The trees haven't yet shed their coat of richly auburn autumn leaves; only the chill, when you step out of the low sun's glare, reminds you that winter holds this hemisphere in its grip. Motegi may not be the most remote race circuit in the world - that honour probably rests elsewhere in Japan, atop the extinct volcano wherein nests Autopolis - but it's admirably bucolic, being a 100-mile schlep from the heart of Tokyo and buried within dense woodland. Next to this, even majestic Spa-Francorchamps seems positively suburban.
For gaijin such as we, reaching Motegi is an adventure in itself: the bullet train from Tokyo kicks off at the nearest city, Utsunomiya, a 90-minute bus ride away (when they're running, and if you can get on the right one). Car it is, then, and F1 Racing's wheels for the weekend - a cuboid Mazda 'Flair Wagon' hustled along by an enthusiastic 660cc triple - couldn't be more Japanese. Arriving well after dark, we're only aware of the terrain's gradual incline over the last 20 miles thanks to the screech-signalling of that industrious engine and its rubber-band CVT gearbox. The vista next morning of this unusual two-circuits-in-one is truly extraordinary.
Jenson Button has been starring at Honda's annual Thanks Day for more than a decade and he's still one of the biggest draws in a show that this year also boasts McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly (here on account of racing for Honda in Super Formula, Japan's biggest domestic single-seater series), Honda-powered Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato and MotoGP riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, along with a host of Honda-affiliated domestic riders and drivers.