The challenge of making "a motorcycle anybody would find easy to ride" resulted in something far from success. They had not begun the project expecting it to fail. It was just that their engineering had not yet matured to the level where it could satisfy their customers.
"Even with that, the Old Man was full of fighting energy. He never let us see him look discouraged," Kawashima recalls. "He’d say, ‘There are any number of failures in life. If you do something you think is right and you have a flop, it’s not a wasted effort. Just finding out that you’re on the wrong track is getting a lucky break.’"
In August of that year when the Dream D-Type went on sale, the swimming champion Hironoshin Furuhashi went over to America and set a fantastic new world record in the 1500 m event at the All-American Swimming Championships. He left the second-place swimmer almost two whole laps behind. The radio had a late-night live broadcast, which was very rare, and the newspapers put out extra editions despite paper shortages. The whole country was excited at the news. Hamamatsu in particular was going wild, because that’s where Furuhashi was from. "Looking back now, I think that’s when the Old Man started talking about being ‘Number One in the world,’" said Mr. Kawashima.
As Mr. Kawashima remembers it, he had never heard the President use the words "the world" before.
"‘We Japanese lost the war to America and lost all our self-confidence. But Konoshin Furuhashi (his name was actually Hironoshin, but this is how President Honda called him) started from nothing and stuck it out. Furuhashi is an Enshu area person, and I’m an Enshu person, too, so no way I’m going to give up!’ That was his attitude. To me, he said, ‘Kawashima, you were one year ahead of Furushashi in junior high school, weren’t you? So get it together!’," recalled Kawashima, laughing. "Over time, the things he said to me grew more and more harsh. He got to saying, ‘Working on ‘pon-pon’ here in Hamamatsu is a dead end, we have to go to Tokyo.’ And then finally it was that famous statement of his, ‘If we aren’t Number One in the world, we won’t be Number One in Japan.’ That was the way his thinking just leaped ahead, and I was half impressed by the Old Man and half shocked by him," said Kawashima, laughing again. "He would have a goal so enormous it seemed like a dream, and he’d just blurt it out. Then, once he’d come out and said it, eventually he would be certain to achieve it. That was the Old Man. But it was a long time before I came to understand that about him."
Still, in 1949, when Honda was facing a crisis, the company was moving to become a full-fledged motorcycle manufacturer. Its products and its production system were based on innovative concepts never seen before in Japan, and with these Honda was taking up its new challenge.
However, there was something missing in the Honda Motor Co., and that was a sales system and a business strategy. In these respects, it was still the same old company it had been before. Then, just at this time, President Honda had an encounter with Takeo Fujisawa, which was to determine the fate of both men.
A look at the course of events that brought Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa together provides a clear picture of how these two individuals who built up the foundation of the Honda Motor Co. had each formed his own distinctive character, way of thought, and philosophy.