This is a travelogue of Honda dealers in the BeNeLux who won a competition and were allowed to visit Japan. Very nice to read and thanks again to Hans for supplying the material!
SPECIAL EDITION « HOLIDAY IN JAPAN »
In a few moments the Honda dealers will take off. The wonderful Japan adventure begins!
THOSE WHO TRAVEL FAR AWAY CAN TELL MANY STORIES...
Telling is only a reflection of the actual experience. Ten days in fairylike Japan ! For the Honda distributors, winners of the Honda competition, the fairy tale is now over. They will remember for a long time, about this unforgettable holiday... which they have been able to experience!
They have arrived, The reception committee, formed by Honda Motor's
senior leaders, immediately takes the European visitors in tow.
Thursday 12 November, Arrival at Tokyo
At 7.15 pm local time our DC 8 C from the K.L.M. lands at the Tokyo International Airport, after a stopover (brrr!) in Alaska ! On the runway we are warmly welcomed by a very sympathetic delegation, consisting of many representatives of Honda. This exuberant friendliness promises for our further stay. With a fast and comfortable bus we arrive at the Palace Hotel of Tokyo. First surprise! This hotel bears witness to a comfort that is very rarely found in Europe. Each guest has a room with bathroom... with radio... and even with TV!
At 8.30 pm, European dealers will meet the Honda management at a "greeting reception". Describing the luxury of this reception is impossible, it would lead us too far! All dealers slept like marmots during their first night in Japan. Because we had already understood that, for the next busy days we had to have slept well!
Where is written that Friday the 13th is a lucky day!
Our first day in the Land of the Rising Sun leads us to the Honda Research and Development Institute in Saitama, on the outskirts of Tokyo. At the entrance each of us gets the white cardigan and the famous cap, which form the inseparable uniform of all members of the big Honda family. The example comes from above. Yes, because even Mr Siochiro Honda makes no exception to this rule!.... A little disappointment awaits us here. We have to leave cameras and cameras in the dressing room. All we will see is "top secret"!
This institute is unique in its kind. Every Honda part is tested here according to state-of-the-art methods. There is even a room where the temperature can be reduced to 50 degrees below zero. Scholars and technicians (they are 700 in number!) study the behaviour of the Honda engines. With real determination they work on the development of motorcycles, cars, generators, ind. engines, aircraft engines and machine tools, which are used in the production process of the Honda factories. We have the opportunity to see everything, to ask for everything, to investigate everything... except for some rooms where the door remains hermetically closed for each person "alien to the service".
There we are working in the greatest secrecy on the models that will soon cross the whole world!
It remains to be said that the welcome was also very friendly here and that Mr Honda showed us around in the most personal way.
Around noon we turn our bow to the Honda factory in Saitama, just a few minutes from the institute. Always dressed with our cardigan and cap we come face to face with the ultra-modern manufacturing methods, which amaze everyone. Once again we get to know the enormous production possibilities of Honda.
The factory of Suzuka is so vast that you have to visit it by train.
We have lunch at the factory itself, in the company of the leaders of society. But the day is not over yet.
Some time later we are at the headquarters of Honda Motor in Tokyo. New wonder and admiration for that mighty building, with bright offices, perfectly grouped and furnished. There is enormous activity and at the same time a pleasant working atmosphere. We also see the many teleprinters that form the link between the main house and the Honda offices around the world.
Mr Soichiro Honda, in his welcoming speech.
After our arrival at the hotel, at 8 pm we will be our guest in one of the most beautiful night-clubs, which you can imagine, the Mikado Restaurant Theatre. Talk about the beauty of the menu... or of the splendour of the spectacle is impossible work. In every respect, the offer can be compared to the best show of Broadway and even Las Vegas. The end of this evening is far too early but we comfort ourselves with the thought that tomorrow will also be a formidable day!
At the entrance of the search centre of Honda Motor everyone
has put on the classic Honda uniform: white cardigan and green cap.
Saturday 14 November - Man is a big child!
Around noon that day we arrive at the Tama-Tech, the leisure park for young and old. It is a kind of Disneyland... but all in the sign of the 4-stroke engine. After a dinner, as abundant and refined as the meals we had enjoyed so far, we have to conclude again that man is actually a great child! Like crazy we have enjoyed ourselves on scooters, mopeds, go-karts, "flying saucers" and even "cups", all equipped with 4-stroke engines. And on the special motocross-circulation we admired the professional and acrobatic riding skills of the gentlemen Van Oorschot, Colin, Goemans and Siemens from our company. On our return to the Palace Hotel, after having played all afternoon, the table is again set for a memorable feast. Afterwards we will explore Tokyo along the street. Everyone will be impressed by the wriggling hustle and bustle that makes this capital city sizzle. But Tokyo is midnight closing time. Too bad... or rather happy. That way, after a well-filled day, everyone will be happy to crawl between the sheets.... to gain strength for tomorrow!
