The Mazda Motor Corporation, founded in Hiroshima in 1920, still retains its corporate headquarters in the city of its origins. In addition to the headquarters, Mazda owns a large plot of coastal land which accommodates research and development laboratories, factories, and shipping facilities. The company museum and part of a factory are made available for public viewing.
Like Toyota to Nagoya, Mazda plays a large role in Hiroshima's economy. Although Mazda is not as large as Toyota, it still produces over a million cars a year and is an innovative player in the Japanese auto industry. For instance, in 1991 Mazda became the first and only Japanese company to win the Le Mans Grand Prix. Continuing efforts to create more efficient vehicles include improving its version of rotary engines.
To visit the Mazda Museum, reservations must be made by phone or e-mail beforehand (see official website for details), as the facilities can only be seen on a guided tour. Tours for individual travelers are offered once per day in English and Japanese. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance.
Visitors to the museum first assemble at the Mazda head office building and sign in at the front desk. When the tour is scheduled to begin, a Mazda tour guide directs visitors onto a bus to take them to the museum building on the nearby grounds of Mazda's Hiroshima Plant.
The museum offers an overview of Mazda's history, a look into the technology of its automobiles and the prospects for its future developments. The tour then passes through an actual vehicle assembly line, where visitors can see a variety of different car models being produced. At the end of the tour there is a shop featuring Mazda goods. The tour takes a total of 90 minutes.
Take a local train from Hiroshima to Mukainada Station (5 minutes, 190 yen, frequent departures), from where the Mazda Head Office can be reached in a five minute walk.
Tours of the Mazda Museum and Factory are held daily, except weekends and company holidays. The English tour starts at 10:00 and the Japanese tour at 13:30. The duration of the tours is approximately 90 minutes. The tour is free of charge, but reservations must be made in advance by phone or e-mail.