Visit the Museum of Logistics

 Look into the logistics world now and past —


Museum Homepage:

What’s about “Logistic Museum”

logistics-building-x02    From ancient times, the “Transport of Goods”logistics-illustx01 has been one of the most important activities for
mankind in history. People have made every effort to develop and improve the systems and tools seeking their social convenience. Starting with simple shoulder carrying tools, push carts, horse powers, then now we’ve got the sophisticated means of transport system, like trucks, railways, and cargo flight and others by application of recent technology.
Logistics- History ex x01.JPG
There’s a unique museum in Shinagawa, Tokyo which explores this subject named the “Museum of Logistics.” There, we could find various historical materials that convey the evolution of transport and logistics technology from medieval time to the present time in Japan. I have visited this museum to get certain images and knowledge about development of transportation systems and technology in Japan.

This is a report describing the impression at that time.

 ♣  Outlook of the Museum

Logistics- tools x01.JPG      In this museum, the exhibition was
elaborately displayed many real transport goods and tools, their prototype models,
documents, panels, and others since Edo period (19c) to the present day. It has also abundant

video materials, diorama, game facilities, etc. logistics-illustx11were provided. These collections could make us feel the real figure of the transport and logistics system in the past and present.

Logistics- horse and docum x01.JPG     This museum was based on the “Traffic Materials Archive” built by the Nippon Express in 1958 for

internal facilities. After that, he archive was opened as “Logistics Museum” for public in Shinagawa, Tokyo in 1998 as a unique two-story red brick building facility.

It is said that this museum holds about 6000 Logistics- documment x01.JPGdocument materials, 1200 arts works and crafts, real logistics tools, 100 thousand photographs, and 200 pieces of pictures. And they have been displaying by rotation in row.

Logistics- diorama x03.JPG    The exhibition rooms were divided into three sections. That is, at the first floor, there found exhibits tracing the history of transport system and logistics in Japan, the second floor showed the video materials, and the third basement room displayed the various equipment with showing images of the modern logistics in dioramas, panels and diagrams.
The appearance of exhibits was rather small and compact, but the way of exhibition was quite precise and nicely arranged, so the visitors could enjoy them and understand well about the development of logistics in a real image.
Let’s see the details of the exhibit.

 ♣  What exhibitions are there?

 <Historical View of Logistics>

Logistics- illustx16.JPG    How have people developed the skills and technology to move heavy “Goods” from one place to the designated place since the old time of Edo period?  This corner was purposed logistics-nishikie-x01to answer that problem with real objects, documents, photographs, models, and artistic “Nishikie” (unique Japanese style color printed drawing) picture. The detailed chronological chart showing the history of logistics were also displayed there too, so we could see well the transition of means of logistics and its development.

Logistics- tools x02.JPG      There the exhibition of the transport system and equipment for it in the Edo period and Meiji era were quite vivid, such as carrying balance pole, bales, shoulder strap, wagon and oxcart, and other traditional tools. It was found there the Edo government trade certificate, old pictures of depo

Logistics- model tr system x01.JPG and transport sites, 3D model of a delivery point and other interesting exhibits too.

There were abundant exhibits were also sighted which shows the process of the evolvement of transport systems led to the modern logistics, such as trucks and railway and modern shipment. There were also video-material (video) booths being able to enjoy.

 <Exhibition of Modern Logistics Corner>

Here, it’s fabulous that the large diorama exhibition of contemporary transportation system were available with real moving action. The activated scenery of port, railroad, Logistics- diorama x01.JPG  logistics-diorama-x04 tlogistics-diorama-x02




truck, air terminal, container base and other facilities, from morning till evening, were made vividly there. We could also view all sorts of data on the current logistics,
Logistics- logi function x01.JPGphotos, videos etc. on demand style in this corner. In addition, there is an interesting board panel exhibition showing the latest logistics management system logistics-current-cargo-x01
applied computer and recent information systems.

. By seeing these exhibits, we could easily imagine how importance of logistics and transportation system in order to develop and how they have been supporting modern business system and social life as a whole.


<Video Room and Library>

There are also specific rooms available for conducting lectures on the subject of logistics-video-booth-x01transport logistics, and viewing video movies related historical subjects on the transportation by large screen. Today, VTRs such as “History of Logistics” and “Transportation and Transportation System of the Edo Era” were said to be available in this room. Although the scale of books in stock is not so large, but the library was provided with many documents and books on the logistics in the room and visitors can freely browse them at any time.


 ♣  Feature of Museum and Visit Impression

logistics-illustx08     The problem of distribution and transportation have been one of the most important tasks for mankind, and its wisdom, ingenuity and progress of technology for development were crucial for total social life from the ancient times to now. Particularly it’s very Logistics- logi ICT X01.JPGimportant for the industrial development.

In the progressing globalization and the fast ICT development, the realization of  efficient and convenient “logistics” “distribution “ system is Logistics- illustx07.JPGnoticeably important for modern industry and business. The construction of inexpensive and safety “supply chain” is the source of competitiveness for all the businesses.

In particular, it seems that the way of logistics has been essential for the Japanese economy which has been aiming to be competitive trading nation. I imagine we need to be Logistics- current cargo x01.JPGmuch interest into these subjects and should acknowledge well to the matter. However, the facilities and museums being logistics-illustx06systematically introducing on this subject haven’t found many so far around us. In this regard, this “Logistics Museum” in Shinagawa seems to be a valuable facility. Originally it was a company archive in Nippon Express being less accessible, but it is quite fortunate the museum now became a public facility that treats with the problems of transportation and logistics in systematic way from old time to now.
More than ever, I hoped that many people will visit the museum and understand the origins and meanings of transport and logistics with concrete figure.



