touge in a monster such as his R35 with others so that the car could be in constant use. With that thought in mind, he focused his attention on sharing his hobby with the rest of the world.
Fun 2 Drive puts enthusiasts behind the wheel of not only some of the most iconic cars from the Initial D series such as Takumi Fujiwara’s 86, Keisuke Takahashi’s FD, Rin (Shinigami) Hojo’s GTR.
But also a variety of other cars such as Kenmeri, Hakosuka, and a NSX.
There are well over 10 cars to choose from varying in prices.
Before arriving, drivers can select 3 different types of tours – Short Term Cruising at the Foot of Mt. Fuji, Medium Term Intensive Driving, or Cruising and Intensive Driving. Take a wild guess which one I was going on.
If you are 26 and older, you can rent the car and drive by yourself. Upon arriving at the shop, drivers inspect their cars and learn the ends ands outs of them with the staff before attending the safety briefing.
In the briefing, Chikara-San and Yoshi-San discussed the roads that they will be driving on, the correct side of the road, basic signs to pay attention to, car ordering, and what to do in case you hit something.
After the briefing, everyone hopped into their respective cars while I joined Chikara-San upfront in the pace car. With everyone in formation – those who would like to drive ‘more aggressive’ were up closer to us in the pace car to those who would like to cruise the roads were further in the back of the convoy.
We would stop at a variety of staging points at the entrance of the touges that were actually used in Initial D, and get mentally prepared for what was about to happen next – me included.
It wasn’t more than 300m on the first touge before Chikara-San grabbed his microphone and with a smile says ‘let’s enjoy the cars and the road shall we?’ while dropping down 2 gears. The next thing I knew we were fully enjoying the cars and the roads.
Chikara-San constantly reporting on coming dangers such as bikers and cars, ditches to watch out for and general information about the touge. It was rather amazing how well he multi tasked driving and making sure everyone was safely enjoying the experience.
At the end of a run, we would pull over at a viewing area to let the cars cool down and make sure everyone was enjoying themselves.
Chikara-San and Yoshi-San would also explain about the local scenery, and discuss the next touge that we would be attacking.
As you can see , the local tend to do donuts here (no we didn’t do it)
Before advancing to the next stage, everyone is responsible for paying for their tolls which varies from 200円 to 800円.
A very small price to pay when we are talking about an experience such as this!
Hakone Turnpike, now known as Mazda Turnpike, is one of the more famous mountain passes near the Tokyo area that brings motor enthusiasts from all over to test their skills on a grueling uphill and downhill battle.
It’s not often people see such a collection of cars in one spot and even though it was a Wednesday, the convoy caused quite a stir among the other motor enthusiasts that ventured to the top of the turnpike.
After having lunch in the sky lounge, it was time for the downhill drive.
For an added experience to the drivers tour, Yoshi-San and myself headed down the hill first in the pace car and got setup to take pictures of the drivers coming down in the convoy.
And what a convoy it was!
After the last car had drove past us and disappeared around the corner, we hopped back into the pace car and met up with the convoy just outside the toll gate of Mazda Turnpike. There we let the cars tick down and made preparations to move on to the next togue.
I absolutely love the NSX and will have one in my garage (one day), but this Kenmeri with the overfenders and Watanabe wheels will always be a beautiful combination! Oh, and I’m still a sucker for fender mirrors ^__^
The 2.0 GT-B E Tune II Touring Wagon made for one hell of a pace car. The AWD would dig out of corners and the boost came on progressively. Also, being a wagon meant we had plenty of space to carry tools and supplies on our trip. The ultimate pace car!
So the hard choice – The GTR or NSX?
Adam somewhat posing for the camera.
With night quickly approaching, we started to make our way back to Fun 2 Drive’s shop. There I was able to ask the drivers how they felt about the Fun 2 Drive experience and if they would do it again. A sign of a successful business is how many repeat customers you can get.
Everyone quickly told me that they absolutely loved the experience and that they were already trying to figure out how they could do it again as soon as possible. I mean, even though I was riding shotgun with Chikara-San, I had the time of my life and can only imagine what it would have been like to drive- for now at least. The overall experience was that good.
If you fall in the category that I mentioned before about not living in Japan and having a car here, then Fun 2 Drive is an absolute must! Car events and hidden underground car meets are great, but nothing can compare to the experience of taking a car and driving on a variety of touges for a spirited drive. Even if you so choose to just cruise around on the touges, it’s well worth it.
So do yourself a favor and head to Fun2Drive and make your reservations now!
Oh, tell them Tokyo Tuner sent you