Kuramoto Diary #537 -【The Legendary Hidetoshi Miyakawa】
In the previous edition of the Kuramoto (Sake Brewery) Diary (Brunello Cucinelli), I shared the story of my trip to Italy. However, the primary reason for my visit to Italy was to attend the wedding of a person named Hidetoshi Miyakawa and participate in his granddaughter's edding ceremony.
Miyakawa-san is someone who has always been in the memories of car enthusiasts of our generation. Back then, when there might not have been a well-organized PR department as we see today, he was in Modena, producing a small quantity of commercially available sports cars as a side project to his involvement in motor racing.
He had the privilege of directly contacting and test-driving cars from Ferrari and Maserati. He contributed test drive reports to Car Graphic magazine. For automobile enthusiasts like us, Italian sports cars were merely a dream. For a young car enthusiast who could only see them in magazines, he became the person who instilled the dream, "Someday, I want to drive… (with an Italian beauty by my side! Hey hey!!)."
In reality, Miyakawa-san initially embarked on a round-the-world motorcycle journey. During this trip, he met Maria, a Hiroshima University alumna, in Rome. They eventually married, and Miyakawa-san, who had just started to walk steadily back in Japan, became a bridge between Japanese machinery companies, including Japanese automotive companies, and the Italian economic sector. He played a pivotal role in the post-war economic growth period, akin to a "Samurai," supporting the economic ties between Japan and Italy. Later, he became acquainted with the emerging Giugiaro, a leading car designer globally. They co-founded "Italdesign," known as the design company for Isuzu 117 Coupe in Japan, and laid a significant path for modern global automotive design.
The opportunity to meet such an extraordinary person was created by Mr. Kumabayashi. He is of the same generation as our president, young in age but has risen from Hokkaido, establishing multiple companies including an electrical construction company and a fashion enterprise. If all young people were like him, we would be confident in Japan's future.
He invited me, saying, "Do you know Juventus, the Turin football team? I bought the rights to the VIP room in their home stadium, and I see various business possibilities.
Want to go check it out?" This was the trigger for my visit to Turin in March.
Upon closer inquiry, I discovered that the person managing Juventus' sponsorship was none other than Hidetoshi Miyakawa's son. This further increased the voltage of the car enthusiast in me. It led to the desire to meet Hidetoshi Miyakawa and attend his granddaughter's wedding, which he warmly permitted. Thus, this became the reason for my trip to Italy.
So, the Italian wedding. It was fantastic! The wedding took place in the courtyard of a 14th-century castle. After the ceremony, the bride and groom left the venue to the cheers of everyone in a bright red Alfa Romeo Spider!! (The same car the protagonist used to "abduct" the bride in the movie "The Graduate"). Then, at the vineyard, which Miyakawa-san himself owns, the reception unfolded. The beauty of the old countryside town in southern Italy and the friendly Italians were simply breathtaking.
However, from the wedding to the reception, it lasted a long time (from noon until late at night). Although we excused ourselves early around 8 p.m., the celebration apparently continued as planned until the early morning. After the champagne time ended and the appetizers were served, everyone stood up and started dancing. They continued dancing with only a brief break for some speech time. Everyone had incredible stamina. Even the mother of the bride started dancing with lively steps. A toast to the Italians!
By the way, I attended in a kimono. I couldn't compete with the stylish Italians in a Western suit. As a touch of humor, I had the emblem of Dassai, a sake brewery, in white characters on the back of my haori instead of a family crest. It seemed to capture the curiosity of the Italians, and later Kumabayashi told me they were taking pictures of me from behind.
Now, the climax of this trip was the visit to the winery, which had become the venue for the wedding ceremony's afterglow the next day. The groom, Nico, was still there, and the relatives and close friends seemed reluctant to leave. Everyone appeared to be somewhat hungover. Amidst this, we managed to greet the 86-year-old head of the Miyakawa family. Unconsciously, I took Mr. Miyakawa's hand and said, "I've come to see you after more than 60 years."
Holding an album from 60 years ago, Mr. Miyakawa explained various episodes from the dawn of Japan's automotive industry, which was just a local enterprise trying to go global. Our seniors overcame various difficulties without flinching and moved forward, sharing real stories from that time. I was once again impressed by the dedication of our predecessors who aimed for the world from a defeated country.
During the visit, we also had the chance to see Mr. Miyakawa's 1926 Jaguar SS 100 and tour the winery, and the time to bid farewell quickly arrived. We expressed our gratitude, promising, "We will definitely visit again," and left the winery.
Meeting a person with such charismatic is a significant asset for me, alongside my visit to the village of Brunello Cucinelli last time. Following Mr. Miyakawa's example, I want to nurture this encounter into a substantial achievement, even though it hasn't taken a concrete form yet. Thank you, Mr. Kumabayashi, and special thanks to Mr. Hirokane, who facilitated the introduction to him.