Beat a storm on a grand tour of Japanese automotive culture

The storm hit at dawn, but the little open roadster was already miles ahead. Typhoon Lan hit the Japanese archipelago with Category Four winds and rain, a blow that saw up to 500 millimeters of precipitation fall over a 72-hour period.

Just before the storm front, I knocked down the roof of the Sanyo Expressway. At speeds above 80 kilometers per hour, rain poured down on this Mazda MX-5 from the Japanese market, giving it the sensation of riding a massive wave. Hit a tunnel, crank up the revs on the gem of a 1.5-liter engine, then detonate the other side like you’re shooting a barrel.

I recommend wearing your hat, but otherwise it’s a wonderful pleasure despite the weather. Bless the Japanese people for providing us with a lasting interpretation of the little British roadster; the MX-5 is as light and perfect as an origami crane, and it’s the perfect vehicle for taking a Mille Miglia’s equivalent of some of the hidden gems of Japanese automotive culture. Cursed be the typhoon.

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A Japanese-spec Mazda MX-5 sits outside a temple in Kyoto.

We start in Hiroshima, with the running of the bulls. Hiroshima is a small town by Japanese standards – a Canadian leader stationed here once called it “The Saskatoon of Japan”. Nevertheless, Hiroshima has its own culture, its own landmarks and its own car brand, Mazda.

If you choose to visit, I highly recommend the Peace Memorial Park, Itsukushima Shrine, and the Mazda Heritage Museum. The latter is open to the public and features wonderful quirks such as the Autozam AZ-1 and Mazda’s Le Mans-winning 787B race car.

However, we have come to find the unusual, and for that we will need a guide. Tomohiro Aono pick me up for some okonomiyaki (a tasty pancake that’s a local favorite), and we’re heading to his latest purchase.

Tucked away in a Hiroshima garage, a multitude of ultra-rare supercars all carry street signs.

It is a Ferrari Maranello 550 GT with carbon fiber bodywork.

Perhaps due to the spectacular canyon roads that branch out across the region, the people of Hiroshima all seem to be going crazy. In Aono’s case, he has a small collection of supercars and he drives them all down the street.

Tucked into the shop with Aono’s widebody Ferrari is a Lamborghini Murcielago RG-1, Bentley Turbo R and Vector M12, of which only 17 were made. The Lamborghini, although a racing car equipped with a roll bar, has license plates. If it hadn’t been for the approaching typhoon, you might find any of these cars prowling the city streets.

Roads like these are what spurred the development of the original Miata.

Satisfied with local specialties and imported Italian firepower, the next step is to drive a dozen hours from Hiroshima to Tokyo. In the early 1980s, a few British car enthusiasts managed to convince the CEO of Mazda to take the same trip in a Triumph Spitfire. He loved it, and the purse strings were opened for research and development on the Miata.

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Taking the long haul rather than one of Japan’s excellent bullet trains costs a bundle. Toll roads are everywhere, and if you don’t have a transmitter, you have to stop and trade jokes (and money) with one of the friendly toll people.

Another feature of the Japanese highway is its many roadside parking areas. Every few miles you can walk to sparkling clean facilities, visit a restaurant, or – like I did – buy a can of hot coffee from a vending machine.

Japanese highways are full of small rest areas like this one.

Rather than heading directly to Tokyo, we had to make a brief stopover in Kyoto. The original capital of Japan, Kyoto is a beautiful city of temples and ornate shrines. Here, however, we don’t stop for the architecture, but for an automotive ancestor: the Toyota 2000GT National Club braved inclement weather.

The 2000GT is Japan’s first supercar and the most valuable collector’s car. Values ​​are well over $ 1 million, but seven of the cars have chosen to weather the storm. An owner even got out of Gunma in a car – we’ll be visiting her collection shortly.

The 2000GT was Japan’s first supercar and remains one of the most beautiful cars ever made here.

In the meantime, it’s back in the saddle for the push to Tokyo. As you enter town, the multi-level highways form a maze, with the buildings brightly lit and the advertisements giving a whole Blade runner to feel.

The next day, I run to Yokohama to visit the Mooneyes cafe. A name that will be familiar to any hot rod in the audience, Dean Moon’s former company is steeped in Bonneville Salt Flats speed tracks and California car customization. However, its headquarters are in Japan.