物流博物館New「収蔵資料展」特集 (2001)

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Visit Yawata Steel Works and its Blast Furnace Site

— A Historical Heritages ‘Yahata” as a Landmark of Japan’s Industrial Development-


♣  Outline of Yahata Steel Works

Yahata-logo x01 office.JPG     It is said that one of the industrial development strategies after the Meiji restoration in 19c was the building up strong steel industry in Japan among others. The landmark policy was the establishment of the government-run “Yawata Steel Works” (“Imperial Steel Works”) in 1901.Yahata- Now x01.JPG After that Japan’s steelmaking industry has made remarkable progress much owing to the success of Yawata Steel. This contribution was widely recognized in the world, and the sites of the former Yawata Steel were designated as a UNESCO’s “World Industrial Heritage” in 2015.

So I have visited these sites to try to find history of Yahata Steel there. This small report was made to describe the impression at that time.

Ω Note: Unfortunately, the “first blast furnace” didn’t name as “world heritage” because it changed the appearance by the numerous refurbishments since its inception.

♣  Yahata Steel past time and present

 <Initial Period; Why Steel Works>

Yahata- Yahata 1910.JPG       It is a common view that the Japanese modern iron-making industry was born in 1901 when government “Imperial Steel Works” has built a blast furnace in the Yawata district in northern Kyushu, Yahata-Topography x01.JPGand the time started full-scale steel production, beside the similar “Kamaishi Steel Works” was previously completed in northern Japan.
The main motive of this movement was a large steel demand which had been occurred in the middle of the Meiji era. This was caused the earnest industrial promotion policy “Shokusan-Kogyou” (fostering industry) by the government, like promotion of construction of railway, harbor and ship building. So the movements were required huge amount of steel production. However, the process has been never easy, and the operation of the steel production had to face severe troubles and difficulties many times.

<Technology Development of Steel Making>

Yahata- Noro x01.JPG    In the construction, the Germany technology was initially adopted, but the way of Yahata- Furnas x01.JPGworks was not necessarily match to the real conditions of Japan. So immediate after the completion, a number of troubles occurred and the operation was sometimes forced to stop.

But it was the Noro Nagayoshi, a former advisor of the Kamaishi Steel Works, who has successfully overcome this difficulty by improving coke handling method and the change of the internal structure of the blast furnace. Under his leadership, Yawata Steel Works could eventually begin to yield enough pig Yahata- Ilust x01 Furans.JPGiron in successful manner. It might be based on the tireless efforts and strong determination to build industrial foundation at all cost. Under this condition Yahata has proactively pursued its own way by absorbing foreign technologies, but at same time tried to explore the way to modify them by its hand to fit to the Japanese conditions.

 <Importance of Yahata in History>
It was really painful experience and result of the laborious efforts of development. It Yahata-Furnas x02 1909.JPGcould be said that the foundations of the Japanese industrial development was made by this experience. So that is the reason why the former headquarters of the Yawata Steel Works, the iron forging shop used for its construction, the repair shops, have been designated as ‘World Industrial Heritage’ as a historically important remains.

Yahata- Yahata village x01.JPG      In addition, as a result of successful construction of this steelworks plant, many manufacturing companies have become to concentrate in “Yahata village”, which was formally a small fishing village. Then, the around Yahata and Kokura area has been transformed to the huge heavy industrial sites in the beginning of 20 century Japan. Among them the “Higashida No.1 Blast Furnace” was functioned as the core facility of this Yawata Works.  The furnace has changed the shape several times but continued to operate until the year of 1971. And this plant significantly supported the industrial recovery just after the War in 1940s and 50s too by producing necessary strategic steel wares.

 < Yahata Steel Afterwards and a New Transformation >

However, as a result of the intensified international competition in the steel industry in Yahata-Higashida Now x01.JPG1970s, even this Yawata Works has required to transfer the main facilities to other area, such as Wakamatu (Kokura), Kimitsu (Chiba), and others. Yahata- Logo x02.JPGAt the same time, the Yahata Works in Higashida site was inevitably closed. As a result its vast site was redeveloped, and then the area was reborn as a newly industrial and cultural promotion area.

The turning point of the new development was the “Kitakyushu Expo” in 2001 that celebrated the 100 year memorial event after the establishment of the steelworks. This event purposed to convey the future image of science and technology at the Yahata-Space world x01.JPGlocation, and “Higashida No.1 Blast Furnace” site was highlighted as a symbol monument.

Also, the amusement park “Space World” was set up in one corner of this site, and many commercial and cultural facilities were constructed around the area afterward. For example, Kitakyushu Innovation Gallery, Municipal Life Museum, Environment Museum, commercial facilities, hotel and others. And now the area has been transfigured to lively and brisk commercial and cultural township.

<Yahata Steel as a Historical Site>

Yahata- Logo x03.JPG     The blast furnace itself became a “historical site” after its abolition and it designated Yahata-Furnas x02 present 1901.JPGas a heritage site park where many visitors were visiting. There visitors can observe the outer appearance of the blast furnace, Yahata-Furnas x0  1901 tower.JPGand many monuments and exhibits related Yahata Steel were observable, like converter furnaces, pig iron transport freight cars, electric locomotives and steel works, which were actually used there.

Yahata- Park x01.JPG Yahata- Park x02.JPG Yahata- Park x03.JPG

Furthermore at the top of the Higashida furnace building, visitors can see a huge signboard marking “1901”. I believe this blast furnace is really worth to be called a “Monument” symbolizing the ups and downs of the Japanese industry and 20 century of Japan.

♣  Yawata Steel Works designated as World Industrial Heritage

Travel- Illust x12.jpg    The Yawata Steel Works, the former office, the repair shop, the former smithy factory, and the Onga river pumping station were registered as “industrial heritage”. However, unfortunately many of these facilities are restricted to approach near the sites. Then we should stay out and observe them with keeping some distance from the real sites.

<First Head Office of Yawata Steel Works>

  Yahata-Head office x01.JPG    This facility is a historical building built in 1899 ahead of the establishment of the Yawata Works. It is said this building is the typical British architecture representing typical Western building style in the Meiji ear. This is the place where the major strategic discussions and technical examination had been carried out in order to establish a first full-scale steelworks plant in Japan. The Unesco has appreciated that function which had led the dawn period of Japanese steelmaking industry through the policy making.

