When coming to Hiroshima, I did my usual research to find out which sights I wanted to see. The main attractions were the Peace Museum & the Torii gate but I also flagged a couple of other things; the Mazda museum wasn’t one of them though. I’ve never really been a car person and I didn’t think it would be for me but on my first night I got chatting to someone who said it was meant to be an awesome experience but was all booked for the month but I decided to look anyway. I must have logged on at the right time as there were tickets available although when the other chap looked, then first three days of tickets had been booked.
I didn’t have high hopes for the Mazda museum but was in for a surprise as it was actually a really great experience with a lot of interesting bits of information. I was expecting to see their cars and some details about their famous rotary engine but actually also got a decent look at the assembly line itself which surprised me.
On the way to the museum I met a couple of older Ausies from Melbourne who were looking confused in the station. I helped them out and they were going to the same place. We chatted a fair bit and it was nice to have someone to talk to on the tour.
After arriving at the museum, we checked in and then got a bus to the main factory. Some of the info the tour guide shared was that the factory was 7km from end to end, they’d build their own bridge and infrastructure which was impressive and also their own fire stations and hospital although they shared these with the local community. We also saw a prototype car which the guy behind me spotted; it was painted like a zebra with thin black and white stripes alternating between gloss and matt paint. He said they did this as it meant evem if someone was to take a photo, it wasn’t really possible to make out any contours or anything else which was clever.
At the site, we first watched a video which was informative; we learnt the Hiroshima bomb went off on the founder of Mazda’s 70th Birthday, it showed how the cars were designed in clay first before being built and provided more history on the plant.
We then went to look at the cars with the first being a three wheeled ‘truck’ which looked like a bike with a trailer. We then saw one of their racing cars and also how the engines had evolved over time with a rotary engine demo as well which was cool . After this we were shown different stages in the cars development from the clay carving to the manufacturing. It was interesting to see how the stamping changed a flat bit of metal with a couple of holes in it into the side of the car.
We then went into the assembly line; no photos were allowed there. This was really the best bit though to see people putting together the cars. it took 15hrs per car and Mazda could build 4000 cars a day which was impressive. In the assemble line we saw the cars rolling down the belt with machines connecting the chassis with the engine and other bits. We also saw people hard at work connecting everything up and then the windscreens being glued and fitting.
The last bit of the tour was touching on how they were environmentally friendly, and then we were back to the main head office.
It was amazing to see that whilst Mazda manufactures cars, there are so many other bits connected to this process from the fire engines and hospitals to the infrastructure and even the fleet of boats to transport vehicles. and for someone who doesn’t like cars, it was one of my most interesting bits of the trip!