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Mooneyes Japan is a searing touchstone, with roots dating back to the 1960s.

Owner Shige Suganuma started hanging out at Moon’s boutique in California as a student and eventually brought the brand back to Japan. His parking spot is empty today – he drives normally in a 1960s Ford Thunderbird – but pin-striper (Wild Man) Ishii works hard in the store.

It was then up to Gunma prefecture to visit Takeshi Moroi, president of the 2000GT owners’ club. His collection occupies the entire upper floor of his factory and includes a Porsche 962C, a Le Mans endurance race that he occasionally drives in the streets.

In a warehouse in Gunma, north of Tokyo, a huge collection includes all kinds of rarities.

Just as Singer managed to rework the classic air-cooled Porsche 911, Moroi began to pay tribute to the Ferrari 308 in small batches. It begins with a Group A rally car, which has a steel and fiber body. of carbon, and will also produce Tribute Cars 288GTO and F40LM in very small quantities. The work is superb.

As if that were not enough, his workshop has also just completed the restoration of one of the two 2000GT convertibles used for the filming of You only live twice. The two cars will be reunited later at the Toyota Museum, and you can see Moroi’s 2000GT at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles in the middle of next year.

The MX-5 reaches the top of the Hakone Toll Highway, with Mount Fuji in the background.

As a last hurray, I descend the little Miata to Odawara, and the Hakone. One of Japan’s most famous toll roads, this short stretch of road winds through the mountains, full of loops and meanders. A camera crew and a Porsche 911 show up just after my arrival, along with a couple of full-leather bikers with worn knee pads.

The attendant takes my ¥ 730 ($ 8.28) and politely bows. “Have a good trip,” he said in perfect English.

I pull away from the tollbooth, bounce the needle of the little MX-5 off the rev limiter, and climb the hill. Mount Fuji smiles benevolently. It’s a perfect day, the typhoon is just a memory.

The writer was the guest of Mazda. The content was not subject to approval.

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Samsung tests 5G connection in Japanese trains

In order to show off its progress in 5G technology, Samsung conducted a 5G demonstration aboard a moving train in partnership with Japanese telecom KDDI.

The Korean electronics maker used a 5G router, 5G radio access unit, virtualized RAN (vRAN) and virtualized kernel to build its pre-commercial 5G solution which was used to complete the test which reached speeds of 1.7Gbps peak with 8K video download and 4K video download.

The high-speed train used in the tests traveled more than 100 km / h between two stations in Saitama, Japan. The upload and download capabilities of the 5G network were tested, 8K video uploaded through an on-board router, and 4K video shot by a camera on top of the train was uploaded during the journey.

Samsung sees great potential in equipping trains with 5G that could be used to help improve passenger information and entertainment services and could also serve as a backhaul for onboard Wi-Fi.

KDDI Senior Director of Execution Yoshiaki Uchida offered further insight into the test between Telecom and Samsung, saying:

“Together with Samsung, KDDI has paved the way for new vertical 5G business models, such as a bullet train. With 5G supposed to take rail services to a whole new dimension, the success of today’s demonstration in everyday venues such as a train and station is a milestone indicating that the commercialization of 5G is close.”

KDDI has been working with Samsung on 5G solutions since 2015 and Telecom plans to continue their partnership as it prepares to launch its 5G network by 2020.

Image Credit: Tikisada / Pixabay


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Japanese automakers to accelerate the push for electric vehicles | Asia | An in-depth look at current events from across the continent | DW

In front of hundreds of journalists and Nissan dealers from across Japan, Hiroto Saikawa took the stage at Makuhari Messe Convention Hall on September 6 and unveiled the car that takes electric vehicles (EVs) to a new level and highlights the ambitions of Japanese automakers in the zero-emission market.

“Nissan is proud to be a pioneer in electric vehicles,” Saikawa said. “The launch of the new Nissan Leaf comes at a time when the world is moving towards the era of electric vehicles.

“This is definitely a great opportunity and we intend to make the most of it,” he said.