<Former Forge Shop of Yahata Steel Works>

      “The old “Forge Shop” factory is a site which built for the processing and assembling Yahata- forge x01.JPGYahata- Ilust x05.JPGconstruction materials a head of starting operation of Yahata in 1900. This factory building is still remained as it was. The major forgings materials for the steelworks were made here, and German technology was used to the construction of the steelworks. It is said that the design of factory was adopted the technology of the Gutenhof Nünscheut Co., Germany. Now the factory site became a historic remains of old steelwork. The inside of building many documents and memorial goods were said to be stored, like design documents, drawings, photographs, portraits, rails and the like during operation period.

<Repair Shop of Yahata Steel Works>

This repair shop is a factory which was also built prior to the establishment. It was Yahata-Repair x02 outside.JPGused as a facility where the necessary operation for steelworks was made, like processing parts and assembling, repairing machineries, and other works. It is said that among the existing related facilities it is the oldest steel building in Yahata-Repair x01 inside.JPGJapan. Even the form of the company has already changed, it still operates as a repair shop even now.
In this factory, initially German steel materials and technology were used, but they say it was gradually replaced with Japanese steel materials and proprietary technology.

<Onga River Pumping Station of Yahata Steel Works>

 Yahata- Onga x01.JPG        The Yawata Steel Works had made the major expansion of plants about three times by 1930. Among them, it was one of the oldest factory water supply station in Japan which was built in the first time in 1910. The facility was made to supply water in large scale necessary for the steel industry for the operation. There, the building of British style bricks at the time remained intact. And even now, it plays a role of feeding water to ironworks.

♣  Remarks after Visit and Report

Construction of the government-owned Yawata Steel Works may have been a Yahata-Illust x04.JPGlaunching signal fire which tells the beginning of the industrial revolution that promoted the development of heavy industries in Japan. This construction triggered various ironworks, promotion of shipbuilding industry, fast development of machine industry in various places and showed significant progress of industrial modernization in due time. The Yahata Works has greatly contributed to the economic recovery just after the war too.

However, with the prevailing globalization in recent years and the intensification of Yahata-Head office x02.JPGinternational competition over the steel industry, the Yawata Works, especially Yawata’s Higashida site, has forced to make a major change in the operation. And it was going to close the main blast furnace just after the 100 years since its foundation.

Indeed, the Yawata Steel Works was an entity that embodied the rise and fall of the Japanese industry, from the initial shaping period of modern states and industry, the building-up of modern heavy industries, to recent the transformation of industrial structures. Above the building of former Yawata Works, a huge signboard notYahata-Illust x03.JPGd “1901”  is placed. It looked like to indicate the first year of the century and memorial year of Japan’s industrial development.

Now, several facilities related to the Yawata Steel Works are registered in the “World Industrial Heritage”, because it was evaluated as the significance of historic sites that convey the history of the Yawata Works which was believed to set the foundation of the Japanese modern steel industry.Travel- Illust x04.jpg

At the moment, many of them are unfortunately unopened facilities. But I sincerely hope that they will be renovated as public historical museum facilities in the near future thanks to the registration of “World heritage “. And at that time, I would like to visit this historic site again.



1. 「八幡鐵ものがたり」(“Steel Works Birth Story” 2015) 北九州イノベーションギャラリー
2. Japan Kyushu Tourist:



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Visit Chiba Museum of Science and Industry

Explore the modern Industrial technology in the museum of Chiba

♣  Museum Outlook

Chiba-Logo x04.JPG    I visited the “Chiba Museum of Science and Industry” located in the Ichikawa City, Chiba, which is introducing the latest science & technology and the industrial development, particularly in the metropolitan area of Chiba-M Outlook  x01.JPGChiba. The museum was established in 1992. It exhibits various scientific goods and devices related recent achievement of technology in the field of petrochemical, iron & and steel, and electric industries. It is said that more than five million visitors have already visited since its launching. This report is my short description on my visit. (refer to Guide to Museum: Chiba Museum of Science )

If you want to access to the Museum information, it is available by


 ♣  Overview of Museum  Exhibition

 <Aim of establishment>

The museum’s main aim was “The museum is established to Chiba-Illust x01.JPGchiba-ex-hall-x02introduce the basic industrial technology involved in Chiba, however it will widely deal with the industrial technology of Japan and the world.”  in the guidebook.  So, the exhibition mainly focuses on the technology development of iron & steel, petrochemical, and electric industry, which was major
business field in the industrial zone of Chiba.
chiba-change-x02However, it is also extensively introducing about the basic contents of science
and technology from the global perspectives. The significance is that quite a number of exhibits among them are the real products and facilities which had been actually used in the companies around the Keiyo Industrial Zone, Chiba. And the museum is providing many scientific facilities of experiments by visitors.

<Main Exhibition>

chiba-illust-x05  The exhibitions were roughly divided into four sections. That is “”History of modern
industry”, “Invitation of advanced technology”, and “”Creation Park” which equipped with experimental equipment.
Let’s examine the exhibition corner individually.

♣  History Corner of the Modern Industry

The second floor was allocated to the exhibition  of the history of modern chiba-land-x01industry and technology. Near the entrance, the display panel was placed illustrating the evolution “Keiyo Industrial Zone” of Chiba, such as how this industrial zone was created and why the Chiba-Change x01.JPGmajor companies in the steel, petrochemical, and electric industries were collectively established in this area. The video and photos were also posted there to depict the changing landscape of the coastal area in the Tokyo bay, and showed the figure of transforming the land to the huge industrial complex after the War.. These pictures looked symbolizing the process of industrial development and technology advancement in Japan as a hole.

