Trials Torque Articles
An Interview with Yasuo Manzawa - founder of the Ihatove Trial
|Idemitsu Ihatove Trial|
Yasuo Manzawa, founder of the 31 year old Ihatove Idemitsu Trial in Japan, has been featured in a section on "Tohoku's Stars" on the Idemitsu website [Tohoku is the Northeast region of Japan, which includes Iwate].
Idemitsu has been the major sponsor of the Ihatove Trial for 20 years.
When Manzawa gave the interview his intention was to tell more people about the attractions of Iwate and the spirit of the Ihatove trial. The interview was held on the day after the 2007 trial.
Iwate provides the magnificent outdoors stage for the Idemitsu Ihatove Trial. Yasuo Manzawa is the star who has passionately presided over and managed this event for 31 years.
"Expert Star" Spreads the Word on Iwate's Wide Open Spaces and the Fun of Trials
This year the 31st Idemitsu Ihatove Trial took place. Manzawa proudly notes that there were more than 460 participants - making it the biggest trials event in the world - and that the event's accident-free record remained unblemished for the 31st year in a row. What's more, the event has a world-class atmosphere. Manzawa's energetic face bursts into a smile under the wide open skies. "I've seen all kinds of places, but this is the most enjoyable spot I know!"
|Yasuo with Son & Daughter|
True to his words, the starting point for the trial around Nanashigure Lodge in Iwate's Hachimantai district is surrounded by serene mountains that offer a refreshing atmosphere.
The course is designed to take in Iwate's most splendid spots and all the staff work with a sense of pride in the region. "I was really delighted to hear young riders completing the event for the first time and commenting: 'I'm so happy - what more can I say?' From such comments, I knew they appreciated the fantastic scenery as well as the enjoyment and sense of well-being that comes with spending time immersing yourself in it. Ah, I thought, they understand!" Manzawa's look of satisfaction tells us all we need to know about his extraordinary passion for this trial.
|Nick,Peter, Hiro, Yasuo & Hutchi|
Manzawa Has Supported Trials in Japan Right from the Beginning
Manzawa was first prompted to hold a trials event in Iwate when he took part in the Scottish 6-day trial at the age of 26 as a contract rider for Honda. Faced with a highly demanding course and a string of unforeseeable problems, it was simply a case of survival. However, that's the true delight of trials, and looking back on the experience Manzawa has this to say: "It dawned on me when the six days of hell were finally over and I was thinking things over in the bath: I actually enjoyed myself! I realized that even during the tough times grappling with the bike in the mud, I was creating happy memories. I wanted to recreate that experience in Japan."
Then Manzawa found the perfect place, almost as if he had been guided to it. When he saw the afternoon sun sparkling on the slopes of the Kitakami-sanchi area in Iwate just like the scenery in Scotland and Wales, it brought a gleam to his eye. "As I climbed up the slopes and suddenly turned around, right before my eyes was Mount Iwate, and the Kitakami plains shone through the gaps in the clouds like a stairway to heaven - the view was overwhelming. At that moment I was certain. I had a vision that my idea would definitely succeed."
| Yasuo visiting NonStop NZ 2006|
Overcoming difficulties makes you a better person
When Manzawa's clutch broke during the Scottish 6-day, he made emergency repairs with cardboard and managed to complete the event. "At that time it occurred to me that although difficulties seem like a negative thing at first glance, really they are positive. If you don't have difficulties you don't gain know-how. By finding a way of resolving the problem and getting yourself out of a tight spot, you become a better person. People can grow through such experiences."
|Yasuo Manzawa & HisTeam|
So get yourself into a whole heap of difficulty - that's what Manzawa says. He sounds like a schoolteacher or the kind of leader you can depend on. Perhaps that's one of the reasons he has been the driving force behind the event for so many years. Manzawa has also begun efforts to raise riders' skill levels, creating ways for beginners to go through a series of steps so that they can participate in the event.
"In future I think we need to develop people. I want all participants to display a clean, upstanding spirit of sportsmanship."
When it comes to love of trials and fondness for the natural environment of Iwate, Manzawa's passion is unparalleled. Over his shoulder I see the magnificent foothills spreading out, and they seem to be keeping a kindly watch over him.
Ihatove - This word was coined by taking the old spelling of Iwate, which was "Ihate", and pronouncing it Esperanto-style. It was created by the poet Kenji Miyazawa to express the concept of Iwate as a "dreamland".