The Leaf’s latest evolution, some seven years after the launch of the first-generation vehicle that bears that name, incorporates autonomous driving and parking technologies – but it’s the powertrain that has garnered the most attention.

The vehicle has a range of 400 kilometers, a significant increase over the range of 117 kilometers of the first Leaf, as well as an output of 110 kilowatts, an improvement over the initial 80 kilowatts.

Right moment

The timing of the vehicle’s unveiling was opportune, given that European countries like France and Britain had recently announced plans to completely end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040 as part of their plans. efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

More importantly, four days after the Tokyo event, China’s Ministry of Industry announced that it was preparing a timetable to end the production and sale of traditional internal combustion engine cars in order to expand the electrical technology.

No specific date has been set for the Chinese initiative, but the announcement is said to be meant to pressure domestic companies to step up their research and development of electric vehicles. Inevitably, the initiative in the world’s largest car market will also provide opportunities for Japanese car manufacturers.

John R. Harris, a longtime automotive writer, says the industry is quickly approaching a “point of no return” and it is crucial for Japanese automakers to be on the forefront of change technological.

“When the first Leaf came out the battery cost was around $ 750 per kilowatt hour, but it’s dropped to around $ 300 per kilowatt hour today and we’re quickly approaching the point – estimated at around $ 160 per kilowatt hour. – where electric vehicles become cheaper than traditional gasoline engines, ”he told DW.

“Much less to break”

“And we have to remember that an electric car no longer needs so many expensive parts that make up a conventional engine – the engine block, gas tank, transmission, exhaust system – and that there is so much less in a car electric motor that can break, ”he said.

Toyota Motor Corp. was an early leader in the electric vehicle market, launching the Prius Hybrid in 1997 and improved variants in subsequent years. As of January 2017, the company had recorded cumulative worldwide sales of 6.1 million units, although the company appears to be focusing its new development strategies on hydrogen as a fuel.

Honda Motor Co. was also one of the early champions of electric vehicles, producing the first EV Plus in 1997. But just as rivals began to accelerate research and development of electric powertrains, Honda began to hold back and turn to hydrogen. cars.

By the time it returned to plug-ins, it had slipped behind its competition.

Another Japanese automaker, Mazda Motor Corp, has tried another tactic by investing in modernizing conventional engines to produce the SkyActiv powertrain.

Significantly, Toyota bought a significant stake in Mazda this year, just as it did with Subaru a few years ago.

Harris believes the purchases may have been intended to discourage well-funded but newbie automakers in the United States, such as automaker Tesla Inc., from taking over “a company that really knows how to mass-produce cars. High quality”.

Strengthening US operations

Following the agreement, Toyota and Mazda quickly announced their intention to strengthen their operations in the United States, with an investment of $ 1.6 billion in a new production plant and the creation of 4,000 new jobs.

The Prius Hybrid will not meet new requirements for zero-emission cars in California that take effect in 2018, so the company is expected to launch its first fully electric vehicle in 2020. It is also considering mass production of electric vehicles in 2020. China from the start. like 2019.

But Nissan seems to have a head start with the Leaf.

“We were the first to launch a consumer electric vehicle, with the first generation of Leaf, and the seven years since have given us market experience, knowledge of the likes and dislikes of our customers, we helped improve technology and determine what the next generation should be capable of, ”said Nick Maxfield, spokesperson for the Yokohama-based company.

“We have accumulated a lot of know-how on the design and development side and we are actively looking to expand the range of electric vehicles that we produce,” he said.


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Japanese car rentals include stickers that say, “A foreigner is driving”

Japan has worked very hard to prepare for the Olympics, and a whole host of changes have been made in an attempt to help tourists adjust, from overhauling the icons on the map to lifting restrictions on bathers. tattooed.

Another way the country is preparing for an influx of tourists is to review road safety. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructures and Transport works in coordination with the police, tourist offices and car rental associations, and by analyzing data from recorders on board rental cars, they can identify areas where a sudden braking occurs as potentially dangerous for foreign visitors.

With this sophisticatedly acquired information, these groups can take specific action to combat crashes involving foreign drivers. So what steps are taken?

Stickers !!

The friendly deer bear pink sticker in the photo above reads “A stranger is driving”.

