Honda have a secret life as a maker of a wide variety of vehicles. They are indeed big in Japan.
Honda are more than a manufacturer of Civics and lawnmowers. In Japan, their range shows clear signs of Galapagos syndrome. It is flourishing. Whereas the difficult European environment has forced Honda to sell a comparatively small range of cars, in Japan the range extends to what looks like enough models to fill the carpark of a moderately sized country hotel.
I turned to this website driven by the parochial nature of both British and American websites.There is a lot we hear little about.
I wanted to see what else was out there and so broaden my knowledge. Having started this exercise I feel like someone who has just run into a bookshop and only noticed that there are thousands of books in there rather than actually have read, let alone absorbed any of them. The experience is daunting as it confronts me with the sad truth of the limitations of my knowledge and the scant amount of time available to extend it.
My first discovery at Honda.jp is that the singular and singularly silly Citroen shark-fin detail has been appropriated by Honda for the Fit Shuttle. Initially I thought this was possible because the DS3 is not sold in Japan but in fact it is, and Citroen even have a Japanese website.
Whilst some Japanese cars can be idiosyncratically charming, the Freed Spike is idiosyncratically appalling: examine the clutter of lines and panel on the bodyside, will you. It is quite likely that the short shelf life of Japanese cars reduces the fear of committing a freak to production. In three years assembly will stop and in six years they´ll all be crushed anyway.
And at this point (fifteen minutes of browsing) I had to stop looking at Honda Japan´s website as my head became full. I have long thought that a visit to Japan would be overwhelming owing to the sheer density of human life there. Even their web-pages are stuffed with things. It ought to be no surprise that their websites are similarly crammed with details and curiously, very few large expanses of text. I wonder to what extent this acceptance of visual richness informs their design aesthetic? You find Japanese cars damned for both their dullness (Camry, Prelude, Micra Mk1) and for their baroquely efflorescent details (pick any recent Lexus or many 70s Toyotas). I prefer not to generalise. The Japanese design aesthetic is actually nothing other than widly diverse and it is a huge pity that their industrial culture enforces the destruction of their older cars. There may indeed be more 80s Japanese cars outside Japan than inside Japan, not unlike the phenomenon of a creature going extinct in the wild but existing in a zoo in Minnesota.