On the far western coast of Japan, near South Korea, sits the city of Fukuoka. Well reserved from the hustle of the rest of the country, Fukuoka has a laid-back feel that makes me recall summers spent on the beach in Florida when I was a lad. But don’t think for a minute this is just some sleepy little port city. Currently it is Japan’s seventh most populated city, it’s been voted one of the most “livable” cities in the world, and it is currently home to one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels. When you visit, be sure to check out one of Fukuoka’s many award-winning museums and grab a large bowl of Hakata ramen, with its delicious white pork broth, when you feel peckish. But tasty ramen is not what draws me here. I hunger for something greater than any bowl of soup you can put in front of me. I am searching for something that will keep my reader’s tongues wagging for months to come. There is something in this city that HT’s Editor-in-Chief, Rodrez, feels is article-worthy. He’s sent me on a mission to illuminate its presence to you, our faithful readers.
About an hour train ride inland from Hakata Bay sits a shop that rarely gets the notoriety its competitors collect in the tuning world. This shop has been around longer than J’s Racing, Spoon Sports, and all of those other “old-school powerhouses” that are household names for us petrol-heads, and have been covered countless times. But this fact brings with it more questions than answers. If this company is still around today, it is still making show-quality race parts, and it has been kicking ass with every Civic since the EF hit showroom floors across Nippon, why in hell hasn’t anyone ever heard of it?
To answer these questions, I conducted an interview with the president of the company, Tadashi Majima. His English proved to be flawless, his company’s history amazed me, and the lineup of impeccable parts was starting to make me want a cash advance from every credit card in my wallet. There is a story to be told here, and unless you frequent its shop in Fukuoka, chances are you have yet to hear it. So without further ado, I proudly present to you: M&M Honda of Japan!
HT: What is your biggest inspiration?
MM: Traveling. After visiting other countries such as Singapore, East and West Coast USA, I was exposed to different car cultures and local people. This is something I cannot experience by staying in Japan, no matter how much information is available through magazine, books, Internet, etc.
It is always an amazing learning experience, because I see so many things that we cannot even imagine doing/seeing here in Japan.
HT: How long have you been building Hondas?
MM: Twenty-nine years. We will be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year, 2012.
HT: Do you have an online presence?
MM: M&M Honda Racing on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MandMHonda), as mandm Honda on Ameba Blog, our official company blog (http://ameblo.jp/mandm-honda/) and email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MM: Old-school hip hop and R&B. We always have music playing at the shop.
Tonkotsu ramen for sure! I think everyone in Fukuoka loves and lives on Tonkotsu/Hakata ramen! (Note: tonkotsu literally means “pork bone,” and it is the key ingredient in the soup broth, and that is the reason this particular ramen is so damn good…and smelly.)
HT: Please tell us about your company’s history and what it does today.
MM: M&M was incorporated in 1982. We started off by tuning the ever-so-popular Honda City R, then moved onto City Turbo I and II. By working on Ballade CRX and Wonder Civic, we’ve pretty much pioneered the tuning of the legendary ZC sport engine. Numerous auto magazines covered stories on our street tuning ability and “body marking” (vehicle graphics).
Starting in 1989, we raced in Honda Civic One-Make Race (Western Japan series) in our EF3. Every modification done to this EF3 including chassis, exhaust system, engine, etc., was developed and fabricated in-house, which helped us further develop our technique. For the next 11 years, we continued to participate in One-Make Races in our EF9, EG6, EK4, EK9, etc. Knowledge gained from many years of racing experience is now utilized in building/tuning cars and setting/tuning while test driving in circuits. Currently, we offer many tuning parts from the M&M Honda brand both inside and outside of Japan.
HT: Why the name M&M Honda? Do you just like colorful chocolate candy?
MM: M&M Honda was founded by Majima brothers, therefore Majima & Majima = M&M. Tadashi Majima (director, president) and Toshiyuki Majima (sales manager).
I love chocolate candies, especially M&M, but company name was pure coincidence! My favorite M&M is the pretzel one in blue packaging, ha-ha!
HT: It would be pretty funny if you guys got an M&M vending machine in your lobby. Any plans to install one of these in the near future?
MM: I haven’t planned yet, but that would be fun! If I win the lottery, I will get a full custom M&M vending machine with our logo printed!
HT: Take us through some of the parts you offer.
MM: We offer parts that can be used both on the street and on the circuit. In the future, we would like to do more research and develop more parts for hybrid vehicles such as the CR-Z.
MM: The M&M FD2 was built to be street-driven, however we do many tests on the circuits, but we have not brought it to an official race. We go for “street-spec” because our biggest client base is the street user. Their cars are driven daily to work/school, and on the weekends taken to the tracks to race. Our concept is to build fun and cool cars that appeal to these street tuners.
HT: Do you currently make any parts that are available in America? If so, what are they?
Basically, any product (except for one-off items) can be ordered through our distributor Wired Electronics. Most of our parts are shipped-to-order, but we would like to make them available as much as possible for our U.S. customers!
HT: Tell us about the ITB setups you have for the S2000 and the K series. What makes your ITBs so much better than the competition?