Yes, a new trend of “Stranger Driving” stickers is gaining ground among car rental associations nationwide. They’ve been in use in Okinawa and Hokkaido for quite some time and let everyone on the road know you’re not from here, or in the words of the Okinawa Rental Car Association, “to show that the driver is a foreigner who is not used to the traffic rules of Japan.

We should all read “show” to mean “roughly assume” in this case, and what other drivers are supposed to do differently with this information is up to you. It’s kind of like when Marge Simpson bought a Baby on Board sticker to stop people from intentionally crashing into the family car.

Norimono News asked the Okinawa Rental Car Association if crashes involving foreign drivers are on the increase. They said that while serious accidents have not increased, there has been an increase in minor bumps and scrapes. Okinawa reported a 300% increase in such crashes from 2014 to 2016.

That sounds like a lot, but considering that the overall population of foreign drivers in Japan increased by 400% between 2011 and 2015, there doesn’t appear to be any particular increase in foreign-related traffic at all. There is simply more out there.

The desire for stickers, however, is not surprising, Japan is a country that loves stickers and already affixes specials to vehicles owned by the elderly and newly licensed drivers. And unlike these, foreign stickers are not required by law.

In addition, they are in fact removable “magnet stickers”. Indeed, the message “A stranger leads” means different things to different people. For example, for a thief, it means: “This driver probably has a lot of money and personal belongings inside. Or for a right-wing ultranationalist, that means: “Please degrade this car”.

Nonetheless, despite their specious benefits and increased risks to the user, these stickers are gaining traction and could be seen nationwide in the near future.

Source: Norimono News, Response

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Japanese automakers pay to gain market share in the United States

For the first time in nearly a decade, Japanese automakers have overtaken the Big Three in Detroit, the United States, their largest market. Investors should be concerned with what feeds them.

The Japanese pulled off this feat last month, according to data this week. Car sales in the United States are down 7% from the previous year, but the drop is mainly due to General Motors,

DG 3.77%

Ford F 1.54%

and Chrysler.

Japanese automakers, including Toyota,

MT 1.48%

Honda,

Nissan,

Mazda 7261 2.20%

and Subaru, gained market share, with Toyota closing in on tied first place with GM, each holding nearly 16% of the US auto market.

It comes at a cost, however. Toyota on Friday recorded a 46% drop in operating income in the first fiscal quarter in North America, its largest market, good for more than 700,000 cars per quarter, despite 8,000 more cars sold. The reason: higher marketing spend.

But what about all these corollas?


Photo:

Daniel Acker / Bloomberg News

In theory, taking over from US automakers as they struggle to liquidate inventory is opportunistic behavior. On average, US manufacturers’ inventories exceed 100 days of sales, nearly double the 55 days of their Japanese rivals, although this is 10 days above the historical average for Japanese manufacturers.

Overall, inventories are the largest since 2009 by this measure. To keep moving goods, everyone’s offering big incentives, as generous as cash back plus 0% financing for six years. The average for all manufacturers in July was about $ 3,640 per car, up more than $ 200 from the previous year. However, Toyota and Nissan’s incentives have increased by twice as much and Mazda’s by almost three times as much.

Above and beyond / Price / earnings ratios

Source: FactSet

At the same time as they are setting in motion big incentives, the Detroit Big Three are cutting fleet sales, which may improve their margins, but at the expense of revenue. Toyota enjoyed a 25% to 31% jump in sales of its SUV models in July, but idling Corollas and Priuses are piling up. Other manufacturers are increasing their numbers by pushing leases, which accounted for a third of new car sales in the first half of the year, but as used car prices fall, residual value losses will pile up.

In short, there are speed bumps to come. With stock prices for Japanese manufacturers at 9.6 times futures earnings, compared to an average of 6.1 for their US counterparts, it seems investors are giving them way too much credit.

Write to Anjani Trivedi at [email protected]

Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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This is the Japanese car exam that car nuts everywhere want to pass

One hour to answer 100 multiple choice questions. And in Japanese only! Ouch! These are the conditions for a new test which is becoming popular in Japan. It tests your knowledge of cars and, if you are successful, rewards you with what the Japanese call “Car Meister (Expert) Certification”.

