The factory is in a town near Nagoya called, funny enough, Toyota. The city used to go by a different name, but changed after the success of the company that was born there.I'd woken up early because of the jetlag, so instead of stopping at the nearest station to the Toyota Museum, our meeting point, I decided to hop off one station earlier (Suenohara) and walk through the city instead. Around Suenohara there are quite a few tea fields, nice manhole covers and a completely different atmosphere from that of the main road around the museum.Even then, I arrived to the Toyota Museum half an hour before opening time, so I sat down for some breakfast in a mosquito-infested park and had a fun time spotting electric cars!The Toyota Museum is a popular place, with numerous school groups, car enthusiasts and even international business people, as well as everyone who’d be doing the tour. They had shiny cars on display that I could sit inside, videos about how cars are designed, some engines and other parts on display as well as a couple futuristic car ideas and a robot which plays the violin. I had a go at a seatbelt safety simulator, but because I crashed against every tree that came onto the screen, it may be more appropriate to call it a crash simulator. I had just enough time from opening time until the tour started (11am) to have a full look at the museum (the robot demonstration plays just before meeting time, so arrive early!), and then we were called to hop onto a bus that would take us to the factory.
During the 15min ride through the city the guide pointed out many Toyota related buildings to us, there were many of them considering over half the people living in Toyota work for Toyota. They actually changed the previous name of the city to Toyota.
They also had automatic driving machines that followed black lines drawn on the floor!
We saw the “door line” too, where they fix the doors. Because having the doors on the car makes the workers go slower, they keep getting in the way, they have their separate line and are only attached to the car at the end.We also got to see many more areas of the assembly line, including a machine that lifts the car hood up (before it being attached to the body) and they moved around on the ceiling. We only got to see the assembly line though, not the area where the machines press and shape the materials to build the car or the painting area, but the tour lasted more than an hour anyway and it was very impressive all the same.
They test the cars before selling them, obviously, and when they check the speed, instead of driving around a circuit or something, there are some bars on the floor that the car is placed on; when the car moves forward the rollers move backwards and this way the car stays in place even though it’s driving. The testers were going over 140km/h on the rollers.After the tour they gave me a free pen too! I must say that this was one of my favourite things I've done in Japan, I highly recommend a visit if you have the time since it’s not the type of thing most of us get to see often.