Discover how Mazda’s history is intrinsically linked with its hometown of Hiroshima, and the role the manufacturer played in rebuilding the city after World War II

A unique steelmaking process called tatara was common in the Hiroshima area in ancient times, then in 1889 a military factory opened in Kure, just southeast of the city, which built ships for the Japanese navy. It was in Kure that the future president of Mazda, Jujiro Matsuda, started work as an engineer at the age of 15. Born in a small fishing village close to Hiroshima, Matsuda decided at an early age that he was going to bring wealth to the city. In 1920 he formed Toyo Cork Kogyo, a cork manufacturing business that would go on to make three-wheeled trucks and eventually become what we now know as Mazda.

The defining moment in Hiroshima’s history, however, came during World War II. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was detonated over the city, and the resulting devastation was such that the consequences will never be forgotten. Tens of thousands of people died instantly, and Hiroshima itself suffered unprecedented destruction. But through adversity comes strength, and in the weeks, months, and years that followed, those who survived set about the daunting task of rebuilding their lives and the city they were still proud to call home. Feeling a strong sense of responsibility to his fellow citizens, Matsuda resolved to play his part in the rebuilding. By December 1945 he had restarted manufacturing three-wheel trucks and forged a plan to produce bicycles to aid with the reconstruction effort.

The bike proposal did not come to fruition as he decided to concentrate on manufacturing three-wheeled vehicles. These vehicles were driven extensively in the rebuilding efforts, and Matsuda was inspired by the determination of the people who used them. He realized he wanted to spend the rest of his days building vehicles that improved people’s lives. Matsuda passed his dream onto his son Tsuneji, who would lead Mazda into the passenger car industry and develop the rotary engine along with the engineer Kenichi Yamamoto (later Mazda’s president).

The remarkable spirit of the city of Hiroshima has helped to define the very essence of the car maker that is honored to call it home.