Monday 25 November 2019

Motor Vehicles in Japan

CAPE ARGUS - 1906, December 29
The motor vehicle has invaded the land of the rising sun, but Japan is far from being an ideal country for the modern vehicle. The roads (says the Industrial Motor Review) are as they have been for centuries, designed only for the most primitive traffic and with the same economy of space which is everywhere manifest. The city streets as well as the country roads average less than 25 feet in width. People and vehicles mix indiscriminately, and look out for themselves as best they may. A 25-feet street is considered a wide one. In many places a motor vehicle with a top would be compelled to put it down rounding a corner, to keep from knocking down awnings. An attempt was made some time ago to have the streets widened, but the inhabitants indignantly protested, because if this took place, they could not walk the centre of a business street, and view the shop windows on either side. The streets of the towns are bad, but those of the country are worse. Many are not six feet wide. Between Nogaya and Kobe there are about 150 miles of fairly good roads, but there are three large rivers to cross, and to make things worse there are no bridges. To read the foregoing remarks one would think that prospect of introducing the motor vehicle to such a country is remote. But the fact is otherwise. Motor vehicles of all descriptions have been introduced, and their number is constantly on the increase. It is an old axiom that the Japanese do everything backward. Here is one example: In other countries the touring car has been the forerunner of the utility vehicles, but in Japan it is reversed – the industrial motor vehicle has taken the precedence. The Japanese have long been chiefly dependent for transport on what they call abbreviately “rich-shas.” Therefore, it is evident that such a condition of offers a wide field for motor buses. The first company that took up the introduction of industrial motor vehicles with serious intent was Osaka Jidoska Kaisha, to operate in Osaka. Seeing that there was a future in Japan for motor vehicles both for passengers and goods, a large order for chassis was placed with an American firm. The bodies of these chassis were made in Japan. The company started out with the utmost care and conservatism. It hired as head mechanic a young man who had been educated in Glasgow. An expert from America was also employed.

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