< Historical review of modern science and technology>

The next was interesting exhibition. There it has explained the development story of Chiba-History x01.JPGglobal science and technology in the field of electric, petrochemical and iron and steel. The exhibition describes the
long process of the electrical science development from the early Chiba-Illust x02.JPGtime to the modern power generation, the petroleum development from rudimentary use to the sophisticated petrochemical technology, and the evolution of iron mill systems from ancient times to the current advanced steel mills systems. We could learn a lot about the foundation of industry by observing them

<Development of Electric, petroleum, and Iron Technology>

The introduction of electric power section was eye-catching. There many electric Chiba-Deadford x01.JPGdevices and facilities were displayed, such as the huge turbine rotor which has been actually used in the Chiba thermal power plant No.3, the prototype model of Dead Ford power plant, the mock-upChiba-Erekiteru x01.JPGErekiteru” (electric device) which was firstly made in Japan by Hiraga Gennai(平賀源内)in the Edo period. The exhibition of the current power generation systems, and transmission systems, the wind power chiba-wind-power-x01generation facilities were also Chiba-Turbine x01.JPG
displayed with compact explanation.




<Petrochemical technology devices>chiba-t-cracking-x01

chiba-oil-distillation-x01    In the oil industry section, we could observe the thermal cracking unit model of Burton, the mock up model of petroleum “distillation column” that has been used in the Chiba petrochemical industrial complex, the diorama model of the petrochemical plant and others.

<Iron and Steel producing devices>

In the exhibition, there were the gigantic tithe model of the No.1 blast furnace of Chiba-Besema x01.JPGKawasaki Steel (current JFE Steel) which has made a memorable record in the steel industry in Japan., the half size Chiba-Blast furnes x-1.JPGmodel of Besema iron converter, these two were tremendous exhibition. Above all, the exhibition of the model of a blast furnace first of Kawasaki Steel was spectacular.

<Machinery devices>

Further, the  as centerpiece exhibition of the machinery Chiba-T-Ford x01.JPGindustry in the museum, we would see the full-scale train model of Siemens, which is said to be the world’s first train, the real size automobile model of T-Ford, and F-3000 racing Chiba-F3000 x01.JPGcar.

Actually these exhibitions were mostly just a model, but by
Chiba-Siemens x01.JPGseeing these exhibits and reading the commentary, the visitors
could learn much about how these modern petro and iron industries have been formed, the way of technological development and structure of these industries, as well as scientific principles supporting these industrial technologies.

♣  Exhibition of modern leading edge industrial technology

      This section was introducing the advanced technology  creating extreme conditions like Chiba-Exhall advance x01.JPGthe high vacuum and ultra-low temperature environment which could come up with the break-through Chiba-Demonstration x01.JPGtechnology to produce new materials, such as superconductor materials, which can be applied to the electronics, chemical industries and other many purposes. These new materials can be produced under these extreme environments.

<New materials for industrial use>

At the new physical material corner, the several new materials were displayed, such as
Chiba-Elect glass x01.JPGspecial metals, ceramics, glasses, and synthetic resin which were used for the Chiba-View glass x01.JPGmedical use and space ships and others. By visiting these exhibits, the visitors might realize what sort of Chiba-Catheter x01.JPGscientific challenges are now undergoing in this field, and what kind of benefits we can enjoy as a result.

<New materials for electronics>

Chiba-Silicon x01.JPG    Electronics seems to be our most familiar areas. The museum deliberately displayed the various electronics products, such as integrated circuits and other basic devices on which communication, electronic and electrical Chiba-Kamiokande x01.JPGsystems are built up. It was attached the brief explanations about the related scientific affairs and its way of applications. Among others, the famous opto-electronic devices “Kamiokande” is exhibited there, by which Professor Koshiba have won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007. Visitors have looked very much delighted seeing this real device in the exhibit.

<Biotechnology exhibits>

However, the exhibition attracted me was the biotechnology section. There, the Chiba-DNA x02.JPGthree-Chiba-DNA x01.JPGdimensional model of DNA, fusion cell, technology of generic recombination, and other biological technology were introduced with easy- to-understand commentary. .Exhibition of the global environment and advanced technology was also attractive. These are only model rather than the real thing and these lined-ups will  really give us impression  how extensively these evolution of technology in this field have been going.

<Equipment to make Ultra environment>

The exhibition of various equipment and tools regarding “basic” science and technology Chiba-Cryopump x01.JPGwas significant one in this museum. It explains the scientific phenomena chiba-nitrogen-x1with practical performance of practice and experiment. For example, the phenomenon caused by the ultra-low temperature and ultra-vacuum state which could be hardly observed in a usual manner, and the changing shape of nitrogen and carbon by the ultra-high pressure and vacuum, and other materials transforming.


♣  Exhibition of creation in the Open Space

Chiba-Water x01.JPG     The “Creation of Square” was a unique space of the  “experience-participatory” activity where visitors could experience a variety of scientific phenomena by their own eye. For instance, the movement of wind Chiba-Playground x02.JPGpower, water wave, electromagnetic force, physical impact and others will be experienced by using equipment provided there. These were facilitating to make them experience and promote understanding about the scientific principles behind the natural observable scene.

The demonstration of “Arc Discharge” produced by ultra-high voltage was facilitated Chiba-Arc x02.JPGtoo. We could experience of the thunder like lighting, such as “creeping discharge” over the glass surface and the lightning phenomena just right in front of us. It was spectacular to see the blight beam and thunder sound generated by this specific arc discharge. The museum provides many educational facilities too, such as science classroom, lecture space for children, the video hall, and library. These all are unmistakably wonderful educational facilities for everyone.

♣  End Remarks 

Chiba-Logo x03.JPG This Science Museum is said to be made by the fully cooperation of the companies located in the Keiyo industrial Zone“, and emerged as a unique science education facility in this area to cover wide range of scientific knowledge, Chiba-Illust x06.JPG
particularly in the field of steel, petrochemical, and electric powers for the people who are interest in the science and industry.beyond the Chiba region. It would surely give us a precious opportunity to learn about the origins of current science and technology, regarding in the field of machinery and tools, variety medical equipment, and the development of industrial technology of Japan as a whole.   I felt that it is a quite valuable public industrial museum of Chiba describing lively figures of modern industrial science and technology with global perspectives.




