The Making of "Kubota Engine Discovery"

Kubota Engine Discovery is a collection of commemorative content produced for Kubota Engine's 100th anniversary in 2022, exploring our history and new challenges for the future.

In this article, we will be sharing a behind-the-scenes view of the creation of this site, as well as an explanation of some of the content. Our guide will be Sandy (pseudonym), the Web Director responsible for the production of this project.

Sandy usually works on websites for women's media and social media, and we will cover a range of topics including her impression of Kubota Engine, how she felt about her first visit to an engine manufacturing plant and how the anniversary content for "Kubota Engine Discovery" was created.

What is an engine, really?

I'm Sandy (pseudonym), a Web director at the Tokyo production company BBMedia Inc.

I typically manage the progress of website creation and social media production. My responsibilities cover websites such as those for cosmetics and foods primarily targeted at women, and involve website planning and updates performed together with designers and engineers.

For "Kubota Engine Discovery," I am responsible for managing ongoing content creation.

Until this point, engines were not really a part of my life.
I have a driver's license, but do not have a car. I have never opened up a car's hood, and while I know what an engine is, I don't really know what one looks like. Why am I involved in this project, then, if I had no interest in engines for 25 years?

My boss wouldn't give me a clear explanation, but I suspect that the goal was to create content that enjoyable even for those who aren't interested in engines, like me.

Or probably something like that.

What could I do? I was quite anxious about it. And that was how the project for "Kubota Engine Discovery" began at the end of 2020.

We carried out the project through regular weekly online meetings. I had meetings with everyone from the Engine Division at Kubota Engine in Osaka and with the production team in Tokyo to discuss content ideas and carefully review each other's tasks and schedules.

Although I'm familiar with how websites are produced, I didn't know anything about engines. Lots of new jargon came up in conversations with everyone at Kubota, making me feel like my head was going explode.

That was where I was at, and over the course of the meetings I got my first surprise.

That was the fact that Kubota's engines aren't the engines used for "driving" a typical car.

"Huh? They're not for driving? What does that mean? So, what are Kubota engines used for?" That was my reaction.

Kubota doesn't make engines for cars. They make engines for tractors, tillers, bulldozers, forklifts and generators. To begin with, my only concept of an engine was of something that made a car run.

In other words, Kubota's engines aren't "driving" engines like in automobiles or motorcycles; they're "working" engines.

I was also surprised to learn that Kubota's engines are used not only in Kubota tractors and tiller machines, but also by various manufacturers around the world as engines for industrial machinery.

Since then, I've come to realize how much work the engines do when I see industrial machinery as I pass by construction or restoration work sites.


First visit to a Kubota factory

This website provides a visual overview of the factory that manufactures Kubota engines.


This is the first time Kubota has shared images of actual engine manufacturing. I also got to come along for the photo shoot!

I left Tokyo and headed to Osaka to visit the Kubota Engine factory.

It felt a bit like a tourist, even though it was a work trip. The Kushikatsuya restaurant at Shin-Osaka Station is definitely a good place to go whenever I'm in Osaka, and I wanted to get pork dumplings from the famous restaurant, 551 Horai, as souvenirs for everyone back home! Nothing had soaked in yet, but I felt like an elementary school student before a long field trip.

On the day of the photography, the first thing I got to see was the Okajima Business Center.

We had to wear long-sleeved trousers and helmets for safety reasons, and I felt a wave of tension go through me when putting them on.

They guided me onto the premises and on to the factory building.
I was excited but nervous to see my first Kubota plant.

When I stepped into the building, a powerful, heavy atmosphere washed over me immediately.

It's an immense space, and far exceeds anything you would imagine.

The high roof formed a sort of atmospheric scene with the occasional beams of light coming from the outside, and made me feel like I had wandered onto a movie set.

There were all sorts of sounds throughout the factory.

Big machines running, metal banging on metal, grinding sounds, vehicles moving products and parts, buzzers and squeals...

It was too loud for the staff to talk to each other, even, with all sorts of cacophony thundering at you and resonating through your whole body, not just your ears.

Amazing! Smoldering molten metal!


As I went through the dark factory, I sometimes noticed a bright orange light.

It was molten metal being poured as part of the casting process for producing an important component, the crankcase, which you could call the backbone of the engine.

The photo shows iron melted at high temperatures, which is the raw material for casting, as it is being poured. All melted and red like volcanic magma, it sizzles and shoots out sparks as it pours.


