It took a long time for the car to become popular in Japan. In 1908 there were only twenty in Tokyo and a mere three in Yokohama. These cars had been imported by wealthy Japanese, although a Japanese car was made, based on US mechanical engineering, from 1902.
Masijiro Hashimoto returned to Japan from the USA in 1911 where he had studied as an engineer and been especially interested in automobiles. Back in Japan he set up a factory with friends where in 1914 he built his first DAT car. Production was limited for the car remained a toy for wealthy Japanese. The factory mainly produced lorries and buses.
A number of cars were produced before World War II as Datsuns. These were small cars the size of an Austin Seven. After the war, the cars remained too small for Westerners and it was a long time before the dimensions were amended.
In 1948 the Datsun DB was launched to the Japanese market. The car was the spitting image of an American Crosley but was barely large enough for four small Japanese.