Richard StevensJapan, Drift, Touge

Finding the Missing Touge

Richard StevensJapan, Drift, Touge
Finding the Missing Touge

If you're not familiar with the term, a touge is basically a mountain pass in Japan that drifters and grippers would meet at for some spirited driving (think Initial-D). Back in the day tracks like Hadashi Tengoku didn't exist so most of the drifting and gripping happened up in the mountains, and a number of togue runs became quite famous. In the Iwakuni area there were two great spots, the first was Matsuo (this blogs namesake) and the other was Daniwa.

Over the years I've talked to friends still living in the area and while they all know Matsuo and how to get there, no one seems to remember Daniwa or where it was. It has always bothered me that Daniwa fell off the map and I've been determined to find it for the second time... 

Back in the late 90s, my friends and I had a habit of driving up into the mountains to look for new touge runs. It was a Saturday night and we found ourselves in Otake-city between Hiroshima and Iwakuni.  This was before Google Maps so finding spots took a bit of intuition and a lot of luck. That night we ended up on Route 42, which I'd been up plenty of times and new there were some good candidates splitting off of it. After a good ten minutes driving down that valley road we spotted the a sign the sign.

The sign said 7km to Daniwa, and looking up the road we saw zero contruction. 7 kilometers of empty mountain road to seemingly nowhere definitely piqued our interest.

I borrowed this picture from Google Street View so you can get a better idea of what the road up looked like. Roads to nowhere like this are prime candidates for touge runs so we were pretty excited to check it out.

After about 5 minutes of driving we started seeing tire marks on the road, and when we saw this wall we knew we had struck gold. It was dusk, but we could clearly see people sitting on the ledge and cars lined up next to the rail. After making sure no one was coming down we drove around to the top.

The wall looked down over a smooth S with a nice rise in elevation. The road was plenty wide enough for sideways action as well. When we got to the top we parked behind a row of about a dozen cars made up of S13s, 180SXs and Hachis. 

The money shot. Being newcomers to the spot we spent the night chatting with the drivers and watching the action. If I recall correctly we ended up coming out some weekday night shortly after and getting a handle on the run before the next Saturday night when we joined in on the action.

On my most recent trip to Japan I was determined to find Daniwa again and was thrilled to see it hadn't fallen victim to urban sprawl or complete decay. The only issue I saw was a handful of cats eyes running down the center of the road, but I wouldn't be surprised if those ended up being removed soon...

Unfortunately, I wasn't behind the wheel of a sports car at the time, but I'm sure I'll get to drive it again. Despite not getting to drive I was happy to be able to get these pictures and the quick trip down memory lane.