Yakima is an American brand, not a Japanese one, very strong in the USA (dominant on the west coast) and in Australia and New Zealand, and increasingly now in Europe. They bought the Whispbar brand, named after the low noise, low drag roof bars created in New Zealand by a team led by Peter Hubbard, a retired Boeing engineer who found himself in the roof rack business and knew that the next generation of roof bars needed to be whistle free.
Other brands have, very sensibly, copied the general idea, although Yakima’s wing-shaped bars remain the quietest. Their bars also incorporate the so-called SmartFoot technology, where the same roof bar 'foot' is used for all types of roof fixing system, with usually only a need to buy a new fitting kit when you change car. Basically, it saves most of the cost of buying new parts.
They have developed some very innovative tow bar carriers, the easiest of any on the market to fit because they are dropped onto the tow ball in their folded position, and then locked into place when the bike holding platform is pushed down.
And we reckon that Yakima makes the best water sports range on the market, a full range of really tough, well designed products.