Introduction of Visit Sumida and Seiko Museum
I visited Seiko Museum in Sumida-ku, Tokyo in this autumn.This article is my memoirs of this visit.
3M revitalization Movement and Sumida
Currently, the Tokyo Sumida-ku “is conducting an economic revitalization movement, called “3M Movement”, which is promoted by its local government and regional economic units.
This movement, in addition to the open of Tokyo Sky Tree, brought big positive impacts to the regional economy in order to regain its former liveliness. There is a program called “small Museum” movement among 3Ms, and under this flag, it opens many museums to show a variety of local products, monuments, local attracts. This Museum seems to contribute a lot for local community’s social and economic activation along with the other M, “Manufacturing shop” (Kobo)and “Meister” (Craftsmen) program.
Seiko Clock Museum
Among the “Museum”s, central facilities is “Seiko museum”. The Seiko is rather large company, but the company set up this museum for preserving its infant age memory, and also expected to help local economic activation.
The museum exhibits various world memorial clocks, historical clocks and watch in Japan, and showcases of its origin and history of clocks, as well as Seiko’s development in this field. I think this museum is really great and precious facility to see the development of Japan’s precision machinery industry.
The article is description of visit record and my impression at this time. Please refer to my home page and Facebook for the details and full text. And also I expect many people visit the Sumida and the museum, and take their first hands look.
HP: http://igsforum.wordpress.com (Visit report, My blog)
Why I visited Sumida and Seiko Museum
I visited the Seiko Museum in Sumida-ward, Tokyo in this autumn. Sumida area, located along the Sumida River in Tokyo, is a well-known tourist spot. There locates Sumo arena ”Kokugikan”, the “Ryogoku” bridge and “Edo-Tokyo Museum” and others, and it still remains slight flavor of old Edo’s downtown’s atmosphere. In recent years, Sumida has shown liveliness in town backed by opening of the “Sky Tree Tower”. This area were formerly showed bustling environment until around 1960s, because number of small factories and offices gathered there along with big firms like “Sapporo Brewery” and “Seiko” and “Kao”. Then the area has been proud as a “Mondukuri” (Manufacturing) centers in Tokyo.
Sumida’s Rise and Fall and borne of 3M
However, when it comes to the 1980s, Sumida began to lose former busy outlook due to the appreciation of Yen, relocation of big companies, and rising price of lands. Under these conditions, the local volunteers and government desperately stood up and began an economic activation program 30 years ago. It was called “3M” movement, which purposed to regain the former momentum of Sumida. It was a really tough challenge for the people, but in recent years, it’s beginning to show slight positive effects and has been going to be recognized as SME manufacturing clusters which can find root in the specific local tradition and modern manufacturing systems.
What’s 3M Movement?
The movement is a combination of three” M” factors for local businesses, say, “small Museum”, “Manufacturing Shop”, and “Meister”. The first M is the Museum creation movement which tends to exhibit local manufacturing products and cultural goods stocked in the private homes and small business. The second M is stand for “Manufacturing Shops” (“Kobo” in Japanese) movement where local crafts makers are integrating to form various commercial shops and workshops, and invite visitors to participate to their workplaces and promote marketing their products. The last M is “the Meister”, which aims to inherit craftsmanship to the younger generation in order to keep on the first class “Monodukuri” technology. For that, training programs are provided in this movement by hand-on. Actually, these three M movements have been giving a big impact to the local business communities now, and began to attract many people around Sumida and from other areas.
Small Museum Movement among 3M
In knowing these revitalization movements in Sumida, I’m attracted much in the “small Museum” movement, particularly in “Museum” and thought its fit my home page subject. Later I have a hope to visit them one by one in my possible time and plan to sequentially report the results in this home page. I think it will be a good experience to me too. My first plan of visit was the “Seiko Museum” because it is positioned as a central facility of “M movement” and has an excellent collection of Clock and Watch as a centerpiece of mechanical manufacturing technology. The following description is my visited reviews and impressions.
Seiko Museum to raise clocking sound of the technology history
Seiko Museum is located along the Sumida River about 10 minute walk from the Mukoijima Station of Tobu line, near famous “Mukojima Hyakaen Garden.” It’s a good place for leisurely walk too. People could enjoy a season’s fresh air on the way to the museum. When coming close to the museum, we can spot a huge billboard designed of the big clock across the road. It’s the Seiko’s clock Museum. Seiko Museum (formerly the Seiko Clock Museum) set up in 1981 as a commemoration of the 100th Seiko Co. anniversary. The main aim is to show the development history of the clock and watches worldwide. It also display many type of Japanese clocks, world famous watch collection, as well as Seiko history. The museum made full renewal in April 2012 and started the function of full-fledged industrial museum afterward. When we get into the entrance hall, the reception staff give us a brief information map (guide brochure is Japanese, but also available in English). The museum space isn’t so big, but the collection is wonder full.
