Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most famous attractions and in its shadow is a mecca for Japanese car enthusiasts - the revered Fuji Speedway.
Every year since 1997, Fuji Speedway has been the venue for a weekend of motorsport and paddock action like no other - the Nismo Festival - an event that every Nissan fan should endeavour to get to at least once.
Showing the truly inclusive nature of Japanese car culture, the facility is actually owned by Toyota.
The Nismo Festival runs over a full weekend in November and is an event that aims to allow fans to access the racing heart of Nissan, the Japanese brand’s heritage in both motorsport and passenger cars, and tuning arm Nismo’s commitment to both.
The festival is a mass gathering of all things Nismo, as you'd expect, but most major Japanese tuning houses are there displaying their wares too. OS Giken, Tomei, Bride, Fujitsubo, Endless, Project Mu, HKS, Yokohama and Rays all have their latest modification parts on display.
It’s an array of everything Nissan fans hold dear.
While the SR20DET and RB26DETT are the engines most revered in the Nissan catalogue, there’s also a stockpile of parts to modify the tough-as-nails FJ20 and RB25DET engines, not to mention older classic engines as well, in the form of Weber manifolds and multi-carb setups.
There’s a vendor selling V8 Supercar-style Racepack data logging dashboards for your hardcore Nissan as well.
The on-track action through the course of the two days is impressive. It’s a gathering of Nissan race cars old and new, unlike anywhere else in the world.
The Super GT (what used to be JGTC) teams are all in attendance, along with a pit lane full of classic Nissan race cars from the Group A era, Le Mans efforts and various Japanese domestic racing series.
A favourite among the fans is the vintage section of the pits where Datsun 510 Coupes share space with original Skyline GT-Rs and rare Datsun 1000 Coupes. We spot a few modified Z cars and 240k Coupes as well.
DR30 and DR31 Skylines are also well represented and there are surprisingly few S13/S14/S15 variants on show. The GT-R - in all guises from R32 up - is definitely the Nissan star.
V8 Supercar driver Michael Caruso is a guest of Nissan Australia and travels with us to the festival. He’s here to drive the Bathurst 12-Hour winning GT-R GT3 race car around the track for some hot laps. “It’s fast and it’s an impressive circuit,” he tells CarAdvice.
“It’s not hard to understand why Japanese people are so crazy about racing and race cars with access to a facility like this.”
The circuit itself is beautifully designed, and rolls through the foothills of Mount Fuji. There is a significant change in elevation and the facility is up to F1 standard. Like the pit area, the carparks are a mass of tuned Nissans of all varieties.
There’s something for everyone, whether you love the obvious hero cars like GT-R, or more obscure Kei cars, vans and compact hatchbacks.
The way Japanese people support motorsport is a sight to behold. Super GT drivers are genuine superstars and are engaged all weekend in autograph signings and photo taking when they’re not on track hammering around in their race cars.
It’s post season and time to let their hair down and enjoy themselves for a change, and you can tell they are keen to sell the Nismo dream.
There’s no doubt that the Nismo Festival is an event every Nissan fan in Australia should try to get to at least once. It’s the only place you'll see so many Nissan vehicles with genuine race heritage in one place.
It’s accessible, too, and you can get up close with both the cars and the stars who drive them.
It’s an event unlike anything we see in Australia. Maybe some of the manufacturers should look into holding their own version down under...
Click the photos tab above for more shots from the Nismo Festival and the companion Nissan 360 event.
Have you been to the Nismo Festival? Tell us about the experience in the comments below.