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Visit Bridgestone Today -Museum of Tire World

Visit of Bridgestone Today; the Tire’s Science Museum

–Touch the Tire’s Engineering Technology and Entrepreneurship

ブリヂストン博物館訪問 -  ゴムとタイヤの科学が学べる博物館 —

  ♣  Museum Outlook

BS-Illustx01.JPG    It is a rarely told but famous story that the global tire maker “Bridgestone” was born from a small firm “Shima-Ya” which had been producing Japanese socks “Tabi” in Kurume, Kyushu in the Meiji period. bs-entrance-x01   This Bridgestone has established the “Bridgestone TODAY” Museum in March 2001 to promote the company’s products and developed technology in commemoration of its 70 years BS-Exhibit tires x01.JPGanniversary. There huge number of tire related exhibits are displayed In the museum to show their tire products, high-tech tires, rubber technology as well as company’s own history and its R&D efforts.

The Museum is known as a Japan’s first comprehensive ‘Technical Museum of the Tire and Rubber’, and already received more than 50,000 visitors since its opening. Recently I have visited this “Bridgestone TODAY” to explore the tire world with my eyes. BS-Exhbition hall x01.JPGThis article is my visit short report on this Museum.

BS-Illustx11JPG.JPG     When we look at the tire, it takes specific roll to transmit the vehicle’s power to the ground, and keep safe and comfortable drive on the road. It seems to form the foundation part of automobiles like the “foots of car” in a sense. And. as a matter of fact, the historical development of tire is older than automobile’s history, and functioned as key devices of transportation from the old time.

The museum reminds us again to realize these facts through the rich exhibitions. I really enjoyed the visit and learned a lot about the modern tire industries.

See Museum guide of IGS Forum:  Bridgestone TODAY

Museum URL:

♣  Overview of Exhibitions

The “Bridgestone TODAY” was located next to the Bridgestone’s “Technology Center” in
Kodaira, Tokyo. There in the first floor the big panels BS-Illustx12 Logo.JPGwere set to highlight bs-tire-exhibition-x01the history of Bridgestone as well as the various tires of Bridgestone were displayed. And the memorial tires, which had been used F1 racing cars, was also observable at the highlight exhibit corner. In the second floor, the manufacture process of rubber parts and tires were positioned showing how these were produced. The current new initiatives and new projects of Bridgestone were also displayed there too.

BS-Structure 03.JPG    Among these exhibitions, the most attractive exhibits would be a Bridgestone story BS-Illustx04 Museum Pic.JPGdepicting how a small local firm in Kyushu could grow to the big companies by the technology initiative and significant entrepreneurship. The other was the impressive scientific commentary on the manufacturing process of tires, technical evolution, and the future challenges in this dield. I’d like to describe these points and my observation.


♣  The History of Bridgestone and its Track Record

                       – Challenges from human “footgear” to automobile “equipment”

 <Founding Story>

The “Bridgestone’s History” panel was chronologically displayed in the entranc
e hall. bs-history-panel-x01It is said that the origin of the Bridgestone was a small firm of tailoring “Tabi” (Japanese style socks) named “Shima Ya” in the Kurume town in the several decades ago. The founders were Tokujiro and ShojiroBS-Ishibashi x01.JPG Ishibashi. This brother Ishibashi nurtured the firm to the large
technology companies of tire in a single lifetime. It is a famous story that the name of Bridgestone is come from the Chinese character of founder’s name, “Ishi” (stone) and “Hashi” (bridge) with mixing and tying them.

BS-Illustx09.JPG    The “Shima Ya” has first set up a factory specializing to the “Tabi” productions in BS-History chart x01.JPG1907, and by showing the high performance of sales the company won the great business success.   After that, “Shima Ya ” was changed the name to “Japan Tabi Co.”, and its brand name was also changed to “Asahi”. Then, the company began to produce “Asahi Jika Tabi Shoes” with heavy cloth and rubber soles at its bottom in 1921.

This work has solidified the foundation of the company on the significant rise of its sales because the coal mine workers were very much favor to use this “Jika Tabi” socks shoes in the many mining sites around the Northern Kushu area.

Taking advantage of this experience, Shojiro Ishibashi, a founder, who has initiated and BS-History x01.JPGtransformed the firm to the tire company, looked the huge potentiality of automobile and tire industry in future. Then Shojiro has established the company “Bridgestone Tire”, and embarked on the domestic production of tire which had been BS-tire x08 early type.JPGfully dependent on the imports at that time. It was a really adventuring business shift from the production of “human foot” to the “car’s foot”, in a sense.

In the first of the time, the company had to face the immature business performances as well as serious technical problems, of course. BS-Ishibashi x02.JPGHowever, the business has been gradually moving well by repeated experiments by diligently absorbing Western technology. BS-Illustx07.JPGThen, the company could finally be able to start exports by the obtaining quality certificate from the Ford in the 1932. Furthermore, the company could become a major supplier of domestic track tires in the wartime period of the 1940s in Japan.

<History of Bridgestone technological development>

However, it was the post war period that the company could leap forward to a full-BS-Tread pattern x02.JPGfledged tire maker. During this time, the company has opened a new area, such as the adoption of rayon textile in tire cord (1951), the development of tire tread pattern, and the start of production nylon tire (1956).

In addition, Bridgestone was awarded the Deming Prize to guarantee the BS-History x02 Deming.JPGhigh quality of products in 1968. The company was also working on the production of radial tires in the 1960s, the development in the 1970s of a lightweight steel radial tire (1975), the production of the high-BS-F1 entry x01.JPGperformance radial” Bonanza “ (1979), and so on. Even after the 1980s, Bridgestone has begun to challenge in the racing car project using high-performance tires.


