"Thank you for giving me such a happy life!"
When Soichiro Honda stepped down as president of Honda Motor (September 1973), he was praised by many for his proud and resolute manner. Not surprisingly, Mr. Honda had devoted serious thought to the day he would depart from this world.
The photograph of Soichiro displayed at the entrance to the Thanking area. Gazing at the calmness of his expression, those visiting the hall felt as if he were talking to them.
He often said this to people around him: "I was able to lead a wonderful life because of our customers, business partners, people in society, and employees. When I die, please place my personal message in newspapers around the world, saying 'Thank you very much.'"
From the earliest days of childhood, young Soichiro was taught by his father, Gihei, not to cause problems for other people. Adopting this as his personal philosophy, Mr. Honda would often say, "I have lived my life as an automobile manufacturer. How can I cause serious traffic on the day of my funeral?"
Mr. Honda passed away on August 5, 1991, at the age of 84.
"Since we had to issue a company notice on August 6, we began discussing how we could best honor the intentions of the company father and send him off the way that best suited him instead of holding a company funeral," says Michiaki Shinkai, director of the Orei-no-kai Administrative Committee.
Since what Mr. Honda wanted most was to express his appreciation, or the words "thank you" to people in the world, the farewell ceremony was named "Orei-no-kai (thank-you gathering)." Concerning the format for the ceremonies, it was suggested that the company directors representing Honda would travel to different locations and attend the gatherings rather than host ceremonies under the company name. However, it was decided that the ceremonies would be held at the head office, as well as the respective factories and branches, in order to send Mr. Honda's message to as many people as possible.
In order to avoid traffic congestion, the ceremony at the hall of the head office in Aoyama, Tokyo, was scheduled for three days beginning September 5 for rather long hours from 10 o'clock in the morning to 5 o'clock in the evening. The schedule was published in major newspapers as a company notice on August 23.