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June 12th, 2006

Visitors Designing Bus for Tokyo Disneyland

Kjerstin Lang
The Daily Tribune

HIBBING, MN - What better way to study 1950s American-style buses than in America.

That was the motto of three visitors to the Greyhound Bus Museum last week. They came from Tokyo, Japan, with the goal of observing buses of the 1950s era. They plan to design one for Tokyo Disneyland which will be used to shuttle visitors from one park location to another.

Toshiaki Hayata, a chief designer for Artra Design, Ltd., was in and out of buses for a good part of the morning along. Hideki Shirai with Hino Motors, and Boyd Roper, a marketing consultant, helped with the project.

They studied the inside and outside of the buses - from the seats to the doors - finding the bits and pieces that would fit the theme of their hometown Disneyland park.

About six years ago, Disney approached Hino Motors, a truck and bus manufacturing company, to build shuttle buses for the park. They followed a 1930s-era design bus in a shinny silver with a Mickey Mouse logo on the side.

The 16 buses originally designed for the Tokyo park have slowly needed replacing, and it is Hayata's job to design a new bus for Disney in August 2007. He chose the 1950s look for the second generation of buses.

The three have traveled to museums throughout the United States each year searching for the pieces that will complete their bus. The trio came to Hibbing after visiting a bus seat manufacturing company in Chicago. Hibbing was their last stop before traveling to California on Friday.

"Mr. Hayata believed the best 1950s design was represented in the Greyhound buses, that is why we came all the way to Hibbing," said Roper. "This museum has quite an impressive collection of 1950s buses."

He added that Hayata has been ecstatic about their finds so far, and are impressed by the series of buses from each era. He especially liked how designs of buses evolved, yet maintained a classic Greyhound look throughout the years.

Hayata said not only is he interested in the 1950s buses, but American culture of that time is intriguing to many Japanese. They enjoy the music of Frank Sinatra and Neil Sedaka, as well as the look of the cars.

"I am very interested in 1950s culture, particularly Greyhound Buses," said Hayata. "The American culture of the 1950s is very famous in Japan."

This popularity with that time period helped him hone in on this era for the bus project. He was interested in Hibbing because it's the birthplace of Greyhound and found out about the Greyhound Bus Museum on the Internet.

The three hope their studies will help make Disneyland in Tokyo as Americanized as it can be. In the meantime, along their journey they have experienced a little piece of small town America.

-- Source: The Hibbing Daily Tribune (Hibbing, Minnesota).

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