Wanting to know what this test was all about, I drove to Nissan’s world headquarters in Yokohama, the location of the last test, to put my car on the line and push my Japanese skills to the limit. Having not taken an exam for over 30 years, I was sweating after 30 minutes.

The exam has been running for two years and has tested over 5,800 people in three different degrees of difficulty. I started with level 3, the entry level, and finished the 100th question in the 56th minute, strumming just inside the one hour time limit. Think about it, 100 questions in an hour means you have to read and answer each question in 36 seconds. Level 1 is so difficult that only 14 people passed it nationally. The test not only tests knowledge of Japanese cars, but includes questions about the global auto industry.

These 100 questions aren’t for those die-hard car freaks who just want to test their knowledge to see what they know. The test is actually used by car dealers as a way to test the knowledge of their salespeople. It makes sense because some salespeople I’ve met don’t really have a clue of their competitor’s past, or even the history of the birth of the automobile, let alone the details of their own brand.

What’s strange is that it’s not just Japanese people who want to torture themselves with a knowledge test like this. When I mentioned that an auto expert test was gaining popularity in Japan, many of my colleagues and friends overseas wanted to try it as well. So for their benefit and yours, here is a taste of this test. I have translated 15 questions into English for the level 3 exam. Answers are listed at the bottom of the story. By using the rule of one question every 36 seconds, as with the exam, you have 9 minutes to complete the next test. Okay, go ahead, and don’t take a look at the answers until you’re done.

Q1. In 2015, a single car manufacturer produced more than 10 million units. Which of the following manufacturers was it?

1) Toyota Group

2) Volkswagen Group

3) GM Group

4) Ford Group

Q2. In 2015, which country produced the most cars?

1) Brazil

2) Japan

3) China

4) India

Q3. Which manufacturer has won the constructor title of the World Rally Championship three times in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and the driver’s title in 1995, 2001 and 2003?

1) Ford

2) Mitsubishi

3) Citroën

4) Subaru

Q4. In 1978, what was the first production car to use a 4-wheel multi-channel electronic anti-lock braking system?

1) Toyota Crown

2) Mercedes Benz S Class

3) BMW 5 Series

4) Volvo 240

Q5. In 1918, a global tire manufacturer was named after its founder Shojiro Ishibashi. Which tire manufacturer is it?

1) Bridgestone

2) Yokohama

3) Toyo Rubber

4) Continental

Q6. Which of the following companies was the first Japanese automaker to compete in F1 in 1964 using an in-house developed race car and engine?

1) Toyota

2) Subaru

3) Honda

4) Nissan

Q7. In 1975, Japan’s first 4WD passenger car was released. What was the model?

1) Subaru Léone

2) Nissan Bluebird

3) Toyota Corona

4) Mitsubishi Lancer

Q8. Who was the first automaker to bring 3-point seat belts to the masses in 1959?

1) Mercedes-Benz

2) Toyota

3) Volvo

4) Ford

Q9. Which two Japanese companies launched revolutionary products in 1997?

1) Toyota (Prius) and Sony (PlayStation Gran Turismo)

2) Honda (NSX) and Nintendo (Super Mario)

3) Nissan (Skyline GT-R) and Nintendo (Gameboy)

4) Mazda (MX-5) and PlayStation (Call of Duty)

Q10. Which of the following Japanese luxury brands was not born in 1989?

1) Acura

2) Eunos

3) Infiniti

4) Lexus

Q11. In 1973, the BMW 2002 offered the first European technology. what was that?

1) Direct injection engine

2) ESCAPE

3) Turbocharger

4) Driver’s airbag

Q12. Which of the following Japanese car names does not exist?

1) Toyota ISIS

2) Daihatsu nude

3) Suzuki Cappuccino

4) Nissan Micromax

Q13. In which of the following 007 films has James Bond used a Toyota 2000GT?

1) Doctor No

2) finger of gold

3) You only live twice

4) From Russia with love

Q14. Which of the following world premieres did the original Honda NSX not use?

1) All aluminum body

2) 4-channel independent ABS

3) Electric power steering

4) Torque vector AWD

Q15. What mass produced car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, making it the fastest production car on the planet?

