The Mazda Museum in Hiroshima has a lot of interesting exhibits, from the three-wheel trucks that formed the majority of Mazda output in the 1950s to the Mazda 787B, the only Japanese car that won Le Mans, to a whole array of rotary engines up to and including the four-rotor engine of the Le Mans winner.
The only problem, however, is that as we just said, it’s in Hiroshima, and that’s in Japan. And that’s a long drive from anywhere in the U.S.
Still pictures don’t quite suffice, no matter how skilled the photographer, and video isn’t the same. There’s nothing quite like being there.
But there is something about almost being there. Mazda has set up a virtual tour of the museum that, using Google Street Vues, allows Mazda fans to visit the museum via their computer monitor and mouse.
It’s an interesting experience, allowing the virtual visitor to walk around the cars, “walk” closer to look down on the cars, or zoom closer to get a detailed look at a rotary engine.
Well, not too detailed. One thing missing is the placards with information about the cars. They’re there, but there’s not enough resolution from Google Street Vues when zooming in. It’s even in English, but it’s illegible. At least the cars are all wearing license plates with the model name so what they are can be researched elsewhere.
The gift shop—every museum has a gift shop—can be toured as well. But there’s no buying. Even if you do really really want that Hiroshima Carp baseball team T-shirt.
But Google Street Vues only allows you to go so far. As in, what’s down those stairs, and why is there a force field that won’t let me go there? And the real museum has a window over a real Mazda assembly line. Unfortunately, only a still camera picture is available. Why, Mazda, not a live webcam?
For any fan of Japanese who happens to be in Japan, the Mazda Museum is a must. From the other side of the Pacific, however, the virtual tour is the way to go. In fact, the only way to go.
Here’s how to get there: Go to http.com/mazda.com/mazdaspirit/museum, then click on “museum guide” for your private tour of the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima, with everything but the squeaking of your sneakers on the polished tile floor.