Over the past five years, I have spent most of my time racing in Asia. What many people might not know is how different China is to Japan.
In China, there are many bathrooms that still are simply a hole in the ground with very dirty surroundings.
Yet in Japan, you need your MBA in Toilet Engineering to understand how to even flush (believe it or not, there is even a deluxe version that has heating and cooling features).
In China, there are small food vendors set up where you get fuel off the highway (no Tim Hortons).
In Japan, they have vending machines that will provide delicious fresh sushi and other hot dishes as well. It might sound like I am poking fun at this but the food is better than traditional fast food or airplane food.
In China, they had the Shanghai MotoGP several years ago and still have some FIM ASIA races as well as the new Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup in 2014, which is a new series introduced by MotoGP. I would say, China is still an up and coming country in terms of racing in general. Plenty of high profile car and motorbike racers have raced and continue to race in China but it still has not had any Chinese born riders compete in World Superbike or MotoGP’s premier class. It’s coming…
In Japan, there are endless examples of world class riders that are Japanese born. Also, with Motegi part of the MotoGP calendar, Suzuka holding one of the most recognized events in the world each July with the Eight-Hour, and other world class tracks like Sugo, it has long been a country entrenched in world class racing. (I am lucky enough to participate in both countries!)
I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Just because China and Japan are geographical neighbors, doesn’t make them friends or mean they share similarities with regards to people, culture, or racing.
I really enjoy spending time in both places. I love the fresh fish that you will find in all corners of Japan, the precision with which they do pretty much everything, and how seriously they take racing. Also, the competition in Japan is fierce.
That being said, I love the fact that China is still for the most part unaware of how powerful it has become as a country. Certainly the Government and top economists and business people are aware, but the billion and a half people that live inside China are still very much unaware of their global power and still live with traditions dating back hundreds of years. Day-to-day life is slow to adopt new technologies as many of these things are still controlled tightly by the Government. I still can’t read my favourite magazine IM online when in China because the Internet connection blocks most foreign press inside the country. Luckily I just renewed my print copy for 2014!