Visit Truck and Bus Museum of Hino Auto Plaza

-Explore to the Hino’s commercial vehicles and their technology

Hino Auto- logo x01.JPG      Hino Motors, along with Isuzu Motors, is one of the leading Hino Auto- overview x01.JPGcommercial vehicle manufacturers in Japan. And it now holds a large market share in the truck and bus sector in the world.  This Hino has opened the Hino Auto Plaza (Kodaira City, Tokyo) in Hino Auto- overview x02.JPG1997 as a specialized museum for exhibition of trucks and buses. I visited there in August with having some concern. The museum tries to show the company’s business and technology development in the exhibition with looking back the Hino’s 100-year history which has producing various historic trucks and buses.

<Outline of Exhibition>

Hino Auto- illudt x05.JPG     There the variety exhibits of Hino’s vehicles of Hino are available, Hino Auto- truck x05like renowned memorial trucks, buses, and passenger cars, in the real figures of automobile and scale models, in which the company’s business development and foundation of technology are reflected. Especially the corridor’s exhibition in the main hall is outstanding. Particular interest is rare exhibit of Japan’s first truck “TGE-A” (1917), in addition to the domestically developed aircraft model, bonnet-type buses, passenger Hino Auto- overview x04.JPGcar Contessa, tricycle “Hustler”, and Dakar Rally winning vehicles. These are evidence how Hino was actively involved in producing various automobiles and developed their technology. In the special corner, even Hino’s aircraft engines in the early 1930s are displayed.   It seemed to be a precious museum to know the development of the Japanese automobile industry, particularly in the field of commercial vehicles.

♣  The early days of Hino Motors seen in the exhibition

Hino Auto- person x02     During this visit, I can noticed for the first time that Hino Motors had been initially engaging in the simple ignition device of the “Gas lamp” that had first appeared as a symbol of the civilization in the early Meiji period. Hino Auto- truck x06.JPGThe founder was Matsukata Goro, a fifth son of Matsukata Masayoshi, a famous politician in the Meiji period. who .The company had transformed later and set up “Tokyo Gas Electric Industry (TGE)” in 1910 as the first mechanical manufacturing company. While doing so, in 1918, the Japan’s military agency in Meiji offered the company to develop a military truck vehicle, named “TGE-A”, then Hino had utilized this opportunity and its automobile business started. At the company Hino Auto- truck x07.JPGhistory room in the museum, this foundation story is clearly explained and the reproduction model of this TGE truck are proudly on display at the entrance hall.  Meanwhile, the company TGE increased its production capacity in the military truck sector while continuously expanding its gas businesses and electric appliances. But, In the 1930s, the Hino Auto- truck x08.JPGautomobile division became independent from TGE, and later, it merged with other automobile companies in 1941 and named “Diesel Automobile Industry” during war time.  So and so afterwar, the company name was changed to “Hino Heavy Industries” (1942), and it finally became the current “Hino Motor Industry” in 1946 after the World War II.

Hino Auto- person x01.JPGThe whole period from the TGE to Hino Heavy Industries, Hino’s technology was said to be consistently led by a mechanical engineer Hino Auto- history x04.JPG“Isamu Hoshiko”, who was known as an excellent expert of automobile engineering at the time. His contribution to Hino was honorably displayed in the company history room.     The development of vehicles, technologies, and businesses in the early times of year is depicted in the chronology charts at the corridor of main exhibition hall with various Hino Auto- history x02commentaries photos.  What is unusual is that a numerous miniature car models provided by Tomica Co. are observable in the exhibition floor (called Tomika Town exhibition). It is really amazing and enjoyable to be able to see the whole Hino’s vehicles in full sets of models.

(Note: Describe “Hino” stands for the various former name of the companies, including  Hino Motors ’, “ Tokyo Gas Electric Industry ”and“ Diesel Automobile Industry and others here)

♣  Shift from military vehicles to commercial cars as seen in the exhibition

Hino Auto- illudt x03.JPG       Hino’s automobile production was predominantly centered in military use vehicles in the early period, but some involvement was shown Hino Auto- bus x03.JPGin the non-military commercial sectors in this time too. Of these, it is said that the TGE-MP bus (known as the “Chiyoda Bus”) was manufactured in 1930. Some multi-purpose-trucks and trailer cars were also produced by Hino.      However, it was not until the 1950s that Hino began Hino Auto- truck x09.JPGto be involved in the full-scale production of commercial vehicle, especially initiatives in the trucks and buses for business purposes began this time.  First, in 1946, Hino has produced T10 transport trucks using discarded scrap parts from war time vehicles.  After that, the bonnet type of trucks, TH Hino Auto- truck x10.JPGtruck (1950) which modified former TE truck, and the several flocks of TE20 transport truck was consecutively put into market in the short time period. It can safely say that these manufacturing strategy and posture have really laid the Hino’s solid business foundation today. So, the successor vehicle E11 is displayed in the outdoor hall as a commemorative exhibit.

♣   Challenges to the airplane engines in the exhibition

Hino Auto- illudt x09.JPG     Hino’s prewar automobile manufacturing was strongly associated with the support and order from the Japan Army.  Military vehicles suchHino Auto- engine x05.JPG as the previous TGE type truck, RGE high-rail tow truck, and armored tow truck had been the main production fields, but they were also deeply involved in the development of aircraft engines at the request of the military.  A number of airplane engines, such as the first domestic aircraft engine “Kamikaze” in 1928, “Tenfu” (1930), “Hikari Three” (1936), and “Hatsukaze” (1942) had been developed in technological challenges. It is said Hino Auto- engine x06.JPGthat these were all actively used in the Pacific War as air fighter engines. The actual aircraft engines are on display at the Aero Engine corner in the building. There you can clearly observe the technical challenges of Hino at that time.
These real engines had never been opened in public because they were all confiscated by the Occupation Forces and the Hino Auto- engine x01.JPGdomestic development of aero engines were long prohibited after the War for certain of period.  In this meaning these exhibits are quite precious ones.  A scale model of the 1938’s aircraft “Kokenki” was exhibited too hanging from the ceiling of atrium gallery. This is also a quite interesting exhibit object.

♣   Legendary passenger cars of Hino that’s showing its new tech challenges

Hino Auto- logo x03.JPG      Hino has also entered the passenger car sector, especially the minicar Hino Auto- P car x01.JPGsector after the War.  In the meantime, the company has produced several renowned cars to the automobile world from 1950 to 1960s. Passenger cars produced during this time are proudly displayed in the exhibition hall. They are Hino Renault 4CV (1953), Condessa 900 (1961), 1300 Coupe (1965), etc.  A lightweight tricycle “Hustler” which had Hino Auto- P car x03.JPGHino Auto- P car x02.JPGexported to Southeast Asia in 1960s is also exhibited in the hall.
However, Hino has stopped production of own passenger cars since forming business alliance with Toyota in 1970s, and afterward the company became concentrating and specializing on production in the truck and bus sectors.

♣  Development of post-war truck business and bus business

Hino Auto- truck x02.JPG     Hino’s truck and bus business has expanded rapidly since the 1960s, and its technological advancement and production have significantly proceeded further. First, in the truck sector, Hino Auto- truck x01.JPGstarting with the TE type (1959) mentioned above, the KM300 type (1966), the KG300 type heavy truck (1967), the KL300 type medium truck (1969), the high cap HE type trailer (1971), FD172 rangers (1980) etc. were put on the market one after another.  That time was precisely a period of high economic growth after the War in Japan, so it can rightly say that Hino’s transport vehicles have Hino Auto- engine x02.JPGgreatly contributed to the Japan’s economy through providing essential means to the logistic world. The high-power, high-efficiency, high-durability engines are particularly important for transport trucks. So, Hino has accomplished significant Hino Auto- truck x03technological leverage in this aspect.  In the hall, these series of engines developed by Hino are displayed in row order.
In addition, for demonstration of this technical capability, the actual vehicle of the “Japan Ranger” (1996) that won the Dakar Rally is on display outdoors too. It is worth to look these memorial objects.

<Expanding public bus business>

Hino Auto- illudt x07.JPG       Hino made a big leap in the bus manufacturing field as well. First, Hino Auto- bus x04.JPGthe bonnet bus BH10 was produced in 1950. It is said that the bus was loved much by urban people as a small convenient public vehicle. This real bus is displayed in the hall along with the specified engine for it.  After this bus, a number of public buses were developed earnestly in consideration of ride comfort Hino Auto- bus x01.JPGand design, such as the floor engine monocoque BN bus, the skeleton-structured RS bus (1977), and the Hino sightseeing bus “Seleca” (1992), which was famous as a sightseeing bus. You can check these models at the minicar corner in the building.

Recent Hino’s commercial vehicle and new engine initiatives and results

Hino Auto- logo x04.JPG       In recent years, Hino has been going to take new initiatives Hino Auto- New car x01.JPGfor producing special vehicles, trucks, buses, etc., applying its technological capabilities accumulated previously.  In particular, during the 1990s and 2000s, the company seems to be burnishing its specialties in technology on the commercial vehicles while public concerns are growing in environment and safety issues more than before, in addition requirement to driving comport and designing Hino Auto- New car x02.JPGimprovement.  Hino seems to look its goal to become a global first class manufacturer by improving its technological capacity more than before with seeking efficient and powerful engines, fancy body styles, and enough durability.

First, in this line, Hino launched the “Hybrid Bus HIMR” in 1994 and produced the efficient small Hino Auto- truck x04.JPGtruck “Hino Ditro” in 2003. The actual HIMR bus is displayed at the outdoor venue, and the actual hybrid N04C engine is displayed inside the exhibition hall.   And it is interesting to see a platform of EV commercial environment friendly vehicle which is currently developing, and a model car of the electric car community bus “Poncho Mini” on display in the hall. You can detect there the future direction of Hino’s technical challenges in the exhibition.

