What's the perfect gift for an engineer's wife? A box of chocolates? A bouquet of red roses? Nope – a motorised bike! Here's a very special true love story, starring none other than Mr Honda himself.
Times were tough in post-war Japan. The economy had collapsed. The Empire was in ruins. But in spite of everything, people got by. Yes, times were tough, but the people were tougher – and Sachi Honda was no exception. Her family depended on her. Her five-year-old son depended on her. So she did what any mother would do in her situation: provide.
Every day she searched her hometown of Hamamatsu for food, and every day she returned home, exhausted, but triumphant. The journey was laborious to say the least, and to make matters worse, Sachi had to rely on an old, beaten up bicycle for transport.
In Japan, they say that dreams and reality are inextricably linked. But Mr Honda’s dream wasn’t to escape reality; it was to change it forever. He had just sold his business – a piston ring factory – and was working out what to do next.
With a little ingenuity and perseverance, Mr Honda turned a little idea into a great idea. He combined an army surplus, two-stroke 50cc radio generator, the family bike and Sachi’s water bottle to create a motorised bike, which he gave to his wife as a gift. He named it “the Bata Bata Bike” after the sound the engine made while running: “bata bata bata”.
Mrs Honda was delighted. And unbeknownst to Mr Honda, he’d just created the first Honda product in history, the Honda Type A, which led to the founding of Honda Motor Co., Ltd several years later.
Times were tough in post-war Japan. But thanks to a husband’s love, an old hot water bottle and a little imagination, times were about to get a lot less tougher.