Toyota Kaikan Museum is at Toyota Motor Corporation’s Head Office Factory and is a fantastic place to visit even if you don’t like cars. The tour is completely free and it’s a riveting, enjoyable experience from start to finish. Make sure to stay to the end, because they won’t let you leave without a nice souvenir.
I think generally factory tours in Japan are a great way for you to experience in person what it is like to work at a Japanese factory and how things are made. There are various factories for the various car brands, beer and even Kewpie mayonnaise. For this Toyota factory, I learnt so much about Toyota’s philosophy, history and achievements. Most people know that is a successful business with a wonderful story and I think its worth experiencing.
I know there are smaller Toyota museums and exhibitions in Nagoya, but I think you get the best experience by visiting the actual main factory. The main factory has both the factory and a large exhibition hall, with plenty of vehicles on display.
To get to the Toyota Kaikan Museum from central Nagoya, we took the Tokaido Line to Okazaki Station. We had the JR Rail Pass, so we preferred to take the route we didn’t need to pay for. From Okazaki Station, we took a train on the Aichi Loop Line to Mikawa-Toyota Station. From the Mikawa-Toyota Station it was a 15-minute walk to the Toyota Kaikan Museum.
Toyota Kaikan Museum is pretty far from central Nagoya, but not completely unreachable. It takes about 1 hr and 15 one way to get the Toyota Kaikan Museum. I think it’s a worthwhile journey, because during the journey I was able to spend some time looking at the non-city suburbs. (What life could have been like if I grew up in Japan…)
When we arrived at Mikawa-Toyota Station, there was the option of taking a taxi, but we decided to just walk the distance. It isn’t far by foot, plus it is expensive to take a taxi in Japan. On our journey by foot, we noticed that some of the roads lacked side walk paths.
When you arrive at the museum, just enter the main entrance and you’ll be dazzled by the large hall. In this hall, you get to see the latest Toyota vehicles on display, learn about the history of the company, see the latest vehicle technology, including the inside of the vehicle, and participate in some interactive experiences such as a driving simulator. They were even showcasing a bipedal robot that could play instruments.
You can jump into any of the cars on display while you wait for your tour to commence. The exhibition hall is large with plenty of vehicles and there are many rooms to explore.
When the factory tour begins, you are escorted by bus to the main factory. It is here at the factory that you learn the history of the company and the process that goes into making a car. Unfortunately, we were told that we couldn’t take photos or videos lest Toyota’s competitors learn its secrets to success.
The tour literally takes you along the factory line from the first component to the last component. As you walk around, you will see people working around the clock at their various stations. It seems the factory line doesn’t stop for anyone. (That is not to say the factory line was moving at a menacing pace.) The workers were fast, yet amazingly meticulously with their jobs.
As part of the tour, you will learn about the Toyota Way, which consists of two core principles, respect for people and continuous improvement. These principles seem like common sense, but the explanation the tour guide provides make the principles far more profound. For example, when it comes to respect for people, the factory really respects its employees by giving all employees the authority to stop a process where they identify a quality issue. (I don’t think many CEOs would be open to that idea.)
I really enjoyed the tour. The tour lasted around 3 hours. It is a truly immersive and extensive tour. So if you are in Nagoya and you want to experience something different, visit this factory.
I recommend reserving your spot for a tour at the Toyota Kaikan Museum website. The entire tour is completely free, except you have to make your way to the Museum on your own and back. The tours are available in various languages, including English, and reservation spots run out quick if you don’t book in advance.
You can book a free tour at the Toyota Kaikan Museum at: https://www.toyota.co.jp/en/about_toyota/facility/toyota_kaikan/
Toyota Kaikan Museum is located here: