The Moriwaki Story.

Back in 1978 I was invited to fly to Japan and ride one of Moriwaki Engineering's race bikes at Suzuka about 100km's south of Nagoya.

I know from my dealings with Moriwaki previously that they are a very generous and an offer to ride at Suzuka was one I did not want to miss. It could lead to "god knows where - even a factory ride!" I think they wanted a foreign rider to show case their equipment in Japan and take on the big four factories.

I arrived at Nagoya airport and was picked up by Moriwaki's international sales manager Mr Yoshinobu Hara. He was a very small Japanese man who had a set of teeth as wide as he was tall. He had a very infectious smile and was always laughing. What made Hara so funny was that he understood very little English in fact he knew as much English as I knew Japanese. Now that was a recipe for disaster but we soon learned that we both like drinking beer and at every opportunity Hara invited me to drink beer and enjoy english conversation with him. This helped me as well as him. We had conversations thinking that he understood only to find out latter that he was agreeing and smiling totally oblivious of what was being said.

My first visit to Suzuka was very memorable occasion because the first night I arrived we met up with Jim Redmond's Honda mechanic of the 60's. Mr Nishiwaki arrived at Moriwaki engineering head office where were directed into a meeting room exchanged pleasantries which included the exchanging of business cards. I learnt to accept the business card in both hands and study the card and as if you are checking the spelling. It's one of those great Japanese protocols and by accepting and receiving the cards with "both hands" it was unlikely that you were going to be surprised and stabbed as both hands were visible.

Mr Nishiwaki and I agreed to meet at six o'clock in a bar in Suzuka. I had changed into something more comfortable given that was 35°, shorts and a teeshirt, Nishiwaki was still in his businessmen suit. I'm not exactly sure what he did at Honda but in the space of the first 15 to 20 minutes as the alcohol took effect he became more animated spoke a lot better English and grew very red in the face. This is a trait for a lot of Japanese people and you could quickly tell who was drunk. The evening deteriorated into an evening of competitive beer drinking and finally moving on to the inevitable whisky and water. At about 12 o'clock and after visiting virtually every bar in Suzuka we finally got on to drinking sake. During the evening we talked about racing in the 1960s and those days of the Honda multi cylinder four strokes. It was a very animated night. Nishiwaki was last seen stumbling head long into a drain while attempting to navigate his way home. I walked home in a direct line from the last bar to the Hotel which meant I crossed rice paddy, people's backyards and even climb fences so I wouldn't get lost negotiating my way back.

No doubt Nishiwaki-San was back at his office desk at 7:30 sharp, still in his suit.

More to come.

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