Osaka firm wins inaugural Mini 4WD race as 35 Japan manufacturers show off tech
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Osaka firm wins inaugural Mini 4WD race as 35 Japan manufacturers show off tech

Oct 19, 2023

August 3, 2023 (Mainichi Japan)

Japanese version

HIGASHIOSAKA, Osaka -- A metalworking company in the city of Osaka has won the inaugural Mini 4WD car racing tournament in which 35 manufacturing businesses across Japan competed.

The competition was held on July 30 in the city of Higashiosaka, known as an area with one of the largest numbers of manufacturers in Japan, where craftspeople from local factories competed with their Mini 4WD cars modified with their own proud technology.

The first competition to determine the fastest modified Mini 4WD was organized by The Crafters, a manufacturing group based in Higashiosaka. Their goal was to promote the technology of struggling small town factories throughout Japan and to energize the industry.

The Crafters spent a month building a four-tiered, 18-meter-long course for this big event that would allow four miniature cars to run at the same time. Thirty-five teams from all over the country entered the competition and brought their machines to the venue, incorporating their "superb skills" into them.

The winner of the tournament, which consisted of five laps in each race, was Ohashi Mold Inc. from Osaka's Nishiyodogawa Ward. Takashi Shiraishi, 28, who works at the company, and his colleagues were in charge of building the miniature car.

They incorporated aluminum plates made by the company into the chassis and some other parts of the body to create a Mini 4WD car that accelerates while absorbing as much shock as possible during racing. Blue spray paint was applied to the car body.

"I never thought we would win. We built the car through many trials and errors, so we are happy that we can show off our technology," Shiraishi said, with a smile.

Mini 4WD is a model car introduced in 1982 by Tamiya Inc., a major plastic model manufacturer based in the city of Shizuoka. They are equipped with a motor that runs on two AA batteries. The machine, measuring about 15 centimeters in length and 10 cm in width, can run at speeds of over 15 kilometers per hour, and its speed can be further increased by modifying it.

Japan has seen Mini 4WD booms many times over the decades, triggered each time by miniature car-themed manga series and other factors. A cumulative total of more than 180 million units have been shipped over the past 40 years.

(Japanese original by Chinatsu Ide, Osaka City News Department; video by Rei Kubo, Osaka Photo Department)

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