Remarks after visit

Hino Auto- logo x02.JPG       In the exhibition, we can see the active features of Hino Motors that has consistently focused on its technology development on Hino Auto- truck x05transport trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles, and finally gained current reputation as a global manufacturer in this field.  However, I could have dearly notice that the company was just born as a tiny mechanic manufacturer in the early Meiji period, but it had gradually expanded its business by involving  in various military vehicles, Hino Auto- overview x03.JPGengines, aircraft production , while receiving strong government supports. It seemed to be a long process with courageous challenges to seek technology achievement. The accumulation of technology nurtured in this process was surely applied in the production of commercial vehicles like trucks and buses, where it is strongly required the heavy engine load, as well as long time ride comfort, driving safety. it would be an Hino Auto- engine x07interesting issue how Hino will tackle the current social demand for development of electric cars and automatic driving technology in the midst the automobile technology trends are shifting from internal combustion to the other energy options. It was enjoyable and enlightened museum to see the automobile development world.



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Visit the Nature and Science Museum of Tuat, Tokyo

— Museum is showing amazing collection of silk and textile products in history

Tuat M- logo x1.JPG  I happen to have a good chance to visit the Nature and Science Museum (Tokyo Tuat M- Outlook x1.JPGUniversity of Agriculture and Technology, Tuat) in Koganei city, Tokyo in the early August. The Museum  is very proud of long history being able to back to 1880s  as it had started as a Silkworm Testing Institute under Meiji government.  And afterward the facility was transformed to the present Museum in 1997 under the university of Tuat which was founded as the Agricultural Academy in Meiji Tuat M- Outlook x3period.   Under this background, the Museum has been ardently worked on collecting  historical textile objects long time since the Meiji period, and tried to exhibit them to the public, including weaving machines, sericulture facilities, worm seed samples, various textile equipment, and now added a number of exhibits related to the recent chemical fiber Tuat M- Silk x1.JPGtechnology products as well.  It would be an excellent facility for the people who have interested in the textile industries, particularly regarding silk industry.   The background  was the recognition that  the silk and silk products have been one of Japan’s most important export products and been playing a significant role in modernizing Japanese industry.

Nature and Science Museum (Tuat):

 ♣  Outline of the exhibition seen in the museum

Tuat M- Illust x2.JPG    The  Museum holds several exhibition rooms to display significant textile products and their machines, particularly on the silk related materials.     For the example among them, the “Textile Exhibition Room”Tuat M- Silk Worm x1.JPG and the “Measurement room” exhibits, many machines and tools related to the silk industries, including silk specimens, its tools, production machines, and measuring instruments which are especially related to cocoon growth management, silk thread generation, spinning process, silk product production and quality control, etc. All exhibits are visually indicating the development of the silk industry.
Tuat M- Silk machine x10.JPG     In “Textile Machines”, you can list the textile machines starting with traditional looms and consequently developed to machines present day.  In addition, the “Nishiki-e” corner is a fascinating exhibition that is describing a visual record of how important sericulture thread was during the Edo and Meiji periods.     Tuat M- Ukiyoe x1.JPGOn the other hand, the “Academic History Exhibition Room” and “Award Room” show how the university has been advancing its educational and research activities since the Meiji, with focusing agriculture and textile science. It is worth seeing in honor of Professor Akira Endo, who played a very important role in medical science. The museum also Tuat M- Illust x11displays functional robots in the museum lobby in order to show its modern engineering activities. Here,  I’ll try to look back the history of the Japanese silk and silk industry along with the exhibits at each exhibition corner.


♣   Development of sericulture in the exhibition

Tuat M- Illust x5   The museum seems to try to introduce whole features of the development of Japanese sericulture industries, include silk thread and silk industries with using various specimens and samples.

<Origin and development of Japanese silk thread industry>

Tuat M- Silk Worm x3.JPG       It’s widely known that sericulture and silk producing industry had a long history.      In that process, silkworms have been deliberately fostered and produced to various type of raw silks  and yarns. It is believed that the silk technology  was introduced to Japan from ChinaTuat M- Illust x10.JPG during ancient Yayoi period in the thousand years ago.  Since then, , silk products had long been appreciated as high-quality textiles among for celebrities in Japan, but in the Edo period, they became quite popular clothes and traded well among Edo city’s population.  For this reason, the sericulture and silk industry were strongly promoted and became produced in various places.  In particular, after the Meiji era, silk thread exports were upgraded to the  powerful means to earn foreign Tuat M- Outlook x11.JPGcurrency. As a result, they have grown as one of the Japan’s core industries aftermath.  In addition, the technology associating with silk industries was marked significant advancement since the government had vigorously established many silk research and testing center. These situation at that time can be observed that in the exhibition, like the improvement of cocoon quality, the nurturing of silkworm, the improvement of the quality of yarn, the efficiency of spinning, etc.

<Technological development of sericulture>

Tuat M- Silk Worm x2.JPG       The museum explains technical changes in the sericulture and its works at the former period in detail.  When it comes to the sericulture process, first, the hatched silkworms are moved to the silkworm-baskets “Sanza” and given mulberry leaves to feed for starting Tuat M- Silk Worm x4.JPGbreeding process, called “Hakitate“.  The matured worms are then transferred to the tools “Mabushi” being made of rice straw and led them generate silk cocoons.  In the exhibition, various “Sanza” and “Mabushi ” samples are exhibited. Especially, special instruments such as “Rotating Mabushi” are Tuat M- Silk Worm x5.JPGdisplayed there. It is showing how the technological advances were embodied in the equipment since the Meiji Era. There found many rare goods too, Tuat M- Silk Worm x6.JPGsuch as the structural models of silkworm and sample of pathogenic objects, and so on to show the scientific analysis on the silk industries.
After all, this exhibition shows how greatly the people were making point of developing sericulture technology at that time.

<Technology process from silkworm to silk thread>

Tuat M- Silk machine x1.JPG     After generation of cocoon, the spinning process will start to convert it to silk thread (raw silk yarn). It is widely known that a major technological change in “threading” has occurred in the tools and machinery during the Meiji to Showa era. This Tuat M- Silk machine x5.JPGevolution can be observed in the exhibition. In other words, the exhibits is showing technical advancement on the equipment, such as go forward from the traditional “spinning” tools, to “reeling machines (Suwa type)”, then “multi-spinning reels”, and “automatic reeling machine”, etc.
In this development, we can see the diffusion of silk producing technology among general people in Tuat M- Ukiyoe x3.JPGthe scene, exemplified by the activities of “Tomioka Silk Mill”, one of the Japan’s World Industrial Heritage site) which was given a great influence to silk industrial development of Japan.
In addition, the museum tries to highlight the technological shift from the traditional ways to the modern ones through showing Tuat M- Silk x2.JPGthe real sample and models of silk, such as various pattern of silkworm specimens, graded specimens, trademarks of silk products, and measuring instruments formerly used, and describing how silk thread and silk production was technologically managed at that time. (You can check the details in the photos and their commentary)

<From raw silk to silk fabric>

Tuat M- Illust x4.JPG       In the meantime, the process of weaving silk thread has significantly advanced since the Meiji period. (This was already touched in the description of previous “Toyota Industrial Memorial Museum -Textile Hall”.)  These Tuat M- Outlook x6.JPGprocesses could be defined well in the exhibition of the Tuat’s Museum.  The museum has an extensive collection of ancient reeling tools across the world, traditional Japanese reeling tools, many types of looms, etc.  The display of the unique “knit” tool equipment is also an interesting exhibition.  These tools have been still operated by the museum staff, and the actual technology changes can be traced through the moving machines.


♣     Development of Japanese Sericulture and silk industry in Nishiki-e picture

Tuat M- Silk Worm x8.JPG      As you have seen earlier, silk production had been carried out since the Tuat M- Ukiyoe x2.JPGancient days, but it became more popular since the Edo period, and after the Meiji it has upgraded to a  prime industry thanks to the government promotion measures, named “Shokusan-kougyo industry” policy. You can see a lot of them at the “Nishiki-e Painting Room” in the museum.  At the room, there can find many features of the engagement of Edo people working on the Tuat M- Ukiyoe x4.JPGsericulture, and various textbooks and specimens subjected to the sericulture techniques.  Also, several “Nishiki-e” pictures are depicting the promotion policy of sericulture and situation of silk production in the early Meiji period. One of the interesting items would be the exhibition of Tuat M- Silk x4.JPG“Trademarks” symbolizing the status of silk merchandise transactions.
These are all valuable exhibits that are indicating the depth of concerns and spread of public interest in the sericulture and silk industries of each period.  Furthermore, the exhibition shows special relationship between the silk industry and the imperial family, like seen in the memorial pictures and treasures.

♣   Approach to modern textile science in the exhibition

Tuat M- Illust x14.JPG      The museum’s collection is mainly focusing on the silk and silk Tuat M- Silk New x2.JPGproducts, but there are many other objects in association with the textile industries.  For example, there are various exhibits related to the chemical fibers such as rayon and nylon and other recent advanced fiber materials, such as carbon fibers. And several examples, like fiber’s chemical Tuat M- Silk New x1.JPGapplications to the medical field are also exhibited there. The old and new sewing machines is also interesting exhibition too. The other exhibition room like “Awarding Room” introduces the great contribution of Prof. Akira Endo to the field of biochemistry who invented the material “Statins” controlling cholesterol.


After visit

Tuat M- logo x5.JPG     This visit to the Science and Technology Museum was a memorable experience to be able to learn on the history of sericulture and the depth Tuat M- Silk machine x4.JPGof the textile industry.  I could have obtain some knowledge on what’s all about of sericulture and silk industry, how precious industry in Japan, what technical features it had, and what evolution has achieved in the process of modernizing the Meiji industry. I’m really amazed the abundance of collections and exhibitions on the silk industries when walking around the museum, and actually felt the Tuat M- Silk machine x2.JPGmuseum’s outstanding contribution of historical analysis on the textile industry in Japan.
Furthermore, I got a fresh impression too about the museum’s effort to try to open broadly the social community by organizing public lectures, science classes, and publishing and other activities as new museum attempts.




