The rattle of tiny plastic wheels echoed through the normally sleepy streets of Hanyu on Sunday morning as the small played host to the latest installment of Japan’s office chair 'Isu' grand prix.

Founded ten years ago and inspired by Formula One and Le Mans endurance racing, the race sees teams of three battle it out on ordinary office furniture across two gruelling hours to see who can complete the most laps of the 200m course.

Propelling the chair backwards was the universal tactic employed by the racers in Hanyu, a small city 60km north of Tokyo.


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The three team members rotated during the race Le Mans-style, to try and stay fresh, but in the dense summer humidity, it proved a tough battle for even the most experienced racers.

The series, which started with a race in Kyoto in 2009, was the brainchild of Tsuyoshi Tahara, and will feature at ten different grand prix events across Japan this year.

Tahara's idea has proved surprisingly popular, with 55 teams entering the Hanyu Grand Prix alone, coming from as far away as Wakayama, 600km to the south.

The winning team, Kitsugawa Unyu, come from Kyoto, and had travelled several hours with their chairs for the race.

Their reward was retaining the title they won last year and a prize of 90kg of local rice, which the "drivers" struggled to pick up such was their fatigue.

The endurance test took its toll on the participants, but spirits remained high as tired bodies staggered away from the event.

The next Isu Grand Prix takes place in Iwate next month.