1) Nissan GT-R

2) Lamborghini Aventador

3) Porsche 911 Turbo

4) Tesla Model S

Answers: 1) 1, 2) 3, 3) 4, 4) 2, 5) 1, 6) 3, 7) 1, 8) 3, 9) 1, 10) 1, 11) 3, 12) 4, 13) 3, 14) 4, 15) 4.


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Why does it take so long for Japanese trains to start running again after an accident?

It turns out that there are many different people involved in the response team when a train hits a person in Japan.

The vast majority of the time, Japan is incredibly efficient the trains will get you to where you are going at the exact minute the schedule says you will arrive. Corn this almost perfect consistency makes delays all the more aggravating, and few are more frustrating than those caused by so-called Jinshin jiko in Japanese.

Jinshin jiko literally means “accident of the human body” and it is a term used to describe any type of incident in which a moving train hits a person on the tracks, whether due to an honest misunderstanding, intoxicated intoxication or suicidal intent. When a Jinshin jiko occurs, not only can it shut down multiple lines, but they can be out of service for hours, with little estimate even given to passengers of when they will be able to continue their journey.

So why does it take so long for rail service to recover of Jinshin jiko? Nagano Prefecture employee Shinano Railway recently took to his Twitter account to explain the long and complicated process.

After applying the emergency brake, the driver of a train involved in a Jinshin jiko goes on the radio and alerts all other nearby trains. Even if they are not on the same line, they should be kept away from the crash area, especially if they are to use the same set of lanes where the lines overlap, so they should be kept clear of the crash area. stop too. . A message should also be sent to headquarters, so that staff there can embark on coordinating the necessary response.

As the first employee on the scene, the train driver should perform an initial inspection of the train and also confirm whether any passengers were injured during the collision or emergency stop. Meanwhile, the seat is contact firefighters, paramedics and the police, as well as to give additional instructions to the trains and stations affected by the accident. The railway company also sends specialized technicians conduct a more in-depth inspection, which could mean summon them from their homes whether the accident happened on a weekend or in the middle of the night.

Once the firefighters and rescuers arrive, they extract the person who was hit, who is taken to a medical center if he still has a chance to save his life. Otherwise, the body is returned to the police, who then begin their own investigation, which includes the search for one of the victim’s property or other objects fallen or left on the rails. If the search takes place at night, the lack of light can make it very time-consuming.

dd-2

Once the police are done, it’s time for the rail operator’s own team to step in, check not only the train, but also the surrounding infrastructure and private property for damage. There is also the task of clean and deodorize the accident site, with a macabre variable being the speed at which the train was traveling when it struck the person. The faster the train, the larger the area to be cleaned and therefore the longer it will take.

It wasn’t until all of this was finally done that the train got the green light to resume its journey. So even though there is a protocol for dealing with Jinshin jiko, the large number of steps that must be completed by separate organizations means that even though railway employees know what stage of the process things are at, they are rarely able to estimate how long it will all take. to take. So the next time you are annoyed by a vague announcement that “service will be restored as soon as possible”, try to remember that the train operator is doing everything possible to deal with a very complex problem.

Source: Buzzmag
Top image: Wikipedia / Rsa
Insert image: Wikipedia / Rs1421



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The 7 weirdest Japanese car names

For the past 28 years, I’ve scribbled on topics ranging from the revolutionary Bubble-era Nissan Skyline GT-R and Honda NSXs to recent highlights such as the Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car. But what makes me frown more than anything in this country is the unique way the Japanese call their cars. Let’s face it, a lot of it is just funny.

Names like Odyssey and Land Cruiser and MX-5 translate perfectly into almost any language. But for the number of names that sound great and cross borders without incident, there are just as many names that will knock you out of your seat the moment they’re spoken.

So let’s take a look at the seven weirdest car names in Japan.

Ranking at No. 7 is the Mitsubishi Dingo. When I first heard the name, I thought they were joking. They were not. I can’t believe any of their marketing managers, the ones responsible for naming the cars, have heard that dingo refers to an Australian wild dog infamous for stealing a baby from a tent. What will they come up with next? The Mitsubishi Pitbull?