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Visit the “Industrial Technology Museum” of Nippon Institute of Technology

Explore the roots of machine industries in Japan as seen in the Museum collection

Museum NIT- Logo x01.JPG      Last month I visited the “Industrial Technology Museum” in SaitamaMuseum NIT- Overview x05.JPG prefecture in the Nippon Institute of Technology which is widely known for its practical and advanced engineering education. In the museum, a variety of machine tools and historical machinery since the Meiji Period are preserved and exhibited that had been greatly contributing to the development of Japanese mechanical industry. And in Museum NIT- Overview x03.JPGaddition, it displays the latest industrial machinery such as advanced NC equipment, engines, energy-saving and gas turbines too. It is also interesting that the figures of old town machining factory in Meiji is reproduced to able to see the real situation of basic machine industry in Japan at that time as a foundation. I felt that it’s a prominent facility to able to learn the history of mechanical industrial development history. Among the whole collection, more than 270 items of preserved machines and facilities were designated in 2018 for the “Mechanical Heritage” as precious industrial heritages.      The following is an expression of this visit.

♣ Aim and Outline of “Industrial Museum”

Museum NIT- Illust x01.JPG    In the museum, more than hundreds of historical machine tools sinceMuseum NIT- Overview x04.JPG the Meiji period, either imported or domestically produced, are displayed in line categorized by the year of production. Generally, machine tools are classified roughly into a sort of lathes, drilling machines, milling machines, grinding & finishing machines, process working machines, and digital machining centers. The museum’s collection covers all of these diverse. Museum NIT- Machine x03.JPG  For example, the museum preserves and exhibits a “Hand-turned lathe” (constructed by Ikegai Works) of the Meiji era, Pratt & Whitney’s “General lathe 131NCHB” in the early Showa, and a universal milling machine from Frieddeckel (Germany) , Yoshida Iron Works’ upright pole board (1950s), Ship Co. (Switzerland) “Jig boring Museum NIT- Machine x07.JPGmachine 3R type”, Multi-function machine tools, Kelney’s “Machining Center Eb type” (US , 1970s) ), Hitachi Seiko Co., Ltd. “Machining Center MBN-330” (1970s) and many other historical machine tools.   Besides these historic machines, various old looms used in the Meiji Taisho era, the 

Museum NIT- Machine x09.JPGrecent high-performance gas turbine demonstration plant (designed by a private technical research association in 1987), glass mercury rectifier (1961, Nippon Batteries Co.) are on display.  In addition, British steam locomotive “Dub 2100 Model” that had been operated during the Meiji era (1891) was also found there in a good condition.


♣  Utilization and production of “machine tools” starting from import as seen in the exhibition

<Background of development of machine tools in Japan>

Museum NIT- Illust x12.JPG    Japan’s industrial machinery technology now marks the world’s top class as Museum NIT- Machine x01seeing in the  industrial robot technology.  When we look into the history, however, the introduction of modern machine was the matter just started a century ago, so its was extremely difficult to master them in short time because its technology base was very poor, particularly regarding iron machines. As a matter of fact most machine tools using in the modern manufacturing firms had to be imported quite long time before the domestic production technology was finally established in the Show period, especially after the World War II.

<Infant period of Japanese Machine tools industries>

The first modern machine tools in Japan was said to be introduced around 1857 in nagasaki-zosen-wh-dock-3the end of the Edo period and the Shogunate imported them from the Netherlands. Meantime, a number of shipyards and military arsenals of Japan were rashly built to promoteMuseum NIT- Machine x34.JPG industrialization since Meiji era trying to catch up to the advanced countries. However, the Japanese modern machine technology was quite poor at that time, so their move had to completely depend on the imported machines from abroad. Museum NIT- Machine x35.JPGGood examples can observe in the Yokohama and Nagasaki Shipyard where had engaged in the repair work of ship and railway were much rely on the imported technology and machines. But, the experience of using machines had provided Japanese workers a precious Museum NIT- Machine x05.JPGchance to learn their structure and functions. Through this process, many engineers gradually mastered the technology to create this machine tools by themselves.

<Start of domestic production>

Museum NIT- Person x01.JPG        Under these learning process, a town factory of mechanic tools (currently “Ikegai Mfg Co.”) was established in Tokyo in 1889 and its owner Museum NIT- Machine x36.JPGShotaro Ikegai had successfully made two hand-turned lathes for personal use.  This is said to be the first modern machine tools domestically produced in Japan. The similar examples might be existed in various locations across Japan. But Ikegai would be a typical successful firm and their business is continuing until now as a giant machine producing company. This is a reason that the museum is proudly exhibiting this first lathe machine as memorable item to memorize its significance.

On the other hand, prior to this machine tools actually you can find there was a Meiji- Machine x04Meiji- Illust x04“planing machine” marked a chrysanthemum emblem which had been manufactured for training purposes at the Akabane Works under the Ministry of Engineering in 1872. This machine is now preserved in the “Meijimura Park” in Nagoya.  These are all precious machines that is conveying the reality of Japan’s machine industry in the. early days. Some of them are exhibited in the museum too.

Museum NIT- Person x02.JPG       After that, around the 1900s, several leading machine tool manufacturers, launched their business, such as Niigata Iron Works (1894), Okuma (1903), Karatsu Iron Works (1910), and Hitachi Seiki (1910).  But the Museum NIT- Machine x37.JPGdomestic products were mostly limited to be imitation from the Western models and the quality was not yet satisfactory to practical use as well. Then,  most of the machine tools that contributed to the Japan’s modern machinery industry had to be imported from the major manufacturers in UK, Germany, the United States for a long time even until 1950s after the War. However,

Museum NIT- Machine x05   Examples of these imported machine tools in the museum are Craven Borthers’ “Axle Lathe” (1905), Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Gleason Works “”Casa gear Museum NIT- Machine x13.JPGcutting machine ” (1910) etc. and others. Even though, as representative domestic products, the museum dared to display the Otsuki Iron Works “Turret Lathe” (1920) and the Karatsu Iron Works “Radial Drilling Machine” (1929).

Museum NIT- Logo x05.JPG    But in this process, thanks to the tireless efforts of engineers, Japan has finally Museum NIT- Machine x06.JPGsucceeded in developing adequate technology suitable for Japanese advanced manufacturing sites. That has been attained through long successive process in the development observed in history like, as the first step, import the model machines importing, then operate them and learn the mechanism and structure, begin to produce them imitating technology, and then develop own machine Museum NIT- Machine x17.JPGtechnology and apply them to the practical manufacturing. And, finally, machine producing technology in Japan could put forward to achieve the present position being paralleled with the Western advanced manufacturers. The museum has extensively tried to trace this long historical process and apply them for education and research works by the dynamic display of actual machine used in the factory.

<Reproduction of machine factories during the Meiji and Taisho periods>

Museum NIT- Illust x14.JPG  Even in this poor circumstances, several independent machine factories were Museum NIT- Machine x04.JPGactively running in town level to support the foundation of Japanese machine industries.  One of them was Uehara machine factory in Meiji period which founded by Eisuke Uehara in Mita, Tokyo in 1907. The museum exhibits the reproduction of this factory as it were in the collection. This Uehara’s factory has been manufacturing various machine parts for over sixty years until 1950s using domestic lathes made by Ikegai Iron Works. It is precious that we can see the state of the machine factory in its original form.

<Formation of domestic technology and advancement of machine tools>

Museum NIT- Illust x07.JPG      By the way, the economic conditions of World War One in the 1910s became a tailwind blow for development of Japanese machine tool Museum NIT- Machine x14.JPGmanufacturers.  The import of machine tools from the US and Europe to Japan had suddenly been ceased because of War, and this gave to a fortunate chance for rising of Japan’s domestic machine industry. For example, it prompted Ikegai Iron Works export lathes machines to the UK and Russia for the first time.  Also, since the 1930s, the machine industries were Toyota A- First stage x01beginning to show the new development. Toyota has started to engage in production of machine tools in expecting new development of automobile industry in future. Nissan was also followed suite in launching new machinery production with looking for expand of the automobile market.

Museum NIT- Machine x10.JPG   However, the real popularization of full-scale machine tools production in Japan had to wait until the period of high growth after the War since 1960s.  In the post-World War II, the rapid economic and industrial development had started. And it caused the huge demand to the advanced machine tools and strongly stimulated production of domestic machines.  Correspondingly, the domestic machine tool manufacturers, that were still technically in-matured, tried to develop their technology in the measure of focusing on technology Museum NIT- Machine x16.JPGpartnership with leading European and American companies.  As a result, the technical level of Japan’s domestic machine tools has improved dramatically to the level of world standard. Among them, the significance would Museum NIT- Machine x24.JPGbe found in the exert development of electrical discharge machines and the aggressive introduction of NC equipment for domestic machine tools. In particular, the introduction of NC is said to have dramatically improved Japan’s competitiveness in the machinery industries.

<Development of NC machines>

Museum NIT- Machine x18.JPG     The museum displays a variety of imported machine tools and machines produced by domestic manufacturers in the exhibition. For example, Kearney & Trecker’s “Machining Center EB” (1970), Lees-Branner’s “6-axis bobo HD-40”, Matsuura Museum NIT- Machine x12Machine’s “Program Control Milling Machine S-2” (1962), Ikegai’s “Numerically Controlled Lathe LX” -20N “(1978), Hitachi Machining’s” Machining Center MBN-330 “. It would be the best collection to inspect the development of Japanese machine tools.


♣  Recent progress in machine technology and sophistication of machine tools

Museum NIT- Illust x11.JPG       Japan’s machine tool manufacturing technology have achieved and surpassed the world standard in the 1970s. And Japan’s manufactures have Museum NIT- Machine x20.JPGoverwhelmed the United States and became the world’s greatest producer in machine tools in the 1980s.  The greatest contribution to it has been the development of advanced NC equipment and technological progress. These greatly accelerated the development of Japanese automobiles, electrical and electronic equipment, and various machine industries in the 1970s and 1980s.

