As its business expanded, Yamaha pursued a variety of activities to popularize its products, based on a philosophy of creating demand through its own efforts. Yamaha not only manufactured and sold motorcycles and motorboats, the company also worked to promote their safe and proper use, as well as the fun to be had when using them in this way.
These promotional activities were first initiated with the marine business, and were later applied to the motorcycle business. They began two years after Yamaha began marketing boats with the establishment of the Yamaha Water-Skiing School in 1962, and grew more diversified in the 1970s.
Japan’s national income had grown and the amount of available leisure time had increased thanks to remarkable economic growth. People were gradually becoming more interested in marine sports, and recreational boats and sailboats were rapidly growing in popularity. Nevertheless, in Japan at the time, the tradition and cultural practice of using the ocean and harbors as places for recreation had not yet taken root.
Rules and etiquette to enable people to enjoy marine sports had not been established. In light of this situation, Yamaha set up a Safety Promotion Headquarters at its corporate headquarters in 1971. Thereafter, the company worked to promote good seamanship, which involves appreciating the joy of marine sports and working to preserve the beauty of the natural environment.
Also in 1971, the company started the Yamaha Boat License School. The goal of the school was to ensure compliance with the licensing system, which had been established as recreational boats and sailboats had become more popular, and to widely promote awareness of marine sports and related technologies. Through discussions with the then Ministry of Transport, Yamaha worked to convey information about conditions in countries where marine sports had a long tradition and to promote the importance of developing wholesome marine sports. At the same time, the company endeavored to improve seamanship and navigation skills through its license school.
As Yamaha’s products grew more diverse in subsequent years, marine sports-related classes, starting with the Yamaha Water-Skiing School, led to the development of other classes for enriching the water sports lifestyle. Classes were established for personal watercraft riding, diving, fishing, and other activities. In addition to educational programs such as these, Yamaha organized clubs for dinghy enthusiasts and staged various events such as the Yamaha Sailboat Week, fishing contests, and sailboat races.
This series of activities to popularize marine recreation originated in a longtime dream of President Genichi Kawakami to “establish new forms of leisure in Japan,” because “leisure is indispensable for people’s lives and promoting ideal ways to properly pursue leisure is socially meaningful.” He noted YMC “cannot continuously incur a loss, but a time will surely come over the long term when the pluses and minuses cancel each other out, so I believe promoting such businesses will be positive for Yamaha.”
Persistently continuing to conduct such programs to popularize marine recreation served to steadily broaden the base for this form of leisure in Japan.