<Leap to the world tire companies>

The Bridgestone has surprised the world by the acquisition of “Firestone” in 1988, bs-illustx12-logowhich had been dominating the tire market as a main producer, and this event strongly impressed that Bridgestone has already won the position of the world class tire maker both in name as well as reality.BS-Illustx06.JPG

Around this time, the diversification of business was also underway, and the company name was changed to “Bridgestone Co.” from “Bridgestone Tire Co.” So the company has started to engage in the diversification of the business, for example, the technology marketing of sport goods, bicycle, and various chemical products, as well as the seismic construction system like the “Seismic Isolation Rubber” facilities.

BS-Products x01.JPG

As a result, Bridgestone has been growing to the total technology company in the tire business and others through the development of the foundation technology, such as BS-Tire x01 potenza.JPGBS-Tire x03 Donuts.JPG“DONUTS” technology, and the ultra-large ORP tire, and successful production of fuel-efficient tires “Ecopia” and others.     Visitors will be possible to explore the history of
Bridgestone as a tire company on the exhibition panel.


♣  Exhibition of a variety of Bridgestone tire

Main exhibition corner of tires of the Bridgestone was located in this section. Upon
BS-Exhibit tires x01.JPGentering the hotel, visitors might be overwhelmed by the tremendous huge lineup of various tires of BS-tire x07 biggest.JPGBridgestone which were hanged and placed abundantly from the ceiling and on the floor. There found a slew of tires from the mammoth size tire being used in special heavy-duty truck, aircraft tire, bus and truck tires in various types, high performance tires for passenger cars, and others. We would be astonished to see these tires of variations.

BS-Tread pattern x01.JPG   BS-Tread pattern x03.JPGAfter the observing these tire exhibition, the visitors would come across the exhibition of mosaic pattern carved in the groove of the tire to be referred as the tread pattern. It is said that by this tread pattern the vehicles’ way of travelling has to be greatly affected. This tread pattern’s variation was spectacular. They say that the nature of the geometrical dynamics is applied in this grooving.

♣  Exhibition showing tire structure

The next corner showed the role and structure of the tire by the illustration of its bs-structure-01internal structure and the materials used in tires. It is bs-structure-x06said that tire is consisted of the surface part called tread, the belt part strengthening tire in the middle, and the carcass part in the internal structure
forming skeleton. It has also described that
the regular  tires had formerly been using air tubes in the inner part, but now the air tube wasn’t applied because of adopting the joint structure of air part and tire’s body itself.

The exhibition showed the variation of materials used in tires, such as rubber, polyester,
bs-structure-04-radialsteel for tire cord, beat wire, carbon or silica, and chemical stuff bs-structure-x05like sulfur and other compounding stuffs. The careful selection of these materials and their combination must be kept to adjust to the driving purposes in the various conditions, such as for the drive of heavy loading trucks, sports type cars, buses running in the snow field, even the air crafts. It was the nice exhibition to familiarize the structure of many tires.

♣  Exhibition of the manufacturing process of the tire

BS-Production process x01.JPGThe manufacturing process of the tire was also BS-Illustx03.JPGinteresting exhibition. The museum successively displayed the making process beginning from compounding rubber and molding to the generation of the carcass part and beat wire which forms  main part of bs-tire-material-x01tire to the last. And the coupling and assembly process of these materials were shown to indicate the manufacturing way to fit the purpose of variety of tires. These processes were arranged by the flow chart picture at the wall. In addition, the demonstration corners were provided to operate there too, such as examination of function of rolling, elasticity and strength of the rubber movement. So it makes us envisage in detail about the internal structure of the tires by touch them and move them.

♣  Bridgestone’s new initiatives

In the next corner, the new technical approach of Bridgestone was introduced. For BS-Tire x03 Air free.JPGexample, the “Ritoretto” tire which is produced by recycling, the air less “Run-flat” tire, the ultra-energy-saving tire, BS-Structure 02 Cross section.JPGand others. Further, beside tire the chemical goods are introduced there which has just begun producing, like EVA film for use in solar cells, and the envBS-Dorphin x01.JPGironmental protection products too. The surprising work of the Bridgestone was also shown in this exhibition corner. The museum displayed the “Artificial tail fin” for the dolphin tail which had been bs-tire-x05-energy-savingdamaged. This is said to be made in social contribution efforts by
Bridgestone and very much appreciated by the people and aquarium staff. The company might proud its technological excellence by them too.


.♣  Special exhibition of the race car and seismic isolation rubber

Bridgestone Co. has also manufactured a number of high-performance tires for the car bs-f1-exhibition-x01race from the 1990s. The real race cars and tires, which were used in the F1 race and won the victory, were also BS-F1 exhibition x02.JPGintroduced as the special exhibits. This exhibition is very much popular among visitors of race funs, and showed the excellence of technology of Bridgestone.

Bridgestone is working to the seismic equipment as its special BS-Isolation rubber x01.JPGbusiness too. This outcome named “Seismic Isolation Rubber“, which has been developed from the 1990s, was on display in the basement. This equipment is a device that absorbs earthquake by the shaking special rubber, and now widely used in the many multi-floor buildings. This exhibition currently invites a lot of visitors, including engineers of constructions.

.♣  Last remarks

bs-illustx09The museum is described as a museum of “science of rubber and tire”. So the museum intend to show up the function and technology of tires which have been used as a main transport tools along with automobile itself, and it seems to form the essential devices in the BS-Illustx10.JPGmodern society.  By looking at the exhibition, we would be aware of again how the function of tires is important to support the modern transportation of our society, and how far the technologies in this field have been advanced and the way of the benefits from them. And we could also acknowledge the figure of the company like Bridgestone how it could grow from a tiny ordinary firm to a gigantic technological companie in the short period. I really felt the “Bridgestone Today” is really enlightening museum to be worth to visit to know about modern tires and rubber industries.





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Visit TOTO Museum of Toilet Science

Amazing TOTO Museum of the Innovative Toilet

— Showing Toilet Revolution and its Impact to Social Life

♣ First Over View

TOTO- museum outlook x01.JPG       toto-logo-x01The TOTO Co., a leading manufacturer of sanitary ware, has established a memorial museum named “TOTO museum” in 2015, as a commemoration of its 100 anniversary event. It was intended to spread the company’s history and products, and its technology. However, the museum is not only to exhibit the products of TOTO, but purposed to disseminate the knowledge about the sanitary wares in Japan as whole, and it tried to indicate
how these sanitary goods have improved the social life of people by the rich exhibition.