MM: It’s most important to us that our ITB setup can be used on the street. In Japan, street-user population is much bigger than race car users. Therefore, we try our best not to sacrifice the normal day-to-day comfort level (fast idle/idle surge, A/C, fuel/air according to season). At the same time, we try to maximize performance at full throttle for circuit driving.
HT: What do you think the difference in demand is from Americans as opposed to Japanese in the tuning scene?
MM: In Japan, people tend to go for tuning with emphasis on “total balance.” This is perfect for circuit and “touge”-style driving.
From what I’ve seen in the U.S., drag racing seems to be very popular, so motor swap is not unusual and emphasis is more on power.
HT: If you could build one car with $1 million USD, what would it be and what would you do to it?
MM: I would love to build a circuit-spec max-speed S2000 with WTCC-type tuning.
HT: Tell us about your staff. How many people do you employ, and what are their specialties?
MM: We have four employees total. The president, who is in charge of operations; store manager, who is in charge of sales; and two mechanics.
HT: In America we love drag racing. Fully built, 1,000-plus-horsepower EK and Integra chassis are how we do it. I know this is not popular in Nippon, so what is your take on it?
MM: Personally, I really like drag racing. The reasons it’s not popular in Japan is the difference in car culture, and because it’s very hard to find a place that can hold drag racing events.
Even at circuits, we rarely see drag racing events, therefore people don’t have much of a chance to be exposed to the sport or see the fun of it.
MM: I would love to keep building fun, cool cars for the rest of the world to see. And again, I would love to further develop modifying hybrid vehicles such as the CR-Z.
HT: What is the hardest part about owning a tuning shop? Are there days when you wonder why you chose this profession?
MM: With the worldwide increase in price of gas, eco (green)-movement, hybrid-vehicle movement, tuning population is declining. Carmakers are no longer interested in manufacturing sport cars, which leads to a decrease in tuner population. However, I believe it is our place, as tuning shops, to show people how fun tuning cars can be. For the past 30 years, I’ve been following Hondas only, and it will always be. What’s most important for me is the continued love for Honda.
HT: Do you ever travel to America? If so, where do you like to go?
MM: So far, I’ve been to New York, New Jersey, SoCal and Las Vegas and loved it! Cars are an important part of everyday life in the U.S. I see that tuning is very popular, and there are so many car-related events!
HT: I am curious about your aero pieces. Where are they manufactured, and what sets them apart from the competition?
MM: Everything is fabricated here in Japan. M&M’s aero parts are all done in-house from concept to design. It is very important for us that it is genuinely “Made in Japan.” Even if that means a higher price tag, the quality makes up for it.
HT: Have you ever collaborated with another tuning shop to make parts or build a car?
MM: No, we’ve never done any collaboration project with other shops. Basically, all steps involved in making parts are done by us, from concept to fabrication.
HT: Why are you located where you are? Have you always been here? Are there advantages or disadvantages to such a location?
MM: I grew up in Fukuoka, and I’ve always lived here. Fukuoka’s is ideal for doing what we do, because it never snows here and the circuits are close by.
However, the number of people who own tuned cars in Fukuoka is much less compared to Kanto and Kansai Region.
HT: Before we go is there anything you want to say to all of our readers here in America?
MM: I am so happy to see that Hondas are very popular in the U.S.
Through Honda as a common denominator, different countries have developed and established their own car cultures.
American Honda tuning is very cool and is very popular in Japan. I feel like both Japan and U.S. are taking the good part of each other’s style and are both improving. I can see that love for Honda is helping with communication between the countries, and I’m very happy to see it happening.
Even though the whole world is suffering from economical and environmental downturn, I hope that we can all have fun together through the Honda tuning scene!
Bolts & Washers
Toda 2150cc pistons
Toda connecting rods
Toda ITB sports injection
Toda Type 02 cams
Toda exhaust manifold
M&M Super titanium exhaust
M&M crankshaft zero balance
M&M precision assembly
M&M Super carbon intake box
M&M aero intake duct
M&M intake air piping kit
M&M vacuum sensor
M&M idle-up sensor/RACV
M&M Smart oil catch tank
M&M aluminum radiator Type 3
M&M Super radiator cap
Samco radiator hoses
M&M carbon clutch spec MR
M&M LSD carbon spec MR
M&M final drive 4.7TSP
M&M stainless clutch hose Type 2
M&M baffled oil pan
M&M spec Ohlins SP Type 1 shocks
M&M rear spring mount/pillow upper mount
M&M rear shock tower bar
M&M rear torque damper gusset beam
M&M rear knuckles
M&M front pillow mount
M&M AP Racing 4-pot brakes, front
M&M 2-piece big brake rotor Type 2, rear
Ferodo brake pads
M&M stainless lines
M&M Type S carbon hood
M&M Type MR V2 front bumper
M&M Type MR front/rear fenders
M&M flat bottom aero kit
M&M Type 02BF carbon GT wing
M&M front/rear towhook kit
Recaro RS-GS seats
Defi DIN gauge meter
M&M 4-pt seatbelt hook
MOMO steering wheel
Naoko Onishi, our good friend who connected M&M to the U.S. and helped us prepare for this feature and continues to support our foreign relations, especially in North America. Also, our customers, distributors, supports, and most of all, our faithful Facebook fans who’ve “liked” and “shared” our page, because you’ve made this feature possible