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All about International Japan Car Show for Cars, Commercial Vehicles, and Motorcycles

Apr.28.2021
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japan car show

The Tokyo car show is an international Japan car show for cars, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles held every two years with the support of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. The first Japanese car meet, the All-Japanese car show, took place in 1954 at Tokyo’s Hibiya Park. Then 257 Japanese companies demonstrated 267 vehicles in the capital. There were only 17 passenger cars then, and trucks and motorcycles of different classes prevailed. However, even despite the rather narrow target audience, 547 thousand people attended the 10-day Tokyo car shows.

An amazing phenomenon, unprecedented in the world of automotive designers, has been happening every two years in the Japanese capital in the fall days since 1954. Autos, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles are presented at the Tokyo car shows, and this auto show is held under the patronage of the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association. How did it happen that today the Japanese car meet, or Japanese car show, is included in the “big five” and is considered a global event? Let’s figure it out.

The second All-Japan car show was held in 1955 at the same location as the first, but it had already lasted 12 days. Toyota unveiled a new 1.5-liter engine for the compact Toyopet Crown and Toyopet Master models, and Nissan showed off the Datsun 110. As it became clear later, these cars marked the beginning of Japan’s motorization. It is noteworthy that already in 1956 the main focus of the event was not on commercials, but on passenger cars for a wide range of consumers.

From 1973 to 2001, the Japanese car meets were held every two years, the annual cycle was valid only until 2005, after which the organizers returned the two-year schedule. The absolute record for the number of visitors was recorded in 1991 when over two million people came to look at the new products in the automotive industry. And most of all vehicles – 1032, were exhibited in 1985. In different years, at the Tokyo car meet, premieres of such cars as Toyota Prius, Nissan Skyline GT-R, Nissan GT-R, Nissan X-Trail, Honda NSX, and other serial and concept cars took place.

The Birth of Japanese Car Shows and Automotive Culture

japan auto shows

When World War II ended, Japan was among the defeated. The country took a long and hard way out of the economic and political collapse, and for many years ordinary Japanese car meets could only afford a bicycle. Nevertheless, just nine years after the end of the war, it was decided to organize a large automobile exhibition. This idea came to the head of Yataka Katayama, then the chief marketer of the auto company Nissan. He was very fond of cars and for a long time persuaded various leaders of Japanese key companies to take part in auto shows. In the end, Katayama succeeded, and on April 20, 1954, the car dealership was opened. It happened in the capital park Khabiya. Officially, the salon was called The 1st Tokyo Motor Show. However, the Japanese themselves preferred a different name for the event – Zen-Nihon Jidosha, which can literally be translated as “All-Japan Motor Show”. For nine whole days, all the citizens of Japan and its guests had the opportunity to contemplate various brands of cars, among which there were many trucks and motorcycles (or rather, it will be clarified that they prevailed since there were only 17 passengers cars out of 267). The motor show was located mainly in the open air, there were few pavilions under the roof. But in front of the entrance, there was a constant crowd of people who wanted to get inside and admire the sparkling shiny examples of the automotive industry, sparkling with fresh paint. The Japanese auto shows appeared before the public in all its glory, which created the motivation for the Japanese to someday become the owners of a personal car, to drive it with their own hands, and enjoy driving along beautiful routes. Indeed, at that time, only a very influential person from Japanese high society could afford to have a car. Ordinary citizens of the Land of the Rising Sun could only dream of such an opportunity. The motor show in the Hibiya park embodied this opportunity in real images that could be touched and which remained in the memory for a long time. The amazing Japan car meet even had its own emblem – a stele, which depicted a Greek human figure. He turned a large wheel, which symbolized the ability to stop and move forward despite difficulties.

“Own Atmosphere” as the Japanese Mentality

japan car meet

In recent years, there has been a tendency in the global auto industry to pay less attention to the Tokyo Motor Show. This is partly due to the growing popularity of the Chinese car market. Other Asian automakers are practically not represented in Tokyo, and the number of large European brands is decreasing at the exhibition. But the Japanese are not upset. On the contrary, they feel better than ever if they are “all their own” around. Their principle of thinking divides the world into their own and someone else’s. For them, “one’s own shirt is closer to the body” is not a proverb, but a concept of the universe. There is, as they say, its own atmosphere, even if we are talking about a motor show. Only by being a part of society does a Japanese car meet comfortably. There are only two conditions: you need to be of benefit to society and be an integral part of it so that no one will ever notice you in the crowd. Hence the requirement for mandatory participation in the auto show, if the rest of the Japanese participate in the motor show too. No major Japanese automaker will ever let down the “collective” by ignoring the event. Finally, the very organization of the Tokyo car meets Japan in miniature. One should not hope that everything around will be robotic and automated – the Japanese love to create jobs for their fellow citizens if there is even the slightest opportunity for this. Therefore, sometimes it will be possible to be surprised at a suddenly appeared person with a megaphone in his hands – he will direct the human flow in the right direction. This is Japan’s concern for its people. And why, in fact, not?

Converting Traditional Japan Auto Shows into a Virtual Visit

The Japanese are increasingly thinking about the advisability of attending auto exhibitions and increasingly believe that it is much more efficient and cheaper to present a car live on YouTube. For most European and American companies, the Japanese market is far from being a priority, so the abandonment of the Tokyo Smarts is an understandable step aimed at saving money. If this trend continues (and it is likely to continue), the Tokyo Motor Show could regain its former name All-Japan Motor Show, where one continuous JDM will be on display. Of course, from the point of view of business and globalization, this is not very good. However, if the Japanese are upset, they will not grieve for long – they like it when they have “their own atmosphere.” They feel good there and without all of us, especially since the number of visitors today is much less than the peak “zero” years when 800-900 thousand people came to Tokyo for japan car shows.

Japan Car Shows – Innovation and Tradition

tokyo car show

The largest stands were made by the leading Japanese concerns Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, but among foreign companies, only Renault and Mercedes-Benz. The main theme of the show was the motto “Opening the Future”.

For the first time, a Japan car meets show was held at several sites at once, connected by a special area, where one could take part in a test drive of cars or try various types of electric scooters and other autonomous vehicles. The organizers of the Tokyo Motor Show tried to attract the widest possible audience by creating all the necessary conditions for various categories of visitors, including people with disabilities and guests with children.

By the way, Japanese car shows and manufacturers have repeatedly surprised with unique solutions. For example, Toyoda once unveiled a rubber car that consisted of massive segments resembling cactus sprouts or the paws of a snowman. In general, the Toyoda concern is a tire manufacturer, and it was important for it to show the potential of rubber structures to the visitors of the car dealership. The car turned out to be safe for pedestrians because it does not cause injuries upon impact at speeds up to 50 km / h. A hidden space frame is responsible for the rigidity of the structure. Incidentally, the sides of the car are straightened after crushing under the influence of electrical impulses. These are the properties of a specially developed nano rubber. The magnificence of such solutions is amazing and does credit to the entire Japanese car industry.

Extremely popular in the Land of the Rising Sun and kei-cars, cars with an engine capacity of up to 0.66 liters. The owner of such a tiny car in Japan is entitled to a significant tax break. Despite their size, kei cars are only slightly longer than smart, but much narrower. The seats in the back row are like in the C-class sedan. Key cars offer a full list of options, hundreds of modifications, and millions of options for transforming the cabin. The color scheme in which this variety is painted will envy any dude, and the two-tone color among the Japanese has been considered the norm for many years.

Any japan car meets even if it was not shown at the last fashionable auto show, needs drivers who have documentary evidence of the right to drive a car (better than an international standard).

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