Mitsubishi is a Japanese automaker that is known around the globe for its rally heritage and value-focused automobiles. But here is a question that you probably haven't considered: What does Mitsubishi stand for?
The name Mitsubishi can be broken down into two parts.
The first half is "mitsu," meaning "three."
The second half is "hishi," which becomes "bishi" under the Japanese pronunciation of rendaku and means "water caltrop;" hence, the rhombus and three-diamond design which is reflected in Mitsubishi's logo.
Mitsubishi was originally founded by Yataro Iwasaki in 1870 and it began as a maritime shipping company. As it is told, Yataro wanted the company's logo to represent two, important family crests:
1. The three-oak-leaf crest of the Yamauchi family, Lords of Tosa, where Yataro was born.
2. The three-tiered water chestnut leaves crest of the Iwasaki family.
This combination of the Mitsubishi name (as it translates) and Yataro's family crests has evolved into the three-diamond mark you see today — an iconic logo that has almost 5,500 registrations in more than 140 countries.
Most Americans know Mitsubishi as an automaker but they actually got their start in overseas shipping during the late 1800s. They would later diversify into related industries like coal mining, shipbuilding, ironwork, and maritime insurance, each trade benefiting the next. Mitsubishi would continue this pattern of diversification, eventually leading to the creation of three entities: Mitsubishi Bank, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries which is home to Mitsubishi Motors.
Mitsubishi has over 100 years of automotive innovation under its belt with groundbreaking performance technologies. They have created historic automobiles like the Lancer, Montero, Eclipse, and Galant. Even today, in terms of production, Mitsubishi Motors remains a top 20 automaker with sales in over 160 countries worldwide.