Museum NIT- Person x04.JPG    Also, since the 1990s, the industrial robot technology was emerged particularly in the sophisticated manufacturing industries and led to promote of production of industrial robots in various Museum NIT- Machine x32.JPGpurposes.  Among them, you can count several advanced companies have grown fast, such as FANUC, Yaskawa Electric, and Amada, and they account for now a large share of the world.  Today, these industrial robots are widely used in automobile assembly and painting, and for also electronic parts production sites.  On the other hand, Yamazaki Mazak, Mori Seiki, Okuma and other Museum NIT- Person x03.JPGmakers are playing an active role in the machine tool production, especially NC related equipment too.  However, unfortunately these recent mother machines and industrial robots were not seen much because the Museum NIT- Machine x31.JPGmuseum seemingly try to focus on historical exhibits whatsoever.   On the other hand, the collection of other industrial equipment are quite outstanding, such as actual models of high-efficiency gas turbines in Museum NIT- Machine x28.JPG1980s, hydrogen engines, new rotary engines, are broadly exhibited in the museum. These seem to show us significance of Japanese recent technological trends in the machinery industries.
Museum NIT- Logo x05

 (The description relies heavily on the Museum of Industrial Technology Collection Exhibit Guide and the  marked picture is quoted from Guide book too)

After the museum visit

Museum NIT- Logo x04.JPG      The Museum of Industrial Technology was established as one of the commemorative projects for the 80th anniversary of the Nippon Institute of Museum NIT- Machine x25.JPGTechnology. This was aimed to prompt practical education and research work for students, but it also purposes to promote science and technology in the machinery industries among general people. I was just amazed how it was possible to collect that many historic machines systematically in the museum.
In addition, the uniqueness is that many of them are preserved in the condition of operational condition, so we can actually check the functions by moving them. I felt that this museum is a really valuable facility for Museum NIT- Machine x33.JPGverifying the historical fact how machine tools have been used and contributed to industrial development in Japan. In particular, the reproduction of the town factory during the Meiji era, the first domestic lathe in Ikegai, and the exhibit of high-performance gas turbines were impressive.    In addition, although it was not possible to actually see due to time, it is attractive to see the 1890s, Museum NIT- Illust x06.JPGBritish steam locomotives that are actually running in the university.  Anyway, I felt that it was a unique museum that can synthetically link the dynamics of mechanical technology evolution and engineering education in the university.



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Visit JAXA’s Space Center in Tsukuba and Japan’s space exploration

  • looking into the history of Japan’s space exploration by visit Space Center-

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x01.JPG       Recently, one of the great information was brought to JapaneseJAXA Tsukuba- outlook x01.JPG space exploration history. This is a news coverage on the successful landing on of“Hayabusa-2” on the asteroid “Ryugyu” and taking up a sample soil from there. It is really astonishing technology that performed a pinpointed touch down on the planet that’s one billion km away in the JAXA Tsukuba- outlook x03.JPGuniverse. With this inspiring news, I have tried to visit the Tsukuba Space Development Center again this time. This is the description on this experience.
The Center is known to exhibit various memorial satellites, space station, rockets, and other objects which have been launched in the successive generation. It might be an ideal spot for inspecting the Japanese challenges to space exploration until now. I’ve traced here the figure of challenges to the space development in Japan along with describing my experience on this Center in this article.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA):

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x05.JPG     Note: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was formed in 2003, by merging with the Space Science Institute (ISAS), the Space Development Agency (NASDA), and the Aerospace Technology Research Institute (NAL), which were operating independently each other before. Tsukuba Space Information Center is an affiliated facility under this JAXA. For this reason, the major exhibits are inevitably concentrated in the Jaxa’s own activities. Meanwhile, it is said that many of the space satellites launched by the 1990s were mostly from the pre-integration ISAS. So, the article tries to introduce these ISAS’s achievements at the same time.

♣  Overview of Space Center and its Exhibition Center “Space Dome”

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x09.JPG    In the Center’s exhibition hall “Space Dome” are displaying variousJAXA Tsukuba- outlook x02.JPG models and real things of artificial satellites and rockets concerning Japanese space development with the extensive commentaries on the previous achievements. Such as a series of space satellites launched by Japan since 1970s, a structural model of Japanese experiment laboratory in the international space station (ISS), various rocket models which launched satellites, JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x05.JPGas well as the recent spacecraft like “Hayabusa” and others. In addition, the graphic images of weather observation which was obtained from satellites, geological maps of terrains and oceans of earth, terrestrial analysis done by satellite, and other scientific results are also found in the huge screen. By careful observation into these exhibits, we can learn much how the space development has been evolved, what kind technologies are embodied in satellites, how extent the mystery of universe has been unraveled, and so on. It looks an excellent museum facility to worth to visit.

♣  The early days of rocket and space development technology in Japan and the exhibition

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x13.JPG      In the corner of exhibition hall, we can find a model of tiny gray rocket JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x04.JPGless than 50 cm long being quietly placed beside the huge rocket models. This is called “Pencil rocket” (23 cm long and 1.8 cm in diameter), this is the one which was firstly used for the initial experiments in 1950s. And it is said that Japan’s rocket and space development had been begun in this line. In a sense, this is a symbolic exhibit for Japanese space development history.
JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x02.JPG     In retrospect, Japan’s rocket development begun in the 1930s, but it was interrupted by the Pacific War, and even after that, the aircraft and rocket development were banned long during the occupation period. Then, in 1952, under the San Francisco treaty, Japan JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x01.JPGbarely allowed to start development of aircraft and rockets and could step out the exploration in this field for the first time. The leader of this movement was Hideo Itokawa at the University of Tokyo, and this small toy-like “Pencil Rocket” was used in 1955 for his first trial experiments.

However, the advancement of rocket technology and the catch  up process was quite fast thank to the proactive engagement by his research team and the government support. JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x03.JPGAnd in 1958, the what’s called “Kappa rocket” was developed for the weather observation purposes, and it hardly reached an altitude of 40 km. Also, by the “Lambda Rocket” as a successor, the flying record could advance to the 2000 km which was an enough altitude to launch satellites.
And in 1970, the Japan’s first satellite, “Osumi” was successfully JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x02.JPGlaunched by the “lambda-4 S” rocket (L-4S). This was the fourth successful satellite in the world after the USSR, the US and France. The Tsukuba Center unfortunately doesn’t display this “Osumi” model, but pictures and description are presented there.
However, the process of challenge and failure, countless trial and error until reaching to this great attainment, is like a dramatic grandeur story, and this process is depicted in detail on the homepage of Space Science Institute’s (ISAS) titled “History of Space Development in Japan”.

♣   Japan’s early scientific satellite development and the exhibition

JAXA Tsukuba- moon x01.JPG       Meanwhile, the US and Soviet space development and artificial satellite navigation technology were far ahead of Japan. In 1961, theJAXA Tsukuba- moon x04.JPG astronaut Gagarin of the Soviet Union had been around the Earth by the spacecraft “Vostok” as a first human in space in 1962. The  famous message “Earth is blue” had sent to the whole world. And almost the same year, the U.S. had also achieved manned exploration travel to space flown by the “Friendship”. And, in 1969, the United States JAXA Tsukuba- moon x02.JPGsucceeded in landing on the moon for the first time with “Apollo 11”, and it became a dramatic news coverage at the time to memorize the first significant moment for mankind standing on the JAXA Tsukuba- moon x03.JPGmoon.    These space development challenges had somehow affected by the armed race under the Cold War, but it is also signified achievement that has enforced the science and technology and promoted the geographic and meteorological understanding about the situation of our earth. It is also believed to contribute to define the earth as only one unit among the great universe.
JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x10.JPG  On the other hand, Japan, which has participated in the development that was one lap behind, have strongly enforced the space development under the international technical cooperation while upgrading rocket performances. This progress is well shown in the commentary in the space center exhibition.

♣  Birth and Development of Experimental Scientific Satellite in 1970s

JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x01.JPG Meantime, when looking into the exhibition of the Center, the first satellite models is a display of the experiment satellite “Kiku No. 1”.  This satellite started to develop in 1971 and successfully JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x13.JPGlaunched and circled on orbit in 1975. Next to this object, the rather large “Kiku No.3” (1981) is placed in the hall. (These satellites were launched by the N-1 rocket originally developed by Japan). The satellite is a rather smaller size only weighing 80 kg compared to the current ones, but it is said that was a result of great experimental effort to lift up satellite to the space by the hands of own Japanese engineers.
JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x03.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- satellite x04.JPG      Prior to this, the scientific satellite “Sinsei” (MS-F2, 1971), “Radio observation satellite” (M-4S-4, 1972), “Tansei” (MS-T2, 1974), the high-rise Atmospheric observation satellite “Taiyo”(1975), aurora observation satellite “Kyokko” (EXOS-A, 1978)), and others are found in the development history.

♣  Japan’s past challenges in scientific satellite and exhibits

— Scientific observation and experimental satellites from the 80s and 90s —

JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x05.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- satellite x06.JPG     When it comes to 1980s, many scientific satellites began to launch equipped with various functions. For example, following the “Tansei 4” (MS-T4, 1980), the solar observation satellite “Hinotori” (ASTRO-A, 1981), the high-up atmosphere observation satellite “Oozora” (EXOS-C, 1984), Halley’s Comet Search satellite “Suisei” (PLANET-A), 1985), “Akebono” for magnetosphere observation (EXOS-D), etc.JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x11JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x10

were entered in the space orbit. These are all launched and operated by the Space Science Institute (ISAS).   JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x12.JPG  In the meantime, at the Center exhibition, we can observe NASDA’s technical experimental satellite “Kiku No. 4” (ETS-III, 1982), “Kiku No. 7 named “Orihime” (ETS-VII) which performed docking for multi satellites, and “Kiku No. 8” (ETS-2006) for communication technology development targeted to small terminals, and others.

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x15.JPG     Furthermore, the Center displays a number of satellites used for practical business and social purposes too, such as the satellite “Yuri No. 3” JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x15.JPG(BS-3a) which established the satellite broadcasting network since 1990s, and the new satellite “Ibuki” (GOSAT, 2009) for inspection of greenhouse gas situation, as well as “Daichi” (ALOS, 2006) which purposes to survey terrestrial conditions of earth. By observing the functions of these satellites, we can learn how space satellites are benefited for JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x16.JPGour society and serving for scientific analysis on the earth and universe.

