Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 2: Nagoya

On Day 2, my father and I traveled 350 kilometers from Yokohama to Nagoya. The morning did not start off well. In fact, it was probably the most mentally trying of my relatively pampered life.

My father recently became disabled and it takes him forever to walk even a short distance. His balance is horrible and a fall is almost inevitable. Japan, as modern as it is, is not disabled friendly at all. And even though I work with disabled people on a daily basis, I finally began to truly grasp what it was like to be mobility impaired in a world of able-bodied people.

Of course, the elevator at the train station was out of service. We had to use the escalator during the morning rush. Can you imagine the stress?!

But it was not just about the disability. It was raining and the ride to the Shinkansen station took forever because of traffic. To make it worse, my father, a heavy smoker, booked us seats in the smoking car. I was in hell. For the 90 minute ride to Nagoya, I was surrounded by smoke, resentful about everything, and frustrated by the entire situation.

But, as always, things got better. On trips, I'm usually the check-the-items-off-the-list guy. This time, I only had one thing on my list-- the Grand Prix. I had no expectations for anything else. And that turned out well.

A good friend of my father's picked us up. He is such a good guy. He and I did not have a language in common, so all the communication was through other people or simply hand gestures. He took three days off to drive us around, arrange for meals and accommodations, and entertain my dad while I was at the race circuit.

Of course, any car geek in Nagoya would want to go to the Toyota car museum. I of course wanted to go. But I did not mention it. Whatever happens happens.

My dad told his friend that I was into cars so he naturally thought of the Toyota museum. The sweet man, not realizing that there were two Toyota museums in town, took me to the Industry and Technology Museum instead. That was unexpected!

The well curated museum is divided in two. The first half covers the textile industry. Toyoda (as it was then known) started out as a textile machinery manufacturer. The other half of the museum has cars. Being polite, I slowly ambled through the textile section first.

The machine below spins and rolls up thread. It's like a huge sewing machine.

Now, the cars. As one of the largest companies in the world, and being Japanese, you would expect Toyota to create an amazing display of its first car prototype. You would be right. This mock workshop was a work of art.

A bas relief of Toyota's first truck.

Downstairs, you can see the cars on display as well as a mock car factory.

Suicide doors!

I really dug this 1970 Experimental Safety Vehicle, which I had never known about before.

The museum was heavy on progress and advancements in technology. Here is an evolution of the car seat. The museum had similar displays of the evolution of rear view mirrors, bumpers, etc.

This was my favorite-- an in-dash fax machine.

Evolution of head units, with an operational vacuum tube radio on the right.

The computer used to design the venerable Lexus LS400.

Here is the mock factory floor. I wonder how/why they chose to use a Celica.

After the museum, we drove to lunch. On the way, I spotted this Jaguar X-Type wagon.

I also spotted this sedan with vertical taillights. The front and side are equally hideous. The back looks like a Mitsuoka Galue, but the front and sides look like something else. Can someone correctly identify it? Thanks in advance.

For dinner, we went to a tiny local joint. We just had little plates of cold tofu, fried pork, and grilled fish. They were accompanied by beer and huge bottles of 40 to 50 proof alcohol derived from local grains and vegetables. You pour a bit in a glass full of ice and you top it off with either water or oolong tea. I drank mostly the millet-based alcohol. The meal was a great way to end the day.


Christopher Diamond said...

Wow! Nice write up.

I think it is a Mitsuoka?

Previously, I was only aware of their Jaguar MK. 2 knockoff (ug) but apparently they have a bunch of ugly cars.

Ed Kim said...

I'm so bummed that when I was in Nagoya last year, I didn't have enough time to hit the Toyota museum. Funny thing...I got to Nagoya the exact same way you did: Yokohama (meetings at Nissan) to Nagoya (meetings at Toyota) by way of Shinkansen! Fortunately, no smoking car for me. :)

I gotta get back to Japan. I really do.

Sjalabais said...

The ESV would be welcomed with open arms in any shortie community today.