Suzuka Circuit is about 1 hour from Nagoya by express train. It is pretty close and for the most part, you will more than likely want to stay in Nagoya. Personally, having visited Nagoya a couple times, I wouldn’t recommend staying there, specifically for the F1 event. Most of the F1 teams will not stay in Nagoya; rather most of the foreign fans will be staying there. Most of the teams have learned their lesson and while most of the drivers will be staying in various hotels pretty close to the circuit, most of the teams will be staying in the surrounding cities. Knowing where to stay is probably the most important way to keep your sanity and make the most efficient use of your time. Nagoya is best if you want to do a lot of sightseeing and eat some good food at night, but several closer cities are just as attractive and offer greater convenience, although they lack tourist opportunities.
After visiting Suzuka for the second time in 2013, I learned that Tsu is probably the best city to stay in for any race at Suzuka Circuit. Tsu is famed as the shortest pronounced name of a city in the world. While Wales may have the longest, Japan has the shortest. Tsu is located roughly 20 minutes from Suzuka Circuit Inou Station. It is actually a lot faster if you use the express trains during the various events. Tsu has a few hotels but they book up very quickly. I was lucky to get a room at the Hotel Green Park which is next to the station. It is the perfect spot for anyone going to and from the circuit as the station is right there and the hotel is pretty new. While a lot of hotels are located right at the station, there are a few that are located a short bus ride away. Within 5 minutes, you can reach the second centre of the city where you can get to a few other hotels, closer to Tsu Castle. While the city is very convenient for the circuit, there really isn’t much happening there. I was on the east side of the station and to the south east of the station, there are a few places to eat. There are only a couple convenience stores and they aren’t all located close to each other. Tsu isn’t bad but I have stayed in better equipped small cities, however I still think it is the best city to stay in when going to any event at Suzuka Circuit.
The next most convenient city would be Yokaichi. It is basically north from Suzuka Circuit Inou Station and the opposite way away from the station compared to Tsu, which is to the south. It is about 20 minutes away but unfortunately, I haven’t stayed there. The positive point about Yokaichi is that it looks to be a bigger city than Tsu. It is definitely more famous as many people have heard about it but I would say it is more of an industrial town than anything else. I would like to stay there and see what it is like but to be very frank and honest, I will probably avoid staying there for one major reason; it is on the way to Nagoya. Heading north from Suzuka is much worse than heading south as everyone is heading north to Nagoya. It is hard to justify staying in Yokaichi if you can find a hotel in Tsu because they are the same distance away but the trains are significantly less crowded heading to and from Tsu.
Another option for people is to head further south of Tsu to Matsusaka. Located about 45 minutes south of Suzuka Circuit Inou Station, you can probably find more hotels there than heading north towards Nagoya. Most people want to stay somewhere convenient so that they can leave their bags and not worry about bringing them to the circuit. I would rather save my sanity and head south and carry my bag with me all day to the circuit. Matsusaka is pretty famous in Japan as it is famed for its beef. Matsusaka beef is known to be better than Kobe beef in Japan, but to be honest, I didn’t get a chance to stay in Matsusaka and I didn’t try the beef yet. Beef in Japan is pretty famous all over, but Matsusaka is one of the top 3, if not the best for wagyu. For that alone I’d give Matsusaka a try if there were no rooms in Tsu. I would even prefer Matsusaka over Yokaichi, even though it is farther, because the train ride is much more relaxing. While Matsusaka is 45 minutes south of Suzuka Circuit Inou Station, during the race weekend, there are special express trains that cut that down in half and don’t require you to change trains.
The fourth option, for any racing nut, would be Kuwana. Located on the border of Mie Prefecture, and Aichi Prefecture, Kuwana is a lovely suburb of Nagoya. It is about an hour north of Suzuka Circuit Inou Station and on the express train as well. It is right between Yokaichi and Nagoya on the express trains. The city is pretty boring if you ask me with almost nothing interesting. The station itself is pretty boring too. There are a few old buildings and shops and a few new interesting shops to eat in. I found it interesting to walk around the station for just 10 minutes looking for places to eat but other than that there really isn’t anything to do. After a long day at the race, you don’t often want to do anything, so a nice break at your hotel is just what is needed. I had the perfect time there but it would be fourth on my list of places to stay during the race weekend or any other race event at Suzuka. Similar to staying in Yokaichi, the trains are often very crowded on the way to Kuwana and being so close to Nagoya, the trains are equally packed on the way into the circuit as well. Thankfully, the extra 15-20 minutes you get is a huge relief and a huge gain on your sanity.
Lastly, I can’t forget to mention Nagoya. It is just an hour away from Suzuka Circuit Inou Station and a major city in Japan. There are dozens of hotels to choose from and a lot happening in the city. While the best place to be for night life is Sakae Station, just a few stations on the subway away, the central Nagoya Station isn’t bad either. There are a lot of places to eat and a big department store. It makes choosing your food easy and difficult at the same time. You can go anywhere, but the choices are tremendous. There are lots of great local dishes you can try but by the time you do get to Nagoya, you will be pretty tired and the hustle and bustle of the big city may not be what the doctor ordered after hearing the noises of the race machines. For a tourist, it is a great place to be as you can see a lot, but honestly, you’ll be so tired anyways that you won’t be doing much. Save yourself the headache and stress, as well as money, and stay as close to the circuit as you can.
There are other places to stay if you are going to watch an event at Suzuka Circuit but these are the top 5 places that people will choose. I will definitely try to stay in Tsu again if I decide to visit the circuit again but I will also highly consider going to Matsusaka as well. Yokaichi is a great place, from what I hear, but the trains are pretty crowded. Kuwana and Nagoya are good if you need a place to go and the others are booked. In the end, it doesn’t matter too much where you stay, and if you can stay closer to the circuit itself, even better.