Inside Scene of Exhibition Hall
The Museum has the third floor of the building. The first floor corner is allocated for the exhibition of historical clocks of around the world from ancient time to present.
The second floor is assign for the information space of Seiko’s company and its historical products, and many types of clocks and watches produced in Japan are also displayed. Among these exhibitions, the most valuable and important ones would be Japanese historical clocks produced in Edo period since in 17th century which are commonly known “Wa Dokei” (Japanese traditional clock).
“Wa-Dokei” area Exhibition and Japanese Historical Clocks
When we back to the clock history, It is said that the first mechanical clocks have been brought into Japan in the 17th century from Portugal by hands of missionaries. After that Japanese craftsmen challenged to produce clocks with own style by showing unique talent and succeed to create the original clocks. It had a special mechanism to divide the time with several units from sunrise to sunset. And it named “Wa-Dokei” and it announced the time accurately to the people. They proud the admirable artistic nature by viewing of the current eye as well as the elaborate mechanical function. We can see the excellent technology level in the old days by viewing the collection of the museum like this.
However, the “Wa-dokei” has no longer produced since Meiji by adopting the solar calendar under social modernization. Meantime, the technological talent and craftsmanship inherited to the new age and advanced its manufacturing skills. Many clockmakers gave entered into this new business vying with foreign makers. These traditions must have contributed a lot to form Japanese mechanical manufacturing development as a total. These facts are observed well by seeing the collection of the Seiko museum collections.
Seiko Technology Development
Looking to the development of clocks, the clockmaker which played a leading role was “Hattori Tokei Co.”, current Seiko, among others.
The chronological exhibition of the museum at the second floor corner clearly shows how the Seiko’s clock and watch technology has developed as well as Japanese clock and watch industries as a whole. In the museum collection, the evolvement of Seiko Company’s business is introduced at the panel too. We are impressed much on the Kintaro Hattori’s vestiges as a Seiko’s founder and techno-entrepreneur by seeing the board panel of his annals.
World Precious Clock and Watch Collection
The collection of historic “clock” the global watch producer in the museum is also superb. The artistic watches for French aristocracy in the 18 century, such as decoration watches, big bell clocks, and wall clocks are excellent. The museum will show us how variety of clocks and watches existed in the world in the collection.
Furthermore, we can realize a new how the time counting has been essential for our culture form, and how universally important for the modern social life. And we can see that the humankind has continuously made full effort to develop its technology for fulfilling that requirement so far.
Looking at the Japanese clock collection is also intriguing. There are many types of pendulum clocks, wall clocks from time to time, pocket watchesof old and new, and artistic home use clock in the museum exhibition. These sophisticated products all reflected the progress of technology itself in side of the mechanics.
Epoch making appearance of Quarts watch
Among them, it would be the “Quatz” watch development to indicate the high standard of clock and watch technology in Japan. This quartz shows us the ultra- accurate level of time management, and, as a result, the Japanese watches have be taking a landslide advantage in the world market in 1980s. In the museum, the explanation about quartz technology is explained in detail like how it has been developed, what mechanism is existed there, in addition how the technology has led to digital watch era, and it became familiar than ever. The watches are now the personal accessory goods too. We can feel such transformation of technology and business conditions in the exhibition of the museum well.
Current Position of Japanese Watchmakers in the World
Subjecting to the watch businesses, Japanese makers, including Seiko, once dominated the world market because of quartz, but, in recent years, the value of well-designed mechanical watch is reviewed, and the luxury watches made by the clock Meister, such as Switzerland watchmakers, enthusiastically appreciated and became to show dominating position in the high-end worldwide market.
Japanese watch makers is lagging behind in the global watch market compared with famous brand makers like Swaziland manufactures, even still they are keeping certain positions in the low and middle-end market.
However, Japanese makers like Seiko and likes, now have started to produce luxury brand watch products, which embodied superior functionality, light and strengthened, solar powered quartz watch mixed mechanical function, such as “Grand Seiko” and others, it might be a positive signs of revivals of Japanese watchmakers even in the high-end market.
My last Impression of Visit
Really business is live and technology evolves all the time.
Direct observation of the technology products would be a valuable occasion to understand how engineering technologies have been advanced and how these affected to our social life and businesses.
As a matter of fact, it was a quite valuable experience for me to visit the Seiko Museum to enrich my knowledge about the practical technology of “Monodukuri” and industrialization process in the country.