The gentlemen Scheer, Wuyts and Harmans are getting ready for
a speed race per go-kart on the circuit of the amusement park Tama-Tech.
Still in Tama-Tech. Mr. Van Oorschot gives a demonstration of his
virtuosity as a motor pilot on the motocross-circuit.
At the Suzuka circuit we had the opportunity to test the Honda types
C320 and S90, as well as the sports car Honda 600 S.
Sunday 15 November - Speed : 250 km per hour!
Yes, you have read well: 250 km/h. This is the speed at which the Kodama train from the New Tokyo Line takes us to Nagoya. And the most amazing thing of all is, there is nothing to suggest how fast we get along. Cozy in the deep fluffy sofa beds, we imagine ourselves in a luxurious salon. We let ourselves taste the lunch aboard this train and hardly the last bite has been eaten or dc train is standing still in Nagoya.
Here we visit a fully restored medieval castle and a temple. We also enjoy a chance! Today is the ritual holiday of the children of 3, 5 and 7 years. Three thousand people take part in the pilgrimage, as an expression of thanks for the gods, because they have given them so beautiful, so healthy children. These children, dressed in colourful kimonos, get up in the procession. It is a fascinating sight that none of us will forget! Needless to say, our friend, Mr. Redel from Assenede, can enjoy his visual heart. He brings his entire arsenal of impressive cameras, cameras, light meters, distance meters and filters into position. From all angles and positions he takes snapshots!
Our arrival at the Nagoya Myako Hotel doesn't go unnoticed and we're driven by curious people. But our appetite doesn't have any rest and we do the festive table all credit again.
Some dealers in front of the medieval castle of Nagoya.
Monday 16 November - Suzuka! 4.000 pieces per day!
Describing the Honda factory in Suzuka is an impossible task. We fall from one surprise to another. Superlatives are too modest to reflect our incredible experiences and feelings about this factory, where just 4,000 models a day are finished. By the way, we never believe we will find a factory anywhere else where efficiency is further enhanced. After this overwhelming visit we come to the circulation of Suzuka. Here we can test the new Honda S90 and the exceptional Honda 600 S sports car at our discretion. We reluctantly say goodbye to Suzuka. Back in our hotel we spend (as always) the best care for our stomach. Moreover, we are all spoiled with a nice memory.
Traditional group photo at the Kyo-Yamato restaurant. The Benelux dealers in
festive regatta, especially for the occasion, gathered around Mr Honda.
Tuesday 17 November - The cardigan makes way for the kimono...
Today we are going to take a look at the region of Kioto. Without a doubt the most picturesque place of Japan, where temples and touristic pictures are crowding. Here is a small incident. A group of youngsters storm Mr. Sas. What do they want ?.... Just his signature, because they are convinced, given his stature, that they are dealing with the Olympic judo champion Anton (Geesink. With a restrained smile, Mr. Sas sacrifices himself... Very happy that he doesn't have to give a sample of his judo qualities to the best of his ability !
Today's lunch has been transformed into a gigantic "barbecue" in the open air, on the banks of a fairytale river. What a feast! We're in the middle of a lazy country. Halve lobsters with dozens, steaks and cutlets for which mothers pan would be too small, all served on a mountain of all kinds of vegetables and topped with a flood of delicious drinks. It's clear, even our best appetite (and it's not made by a small one) can't cope with this!
On our return to the hotel, we are met by a master tailor who measures us a traditional kimono and lets us put our feet into those typical Japanese footwear with thick soles. Then we are all photographed, each time flanked by lovable geishas. A wonderful reception awaits us in the Kyo-Yamato restaurant, a 100% Japanese occasion, where HH. MM. King Boudewijn and Queen Fabiola were guests during their visit last year.
Handing over of gifts to Mr Honda at the Kyo-Yamato restaurant.
An "exuberant" table of the many, during the 100% Japanese dinner in the
restaurant Kyo-Yamato. On the picture : the gentlemen Sas, Harmans and Oosterbaan.
It will be a royal dinner (how could it be otherwise ?!!) that will be even more shining with the presence of Mr. Soichiro Honda. We sit at small tables, where a representative of Honda Motor has also taken place... And at the table of Mr. Honda, where Mr. Claeys, Mr. Bonte, Mr. Van den Ende and Mr. Oly are seated, the mood is not the least cordial. On the contrary! We take the opportunity to offer Mr Honda, on behalf of all of us, a hanging clock decorated with gold coins with the statue of Queen Juliana, as well as a portrait painting of Mr Honda. The Benelux guests seem to feel better and more at home in their kimono, despite the fact that they have to put their briefcases and cigarettes in their sleeves... small details that increase the cheerful mood even more. To take your eyes and ears by surprise, dozens of geishas dance and sing, lifting up a tip of the veil that hangs over the Japanese Middle Ages...
