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Veteran TT star visits Honda exhibition 18 June 2009

Naomi TaniguchiCurators at Manx National Heritage were delighted last week when a TT veteran dropped in to the Manx Museum to see the new temporary exhibition ‘Honda – The Golden Age’.

Naomi Taniguchi, who lives in Yokohama, Japan, was a member of the original Honda team which arrived on the Isle of Man in 1959. He was the first Honda rider to race on the Island and features heavily in the exhibition. Taniguchi finished 6th in the 1959 Ultra Lightweight TT, and has also appeared on a new set of stamps released by Isle of Man Post this year.

Matthew Richardson, Curator of Social History who put together the Honda exhibition said:

“It’s great that Mr Taniguchi has been able to make it to the Isle of Man for the 2009 TT, exactly fifty years after he came here to race for the first time. He is featured on a number of the display panels in the exhibition and some of his memorabilia is also on display. We have had several visits from current Honda riders during the course of this year’s TT, but it is particularly nice to have this seal of approval from someone so closely connected with the story we are telling in this exhibition.”

When the first Honda team arrived in the Isle of Man fifty years ago, it was very much a journey into the unknown. Few people on the Isle of Man had met a Japanese person up to that point, and the riders were crossing a divide between western and eastern cultures. The team brought Japanese food with them, but the founder of the company Soichiro Honda made the riders study table manners, so as not to cause embarrassment to the firm. They stayed at the Nursery Hotel in Onchan, which has since been demolished (the site is now in part occupied by the Archibald Knox pub). Back in 1959 the Japanese riders were an instant hit with the schoolboys of Onchan, giving away Honda souvenirs and happily signing autographs. Fifty years later Naomi Taniguchi was again in demand for autographs from TT fans, which he was happy to sign, and he also dedicated one of the exhibition panels upon which he appears.

The exhibition runs until 5th September 2009 and admission is free.

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