VIDEO: Behold, the Isuzu Sumida bus

Pre-war photos are very difficult to come by, but Isuzu has just released a video comprised of images of the Isuzu Sumida bus from 90 years ago. The Sumida was one of Isuzu’s earliest designs, introduced in 1929. In fact, it even predates the company known as Isuzu, which at the time was still called Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding & Engineering. Design began in 1927, in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that leveled much of Tokyo. With rail systems disrupted, it became clear that trucks and buses were desperately needed if Japan’s economy was to recover and grow.

The video ends with footage of a green Sumida from the wonderful Isuzu Plaza museum. It actually runs too, though we wouldn’t be surprised if there was some modern mechanicals underneath the skin, installed during the restoration. The Sumida is an important part of Isuzu heritage, and they even included a 1:87 scale running replica in Isuzu Plaza’s miniature city, Japan’s largest diorama.

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4 Responses to VIDEO: Behold, the Isuzu Sumida bus

  1. That’s pretty cool. I wonder if it was named after the ward in Tokyo?

    • Legacy-san said:

      Sumida is a ward in Tokyo, but the name is from the river that flows through the city. The name “isuzu” also has special significance in Japan, which means “fifty bells” referring to the bells at Japan’s most important shrine at Ise, where the fifty bells are placed in the forest dedicated to a goddess.

  2. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    It’s hard to imagine the pace of industrialization back then. The Meiji era just ended 17 years earlier. My mother tells me a story of visiting my Grandfather aboard an Imperial Navy ship in the 30’s as a kid; she sat for a moment staring at a “western” style toilet on the ship.

    Isuzu busses have a special place in my heart as they took me to kindergarten in Japan. Thanks for the article!

  3. Joaquin Ruhi said:

    I didn’t know that isuzu meant “fifty bells”. i guess that explains the Bellel and Bellett model names from the 1960s

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