Number 6 is the Mazda Laputa. Mazda car name gurus thought it might be cute to name a small car after a fictional location – Laputa – in Gulliver’s travels by Jonathan Swift. But they haven’t explored what such a name might mean in other languages, like Spanish. Considering that Spanish is spoken by over 300 million people worldwide, making it the third most spoken language on the planet, could it seem a little ignorant to call a car which means ” a lady of the night ”?

This brings me to n ° 5. And the Mitsubishi Pajero? Seems fair. A well-known and robust 4WD SUV with rally credentials. Okay, but again, that name raises eyebrows in Spain as well. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it has an overly sexual connotation. This is why the name Pajero was changed to Shogun in Europe.

Ranking at Number 4 is the Nissan Fuga, a sedan with a V-8 engine. In Japanese it means “elegance”, while in Italian it translates to “escape”, two perfectly reasonable descriptions for a luxury car. But in English, or at least to this writer, it sounds like an obscure stale mushroom. So if you say “I’m driving a Fuga” to a group of Italians or Japanese, that sounds awesome. On the other hand, to a gathering of native English speakers, well …

TO n ° 3 is one of my favorites, the Mitsubishi Legnum. For the company’s bean counters, Legnum had to look cool, although for my life I can’t imagine why. When you think about it in an English context, this term couldn’t be more inappropriate for a sporty wagon claiming to be a driver’s car. I mean, hey, drive too long and you get a numb leg, I mean a numb leg.

When I see such names, I feel like I’m watching a poorly dubbed martial arts movie. Remember those early Bruce Lee movies such as Fist of fury in which the actors’ mouths moved haphazardly as the English voiceover struggled to keep up.

This is how the vast majority of Japanese car names present themselves. A little weird. It’s like you’re in a parallel universe where all the rules of language have been thrown out the window and pretty much anything goes.

So why do the Japanese use English or Latin sounding words? The Japanese say they sound more exotic and culturally deeper than Japanese names, even though they don’t understand the real meaning of the word. They’re right, although I think the bottom line is this: The vast majority of Japanese people involved in naming products just don’t care what a name outside of Japan means. As long as it looks cool and captures the attention of target customers, that’s all that matters. The problem is, however, that a lot of words just don’t make sense.

TO No. 2 hang in there, parents, kick your kids out of the room on the Daihatsu Naked. It’s like calling a car “Zenra” which is the Japanese equivalent of nu. Take a look at the exterior of this tiny 660cc minivan, and you can see where that ‘gross’ name might have come from. The car appears to have lost its top layer of sheet metal. In his defense, he does look naked, but to call it that – well – only in Japan.

And at No. 1 must be the Bighorn Isuzu – onot a name that is not Spanish but that is almost guaranteed to generate instant laughs in any English speaking situation. Now out of production, its name speaks for itself.

Then of course there are a lot of other names like Note, That’s, Century, Life, Zest, Latte, Freed and President. Here we go again. Here I am back in this movie nicknamed Bruce Lee. Well, when in Rome …


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30 years ago: Japanese car giant Nissan arrives in the Northeast

Thirty years ago, the first Nissan Bluebird rolled off the production line at the new Washington plant.

Since then, the auto giant has been an integral part of the region’s economy.

It has provided jobs for thousands of people, generated millions of pounds of local business and has become a source of pride for the industry in the North East.

Nissan’s history in the region began in 1981 when the Japanese automaker decided to establish a base in Europe.

In February 1984, the company and the British government signed an agreement to build an automobile factory in the United Kingdom.

The following month, the pristine 799-acre site in Washington, Tyne and Wear – formerly Sunderland Airfield and formerly RAF Usworth – was chosen. There were several reasons for this.

The area had experienced a period of rapid industrial decline with shipyard closures and the gradual closure of the once booming County Durham coal field. This meant that Nissan had a large, enthusiastic and skilled manufacturing workforce.



Prince Charles and the first car in the production line at the Nissan Washington plant, 1986

The site was close to major ports on the Tyne and Tees, a short drive from Newcastle International Airport and close to major highways.

At the time, Sunderland was a corporate zone and eligible for government funding, with Nissan receiving a total of around £ 100million in grants – though the company was quick to point out that this was on top of a small percentage of its investment in its factory totaling well over £ 1 billion.

