Association, Inc.

Issue No. 5, 2006

JAMA guidebook

by Peter Nunn

For a long while now, anyone wanting to know about the Japanese car industry and, in particular, about the many different models on sale has had one annual 'bible' to turn to.

That bible, of course, is the automotive guide book published each year by JAMA. Arriving every winter, usually around the time of the Tokyo Motor Show, the book is true to its word: it's a guide to all the hundreds of different companies that make up the Japanese car industry. At the same time, it serves as an extremely useful catalogue of all the new, domestically made cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles on sale.

If this sounds simplistic and straightforward, it's not. The number of two and four-wheeled models (and variations of models) offered in Japan is simply staggering. Helpfully, the JAMA book identifies and lists them, with specifications, and this is something I’ve referred to countless times as a car journalist here in Japan.

Long established, the JAMA guide book is almost as old as the industry itself. The first one was published back in 1954 for the inaugural Tokyo Motor Show and a couple of years ago, JAMA produced a charming reissue of that very first small guide to mark 50 years of publication.

Here, today, the latest Japanese Motor Vehicles Guidebook 2006-2007 Vol.53, to give it its full title, is now out. A4-sized, it runs to 385 pages, costs 1200 yen and has the low down on some 1000 passenger/commercial vehicles and bikes.

Following tradition, it's available from major bookshops in Japan and from JAMA head office.

True, much of it is in Japanese but year-by-year, more and more English is finding its way in. Model names, specs and company data in the back are all now all bi-lingual.

The guide book, meantime, is not just a dry and dull recital of cars and companies. Last year's had a fascinating year-by-year history of the cars and concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show. The current one has a special feature on Japanese car designers working abroad (Ken Okuyama, formerly of Pininfarina, Satoshi Wada of Audi and Joji Nagashima of BMW).

Also, a special column, 'Vehicles as a Good Partner!' asks four Japanese personalities, including Gran Turismo creator, Kazunori Yamauchi, how they relate to cars and their devotion to cars.

Over the past 52 years, JAMA's guide book has changed formats many times but as a working insight into the Japanese automotive industry, it's still the real thing.