TOTO- History corner x01.JPGThe number of visitors said to have already more than TOTO- Toilet Exhib x01.JPGhundred thousand thanks to the fascinating facilities and abundant contents of exhibition.  I decided to visit the museum in this summer by hearing this reputation. The visit was quite satisfactory so as to excellent exhibition and good guidance. I could learn a lot about the evolution and technology of sanitary ware in Japan, and the history of TOTO as a leading player in this field. Then I wrote a report of visit here to remind my memory.

See Museum web site of ” TOTO Museum”

 ♣  Charm of TOTO Museum

Today, when we twist the tap faucet, the clean water will be coming immediately, and
TOTO- Illust x01.JPGit’s possible to use freely warm water used in the bathroom. In the toilet, excrement  can be washed out by just one touch action. Such a hygienic and comfortable life is quite common now as a natural scene. However, in the past, when the sewerage system had been hardly available, people’s life was so inconvenient, and always forced to be anxious about the unsanitary when using toilet and tapping water in the house.

TOTO- plumlng x01.JPG     These kind of favorable changes of social life were all brought by the evolution of equipment and sewage system in dealing with “waterworks”, particularly the technology advancement of sanitary wares and related plumbing tools. The TOTO museum seems to want illustrate of this dynamic historical change of sanitation systems through the exhibition.toto-exhibition-hall-x02    The exhibition zone of TOTO Museum was divided into three parts. The first zone tried to show the roots and history of TOTO with its founding story, the second zone described the Japanese plumbing systems in history with culture background, and the third corner was allocated to the space TOTO-Sanitary wares x01.JPGshowing worldwide production line of TOTO. In addition, if visitors want and request, they can take part in the “factory tour” to observe the production lines of TOTO in real scene.

TOTO- Recent Toilet x02.JPGAfter visit I felt the TOTO museum gave us an immeasurable information regarding  the function of sewerage system and the related equipment technology, such as the development of bathroom, washroom, toilet equipment, and offer the image how they have been advancing to the current styles, and how they will progress in the future.

  ♣  Foundation of TOTO and its corporate history

The origin of the TOTO Co. is the “Toyo Toki”, literally mean “Oriental Pottery”, TOTO- Founders x01.JPGwhich was founded in 1917 for production of sanitary ware and pottery. But the company was, as a matter of fact, established  as a “Pottery Research Institute” in 1912 under the “Nihon Toki Co. Ltd.” (Japan Pottery Co. Ltd.) for the first time. The founder of the company was  “Kazuchika Okura” who had been working for a trade company “Morimura Gumi”. The motivation of starting TOTO- Morimura x01.JPGbusiness in sanitary ware was emerged when he had been studying in Europe and seen the splendor of the toilet and the bath tub in the Western country. Then he had started the R&D activity to produce these sanitary wares in Japan in the 1910s. Afterward he began the production of Western-style toilet pottery ware by set up a factory in Kokura, Kyushu under the name of “Toyo Toki”.

TOTO- Toilet memerial x01.JPGAt the time, the most of bathtub and toilet bowl were made out of wooden materials in Japan. Therefore Okura believed that the sanitary pottery ware might be widely spread in future along with
the change of lifestyle to the modernization and urbanization in Japan.toto-toilet-1927

However, in the initial time of years, the development was extremely difficult and the spread of sanitary ware did not go well in the market as expected before. So the company had to continue the sanitary ware toto-chinaware-x01business depending on the increasing production of tableware china in collaboration with Noritake” (A brother chinaware manufacturing company of Toyo Toki). Turning point was come in the Taisho years of 1930s. That time, the sewerage systems were gradually expanded according to the progress of urbanization in Japan, so the sales of pottery sanitary wares were beginning to appear picking up in the market. Additionally, when it comes after the War in the 1960s and 70s, the demands of sanitary wares were quickly expanding along with the expansion and changes in the life style.

In particular, the construction of large residential complex encouraged the adoption of “Western-style toilet “, and resulted in the widespread use of full-scale sanitary ware.

toto-washlet-x01In these tTOTO- water save toilet x01.JPGrends, TOTO has grown as a worldwide global company, by producing a variety type of innovative sanitary wares, for example, the unit bus for hotels (1960s), warm water washing toilet “Washlet” (1970s), water-saving washing toilet bowl (1980s) , and others.

In the museum, the history of TOTO and its founding philosophy were elaborately explained along with the exhibition of various type of products. With this exhibition, we can understand well the development of sanitary wares in the past and now, and get a image its evolution how these products have created responding to social and life style changes.

 ♣  Evolution of toilet sanitary ware and TOTO

The museum has particularly focused to the exhibition of toilet sanitary ware because it is the main products of TOTO. In Japan, since ancient times, “toilet” was rather seen as toto-wa-toilet-x01the “behind-the-scenes” goods or the “off-the-house” facility even though being aware it of important part of life. But today, it has changed it to recognize as a “Space” which should be kept in the TOTO- Toilet Wa vs West x01.JPGopen, comfortable, and hygienic environment. This history zone of the museum tried to illustrate how the sanitary ware, espe
cially toilet, has developed in response to the shift of social systems and technology advancement. And the exhibition also showed how it contributed to the improvement of life style on the other hand. These exhibitions were quite valuable assets to examine the entire evolution of the sanitary wares in Japan, not only to look TOTO products.

