The name Honda certainly conjures up images of reliable motorbikes and cars, but not many think of the man behind the name. Soichiro Honda was born in November of 1906, he would be 108 years old this year, in the Komyo Village as the eldest son of Gihei and Mika Honda. As part of the working class poor, Gehei was a blacksmith and Mika was a weaver, Soichiro grew up happy and well disciplined. Despite his fancy-free personality, Soichiro was a born rainmaker with an affinity for machinery.
The Honda Bike Shop
Looking at Honda vehicles today, not many would guess that Honda didn’t start out with automobiles, instead he started out in his father’s bike shop. His father’s great business sense along with blacksmith training skills, led the way in Soichiro’s training and paved his future towards vehicle design. At the turn of his childhood, graduating elementary school, Soishiro Honda’s life took a turn towards his true calling, the automobile.
Although the ad that Soichiro answered was not looking for apprentices, Sochiro availed himself of the opportunity and applied for an apprenticeship. Looking back on his childhood, Mr. Honda’s love for automobiles must have been fuelled by the first ever vehicles to grace Japans tiny roadways. When he saw the ad in Bicycle World for Tokyo Art Shokai (an auto repair and service shop), he knew his calling had come.
Just 15 Years Old and Already a Star
While there were many young apprentices in those days in the newly minted automobile industry, Soichiro’s work ethic, ability to improvise, and ability to work independently, quickly set him apart in the Yushima district of Hongo, Tokyo. It wasn’t long until his innate abilities and his upbringing by Gehei and Mika enabled him to catch the eye of Yuzo Sakakibara, the owner of Art Shokai. Mr. Sakakibara polished off Honda’s education with customer service skills, business skills, and detailed engineering. And the rest is history. Most of the history of Mr. Honda’s childhood and years spent in the garage is detailed in his books, journals, and biography.