In addition, the satellite “Kaguya “(Selena), launched in 2007, was an observation satellite that took orbits to the moon and it expected to contribute probing the moon in the future. This satellite was named after the Japanese folk story “Taketori Monogatari” and it has conjured a fancy dream and romance to the universe.


♣  Japan’s Scientific Satellite and International Cooperation, and its Exhibits

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x08.JPG     The major exhibition in the Center, by all means, would be a full-scale JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x01.JPGstructural model of Japanese experiment wing “Kibo” (JEM) that is installed in the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is a geostationary spacecraft that keeping orbits 400 km above the earth which built up by collaboration work by U. S., Russia, Japan and Canada.   And astronauts from these countries are staying there to JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x04.JPGjointly conduct scientific research in the various field. The Station Project has started assembling in 1998 and completed in 2011. From Japan, several astronauts, such as Mouri and Wakasa and other staff have already been staying in the station several times and practiced scientific experiments in its Japanese wing.JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x02.JPG

The exhibited “Kibo” is a full-scale model of this wing. And this is the most popular spot for visitors to be able to examine actual environment of inside wing and can directly observe the experimental modules, in addition to JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x18.JPGthe actual working place in and out activities in the space.  Furthermore, the appearance of the robot arm at the outboard position and the docking devices can be watched there.  However, the most crucial issues for maintaining of the function of the space station would be a shipping system of the necessary materials and replacement of astronauts regularly. For this JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x05.JPGpurpose, the satellite “Konotori” (HTV) was used which launched in 2011 in Japan and continuously operated since. This scale real model is  on display as well as an eye-catching object in the Center.

The Japan’s wing was looked rather smaller than I thought, but it was quite effective to figure out of non-gravity world and astronauts’ working conditions that were often aired in TV scene.


♣  Present state of space development in Japan and the display of Hayabusa Project

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x10.JPG However, one of the highlighting issues regarding Japan’s space JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x04.JPGexploration might be the touchdown scene of spacecraft “Hayabusa 2” which headed to the asteroid called Ryugu.” This Hayabusa model is displaed as a special object of the exhibition at the Space Center. This Hayabusa was launched from Tanegashima Island by the Japanese rocket H-IIA in 2014, and navigating around one billion kilometers away in the JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x02.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x03.JPGuniverse and finally successed to land on the targeted asteroid. The satellite is purposed to probe the surface soil of the planet, take the objects out from it, and to be expected to bring them back to the earth in 2020. And as of July 2019, the ship is on sailing in the universe for returning to the earth.

JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x07.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- illust x09     According to Center’s official, Japan’s space satellite operations and communication technology could have been reached that high levels and proven its powerful ability, and even moreover could stir romantic dream to the mystery of universe. It can be said this is an evidence that Japan’s aerospace development, which is started far backwardly in 1950s, now reached to this world level during these 50 years. The scale model is on display with extensive commentary at the venue and many people gathered around there to observe this memorial exhibit.

Beforehand, the first “Hayabusa”, which was launcJAXA Tsukuba- illust x12.JPGhed in 2003 and returned in June 2010, has reached the asteroid “Itokawa” and was success to bring back its tiny topsoil sample.   This was an actually demonstration flight, in a way, to test of the ion engine power, but during the JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x08.JPGreturning flight operation, the serious trouble had occurred in the function of communication devices and forced to stray in the universe for more than 5 years without being located, and the project thought to be completely failed. But after the longtime tireless searching, suddenly a slight signal from the satellite was catch by Jaxa staff, and they could barely traced back to recover the flight. It is a really dramatic return to JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x09.JPGthe earth. This successful return was dramatized in the TV and movies and greatly inspired Japanese mind.  Until recently, the model of Hayabusa No. 1 was exhibited in the hall (though the display has been replaced by Hayabusa 2’s great success.)      Even so, in the future, if the return of “Hayabusa 2” is successfully done, it is believed that some evidences for asteroid’s organic stuff  might be detected and considered to help approaching a bit to mystery of life origin in the universe. It will be significant to be able to see such a scientific significance in the future.

After the visit

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x18.JPG      The first visit Tsukuba Center was in the fall of 2015, but I decided to revisit it in JAXA Tsukuba- outlook x04.JPGhearing the recent successful landing of Hayabusa 2.  Recently people’s concerns in space development was quite high, and many visitors were visiting the Center to witness the recent advancement of Japan’s space aviation technology. In the exhibition hall, Jaxa staff take us a tour around the Space Dome and they kindly give us necessary information about the exhibits. Then, it is easy to understand the meaning of exhibits on display there. I felt that the exhibition was a really nice facility to get scientific knowledge on the space problems and exploring technology.

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x16.JPG     In the meantime, for one thing, it was interested that Japan’s general approach to space development seems to comprise a lot of romanticism along with scientifically inquisitive.  This was actually reflected in the naming of the satellites. This will be seen in the naming of “Kaguya” and “Hagoromo” based on ancient folklore in Japan, as well as “Kiku” (chrysanthemum), “Yuri”(lily), “Himawari”(sunflower) and “Hayabusa”(falcon) taking names of flowers and birds for them. JAXA Tsukuba- outlook x05.JPG Furthermore, the name of targeted asteroid for sail “Itokawa,” was named after Dr. Itokawa who was a pioneer in space development in Japan, and “Ryugu,” is a legendary oceanic Arcadia. It seems they were deeply reflected a feeling of romance to the universe and plausible exploration history in Japanese mindset. And I found there’s another important space facilities of Jaxa in Sagamihara of Kanagawa prefecture, so I’d like to visit this place in near future. In addition, I thought if I have a chance, I wanted to visit “Uchinoura” and “Tanegashima”, the satellite launching sites in Kagoshima prefecture, one day.



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Visit Toyota Industrial Technology Museum- (2)Automobile Pavilion

Showing Toyota’s historical car-making challenge and its current advanced technology of Toyota cars

Outline of Automobile Pavilion

Toyota A- Illust x18.JPG        Here, I’ll report on the exhibition of “Automobile Pavilion” in the Toyota A- overview x 04.JPGToyota Industrial Museum, following the last “Textile Pavilion.”. The “Automobile Pavilion” in the museum shows the Toyota’s historical development of technology and its initial business challenge, as well as its current conditions of automobile technology of Toyota A- Model car x 01.JPGToyota. As we see the previous observation, Toyota was beginning to challenge to product automobiles using accumulated technology and capitals based on the textile machinery business from 1930s. The museum shows how Toyota could successfully transform its business from textile sector to automobile and how it expand its automobile technology and business to the current Toyota A- First stage x06.JPGoutstanding great position in the historical views and extensive technological analysis.
The Pavilion is roughly divided into four major categories. That is, a history corner named “Challenge” for producing Toyota’s own passenger car, a corner of the “Technological development process” to show how automobile engine and component have been created, a corner of ” R&D system and strategy” for showing how it build-up automobile industry in the company”, and also illustrations what’s called Toyota A- Model car x 12.JPG“Toyota Production System, TPS” in the production scene.  Abundant exhibits related automobile technology and its structural features, evolution of production technology, in addition to the current machinery development are displayed in the Pavilion. Various historical anecdotes regarding Toyota’s technology development also introduced here.
 See:   Toyota Industrial Technology Museum Automobile PavilionHP:


♣  Technological challenges of Toyota’s automotive business

<Toyota’s initial Challenge to automobile business >

Toyota A- person x01.JPG     In this section, the exhibition shows how Kiichiro Toyoda (a son of founder of Toyoda Sakichi), has started the challenging business of automobile succeeding textile machinery industry by using keywords “Determination”, “Challenge “ and “Leap Forward.Toyota A- History x05.JPG

In the beginning for his challenge, Kiichiro set up “Automotive Department” inside the “Toyoda Automatic Loom Works” (a predecessor of Toyota Co.) in 1933, and he put forward to a trial work of automobile production with it. Then, he firstly set up a “material testing room” and “steelmaking section” in the company for producing iron materials for automobile parts and body by their Toyota A- First stage x01own hand. At this department, the engine blocks for vehicle were tried to make, but it was not easy task at that time. They faced so many difficulties because the high-level casting technology to create enough resilience to the machines, like engine block, had been existed in Japan at that time.Toyota A- First stage x05.JPG

At the exhibition, the old machinery that used in the trial period is placed in the “Test room” in the pavilion. Solid model of casting cylinder blocks there gives lively images of the process of trial and error that time.  And Toyota’s first “A type engine” and other type of initial engine models are also displayed there. These exhibits remind us the actual image of the Toyota’s “Challenge” time and its tireless efforts those days.      The outcome from these continuous efforts was actually the “Type A prototype passenger car” (completed in 1935). Toyota A- Model car x 04.JPGThis memorial car is proudly exhibited in the pavilion along with various metal sheets of body, assembled reproduction models, and other components produced at that time. And in 1936, the company finally completed its marketable first passenger car. This vehicle is exhibited in this corner too. It was the time when the company has changed its name from “Toyoda” to “Toyota” and has entered the full-scale automobile business industry in 1937.

<Road to full-scale car production and its marketing>

Toyota A- Illust x13     Toyota wanted to start full-scale production of automobiles from the initial period with seeing huge potentials in the domestic Toyota A- History x04.JPGmarket, but the true challenge was how to achieve the affordable price to set in production and how to build enough supply chains to meet consumer demand. In order to respond to the requirement, Toyota built the modern “Korom Plant” in Sakae region, Nagoya (1938) for starting the integrated production site of automobiles. There’s an anecdote story in the museum that the concept of “just-in-time” had been initially adopted in the factory.
Toyota A- First stage x04.JPG   However, production and sales of automobiles were interrupted by the Pacific War, and the War time destruction, then the start of full-scale car production had to wait for the postwar period. Although Toyota suffered from severe business crisis after the War, the company embarked on Toyota A- Model car x 03.JPGreconstruction of automobiles business immediately, and Toyota has challenged to produce small passenger car “SA type” and small truck “SB type” in 1947 responding to the strong market demand.  Then, in 1955, the first full-scale domestic passenger car “Toyopet Crown” was born, These model memorial cars is on display in the pavilion and now charm visitors.

