This article is part of a "Reporter's Notebook" series, wherein CNBC journalists submit tales and observations from the field.
The Toyota ties run deep for Takeshi Uchiyamada.
His father was the chief engineer behind the Crown, Toyota's flagship sedan.
He grew up in the castle town of Okazaki, just half an hour south of Toyota City.
Uchiyamada loves this region known for its car prowess so much, he's never been away from Aichi Prefecture for more than three weeks — his entire life.
"When I first saw the Beetle, I fell in love," Uchiyamada told me, during a recent visit to Toyota's global headquarters. "I didn't always dream of working for Toyota."
As he approaches 50 years at the company, Uchiyamada's legacy is cemented in Toyota history, as the man who helped reinvent its identity.
Known as the "Father of the Prius," Uchiyamada's journey to the top accelerated in 1994 when then-chairman Eiji Toyoda tapped him to spearhead an internal project to "build a car for the 21st century." The simple marching orders were complicated by the fact that Uchiyamada, better known as an expert in noise and vibration control, had never been a chief engineer before.