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Days Gone By Stories from the Trailblazing Years of Yamaha Motor

Introducing the stories behind Yamaha Motor's technologies.

Days Gone By - Stories from the Trailblazing Years of Yamaha Motor By Chikara Yasukawa

- These entries are an English translation of written and edited Japanese.
- The names of companies, groups, municipalities, facilities, historical events, technical terms, nicknames, etc., are as close as possible to how they were originally written and published.
- Yamaha company acronyms in the original text have been changed to more common wording.
- Entries use Western dating instead of the Japanese era name system, e.g., “Showa 30” is changed to “1955.”
- The text layout has been altered for website viewing.
- Some photographs have been either replaced or removed.


When I retired as president of Sanshin Industries Co., Ltd.—a manufacturing subsidiary of Yamaha Motor for outboard motors and marine engines—someone suggested that I write about what I had experienced over my many years as an employee in the company newsletter, something younger employees might find of interest.

However, when I sat down to do so I realized that, while I felt I gave everything I had in those days, I could only remember fragments. I never thought that the footsteps I had left behind would be so shallow in my mind and felt ashamed at how little I could dig up from my memory. Still, I thought that even fragmentary recollections of my experiences might be of some interest or a point of reference to others, so I decided to write down my fading memories—my literary skills be damned—lest they be lost in the mists of time.

The first pages of my life as a working member of society, i.e., a salaryman, began with my time at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and then joining Yamaha. The following three writings cover my time at Yamaha: Motorcycles and Me, Days Spent with Cars and Together with Outboards. They were originally published in eight bi-monthly installments in the Sanshin Industries’ company newsletter Sea Breeze beginning in November 1991. I’ve made a couple additions in this compilation of those articles.

Looking back on it now, I realize how short the life of a salaryman is. Along the way, it’s sometimes filled with anger and resentment, but other times it’s filled with emotion and burning passion.

May 1993

Motorcycles and Me

  1. 1The Seven Samurai and the Red Dragonfly
  2. 2We Become a Motorcycle Company
  3. 3Creating a New Motorcycle on Our Own
  4. 4Our Ideals Give Birth to the YD-1
  5. 5Uncharted Territory: Engineering from the Ground Up
  6. 6The YD-1 Is Showered with Praise
  7. 7The First Bike with a Good Design Award
  8. 8Another Job to Do
  9. 9Another Perfect Win at Asama

Days Spent with Cars

  1. 1The Inspection Tour of Europe and the U.S.
  2. 2The Yasukawa Research Lab and Developing the YX-30
  3. 3Japan’s First Sports Car
  4. 4The Battle with the Tice Engine
  5. 5Setbacks & Comebacks
  6. 6A Sports Car Known to Few
  7. 7A Request from Toyota Motor
  8. 8Aiming for the Tokyo Motor Show
  9. 9Our Unusual Development Process Continues and We Go Racing
  10. 10The Toyota 2000GT Debuts with a World Record!
  11. 11After the Toyota 2000GT

Together with Outboards

  1. 1A Bolt from the Blue
  2. 2Doing Good for Others Is Doing Good for Oneself
  3. 3Starting with Developing Countries
  4. 4Passing Down “Looks and a Little Extra”
  5. 5An Unconventional Pool Changes Everything
  6. 6Adopting Die Casting
  7. 7Negotiations with the Mighty Brunswick Corporation
  8. 8A Joint Venture with Mercury
  9. 9Same Bed, Different Dreams
  10. 10A Market Valuing Fairness & Freedom
  11. 11Fruits of the Joint Venture
  12. 12By the President’s Order: Plan N
  13. 13Off to America at Last: The Market We’d Always Dreamed Of
  14. 14Developing Our First V-Engines
  15. 15Superiority through Durability
  16. 16Light Weight and Compactness Are Paramount
  17. 17Skills and Technology Nobody Else Can Copy
  18. 18The Finishing Touches: Our U.S. Market Debut
  19. 19Chicago and IMTEC in 1983
  20. 20Our American Baptism by Fire
  21. 21What We Learned in the Land of Recreation
  22. 22Success in the Market We’d Dreamed Of
  23. 23The Next Market: Stern Drives
  24. 24The Curtain Rises: The Boatbuilder Acquisition Drama
  25. 25Signals of Impending Danger for Yamaha
  26. 26Japanese-American Stern Drives
  27. 27Weather the Recession and Create Pioneering Products
  28. 28Afterword
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