♣   Exhibition of the transition toward full-scale car

Toyota A- Illust x07.JPG       This next corner tries to exhibit the transition of its technological development of Toyota’s automobile, specifically on the features of Toyota A- Parts x01.JPGautomobile parts embodied, its functions and structure, in addition to the driving systems consisting vehicles.  For examples, showing the mechanism of the engine, transmission, brake, steering, chassis and body, and others by the real models or cut models. Also there’s an explain in detail about what kind of functions the parts have, and what kind of technology has been used Toyota A- Parts x02.JPGToyota A- Parts x08.JPGto make it.
For example, in the case of showing engines, 14 representative Toyota engines are displayed side by side, so that the evolvement of engine technology can be observed clearly there. The evolution of transmission system is also on display with exemplifying 7 units of them, first from the Crown’s 3-speed manual transmission to the Toyota A- Parts x07Toyota A- Parts x05.JPGToyota A- Parts x04latest automatic transmission with electronic control.
Regarding the driving system and suspension of cars, the specimen models are exhibited to indicate the transition of the mechanism with using model vehicles, like the first generation of Crown, Corolla and Celsior, FF Camry, and Landcruiser for the 4WD system. By looking at this exhibition, Toyota A- Parts x13.JPGvisitors could recognize the characteristics of driving system and its running stability as well as the development direction automaker Toyota has been aiming at.      The steering and braking systems are also extensively introduced. So, visitors could learn well about the complicated mechanism of power steering, the principle of ABS, etc. by seeing devices which installed in the model cars.

♣  Exhibition on the footprint of Toyota’s technology development

Toyota A- Illust x02.JPG      In this section, the footsteps of Toyota’s automobile development technology are described, by showing the typical model cars of Toyota produced in the past decades. It characterizes the broad range of technological advancement comparing the past and present.  For the examples, improvement of materials to use for vehicles, Toyota A- Model car x 13.JPGdesigning skills, structural scale-up, and driving conformity and fuel efficiency, so on.   We can see that the line-up of Toyota’s representative leading cars there, such as variety models from 1930s, the current modern vehicles equipped with advanced functions, to the futuristic model car “Mirai” and other advanced cars. Among them we can find the legendary Toyota A- Model car x 06.JPG“Toyoda AA” passenger car in 1936, and the epoch-making first model car of “Toyota Crown” in 1955 and other cars.
It is also interesting to see the transition of technology to respond the consumers’ preference and social requirement.  For example, the challenges to safety and environment since 1970s and 1980s, and o the current stage of seeking designing, driving conformity and safety.  Toyota A- History x06.JPGSo,  in this corner, the museum is introducing various functions embodied by displaying many real cars, such as the first Corolla (1966), Corona general (1973), Camry (1982), Celsior (1989), and the recent “Prius” (1997). There is also a clear explanation of PHV (2012) system and introduction of Toyota hybrid system in detail.


♣  Reproducing exhibition of automobile assembly line 

Toyota A- History x02.JPG         This section provides the reappearance of image map of Toyota’s first automobile factory, named Koromo works in Aichi prefecture, where the company has fully started producing cars with adopting new systematic assembly line in the 1930s. It reproduces the image of the production process of Toyota’s AA passenger, Toyota A- History x01.JPGshowing how perform casting, forging, machining, pressing, painting and assembly works.  In addition to this, the exhibition tries to evaluate the advancement of production technology from the initial stage to the latest one, so you can check how the production line and processing technology have progressed in the 50 years. This seems one of the highlights of the automobile pavilion too.

<Exhibition of automobile production lines>

Toyota A- First stage x06.JPGToyota A- Illust x05.JPG       This section features the situation of assembly line of “Toyota’s AA” car.  The body making, fender processing, engine block casting, machining, etc. are all displayed here along with the overall configuration of the factory map in the 1930s. And the technology advancement in the press works, machine processing, and other big transfer machines are also lively facilitated.

<Reproducing scene of casting and forging, machining process>

Toyota A- First stage x02.JPG        In this section, the transition of casting technology is displayed in addition to the scene of Toyota’s former Koromo factory in Nagoya. First of all, it shows the casting process of engine, cylinder and block in the 1930s and 40s, beside the explanation of advanced casting technology and its machines, like automatic high-speed high-pressure shaping system, aluminum alloy’s high-pressure casting technology, alloy die-casting method, and other machinery technology..

Toyota A- Illust x14.JPG         The evolution of forging process is explained in detail here, particularly on the forging works of gears and steering parts. It also exhibits how the large-sized automatic press of current using 6000 ton’s press works along with comparatively showing the hand-made forging process in the early Toyota A- Machines x02.JPGToyota A- Machines x03.JPG1940s.  So this exhibition indicates what sort of change has been occurred in the forging working process. Then, we can confirm the technological advancement that has been achieved in machining regarding accuracy and speed with observe the exhibits, especially on the improvement of quality of engine parts. The improved equipment includes the Toyota A- Machines x04.JPGcrankshaft pin lathe (1964), the installation of a transfer machine (1969), and the Toyota’s joint drilling machine (1996), etc. The exhibition looks showing the real picture of how machining innovations have been accomplished in order to accommodate current automation and multi-variety production process.

<Dynamic display of vehicle installation and painting technology>

Toyota A- Assembling x01.JPG       Here, we can see the dynamic models of the automatic welding assembly system that is adopted for  Toyota’s recent vehicle  production in the display. It can be noticed in the section how automated robots are operating in the assembling process. The exhibition also indicates how working process has been shifted from primitive manual sheet metal processing to the high-quality body-making in high speed and massive scale production by introduction of this innovative automation.Toyota A- Assembling x02.JPG
Painting technology has also evolved in the automatic work by robots now. In the exhibition, the technology of coating film which prevents rust on the vehicle’s surface and keeps smoothness of body are explained compactly. Actually the exhibition shows how huge technological advancement has been attained in the coating as well as the composition of paint materials from the manual work stage using simple brush tool in the beginning to the recent automatic high-tech spray operation.
Toyota A- Machines x05.JPG         The scene of moving assembly line of body mounting, automatic and baking process was really amazing. It is a spectacular sight that a number of body panels are transported to the assembly line by belt conveyor, and assembled and welded automatically one after another by the robot’s hands. Also, the painting process is similarly made by the automatic painting system using the electrostatic coating method.  Furthermore, the body is sprayed in a sealed chamber, and there a dipping and electrodeposition coating is done automatically. There it is hardly found human involvement, and the entire works are completely performed only by electronic control system. The scene of smoothly carried out process there were really impressive.

<Dynamic exhibition of assembly line >

Toyota A- Illust x11.JPG        After the completion of body and painting, the works enter the final stage of automobile assembly line. This is the best place to inspect how the real car is going to Toyota A- Machines x07.JPGproduce. The corner shows the real assembly lines remodeled at the Toyota’s Koromo factory. It also exhibits a dynamic visual movement of production scene, what’s called as “Toyota Production System” and “Just-in-time” scheme in the real site.
There, the chassis is attached to car body automatedly, then the various parts like engines, doors, tires and others are effectively installed, before exterior parts are smoothly furnished. It is said that an automobile unit would require to equip with an average of 20000 to 30000 parts for completion. It was a really great chance to directly observe this complicated process with our eyes in the real site.

♣  Exhibition of Toyota production method

Toyota A- Illust x16.JPG     It is sure that there’s many technical difficulties to automate and to effectively streamline the assembling Toyota A- Assembling x03.JPGprocess of a large number of parts which have complex shapes. In this requirement, it is indispensable to harmonize the mechanical movement with human works in production process, and it must ensure the reliability of working procedures in safe and accurately.  In addition, it is crucial to have an effective Toyota A- TPS x01.JPGsystem to supply various parts in the accurate timing as well as in the just volume. Thus, the “Toyota Production System” was first invented by Toyota Co. at the Koromo factory to respond these requirements. And this concept has widely distributed in the manufacturing field and rapidly became as an innovative system, not only automobile assembly factories, but other field too.
Toyota A- TPS x04.JPG     In the museum, a commentary section on the concept of “Toyota Production System” is Toyota A- TPS x02.JPGprovided as well as the examples of application in the factory operation for visitors. According to the explanation, we should see two basic concept pillars of “Toyota production system” in the concept, that is, “Automation” and “Just-in-time” in the manufacturing field. The commentary there extensively explains these with the elaborate illustration and with real adopted cases, such as what’s the scheme and mechanism are involved, what’s the origin of the thinking of Toyota Co., and how’s evolution and development have been actualized for the “method”.
Toyota A- Assembling x04.JPG       For example, the unique messages that “if a problem occurs, the whole operation should be stopped immediately, and do not allowed to continue work before finding the reason of defects” (“Jido-ka” Self-decision automation), and the concept “Only at the time of necessity, the parts are supplied with necessary and enough volume in the process without stagnation” (“just in time”). And the practical examples to these concepts are also visually shown as actual mechanisms, like “string switch”, “Andon”, “Kanban”, Toyota A- TPS x03.JPG“lot production”, etc.  Although the concept itself looks quite simple, but it is well-thought and innovative way in the production process economically as well as technologically. It is really convincing when we see the explanation using practical examples in the site. Also, it was interesting to see the current challenging “Toyota’s Global Production Promotion Center (CPC) and its global Kaizen system too.

♥ After visiting the automobile pavilion

Toyota A- Illust x10.JPG      I could just visit both Textile Museum and tour the Automobile Museum this time.  in this tour, I really could recognized  that automobile industry is how mighty broad and  integrated industry, and could broaden my knowledge a bit about  complex automobile technology. And also I realized how Textile and Automobile industries have been evolved with experiencing in the long period of time. And I noticed as well that the Japanese automobile industry had initially started just Toyota A- overview x 02.JPGfrom the imitation and acquisition of the technology from the US and Europe, but the catch-up speed was quite fast, especially Toyota Co. which has been accumulating its own technology through continuing  efforts and own collaborative findings. And now, the company gains the first-class position in the automobile production in the global world. It was quite fruitful for me to be able to see the complexity of automobile technology through museum visit.
However, it is commonly pointed these days that the future of automobile industry is looked unpredictable, in the meaning of environment problems, changing energy from gasoline to electric , surging autonomous vehicles movements,  necessary safety measures, etc.
Toyota A- Illust x06.JPG    Under  these circumstances, it is really interesting to see how automobile companies, particularly Toyota will move in the future. I’d like to know how Toyota will respond to these circumstances and how it will develop their technologies, production methods, and business strategies to adjust them in the future.  In that means, this memorial visit has been a quite valuable for me.



