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  • Over the past couple of years, I've had the chance to document the work of some amazing Japanese craftsman, highly trained and skilled individuals who have dedicated a lifetime to their craft.

  • Many say that the quality of Japanese workmanship is among some of the best there is, even for mass produced products that even Japanese factories are somehow different.

  • So, when BBS, one of the world's top ranked producers of aftermarket car wheels reach out to me,

  • I asked them if I could spend a day in their factory and they said yes.

  • The first thing that stood out to me is what Japan calls "rajio taiso," a set of morning exercises that are such a big part of Japan's lifestyle that they're performed by everyone, from students to office workers, all the way up to factory workers and beyond.

  • With smiles on everyone's faces, the day was afoot and I was introduced to Murakami San, who would show me around for the day.

  • A bit of a plot twist. He had just broken his ribs about two days before and hadn't quite adjusted to his new limited range of movement, although he had a pretty good sense of humor about it.

  • After a bit of chat and joking around, I came clean with him and told him that although I am a car guy, I know nothing about wheels, he had a laugh and give me a walk through the factory.

  • He showed me that at BBS, rather than pouring into molds, they forge and press the wheel into its final form to increase quality and structural integrity while decreasing the weight. Basically starting with a single billet and going through step-by-step forging process.

  • That was honestly visually quite impressive to see this single piece of aluminum is heated and pressed with incredible pressure 3-4 times in order to make the shape of the final wheel before going through the heat treatment and washing.

  • And while, for obvious reasons, the majority, the heavy lifting is done by the big machines.

  • Impressively, every single piece is hand-checked repeatedly throughout the process by humans before moving on to the next stage.

  • We're learning stuff here.

  • I had... I had no idea it was this involved.

  • I spent nearly an entire day wandering around the factory and getting a feel for it, the scale of things was truly impressive to see.

  • And of course, I asked Murakami San what his favorite part of the process was as well.

  • The force and scale of the forges was definitely impressive to look at.

  • I was personally interested in the amount of work going into the detailing process.

  • Before jumping into a car to see if I could tell the difference with BBS wheels,

  • I wanted to ask Murakami San what pulled him into this career path.

  • They set me up with a Mini Crossover there.

  • They actually borrowed it from BMW so that I'd be able to tell, try and tell the difference between the original wheels or rims and then they're gonna change it over to theirs and see if I can tell the difference between the normal ones and the BBS rims.

  • I'm... I'm skeptical.

  • I don't know what to expect but I'm gonna give it a drive, and get a feel for it.

  • That is a nice looking car. Murakami san told me I'm gonna be able to feel the most in the acceleration and in turning, so, you know what, let's... let's give it a shot.

  • Safety.

  • Okay, now let's give it a shot.

  • I feel this weird pressure to be able to tell the difference because he was so, so confident that I'll be able to feel the difference, so I really want to get a good feel for the car.

  • The car just got back, and they changed out the rims or wheels to BBS ones, let's give it a shot.

  • I'll be honest.

  • After a speech like that I was incredibly nervous.

  • I had no idea whether I'd be able to tell the difference at all, but the pressure was on, so, I hit the road to give it a shot.

  • I'm driving for about 45 minutes now.

  • But actually, I kind of got it right away.

  • There's... I can't... I wish I could put it into words.

  • There's no resistance when I hit the accelerator now.

  • When you press the accelerator, usually, there's... there's a little feedback and there's some... some resistance as you take off.

  • It feels like a... like that. This just feels like... that's it.

  • It's just, it's one of those things you can definitely tell, but it's kind of hard to put into words.

  • Like, for example, I had sushi for lunch today and I actually eat sushi fairly often, but I usually get like the cheap 100 yen sushi. Today was a really nice place and it was different.

  • It was much better and it's not just the taste and everything, it's one of those things that you can tell it's better, but it's kind of hard to put into words.

  • Realistically, I could just be imagining the entire thing, especially after getting to see the whole process of the rims being made and getting to see everybody's passion and excitement.

  • But... I get it.

  • I think I get it.

  • Either way,

  • I'm just really glad I had this experience.

Over the past couple of years, I've had the chance to document the work of some amazing Japanese craftsman, highly trained and skilled individuals who have dedicated a lifetime to their craft.

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Inside a Japanese Factory

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/06/12
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