Toshiba Science Museum– An Impression Note
♣ Introduction of Visit
Recently I visited “Toshiba Science Museum” to expand my knowledge of electric industries in Japan. The museum moved to the new site at near the Kawasaki JR station with major renovation. And the new museum has opened in 2014 after renewal of exhibition. The Museum purposes to show up Toshiba’s advanced technology, but also tries to introduce a historical development of technology of Japan and global world as well with the visual and animating way in the exhibition.Here’s the visit report of the museum.
Japanese and English website page is provided by the Museum. Let’s contact the following URL if you want to get further info.
♣ Concepts of Science Museum
The basic concepts of the museum is, according to the museum massage, to spread useful knowledge about the cutting-edge advanced products of Japanese electric science and technology, particularly in Toshiba, then contribute some to the science education, and aimed to preserve historical technology products and heritages of electronics in Japan. In this line, the Museum organizes the various exhibits well with systematic way using many visitor friendly machines and devices.
♣ Allocation of the Museum Exhibition
The Toshiba Science Museum allocates the exhibitions into three main corners, such as “Future Zone”, “Science Zone” and “History Zone”.
The Future Zone is showing the image of future people’s life, for example ; how the future town scenes will be changed by advancement of electric technology, ; how the household management can be made by the application of the electricity, ; how the building function and structure will be transformed, ;how the medical treatments are improved in future. These themes are visually displayed in the exhibition with the attractive measures.
The Science Zone provides learning chance to the visitors through experimental facilities. They all intend to disseminate the essential knowledge on the science and technology with enjoying their touch and seeing the objects. Many young students are gathered joyfully in front of machines when I visited.
♣ Significance of Historic Zone for knowledge Seekers.
The History Zone, slightly different from the above, is introducing the Toshiba’s company development in the chronological way . It exhibits the achievements of leading electric manufacturers, and tries to indicate the at most excellence of technology by showing major electric product examples. Such as in the “Toshiba Founders Corner” and “Toshiba First Products; a story of technology development”.
Among them, the most impressive records and collections are the unique and eye-catching artistic machines invented by Hisashige HisashibeTanaka and Ichioka Fujioka. They are prominent forefront engineers and techno-entrepreneurs who laid foundation of the Toshiba Electric Company.
♣ Tanaka’s Genius Mechanical Technology
A engineer Tanaka, called “Karakuri Giemon”, is a well-known mechanical inventor in the age of Edo (19c), who made up a lot of mechanical moving automata dolls installed complicate systems, unique oil lamps, clock and watches named “Wa Dokei”, Japan’s first telegraph machines. And He is also well known person to establish the Tanaka Manufacturing Co. in Meiji period (19c) and also have started the Shibaura Electric Works later, and then laid the initial base of Toshiba (Tokyo Shibaura Electric) now.
They are a great important to see how Japanese mechanical processing technology has been advanced, and how Japanese electric technology had set the first steps in the early time. It’s a surprise the fact that such elaborate products have been produced in the early Edo period. The exhibitions remind us again the marvels how Japan could succeed the fastest development of industrial technology in the short time from almost nothing stage, and we have to recognize these success is owing much to the pioneers.
(The good introduction of Tanaka’s achievement is available in English by the URL: http://www.tofugu.com/2013/07/29/tanaka-hisashige-father-of-toshiba-edison-of-japan/) “Tanaka Hisashige: Father of Toshiba, Edison of Japan” by John
The Japanese industrial engineering circles, for commemorating these contributions of Tanaka and others, have challenged to reproduce the artistic “Man-nen Dokei” (Perpetual Clock) in 1970s, and they astonished its outstanding sophistication and tremendous high levels of technology. The other invented products are also suggesting the technological genius. These might have influenced much for the later development of today’s robot technology and precision mechanics like watches and metal products in Japan. I’ll show some examples bellow.