Toyota A- Machines x05.JPG

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Visit Toyota Industrial Museum (1) – Textile Pavilion

Exploring the secret of Toyota initiative of textile initiatives

ToyotaT- Logo x01.JPG              When the meeting being held last year in Nagoya, I ToyotaT- View x01.JPGhave visited the Toyota Museum of Industrial and Technology.  Because I’ve been long interested in the role of automobile industries in Japan and Toyota’s unique position of technology development and businesses in it. Regarding the automobile industries, it looks lots of hot issues are popularly discussed these days, like future of automotive industry,  environmental measures, technological shifting  to electric vehicles, safety and autonomous driving cars, and so on.  In this circumstance, ToyotaT- loom x01.JPGvisiting the ToyotaT- loom x04.JPGMuseum was really good chance  to get some clues for me about the technology issues of automobile industry as a whole and its development history in Japan.
       It said that Toyota’s Museum was opened in 1994 to  to advertise a historical trajectory of Toyota’s business development and introduce technology background of automobile in Japan.  And  the Museum now become the most attractive facility in Nagoya for learning  historical development of mechanical industry of Japan.ToyotaT- Illust x02.JPG

ToyotaT- Illust x08.JPG    As looking at the museum, the exhibition can be divided into three sections. These are first the “Textile Machinery Pavilion” for exhibition of textile machines. then the “Automobile Pavilion” for automobiles, and finally the “Toyota Group Hall” which shows the achievement of the company history.  There found that a number of valuable goods  related chicaneries are displayed in the redbrick classic  building being used as a factory site of  Toyota’s former Sakae Plant of Toyota.
ToyotaT- spin x13.JPG      Visitors would be overwhelmed with the rich contents of exhibits on the textile and automobile and impressed  how Toyota was advancing its technology and business though a century long strong initiatives that cultivated textile machinery industries and then advanced automobiles business until now.
       Firstly I’ll start my report with “Textile Pavilion” , then continue to the “Automobile Pavilion” next.

♣  Brief View on the Exhibition of “Textile Pavilion”

ToyotaT- person x01.JPGAs visitor enters the entrance hall, the huge real object of the “Circular Loom” appears in front of us. This is the monumental loom invented by ToyotaT- loom x01.JPGSakichi Toyota, a founder of Toyota Co. This is an epoch-making machine for Toyota that could be weaving an ultra-wide cloth in the effective way for the first time in Japan. And the machine also shows a clear evidence of evolution of Japan’s mechanical technology when it was predominantly depending on imported Western technology.
When the visitors proceed to the main exhibition hall, “Textile Pavilion” comes ToyotaT- spin x02.JPGnext. Here the evolution of textile making tools are introduced from primitive tools to machines, particularly development of spinning machines in Japan from the ancient days to the present stage. In the exhibition, Toyota’s business development process is explicitly reflected in the exhibition. For example, how the company has been advancing from weaving machinery to the automobile industry through using technology of textile machinery.

♣   Exhibition of specified to the Spinning Section

The first corner is about the “Traditional technology of spinning and weaving”.

<Primitive stage of spinning and weaving>

ToyotaT- Illust x11.JPG       The spinning and weaving tools and its process using manual handcrafts ToyotaT- spin x03.JPGare shown here in which thread is twisted from fibers such as cotton, and it weaves it to make yarn by human hands. The model displays the Japan’s traditional “Koshibata” (the oldest weaving loom with sitting style) and “Jibata” (the loom by sitting style but it has a frame structure in 1600-1800s), ToyotaT- spin x01.JPGas well as traditional spinning wheels in the various style. It also exhibits the “Batten Hand Loom” which was introduced from China and modified it using flying shuttle in the Edo period for weaving “Kyoto Yuzen” fabrics)

But before long in the modernization process after the Meiji period, the mechanization movement began to influence on the weaving and spinning process in the large scale. These revolutionary technology shifts are extensively explained in the exhibition.

<Initial stage of spinning technology and machines>

Actually, Japan’s spinning business had to start with the import of the European ToyotaT- spin x06.JPGtechnology and much depend on the expensive machines in the industrial mechanization in Meiji. On the other hand, while the development of cotton textiles needed as a major export commodity, the productive textile machines were used in the big state-owned enterprises or ToyotaT- spin x05.JPGlarge private companies only with limited capacity. In this situation, Japan’s textile industry strongly demanded simple and low-priced machines at that time. For answering these demands, unique manual spinning ToyotaT- person x04.JPGmachine “Garabo” was produced in 1873 by ‘Tatsumune Gaun, who invented it using Japan’s wood-making technology. Then, this wood machine was quickly spread in the textile industrialists throughout the country and became to contribute a lot to promote export textile industry as a whole in Japan. At the museum, this actual machine was displayed in the exhibition corner.

<Development stage of spinning machine since 1900s >

ToyotaT- spin x04.JPG        As for the spinning machines, Japan had been predominantly depended on the Western technology until 1900s, but many efforts of modification and improvement were activated by Japanese engineers for leading to produce competitive domestic ToyotaT- spin x10.JPGmachines. Among them, Toyota’s initiative was significant.
ToyotaT- person x03.JPG      At the exhibition site, Toyota’s various spinning machinery are placed in line along with many European machines, including the “Super High Draft Ring Spinning Machine “ which eliminated the rolling process never seen previous spinning mechanism. This direct spinning machine was invented by Kiichi Toyoda in 1920s by using Japanese original technology.
ToyotaT- spin x09.JPG      In the postwar years since 1945, the fully automatic spinning system were widely adopted and developed originally in Japan owing to progress industrial technology which was cultivated by Japanese engineers beside using European machinery. A large number of spinning machines were exhibited side by side at the ToyotaT- spin x12.JPGexhibition hall. It shows how spinning machines have progressed in technology in Japan, such as high-speed carding engines, drawing frames (1951), fly frame (1951), ring spinning frame (1955), continuous automated spinning system (1960) and others many.


♣   Exhibition of specified to Weaving Machines

<Initial condition of loom technology development>

ToyotaT- Illust x03.JPG      In this loom exhibition corner, the history of weaving the “cloth” is shown, for example,  how loom technology has been transitioned from human hand to power looms, ToyotaT- loom x03.JPGautomatic looms, and until latest sophisticated looms which controlled by computer, with providing real machines by each generation.
The first exhibitions here are ancient “Koshibata” and “Jibata” mentioned above. And we can also see a so-called “Battan loom” loom too, which equipped with flying shuttle as a historic exhibit there. This Batten loom was famous for epoch making loom which was brought back from U.K. in 1873 by one overseas trainee and widely used in Japan in the Meiji period.

<Exhibition of Toyota’s development of looms>

ToyotaT- Illust x12.JPG          After that, a number of original looms were produced in Japan by Japanese textile companies including Toyota Weaving Machine Co.  At the weaving corner, many Toyota style looms are exhibited of this period as main features ToyotaT- loom x05.JPGthat was developed by Sakichi Toyoda.  What being particularly valuable exhibit would be the “G-type automatic loom” which invented by Sakichi in 1924. This loom facilitated a 24 automatic, safety device including non-stop automatic conversion device, which can smoothly ToyotaT- loom x10.JPGreplace shuttle without reducing the speed during high-speed operation. This Japan’s unique loom technology is considered as evidence that weaving machine has achieved to world class level until that time. The first unit of G-type machine is designated as a “National Machinery Treasure ” in Japan, and the reproduced machine is displayed at the hall as one of the main exhibits of museum.

<Crest weaving and advanced high-tech looms>>

ToyotaT- Illust x04.JPG    On the other hand, in Japan, “Sorabiki Bata” (Draw loom) were widely used as a ToyotaT- loom x17.JPGToyotaT- loom x16.JPGloom machine enables to weave complicated crests or patterns on the thick damask or curtains. For weaving by this machine, two operators, who are sitting at upside and lower side, are required to work together in a synchronized way. This loom was commonly used until just before modern “Jaccard looms” were introduced in Japan which enable automatic control of this ToyotaT- loom x18.JPGtype of weaving. At the hall, the both type of crest, Sorabuki and Jaccard weaving machine, are exhibited for the comparison. Furthermore, the series of technological advancement in this crest weaving are displayed in this corner along with current electronically controlled automatic looms which are actually used.

In addition, abundant high-tech real looms are displayedToyotaT- loom x15.JPG ToyotaT- loom x13.JPGas well at this corner which indicates current technology advancement in the weaving machines, such as “Water jet looms” and “Air jet looms”, computer-controlled picture-drawing looms and others by exemplified Toyota’s latest products.

<Toyota’s initiatives from textile to automobile industry>

ToyotaT- Illust x13.JPG     According to the explanation, the basic technologies used for developing these spinning and weaving machines, in particular, the sensor and control technology, which was pursued  in the ToyotaT- Mech x02.JPGToyotaT- Mech x01.JPGautomation and safety method adopted by Toyoda loom, looks passing down to the operational spirit which enabled the innovative cultivation of Toyota’s automobile industry in the next stage. Anyway, the technological background and passion for new technology by founders Toyoda Sakichi and Kiichiro seem finally lead to the successful challenge to the automotive development of the ToyotaT- Illust x14.JPGcompany. It seems that The Textile Pavilion of this Toyota memorial Museum realized us these facts in the exhibition. At the next description, I’d look at the situation of “Automobile Pavilion” that indicates what Toyota has cultivated the new technology and the situations Toyota cars present and future in the exhibition.

