Sonia Ito has been actively involved in the motorsports world not only at Suzuka Circuit but all around Japan and overseas for many years. Here Sonia gives her comments not only on her experiences as an interpreter but also at Suzuka Circuit.
Sonia Ito has been in Japan since the age of 13. She speaks fluent Portuguese, English, Japanese and Spanish. Sonia double majored in Anthropology and Archaeology from Nanzan University in Japan and the University or Western Australia. Besides her over 30 years of working experience as an interpreter for motorsports and businesses world widely, Sonia has also had numerous radio shows and featured in many TV cultural and new programs throughout Japan. Thanks to the vast variety of professional experience Sonia also dedicates her life to coaching professionals from all fields through her Dream Life Training Program. Sonia’s busy and exciting professional life still allows her to pursue her passion and enjoy a very active windsurfing and SUP surfing life in Japan.
When I was a kid, my friends (mainly boys) and I used to play with old broken engines trying to reconstruct old cars etc. above all we had a lot of fun! Motorsports was very popular in Portugal at the time, in particular F1 and rally. I had posters of John Player Special and other racing machines on my room walls.
Then I grew up and forgot all about it. Instead I was deeply interested in different cultures, languages and communication. One day when I was already living in Japan and while majoring in Anthropology at the local University my school friend asked me if I would be interested in joining her in a part time job involving interpretation (since I speak several languages) at Suzuka Circuit. I happily accepted. And this ended up becoming my very first step to my present career as a professional interpreter for motor racing internationally now for more than 25 years.
Suzuka Circuit has always been very distinctive from any other track in Japan and overseas. It is situated in the middle of Suzuka city very easily accessible by train as well as of course by car which makes life very easy for everyone – spectators, teams, drivers, staff, etc. Besides, the Circuit entire complex includes not only the racing track with its daily activities but it also hosts a theme park with hundreds of attractions including amusement rides, motorsports museum, first class swimming pool, shops, shows, restaurants, a natural spring spa, luxurious hotel, etc. where both adults and children can enjoy fully. Therefore when you come to the track to watch a race you not only enjoy the race but there is enough entertainment for the entire family. And of course race enthusiasts have the wonderful advantage of meeting many of their racing idols personally within the facilities.
I strongly recommend not only the spectacular F1 race of course but also amazing championships such as the national Super Formula which races with top class amazing machines here 2 times a year – very exciting battles by top racers from all over the world including several ex F1 drivers. Also one of summer’s main events is the 1000km SUPER GT race held during the hot Japanese summer with super racing machines by the world’s top and main manufactures is another very exciting and enjoyable race. And of course the Japan traditional 8 Hour Endurance bike race (HACHITAI) where all top rides would love to race and of course many more domestic and international series that include the Suzuka Circuit in their annual race calendar. The many years I have worked with drivers and riders from all over the world, I have noticed that their comments are identical. It is an honor to race at such an exciting track – the best racing track in the world - for its speed and unique layout with very high technical characteristics. So just imagine the excitement of watching a race comfortably seated in one of the grand stands seats right in front of all the action. The first event work at annually at Suzuka Circuit is the Fan Thanks Day held in March where the fans have the chance to closely meet many of the racing legends from all over the world that are invited by the circuit to join the celebrations. Later I commute to Suzuka approximately 10 weekends or more, to interpret for the drivers and the organizations during the many international and national races along the year. For me it is a great honor and every time a great learning opportunity to work closely with hundreds of top athletes and entrepreneurs from around the world.
Yes, besides the racing track there is so much to enjoy that I often take time and stay over a couple of days after the races.
I personally enjoy a relaxed day at the amusement theme park sometimes with friends or family – exciting rides, delicious local foods, shopping, etc. and in the evening at the Suzuka Circuit Hotel the top gourmet foods, great natural thermal Spa, relaxing massage and an evening romantic walk amongst the light-up hotel park after a drink and a chat at the posh bar.
My comment to anyone that plans to visit Suzuka for the first time is that you will definitely have a very good time!! Although many local people may not be fluent in English or other foreign languages most people understand a little and everyone is so kind that they literally go out of their way to help a visitor if you ask. I would also love to remind all that in the Suzuka area that are also lots of nature points, amazing scenic views and fabulous cultural spots to visit. So come over with enough time for exploring!! And if you learn a couple of Japanese words it will make your journey even more exciting!!
Sonia, thank you very much for your detailed comments, we wish you a continuous prosperous motorsports interpreting career.