Kobayashi held off the charge of Jenson Button to finish in the top three for the first time in his career.
"I’ve always felt that if you ever want to look back and regard yourself as a Formula One driver, you have to have been on the podium at least once", he said. "Without such a photo it’s a bit as if you had never been there. So it means a lot to me".
"Last night there was a party with fans in Suzuka, and this morning I went straight back to Suzuka circuit because there was another event organised with more than 5,000 fans. In every respect it was a very intense weekend. I had a lot of confidence before we came to Japan, but then on Friday we were slower than expected, which was a bit worrying. Then qualifying went well, except I lost time due to a yellow flag, and the race was close until the very end".
Kobayashi also expressed his gratitude to the Japanese fans, who chanted his name before his took to the podium.
"It was a fantastic feeling to see all the people in my home country so emotional and happy. It gave me such a lot and I will never forget that moment. I want to thank the Japanese fans for the great support they gave to the Sauber F1 Team and to myself".
Kobayashi now thinks Sauber can overhaul Mercedes in the championship.
"I instantly relaxed when all the pressure came off. Without doubt it was a very important race for me in my career. And I felt: yes, now we will be having more strong races and really go for 5th place in the constructors’ championship".