(National Project to Restore the Man-nen Jimeisho)
The culmination of a great technologist’s pursuit of his ideals, the Man-nen Jimeisho occupies a special place in history. Japan recently undertook a national project to disassemble and restore the clock and build a replica, with the goal of bringing Hisashige’s handiwork back to life. Refurbishing this cultural heirloom, which represents a defining moment in the history of craftsmanship and embodies a genuine passion for artistry, was more than a matter of romantic nostalgia for the past; it was an enterprise of deep significance, for it restored a major symbol of Japanese science and technology. Now, 154 years after it was first built, the masterpiece into which Hisashige poured his spirit of ingenuity has begun marking time for a new era.
♣ Fujioka’s Contribution to the Electric Science and Technology
On the other hand, Fujioka is a person who has built the academic base of Japanese electric science and technology, and he is well-known as a pioneer who developed the electric lights and power generations for the first in Japan. He is also noted as an entrepreneur establishing an electric company named “Tokyo Dento” in Meiji period.
(see URL : http://toshiba-mirai-kagakukan.jp/learn/history/toshiba_history/tour/ichisuke/en/publish/6bf8ae1b-a9ca-431c-b7dc-a9f21e901e7d/index.html
Later this company, which established by Fujioka, had merged later with Shibaura Electric and changed its name to Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co. (current “Toshiba”) in the next stage. Fujioka has successfully produced a great deal of advanced electric products in this process, and he fostered well many prominent electric engineers. His major achievement and products is seen in the following pictures.
♣ Story of “Toshiba’s First Electric Products”
The next “Toshiba First Product” corner displays the series of Toshiba electrical products, which are standing out goods and devices developed for the first time in Japan by Toshiba. They seem to symbolize the successful track record of technology development of electric industries in the pre- and post War Japan, not only of Toshiba itself. The exhibits cover wide range of products from the household electrics, lighting apparatus, radio and TV, to the industrial sophistication, like power generator, locomotives, computer and IC devices. Many are designated as the Japanese industrial heritage products. The some example products are shown in the bellow.
♣ Technology Development and industrialization
In viewing the museum collection, we are deeply impressed by Japanese engineers’ insatiable efforts. These have been the long process, like actively absorbing the Western advanced technology in the early period, modified them by mobilizing their traditional craftsmanship and technological base in the next stage, then created their unique and original foundation of sophisticated technology by producing many manufacturing goods. The process has seemingly linked to the successful results of rapid industrialization of japan in the early 1900s, even in the post War Japan. We ought to note that the industrial technology triumph of Japan was formed in the whole process, which are exerted by these forerunners, and it also due to the all-out efforts by wide range of ambitious techno-engineers in the technology advancement.
♣ Electric Industry Today and Current Technology Advancement
Japanese industries are still at the highest position in the industrial technology in the world, even though being under pressure in business. It is sure that Japanese electric industries had the years of glorious success in 1980s, but after that they are facing the various challenges caused by the catching up from the new emerging countries, and the globalization, rapid expansion of information technology. Similarly current Toshiba is under pressure from managerial problems in business. However, when we see the museum exhibits and activities, the technologies which have accumulated in its history, Toshiba’s technology assets are huge and profound.
The major issues would be how these accumulated asset will be effectively utilized and apply them to the practical businesses corresponding to the people’s real needs today and future. I think that Toshiba must have a power to learn from their own development history and experiences of pioneers which had been created their foundation. At least, we could notify the innovation spirits initially exerted by the pioneering techno- entrepreneurs of Toshiba are so profound. I got a strong impression that the vestiges of these predecessors is good reference not only to Toshiba, but Japanese industrialists as a whole.
♣ Meaning to visit Museum to trace the Technology Development
Anyhow, I felt that the Toshiba Science Museum provides us many examples how the advancement of the science and technology have contributed to fulfill our life and future direction of technology. But important things are that the museum convinces us how much untiring dedication was made by the techno-engineers to attain the technology triumph behind the scene and how successfully worked out the sophisticated products.
That recognition of these facts would help for promoting the technology development in the newly developing industrializing country.
In this mean, the visit and direct observation of the museum collections in this type would be a good reference to the Asian young generations to expand their knowledge about technology and to seek new ideas to develop them.