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Feature JAPAN'S TECHNOLOGICAL ACHIEVEMENTS Hammering Out High-Technology: Yamashita Kogyosho Forms the Face of the Shinkansen by Hand NOAM KATZ Forming the nose of the Hayabusa J APAN’s bullet train, the Shinkansen, is one of the most recognized symbols of Japanese engineering prowess. These trains have only become ever more streamlined since they were launched in anticipation of the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964. So it is hard to imagine that a simple hammer can shape the complex curves of this high-tech train’s nose. What is even more remarkable is that only one company in Japan, with a mere 40 employees, has employed this technique to produce many of the Shinkansen’s distinctive shapes. 14 | highlighting japan Yamashita Kogyosho in Kudamatsu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, has been hammering out aerodynamic designs for the face of the Shinkansen since 1963. The company’s founder, Kiyoto Yamashita, was working in a local garage, where he honed his skill in shaping sheet metal with a hammer. When employees at the nearby Hitachi plant noticed his ability, they recruited him to help build the face of a new high-speed train they were developing – the first 0 series Shinkansen. As popularity of the new train surged, so did Yamashita’s responsibilities, leading him to form