One of Nissan’s most controversial demands during the talks was for the plant to be single-union. This was unprecedented in British industry, but in April 1985 an agreement was reached with the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU).

The established company became known as Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in July 1984 and work began on the site in November by building contractor Sir Robert McAlpine.

During this time, key personnel were quickly employed.

Oppama in Japan is Sunderland’s sister factory and it was there that in 1985 the so-called “22 originals” were sent.

These are the 22 supervisors – or “super foremen” – hired to learn how Nissan works and convey the philosophy to the people employed to work on Wearside.

The company laid down the basic rules of production – the standard operation – ensuring that there was only one way to get the job done and thus guaranteeing quality.

In December 1985, McAlpine turned over the completed plant building to Nissan for installation of plant machinery and components, ahead of schedule.

The first phase of plant construction was completed in July 1986 and consisted of a bodywork, painting and final assembly line.

The first Bluebird was produced with parts assembled after being shipped from Japan. It will be produced until 1990 and the first model is now on display at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.



There were over 10,000 applications for the first 240 jobs at the new Nissan Washington plant in 1986.
There were over 10,000 applications for the first 240 jobs at the new Nissan Washington plant in 1986.

The official opening of the factory by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Nissan President Yutaka Kume took place in September 1986.

A recruitment campaign was set up with personnel selected for heavy bodywork work, largely from the mining and shipbuilding industry. Over 10,000 people applied for the first 240 jobs.

While many have left the traditional roles of British industry, what awaited them in Washington was new and unique at this time.

Since then, more than five million vehicles have been built there as Nissan continues to grow stronger.


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日本 自 転 車 – Pavel Vabishchevich’s Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich (in common – Chupacabra) tells us a little about the history of the red parts of his bicycle.

During travel we always acquire memories and emotions, but sometimes it’s more than that – we get something tangible and real. This is exactly what happened on my trip to Japan in 2014.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

When I returned home to Moscow, there was a Japanese number sticker on my frame, mainly used to prevent bicycle theft.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

If I remember correctly, it is mandatory to have this sticker in major cities. Those responsible for pasting are the owners of bicycle shops and they must also register each number with some sort of government organization. Although Nagano, where I was most of the time, is not that tall, Keita, an owner of a local bike shop, decided to record my ride for the lulz. I guess I see the long faces of the workers trying to read my last name, which is not verbal in Japanese.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

So that’s the first reason why I styled the bike this way. Second, and I think the main reason, came from a totally different side. Recently I got a new PS Street v.2 meat fork, which replaced the old and shabby first generation of the test series. The fork was good in all aspects except one – the acid yellow color was out of line on my bike. While my aesthetic sense had been violated, I decided to repaint it and acted out using grinder and spray cans.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

And as you can see, I painted it in the colors of the Japanese flags. There was also a Japanese flag sticker on my frame for a long time – all the more reason for all the hassle.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

On top of that, I thought I should add some red elements to my bike and did it as cheaply as possible. I replaced the old tattered handles with red Odyssey cufflinks – left them lying around for about a year in my box of spare parts. I replaced the saddle with red-white Gordo Mutantbikes and tied red insulating tape. Red beer cap hanging on, because I love beer.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

As a bonus, I got a special T-shirt, which has been signed all over by my friends in Japan (thank you, fiction!), And it complements the bike check theme nicely.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

I guess tech enthusiasts won’t be excited about my ride, but it won’t be a bike control without specs.

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Framework Main frame PS 26
Fork PS street meat v.2
Helmet Toy bike
Lower support Toy bike
Rod Odyssey cutlery
Bar PS Profit “L” 106
Handles Odyssey Terry Adams Cufflink Cutlery
Cranks PS Atlas
Pedals Odyssey Trailmix
Pinion Dartmoor fetish
Chain Odyssey key ring
Saddle stem Toy bike
Seat Mutantbikes Gordo
Front hub Vandero Odyssey 2
Rear hub Federal Freecoaster v3
Rims Dartmoor Raider
Spikes DT Champion
Tires Tioga FS100 factory

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Pavel Vabishchevich's Japanese bike

Text from Pavel Vabishchevich
Photos by Ivan Andrianov


MENTION: @Ivanya



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