Date posted on September 9, 2021
During our trip to the Tokyo Motorshow in 2013, our sponsor Yamaha prepared a surprise side trip for us which included a trip to Yamaha Motor’s manufacturing plant in Iwata, Shizuoka, Japan. It is there where we learned about Yamaha Motor as a truly global company. Their corporate mission is “Offering new excitement and a more fulfilling life for people all over the world.” The company has a wide range of products from motorcycles, electric motorcycles and electrically power assisted bicycles to marine products like powerboats, sailboats and outboard motors, as well as generators, ATVs, swimming pools and industrial robots.
The multi-level Communication Plaza building is located beside its factory is a space that presents the past, present and future of Yamaha Motor. With “communication” as the key word, the facility is a place where not only the customers who love Yamaha products, but also the business partners and the employees of the Yamaha Motor group companies can meet, exchange information and improve their individual skills.
The Communication Plaza brings together the many types of Yamaha products serving people around the world as well as epoch-making models from the past, along with displays of the very latest Yamaha technologies, activities and information.
Among those on display are the different milestone machines consisting of not only important motorcycle and scooter models from its history but also cars, speedboats, bicycles and even a Formula 1 racing car. Yamaha has so many products to exhibit that it could not fit everything at the Plaza all at once, hence the bikes are rotated within the year except for a few milestone models.
Leading the motorcycle display was Yamaha Motor’s first motorcycle, the YA-1 with its simple form and modern chestnut red coloring. It quickly became popularly known by the nickname “Aka-tombo” (the Red Dragonfly). It won the 3rd Mt. Fuji Ascent Race in July 1955 and then swept the top three places in the ultra-light class of the 1st Asama Highlands Race (All Japan Motorcycle Endurance Race).
This was Yamaha Motor’s first motorcycle, the YA-1 popularly known by the nickname “Aka-tombo” (the Red Dragonfly).
The F1 machine mounted Yamaha’s independently developed DOHC 5-valve, 70-degree V12 OX99 engine on a Jordan Grand Prix chassis. Yamaha Motor, which started participating in F1 as a supplier of the V8 OX88 engine in 1989, formed a new team with F1 constructor Jordan in 1992 with drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Stefano Modena.
But of course for the passionate Yamaha racing fans, every Yamaha road racing and off-road racing bikes are on display to be enjoyed. World championship winning YZR500 race bikes from the 500cc two-stroke era ridden by Giacomo Agostini, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey are all on display as well as the complete stable of MotoGP M1 race bikes ridden by Rossi and Lorenzo in the past ten years. Aside from pictures, visitors can closely examine the bikes as long as they want. Needless to say, this editor was “accidentally lost” within the area and was the last one to leave the Plaza.
YZR500. On this machine, American Eddie Lawson took his third GP500 title and gave Yamaha its third consecutive Manufacturer title in 1988.
If you are a true gear head and you happen to be in Japan, we highly recommend you to visit the place especially if you are a Yamaha fan. The Yamaha Communication Plaza is open to the public and entrance is free. It can be accessed by car via the Tomei Expressway or Shin-Tomei Expressway or via train from Iwata Station on the JR Tokaido Line. There are no staff-guided tours so guests are free to roam the Plaza at their leisure. Explanations of collection items and exhibitions are in English and Japanese. No reservation is necessary for personal or individual visits.
All of Yamaha’s road race winning machines including every M1 MotoGP bike ridden by Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
– Al Camba
This was published in 2014 Maximum TORQUE Magazine Issue 3
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