Arigatoo gozaimasu Murakami San!

I have repeated in some meetings that Time is often Motostory’s greatest enemy. He passes relentlessly and takes with him precious people. Each time one of us pass away, there is always that feeling that we could have done more. He passes by and leaves us with the feeling of being late, debtors.

Masuo Murakami with João Figueiredo, then General and president of Brasil, in one of the many meetings at Granja do Torto riding horses and doing barbecue of “Salsichão” – Photo Murakami / Motostory Collection


I received the news of the death of Masuo Murakami through a post of friend and journalist Roberto Agresti. It was not exactly a surprise to me that he passed away, since his health had demanded special care for a long time, but it was certainly a huge loss for all of us. Of those who carry with them an important piece of our history.


Yasutomo Kato and his wife Tomiho, with Soichiro Honda and his wife Sachi Honda, at lunch at the Tozan farm in Campinas in 1974, on Honda’s only visit to Brazil. Yasutomo Kato and Soichiro Honda were friends in their youth, in Hamamatsu, Japan. Kato emigrated to Brazil but maintained the friendship with Honda throughout his life. When he decided to deploy his subsidiary in Brazil, he called his friend for help. In addition to participating actively in the beginning of the Brazilian operation, Kato involved his son-in-law Masuo Murakami in the process. Just him, who had been a roommate of Ernesto Geisel and João Figueiredo, just the last two Generals Presidents, and also a college colleague of Delfim Neto and Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Photo Collection Murakami / Motostory


For the overwhelming majority of Brazilian motorcyclists, Mr. Murakami, or Mura, affectionately called by friends and colleagues, is a complete stranger. But if today Brazil has a rolling stock with more than 25 million motorcycles, the vast majority (22 million) of the Honda brand, so this vast majority of motorcyclists owe much to this man.


Yasutomo Kato, Soichiro Honda, Sachi Honda, Tomato Kato, Yoko Iida and Ossamo Ida to visit Brasilia in 1974 – Photo Murakami / Motostory Collection


For years, since I started to actively participate in the motorcycle market, I always wondered: Why is Honda in Brazil so superior to Yamaha? What would have happened to make such a difference, if the two arrived in Brazil at about the same time? Yamaha installed its subsidiary in São Paulo in 1970, the same city chosen by Honda to be installed in 1972. The first would build its factory in Guarulhos, SP, to begin production of the RD 50 in 1974, while the other, which had already acquired Also a land in Sumaré, SP for the construction of its plant in Brazil, decides to change the plans, to delay the beginning of the construction of the factory and to leave for Manaus. Manaus Did it seem crazy at that moment a change like this, or would it be “the cat’s leap”? Why? (Note: Honda started production of its CG 125 only in 1976, two years after Yamaha.)


Yasutomo Kato (left) visits Honda’s Sao Paulo office in 1972 along with the company’s first president, Ossamo Iida (right) – Photo Murakami / Motostory Collection


When the Motostory project started to be a daily job for me, still in 2012, this was one of the questions that needed to be answered. Why did Honda decide to go to Manaus in the 70’s? If it was the right decision for the installation of the national motorcycle factories, what time did it show that it was, whyYamaha was not too? Someone in the company knew something.


Tomiho Kato, Soichiro Honda and his wife Sachi Honda, with Mitikca Kato Murakami, visited Fóz do Iguaçu in 1974 – Photo Murakami / Motostory Collection


My life in motorcycling practically was born along with the history of these two companies in Brazil, still in the 70s. From very early on, especially when I started to write the various magazines I went through, I always heard of “Tio Mura”. One day I got to know him personally, it was in 1986. He was then the president of ABRACICLO, entity that he commanded for 12 years. (To learn more about Abraciclo, go to https://d87.281.myftpupload.com/pt/abraciclo-40-anos-uma-historia-de-superacao-parte-1/


Trying to understand the factors that caused such a polarity in favor of Honda, I met with friends Virginia and Chakê Ganatchian, both former executives of the company. They took me to Kasuo Nozawa and then to the apartment of the Mitica and Masuo Murakami couple. It was then that some answers began to appear.


1974 – Soichiro Honda speaks for his small team at the then timid Honda facilities in São Paulo, where today there is the imposing administrative building of the company behind Shopping Morumbi, in São Paulo. The first, in a gray jacket, is Milton Benite, the company’s newly employed. – Photo Collection Murakami / Motostory


Watch the video with the unpublished and informal chat between the couple Murakami and Carlãozinho Coachman in 2013, in their apartment in São Paulo. Also present with us were Ricardo Kazumi, MI, their nephew, motorcyclist, coach and great friend, and the sisters Virginia and Chakê Ganatchian, whom I will always be grateful for the privilege of that afternoon. To my friend Flavio Grana, once again thank you for the images.


Romeu Tuma and Masuo Murakami were good friends. – Photo Collection Murakami / Motostory


Obs.1: The edition of this video, approximately 10 minutes, was made at the request of Abraciclo in 2016, when celebrating the 40 years of the entity. An even smaller part was shown at the event that honored Murakami for his 12 years at the helm. The integral of the interview and much more material we will post gradually to tell the story of this true agent transforming the Brazilian motorcycle market.


Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and former colleague of Murakami’s college, with Mario Covas, former São Paulo State Governor in the background. Photo Collection Murakami / Motostory


Obs.2: During the meeting, many speeches by Masuo Murakami and his wife Mitika Kato Murakami drew attention. Mitika talking about the friendship of her father Yasutomo Kato with Soichiro Honda, since his youth in Hamamatsu, and the relationship they have maintained throughout life. In another point, Murakami said “to have given a lot of luck in the life”, to next to say that it was the first one of the class of the cavalry of the army, and that this led him to become friend of João Batista de Oliveira Figueiredo, then Colonel and later General and President of the Republic of Brasil. In another still, for having attended the college of economics at USP (University of São Paulo) when Delfim Neto and Fernando Henrique Cardoso were assistants. Lucky guy this Murakami San.


Arigatoo gozaimasu Murakami San!


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