It was absolutely amazing!

How do they make a crankcase from this molten red metal?
I still had no idea about that.

They melt the metal at high temperatures, then pour it into a casting mold of the crankcase while it's still molten. It is then cooled down before being removed. Kubota has cultivated this casting technology for more than 130 years since its founding. They can readily produce even highly complex, knurled shapes.

Casting Basics


Ingenuity throughout the workplace

Next, we headed to the Sakai plant.

This factory is where engines are assembled.

Instead of building large quantities of just one type of engine, they say Kubota's engine assembly line puts together around 2,000 varieties of engines.

I had incorrectly assumed that plant employees did the same job all day on the plant assembly line. However, I came to find that the tasks performed by employees when assembling Kubota engines will vary depending on the engines that come down the production line.

So how do they avoid making mistakes?!

By watching closely, I could see how they did it. The monitor located in front of the operator shows the work required for assembly of each engine, as well as the parts required for that operation. Furthermore, instead of picking out tools for installing the part, the system automatically supplies them to the operator.
Having the required tools automatically available allows the operator to assemble each part precisely and without having to select anything.

Beyond that, in the Sakai Plant, they have installed defect prevention devices in approximately 200 locations and introduced mechanisms to ensure that workers are only able to use the correct components and tools.

The plant housed far more ingenuity than I could have imagined.



Visiting Kubota factories

At first, I didn't know anything about the world of engines.

After learning a lot from everyone at Kubota and visiting their factories, I have come to love Kubota engines!

Now I look forward to someone asking me what an engine is. I feel like an expert on the topic among women my age. Engines were never a part of my life before, and I never imagined I would someday be obsessed with them.

I can't forget the sight of the professionals at work at the factory, with their serious demeanors and steady movements.

The full videos are available under "Concept" and "Factory."



I hope you all get to check out what I saw!

A fusion of the factory and music

Have you seen the video from "Concept" yet? The music that plays in the video is a new track produced for "Kubota Engine Discovery."

There is no narration in the video, and it doesn't have subtitles.

The lack of words is intended to enable people from around the world grasp the appeal of Kubota engines. We wanted to reduce the use of words in the video as much as possible, instead using only sound to tell a story in manner not possible with words.

At the beginning of the project, the music production team discussed what music would be appropriate for a concept film that embodies the spirit of Kubota Engine Discovery. A decision was made to make music using only actual sounds related to Kubota engines, such as sounds from Kubota engines when running or sounds from the manufacturing of the engines.

From there, we explored the tone and tempo that we could get from the sounds that we recorded, doing so from a number of perspectives. For example, one approach was trying to see type of music would be most appropriate, such as electronic music, Samba, or classical music.

Our final selection was based on "Bolero" by French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937).
"Bolero" was composed in 1928. This music was created around the same time that Kubota started making engines and its composer, Ravel, was from the same generation as Gonshiro Kubota, Kubota's founder.

Ravel is said to have been a "magician of sound."
This is due to his ability to utilize the unique traits of the instruments that make up the orchestra to their fullest, enabling him to create detailed, calculated music with machine-like precision.
The precise process of Kubota Engines which produces a variety of engines simultaneously is an excellent fit with Ravel's works.

Please give the Concept video another watch when you have the time.
The sound of engines old and new running, together with the casting, machining and assembly that resonate around the factory, take on the form of the unique rhythm of "Bolero" and create a melody.

Design with a "margin"

"Kubota Engine Discovery" provides an introduction to the trail Kubota Engine has blazed over the past 100 years.

Our production team started by creating a symbol in the first stage of the project.


Art director Yuichi Fujii designed the symbol.

What do you see when you look at this symbol?

Fujii said that motorcycles are his hobby, and that he has even dismantled their engines.

He said his first thought was a piston.

To me, it first looked like the number "100." Doesn't it also look a bit like the Japanese and Chinese character for 100 when it's upright? Or maybe you see something else.

This site is intended not only for viewing, learning and enjoying, but also with hopes that you will feel and discover new things through our content.

The title "Kubota Engine Discovery" comes from those hopes.

We don't mind if every single person who sees the symbol has a different interpretation of it. Fujii says that the symbol uses the "margin" of imagination so that it can "be anything" and "evoke any feeling."

The illustration on the top page is my favorite part.

It looks a bit like a machine, and a bit like a living creature.

What do you see?