‘Toyota’s Child’ is a novel in which Akio Toyoda time travels to meet his grandfather

A new book about Akio Toyoda has been published in Japan, but it’s not your typical biography. Eri Yoshikawa’s Toyota no Ko, which translates to “Toyota’s Child”, is a science fiction novel in which the current Toyota chairman travels back in time to meet his grandfather, Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota Motor Co.

The story begins when a young Akio Toyoda attends a memorial service for is great-grandfather Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. During the ceremony, the mischievous Akio falls down a hill behind the house and is hit by a car.

He then appears in the past and meets his grandfather Kiichiro, Sakichi’s son, who founded the automotive arm of Toyoda. That branch would eventually grow to eclipse the original Toyoda Automatic Loom Works and become Toyota Motor Co., the largest carmaker in the world.

Kiichiro’s dream to build Japan’s first fully home-grown automobile wasn’t always easy. Toyota was severely restricted in how many passenger cars they could build, first by the Japanese government during World War II, then by the American GHQ after the war. Then in 1949, Japan went into a recession that caused widespread labor strikes.

In Toyoda no Ko, young Akio visits his grandfather during this pivotal time in the company’s history. He also appears at other key moments, like when one of Toyota’s first commercially available vehicles breaks down on the side of the road. This is likely a reference to an early 1930s Toyoda heavy duty truck, which experienced axle issues.

Akio Toyoda was born in 1956 and never actually met his grandfather. In order to quell the labor strike and save his company, Kiichiro Toyoda resigned in 1950. He died unexpectedly in 1952, never seeing the company he founded grow into one of the world’s most respected brands.

Similarly, Akio faces his own challenges in the novel, based on real-life events. Soon after he ascends to the role of president, his plans are sidetracked by the unintended acceleration lawsuits of the 2000s and the subsequent fallout. Akio Toyoda is also seen as a rich kid who doesn’t deserve his seat at the head of the table. Eventually, however, he transforms his grandfather’s company, which had developed a reputation of a maker of bland appliances, to one of the carmakers most active in keeping the enthusiast flame alive.

This isn’t typical fare for Yoshikawa. She’s mostly known for writing mystery novels like the ones in her “New Tokyo Water Police”, “Metropolitan Police Department Classroom 53”, and “Secret Investigator Hara Maki” series. According to Yoshikawa, she didn’t know much about Toyota’s history before embarking on this project. But as she dug more into Kiichiro Toyoda’s history, she was impressed by the hardships he endured and was inspired to write the novel.

The story has earned the approval of Akio Toyoda himself. “Twice this book brought me to tears,” Akio Toyoda wrote on social media. “In his lifetime, my grandfather endured constant struggle, passing away at the age of just 57 without reaping the fruits of his labor. I never had the chance to meet him, and have always dreamed of doing so. If I could meet him, what would I say? And what words would he have for me?” Toyoda wondered. “Through this novel, the dream of meeting my grandfather finally came true.”

Toyota no Ko was published on June 11, 2024, the 130th anniversary of Kiichiro Toyoda’s birth. It is only available in Japanese at this time.

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5 Responses to ‘Toyota’s Child’ is a novel in which Akio Toyoda time travels to meet his grandfather

  1. Lee L says:

    Wow, sounds like an interesting read! I hope it’s eventually translated and released in English.

  2. Bryan Kitsune says:

    I need a translation! This sounds like a good read.

  3. Dillon says:

    Where can one obtain a copy of the book?

  4. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Ha, isekai even breaks into the automotive world. Will there be an anime? Stay tuned.

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