(Part 1 end)




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Visit Suzuki History Museum

 Suzuki’s business development from weaving to bike and towards automobile

SuzukiM- logox01.JPG  I had chance to visit Hamamatsu recently. There we could realize that SuzukiM- View01.JPGmajor world-class motorcycle manufacturers, like Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha,  were all born  and developed around this industrial zone in Shizuoka prefecture.  Among them, Suzuki is quite strong in the motorbikes and lightweight vehicles business and SuzukiM- View02.JPGholds quite big share in Asia.  Then, I decided to visit the “Suzuki History Museum” in this occasion. The Museum exhibited many motorcycles and lightweight-cars which were produced by Suzuki while describing the evolution of its manufacturing there.

Suzuki History Museum HP:

♣  Outline of Suzuki History Museum

SuzukiM- logox09.JPG   The exhibition in the Museum is displayed in line following SuzukiM- View03.JPGSuzuki’s business advancing process. At the first scene, it shows the first stage of Suzuki history by describing a founder Michio Suzuki’s episode regarding his unique product of “Double foot-operating loom system” and the story of establishment of his company, along with displaying this loom machine as well as various real SuzukiM- person04.JPGautomated looms which had developed after setting-up company and business expansion.
At the next corner, it introduces how the firm started to involve in the motorcycle business after the War. You could understand how Suzuki has opened up new business by this business conversion. It’s interesting that there various types of bikes developed during this timeSuzukiM- bike05.JPG are exhibited as examples. Additionally, in the automobile field, a series of newly developed light-automobiles are displayed there too which produced in the expanding process to four-wheel vehicle sector. Also, the interesting exhibition is found at the other corner as well. There Suzuki’s current SuzukiM- View07.JPGoperation management concept is displayed, such as the process of creating new products, concept making and designing of motorcycles and automobiles. The demonstrations of production assembly lines are also attractive sector. In addition, at the Asia Corner, Suzuki’s business operational activities in overseas are nicely introduced.   Let’s take a closer look at the contents of the exhibition with development history of Suzuki below. 

♣  Founding of Suzuki as a loom  maker

SuzukiM- Illust03.JPG      In this section, Suzuki’s business founding is introduced with an SuzukiM- Loom01.JPGepisode of the invention of Suzuki-type “Up-down Shuttle Box” loom by  Michio Suzuki. According the explanation, Founder Suzuki produced a foot-operated type of loom after finishing his apprenticeship works in a carpenter shop in the young age. After that he decided to set up SuzukiM- person01.JPGa new firm called “Suzuki loom Co.” because the loom machines he developed won the big market reputation, and he thought it had good prospects in future. Then, Suzuki began to produce the various automatic looms one after another adding new functions. The company was quite success in business by these efforts and could SuzukiM- Loom02.JPGmultiply its business, particularly Suzuki-type loom machines “One side 4 twill loom” became were exceptionally success because they could efficiently weave “Lattice patter” clothes which were very much favored in Asia, especially in Indonesia and the other southeast Asia. As a result, Suzuki could expand broadly their SuzukiM- Loom03.JPGoverseas market as a leading manufacturer in the following years.
On the other hand, Suzuki was showing its will to develop own automobiles in the 1930s by using of their textile machinery technology. (The development in this process might be similar with Toyota’s experience)     At the History Museum, a number of looms at that time were displayed, along with the episode of Michio Suzuki and Suzuki’s business development.

♣  Business conversion to motorcycles and its evolution

SuzukiM- logox03.JPG    Although the business was greatly expanded in the 1930s, Suzuki, which got seriously damage by the War, was forced toSuzukiM- bike01.JPG change its business strategy. What had directed to was the challenging to new cultivating motorcycle business by using engine technology of textile machinery and its related equipment. Then, Suzuki’s first Motorbike “Power Free” (launched in 1951) was born using remained equipment survived from the war with SuzukiM- bike02.JPGengineering skills being nourished in producing weaving machines.      But the challenged new business by Suzuki was highly successful. The company tried to make a simple type of auto-bicycle, which equipped with small auxiliary engine to the bicycle. Soon this bike became quite popular and sold well because of its convenience and inexpensiveness, though SuzukiM- bike03.JPGsimilar bike was already produced by Honda in 1947 and gained the favorable reputation among consumers. As a matter of fact, these types of auto-bicycles were produced much by many makers reflected SuzukiM- person02.JPGsocial demand to such vehicles, but they were soon disappeared by sever competition and poor-quality. Among them, Honda and Suzuki were survived and successfully expanded business supported by continuous improvement of qualitySuzukiM- bike05.JPG and producing innovative new products.  The person who explored this business was Shunzo Suzuki, a second president of Suzuki. His statue is proudly placed at the exhibition corner along with his first real model of “Power Free” there.
Since then, Suzuki was consecutively producing various new bikes based on this first model with advancing technology and expanding marketing SuzukiM- bike04.JPGSuzukiM- bike06.JPGSuzukiM- bike08.JPG




strategy. As these evidences, numerous newly motorbikes are exhibited in the hall to show its successful development. Among them, many models can be observed, SuzukiM- bike07includes the first full-fledged motorcycle production “Koleda 90cc” (1954), Suzuki “RM 63” winning the Isle of Man TT race, and the Diamond-free car traveling in Japan in 1953, and others. Meanwhile, in the development of the motorcycle business, the company’s name was changed to “Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd.”


♣   Challenge to Light-weight vehicle and its growth

SuzukiM- Illust02.JPG     In the 1950s, Suzuki began to entry into the 4-wheel SuzukiM- car01.JPGautomotive field by applying its pre-war technology experience.  The vehicle named “Suzulight” (1955) is the one which produced as a lightweight-car for the first time in Japan. This was a really outstanding work that seemingly fitted to the Japan’s economic condition SuzukiM- car10.JPGand the consumption pattern at that time. In the museum, the anecdote story pertaining challenge of this lightweight-car which was introduced using a life-size model and theater shows. There also an animating scene is provided that describes how light vehicle was accepted in the general families in this period. These settings are quite attractive for us to figure out of people’s lifestyle that time.

SuzukiM- car02.JPG  SuzukiM- car03.JPG  SuzukiM- car04.JPG
These lightweight cars have continuously changed and diversified in their feature down the road, like light vans, SVs, or light trucks for the commercial use , not only sedan type passenger cars, while the technology was proceeding from the SuzukiM- car07.JPGSuzukiM- car08.JPGfirst generation to second and third generation. At the museum, a number of the real automobiles are exhibited to indicate how expansion of light car market and its technology had advancement in this period. Among them, the “Suzuki “Jimny” in 1970 was a good example of the new type of light vehicle at that time. Furthermore, “Alto” in 1979, “Cartas” in 1983, and SuzukiM- car11.JPGSuzukiM- car09.JPG“Suzuki wagon R” in 1991 are known well as innovative products among them, besides recent “Swift” in 2004.  These cars are extensively displayed in the hall to attract visitors.

While development of these mini vehicles in SuzukiM- Illust01.JPGprogress, technology of motorcycle has also significantly advanced and could cultivate massive domestic market and export. Then Suzuki’sSuzukiM- bike11.JPG name as a motorcycle manufacturer became greatly appreciated not only in the Japan but across the world, particularly in the Asian market. In the exhibition, various advanced SuzukiM- bike10.JPGmotorcycles which developed in this market expansion were fully displayed in the hall. The “T350” in 1960, the “Crazy-doctor T500” in 1968, “RS-5” which mounted rotary engine in 1974, “GS750E” in 1978, the GSX400FS Impulse in 1982, , and the Bandit 400V in 1991 are proudly displayed side by side. They also published a new model of “Katana GSX” in 2000s.

♣   Road to the global light vehicle manufacturer

SuzukiM- logox06.JPG The advancement since the 1980s was outstanding especially in the Asian market, in addition to the launching of a new type vehicle SuzukiM- View08.JPG“Wagon R”, which became a pioneer of general lightweight wagons, and “Swift” as a world strategic car. These movements are the Japanese history of lightweight car development itself.  It can be said that Suzuki was one of the significant leading makers in the light cars Japan as well as in the SuzukiM- View04.JPGworld.
Furthermore, another interesting corner is available in the Museum. This is “World Adventure” corner which shows Suzuki’s worldwide operation scheme, including its overseas production bases and marketing channels. The uniqueness of this corner is the exhibition of Asian culture and history which were expressed in multiple languages to familiarize Suzuki’s overseas operation.  It seems proclaiming how Suzuki is focusing on the Asian market now as its strategy.

♣    “Factory Corner” showing the site of Suzuki’s technology development

SuzukiM- Illust04.JPG     One of the attractive points in the museum would be the exhibition that Suzuki’s current production lines are fully revealed in SuzukiM- Process01.JPGthe museum. For example, the making process of motorcycle and four-wheel vehicle are extensively shown in the full-scale models. So that visitors can understand how the vehicle is developed and manufactured by viewing them.
SuzukiM- Process02.JPG   First, the way of setting-up new model of vehicle is introduced, and how to decide its design, process of creation of clay models and structures is clearly described, then how to make quality control and safety systems are also displayed in detail and actual car assembly lines are shown too. These are all exhibited by the dynamic moving models in the easy-to-understand manner in the museum.

♣   Remarks after Visit


  -– Considering Hamamatsu area as an incubator of machine industry development

SuzukiM- logox11.JPG   The industrial area around Hamamatsu, where Suzuki was SuzukiM- View09.JPGborne, has been widely noted as an area being flourished in the machinery industry for long time. For example, Yamaha, which is famous for musical instruments and motorcycle products, Honda, a worldwide manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycle, and Toyota which is named outstanding business leader in the global automobile industry. These global manufacturers are all SuzukiM- View11.JPGSuzukiM- View10.JPGoriginated from the broader industrial region called “Chubu area” stretching from Hamamatsu to Nagoya. Hamamatsu Photonics is also noted in the electronic and optical manufacturers sector. It is believed that it is a rare industrial cluster zone to densely concentrate and develop machinery industries, particularly automobile industries in the world.

SuzukiM- View13.JPG      According to the officials of Hamamatsu City, the roots of these active industrial base could be “far backed to the Edo era, when the textile, lumber and woodworking industries had been flourished there and formed the economic foundation of Hamamatsu area.” And many innovative inventors and engineers were nurtured  on these foundations. They insist  these factors are continuously giving strong influence to the textile industry and  weaving machines in SuzukiM- person10.JPG