A friend's birthday celebration provided the occasion to put the pedal down and let loose for some go-kart action… at Circuit Azumino (about an hour or so outside of Hakuba, or on your way up from Matsumoto). The competition was fierce, there can be no doubt… I have to say I'm not entirely satisfied with my 7th place showing, but what can you do… not all of us are cut out to be speed demons.
Great fun though, and they really do it up right. The cars are powerful enough that you get a real feel of the g-force when cornering. On the straights, you may feel the desire for a little more oomph, but soon enough you're into a turn again.
We paid 9,000 yen each for a solid half days outing and left genuinely feeling we had gotten our moneys worth. You get a chance to go through a warm up circuit (5 laps??), a number of qualifying time trials (10 laps each??), and then down through various semi-final heats to the championship race. By the end, these somewhat old bones, not used to all the g force had had enough to be certain.
The champions were saluted with a podium presentation, complete with bottles of sparkling wine.
There are various options and pricing plans depending on how long you want to be there, whether you have a proper license or not (go-kart license that is), and there is a chance to rent the entire circuit out for your party if you so desire. Will certainly go back again… hopefully all the way to the podium next time.