Wednesday 18 November - A purely touristic day!
8.000.000 tourists per year! This is the official figure that the town of Atami (about 40,000 inhabitants) is home to every year. Today we are here for lunch. From there we go to the National Park of Hakone, where we see the sulphurous hot springs, the mighty forests and forests.
In the bus the beautiful Japanese hostess, who never leaves us, shortens the journey by singing some songs. However, one of them is very successful... and Mr. Dexters, from Opgrimbie, and Mr. Maenen, from Genk, make a Flemish version of it. After numerous purchases, committed by frantic souvenir hunters (and this kind of thing thrives in our company), we come together in the hotel Kanko van Hakone, whose windows look out over the eternally snowy flanks of the Fyjiyama. In the course of the evening we witness an epic bowling match between the gentlemen Oosterbaan, Derooy, Devries and other bowlers.
National Park of Hakone. In the background you can see the vapors of the famous hot springs.
Thursday 19 November - Fujiyama, here we are!
On the way to the new Honda factory in Sayama we stop at Lake Kawaguchi and then take some refreshments in a hotel, at the foot of the Fujiyama. This amazing volcano is again an excellent exercise for the photographers in our company. Sayama's factory is not operational yet, but we still have the opportunity to take a close look at the remarkable machines and ingenious equipment. Soon, the Honda cars will leave the band here. And we are not a little proud to hear that we are the first visitors to be admitted to this factory. We take our seats again on the bus with destination Tokyo. The New Hilton Hotel, undoubtedly the most beautiful of all Hilton hotels in the world, receives us as princes. After a late "shopping" in the Japanese capital we put ourselves to bed. Good night!
The beautiful Hilton Hotel of Tokyo, where we spend our last two nights in Japan.
Friday 20 November - Honda dealers occupy the city!
Most Honda agents, who trade motorcycles and mopeds, also sell Honda sports cars, even though they do not have the necessary equipment to ensure maintenance. However, Mr Honda has found the solution, namely a central maintenance and after-sales service in the city centre. The service is ultramodem equipped and used by all dealers. By the way, all are co-owners. Truly a simple solution ! But you have to think about it !....
After visiting this center we return to the Hilton Hotel for lunch. The afternoon is off. The Benelux dealers didn't need to know more. Together they all go to the city and besiege the shops as it were... They buy everything they can get. It is a real razzia on everything "made in Japan"! In the evening, in the Star Hill Club of the Hilton Hotel, in the presence of Mr Fujisawa, Vice-President of Honda Motor, we attend the farewell reception : last reception but certainly not the least; as always a royal welcome!
After Mr. Lammers gave our gift to Mr. Fujisawa, Mr. Van Zijp thanks in a moving speech, on behalf of all of us, for the unforgettable stay, during which everything, but everything, was arranged in detail. Nice detail, at this reception we all received a beautiful gift and also a beautiful album with many pictures, recorded during our billiard... The last ones were made the same morning. Another clear proof of the efficiency and the incredible organizational spirit that inspires all of Japan! ... That night we slept under the Japanese starry sky for the last time. But the night seems far too short to us. We all wish that the dawn would take days and days!
Saturday 21 November - Sayonara! ...
Unfortunately! Sayonara... See you soon. Japan, magical fairytale land ! We are at the airport, from which our plane will take off ... if it can take off! Yes, because all travellers are so heavily loaded with gifts, souvenirs, bargains, that we seriously wonder if we should not charter a second plane. The directors of Honda Motor have of course come along to wish us a good trip and wave after us. Whiped up by the reaction engines, our plane disengages itself from the ground... Soon the last images of Japan fade away... Soon we will land in Brussels and Amsterdam, after stopovers at Manila (where the last pennies go up in cigars), Bangkok, Calcutta. Karachi, Dahrhan, Cairo, Athens and... not at Zurich, as planned, since the dense fog forced us to take the district to Frankfurt. There remains one last formality: customs. This went very smoothly, thanks to the kindness of the K.L.M. who did everything possible to make this obligation as easy and as short as possible.
« No adieu, but see you soon!.... »
The directors of Honda Motor find only one thing less happy: "It's a pity, they say, that not all Honda dealers have been able to experience these unforgettable days!...". But, friend-reader, don't be afraid. Honda Motor Benelux is already thinking of a new race ! And who knows, maybe the time has come for you to enjoy Japanese hospitality to the fullest...
At the reception at the Kyo-Yanutto restaurant, charming geishas
danced, reviving a fascinating piece of Japanese history.
HONDA wishes you a happy new year and... flourishing sales!