Shortly after the war in 1947, Kakuji Katayama founded Nihon Kouatsu Flexible Pipe Seisakusho (now Katayama Kogyo Co., Ltd) in Ibara City of Okayama Prefecture to manufacture and distribute automotive exhaust flexible tubes.
Soon after, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (now Mitsubishi Motors) became Katayama's first customer and since then, they have expanded and supply international carmakers such as Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Suzuki exterior, engine and exhaust parts.
Meanwhile, 2nd generation president Norio Katayama founded Katayama's subsidiary company, Katayama American Co., Inc (KACI) in the United States in 1989. Norio's son, Masayuki joined KACI after receiving his MBA and returned to Japan in 2008 after 20 years. Masayuki became CEO of Katayama Kogyo.
After becoming CEO, Masayuki realized that as more and more Japanese carmakers were actively relocating their manufacturing headquarters overseas, Katayama was also opening new plants internationally to maintain their partnerships.
Masayuki thought, "At this rate, the needs for Japanese automotive parts will decline and our business will not be sustainable...Before that happens, we need to develop a product that does not leave our future only in the carmakers' hands."
"Our own product...what shall we make? If we are developing from scratch, we should create something that contributes to our people and society."
One day, board member Masao Inoue approached Masayuki with a sketch. He proposed, "My father loves taking long walks - it's his hobby, but one day, he won't be able to do that with his own two feet. Can you create a mobility like this at Katayama?"
Masayuki brought the sketch home and thought long and hard.
It was that moment when he remembered.
When Masayuki lived in the United States, he often saw people wearing knee braces and had trouble walking due to the high calorie diet and lack of exercise for their main mode of transportation were automobiles.
Masayuki thought, "Not only cars but if autonomous driven cars become the norm, won't people lose the opportunity and their abilities to walk? If that's the case, won't the number of bedridden people increase in the future? This mobility will most certainly contribute to the people and our society. We should be the ones to make this."
There, Masayuki named the vehicle "Walking Bicycle, and wrote it on Inoue's sketch.
Just like that, the development for the Walking Bicycle started. However, not only was it a first experience for Katayama to develop a bicycle, but it was also the first time for them to develop a finished product. They did extensive research about the structure, mechanism, regulations and more for bicycles and created multiple prototypes.
After 5 years in 2014, the Walking Bicycle was finally finished and introduced to the world.