Inside Mazda

Of the many things "Made In Japan", cars rank among one of its best exports. Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki & Mazda are names so familiar there's probably no road on earth a Japanese car has not been to.

When I decided on visiting Hiroshima, it didn't occur to me that Mazda's headquarters and it's biggest production facility is just outside the city. The good news is that their factory is open to the public via guided tour and it's free!

Mazda Headquarters

With my Japan Rail Pass, I got on a local JR train from Hiroshima Station and arrived seven minutes later at Mukainada Station. It's only a 5-minute walk to Mazda's head office from there. At the lobby on the ground floor, friendly agents checked me in and handed me a visitor's ID. There are lockers to store extra bags. To kill time while waiting for the tour to start, I played car racing on one of the two video game consoles available for use. Promptly at 10 AM, a female tour guide ushered us all on a bus that will take us to the museum and the plant facility in Ujina district.

Boarding a bus...made by Mazda of course
Company workers await for their own bus

While we drove on, it's obvious the entire facility is so massive it's like a city in itself. There are even Mazda buses ferrying plant workers round-the-clock to their work sites. We passed by Mazda's Toyo Ohashi bridge, considered the world's largest private bridge. With the exception of the headquarter's lobby and museum, no photos are allowed  including quite understandably, the final assembly line inside the plant.

3-Wheel Truck (1931)
R360 Coupe
Cosmo Sport

As soon as we arrived at the museum lobby, we were given time to view various car models, including the curvaceous RX-8. Up on the second floor, the guide briefed us on Mazda's history, vision, development and plans for the future. There's a line-up of vintage Mazda models here, from three-wheeled trucks to a Cosmo Sport.

Perhaps nothing makes a Mazda worker proud than the rotary engine - Mazda's driving force. It's an automotive engineering marvel that I previously knew nothing about until the guide pointed it to me up close. There were several of these engines on display to really excite any auto/engine enthusiast.

Rotary engine
Mazda 787B - winner of the 1991 Le Mans Race

Just before entering the final assembly line, we came face to face with a deconstructed RX-8, showing all its parts and components. It's very interesting to see how it came into being from merely a design on computer to a complete clay model to a prototype crash testing model. A double door finally led us to the U1 Assembly Line - the most exciting part of this 90-minute visit.

From the safety of an elevated walkway, we watched as both robotic arms and human workers put their magic touches on different models. A Mazda Roadster (or MX-5) was one among those on the conveyor belt and it was mesmerizing watching a Japanese worker quickly fixing a dashboard unto the car before moving on to the next model down the line (it looks like a stressful job to me!).

U1 Assembly Line (photo courtesy of Mazda)

Outside, at the very end of the assembly line is this huge lot with hundreds of shiny, shimmering cars ready for shipment. There's an army of drivers waiting to drive them to Mazda's own adjacent port. It's really huge - with equally huge cargo ships waiting to deliver these cars to anywhere in the world.

Right before re-entering the lobby is another showroom with Mazda's concept cars, their own version of cars with a conscience. There's the hydrogen-hybrid models which essentially runs on both hydrogen and gasoline but vehicles such as these are still on limited trials to date. Finally, we're back on the lobby and was shown a short video profiling the company and its future plans.

Concept Cars

While I'm not really an auto-enthusiast (I like things more that fly...like airplanes), this tour which cost me nothing is actually one of the best I did in Japan.

To join a tour, either send an email to mazdamuseum@mail.mazda.co.jp or call telephone number 082-252-5050. This can be done up to a year in advance. Tours conducted in English run daily at 10 AM except weekends and holidays.


  1. I love the vintage collection the most, i'm not a big fan of cars either but if it's free I will surely give it a go :)

  2. Wow, awesome! I've never been inside a car factory before. I would have loved the vintage models.

    By the way, since you have a Rail Pass, how do you enter the train stations? If I remember correctly, there are turnstiles that would only let you in if you have a small-sized ticket, which you buy from the vending machines. Since you have a rail pass, how do you do it? Do you exchange your pass for a small-sized ticket? Or do you have to show your rail pass to the attendant and he/she lets you in without passing the turnstiles?

  3. lakwatsera de primera,
    I never expected it to be free so I was a happy camper.

    It was embarrassing the first day I used the rail pass - I went straight for the turnstile looking for a way to get in until an agent came up to me and beckoned to use the "manned gates" by merely showing the rail pass - which is how one gets in/out. Hahaha!

    Single tickets for subways have to be inserted into the turnstile while PASMO cards (which I used in Tokyo) only needs to be "tapped" on the turnstile.

  4. what an added bonus to your japan visit. it's fun to see cars especially the last one. is that in production yet?

  5. awesome field trip with those flashy mazda cars, libre pa! thanks for taking us there too via this post.

    do they give (extra) freebies (other than waived entrance fee), i mean, like brochures, small souvenirs or something else? does mazda museum has gift/souvenir shop like the other museums around? i mean, if a visitor can't buy a mazda car, at least a key chain or a fridge magnet would me more affordable, haha!

  6. i read one of your comments here about the rail pass. i remember, even the pass is inside the wallet or bag, you only need to tapped wherever the pass is, and their sensors just work so efficiently.

  7. Photo Cache,
    the concept cars with those that use hydrogen/gasoline are not in full production. the hurdle right now is having enough hydrogen refill stations.

    there was actually a small gift shop right next to the lobby but I didn't buy anything. since it's summer, they gave us - like everywhere in Japan - a FAN hahaha!

    I've seen people with their PASMO & SUICA cards safely tucked in a clear wallet sleeve and yet was able to tap them unto the sensors!

  8. a fan from mazda? now that was something! haha!

  9. now i felt so good knowing that one of the products that i carry right now is used on mazda.

  10. you're so lucky! now I'm jealous hehehe I've never been there when we were in Japan there are still a lot of places to go in Japan that we missed...that would be a nice experience to be inside the car factory

  11. huwaw--napa-jaw drop ako sa mga vintage cars ng mazda.ngayon ko lang nalaman na meron pala sila nyan,alam ko lang mazda3---hahaha. naglaway ako don sa roadster---like like like!!!!

  12. docgelo,
    better than nothing - at least gamit na gamit sa init!

    dong ho,
    hmmm...ano kaya yun?

    if not for the guide book I read, I wouldn't know about the Mazda factory in Hiroshima. Glad it was for free!

    pusang kalye,
    tiyak mas mahal pa nga yung mga vintage models kesa sa kanilang latest models.

  13. Glad to know about the Vintage models of Mazda company. I like these models so much because their shapes are really very awesome.Nice work done on this blog, its really very interesting. However if you want to check the Vin of your car so side a look on mazda vin.


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