Around 1994, I taught a course out at the Nissan Higashi-Murayama car factory pictured above. It was the factory where they made the March, the Skyline, the Cefiro and I think one other model. As part of the restructuring the company went through, they closed this factory, and when I last visited the area (in 2007), all traces of the factory were gone, and there was a large shopping mall on one end of the land, with the rest of it being cleared and leveled, probably for residential development. The security fences around the perimeter were all that was left.
I took both of these photos during an open house they used to have once a year, when the general public could come in and see part of the factory, buy food at outdoor stalls, etc. They had some sort of contest, with the winners getting a ride on the high speed oval test track. I was lucky to not only get to ride the small bus that went out on it, but also to be taken for a few 180kph laps in a car (right photo).
It was an interesting sensation zooming around the banked curves, because after a lifetime of high-speed curves having pushed me towards the outside of the curve with the kinetic energy generated by the speed, this was the first time I was in a curve and (thanks to the steep banking) pressure was mostly straight down, and not to the side. Every time I look at that image taken out on the track at 180kph, I remember the experience and then dream of having a few hours alone on that track in a fast car to zoom around in. (Of course I would also need a time machine now to do that.)
Incidentally, the car I was taken out on would have been capable of something like 260kph, but it had a speed limiter that cut engine power at 180kph, so the driver just pegged the throttle and let it run up against the speed limiter. He also took me on their test track that consisted of several different road surfaces - simulating various roads in the world; brick, potholes, patches, various rough surfaces - and in the middle of the test area was a parking lot with cars from other manufacturers, so they could test how their rivals' cars handled the same road conditions.
Being a test driver there would have been a really great job I think... nearly every overgrown kid's dream come true.
Copyright 1994 & 2005 - Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass, Tokyo