TOTO- Old toilet x04.JPG  TOTO- Old toilet x01.JPGTOTO- Old toilet x03.JPG

When looking around in the exhibition hall, we could come across a large panel which deliberately described the various shapes of “toilet” and the way of excrement processing from the ancient times to now.  There we could meet the attractive stories on the toilet and waste processing systems with elaborate pictures. For examples, the original meaning of “Kawaya” (river side TOTO- Old toilet x05.JPGtoilet), “Setchin” (Toilet covered by snow-like materials), old recycling system of “excrement”, and other episodes were introduced as well as the pictures regarding  the changing waste processing methods from the ‘storage type to the ‘wash-and-flow type’, and the shift from the TOTO- Poster x01.JPG“Japanese-style” to “Western-style” toilet reflecting the change of the people’s daily life. The exhibition was well arranged to show whole historical development of sanitation systems, not only introduce the TOTO related toilet system development. It is quite acceptable the reasons why the main concept of the museum was set for the creation of the “health”, “comfortable”, and “environment ” friendly systems in daily life.

The special exhibition caught our eyes was the “Toilet Bike Neo” which was produced TOTO- Toilet Bike x01.JPGfor the promotion of sanitary ware TOTO. toto-bike-xx1The campaign was carried out by the nationwide caravan of the “Bike” procession which ran by the fuel of bio-gas produced in excrement processing. The caravan was conducted by putting the Western-style toilet on the bike, while singing a song on the Co2 reduction and environmental and sanitation. It was carried under the campaign called the “TOTO Green Challenge” TOTO in 2011. Visitors were all delighted and amused to see this real “Bike Neo” machine on the display in the hall.

 ♣  Evolution of exhibition of bathroom and kitchen

TOTO was set a goal to be a total manufacturer of water related business with
TOTO- Bath x05.jpgfocus on the “plumbing” equipment besides sanitary ware. So the company has been developing many types of bathroom or kitchen, wash basin, and other plumbing goods. Therefore,  the exhibition of these products was also toto-system-kitchen-x01abundant in the museum. They are showing the historical process of evolvement of the bathroom, the kitchen and washroom too. And it described in detail how these equipment have positioned in the home, and
TOTO- Kitchen x01.JPGhow they progressed the water-saving technology, as well as the improvement of components.

These exhibited products were quite familiar and approachable because the most of them were commonly used in the Showa and Heisei period, and they could recall the former our daily life. And additionally we could recognize how they have transformed to the current style equipment. These were wonderful exhibition for the visitors.
toto-unit-bath-for-hotel-1964  In addition, the museum displayed the original type of “system bath” which had been introduced into the hotel for the first time in 1960s, and the samples of the system kitchen, modern toilet, shower and others which were widely spread to the general toto-bath-x03household in the 1970s.
The museum also showed the advancing technology of lumbering systems, such as the development of water-saving technologies. All these were thought to be  essential for keeping sanity and conformity in the family and social life.

TOTO- Toilet China style x01.JPGIn the museum, the different style of bathroom and sanitary ware in a foreign country were also introduced. They were interesting to reflect different lifestyle and culture in the style.



♣  Development technology and production process of the site

It might be a merit point point of this museum to give chance for visitors to observe the production toto-toilet-parts-x01toto-toilet-parts-x03process not only seeing final products only. In the side of the exhibition hall, a video corner was provided to show the real figures of sanitary ware production process of baking pottery, mounting parts, assembling of them. Actual configuration of the electronic components and fittings of the latest flush toilet were displayed in the glass case there.
So the visitors could learn how big volume of functional parts which were installed in the compact invisible space  and how they supported the smooth and safely operation. Through these exhibits we can recognize well the systems of water-saving and cleaning function which were managed and kept in the equipment in safely.



♣ Final Remark

toto-illust-xx01   I visited the TOTO museum in Kyushu in this summer as described above. In the spacious building I was satisfied to able to see the development of the various devices related to the “water” technology and its products in old and new. Among them, one of the great outcome for me was to get knowledge about how variety sanitary wares and equipment Japan have been developed in toto-illust-x01conjunction with the change of social environment and evolution of social systems. Through the visit I really admired of the creation of the TOTO museum which gives rich information about the daily home products like toilet and plumbing equipment. So I believe the museum is worth to visit by anybody if they have an opportunity.



Reference materials: 参考とした資料:

  1. TOTOミュージアム 案内パンフレット
  2. TOTOミュージアム Web site:
  3. 「水と暮らしの物語」
  4. 衛生陶器の基礎知識
  5. 「トイレ年表」財団法人 日本レストルーム工業界:
  6. 日本の便所 wikipedia
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Visit Nagasaki’s World Industrial Heritages

Impression of Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard and World Heritages

Walking around the Kyushu/Yamaguchi “Industrial Heritage” (3)

♣  Nagasaki Shipyard — Making Dawn of  shipbuilding engineering in Japan

Nagasaki Zosen- Kibaba 01.JPGThe Edo period of Japan, which was under the long seclusion, was seriously faced the serious threat from advancing Western marine powers in 19th century. In these circumstances, the Edo gov’t has loosened the previous ban of the large vessels in order to protect the Japan’s Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x07.JPGsovereignty. Then, Shogunate and leading clans in the western part of Japan have started the construction of large vessels in use as battle ships. Among them, Hagi, Satsuma, Saga clans were vigorously trying
to build large sailing ship in their own way based on the Dutch technical books. In the meantime, the Edo gov’t set up the “Naval Training Institute Nagasaki Zosen- Denshu x01.JPG“(海軍伝習所)in Nagasaki for learning the sailing skill and technology of manufacturing warships.

These series of movements have significantly enhanced the development measures all of Japan’s shipbuilding technology. The “Nagasaki Shipyard Works” and its related facilities have played the pivotal role in these challenges. This process was greatly valued and registered in the “World industrial heritage” in 2015.

Nagasaki Zosen- Entrance hall x01.JPGI have visited these “World Heritage” sites in Nagasaki during this summer. The aim was the visit to the Nagasaki Shipyard “Archives” (史料館). Because I had long desired to know about the historical issues of ship development
technology, particularly in Nagasaki. Through the visit I could learn a lot about the roots of Japan’s shipbuilding technology, and its subsequent results. This article is an impression notes at this time. However, some areas were inaccessible because the Nagasaki Shipyard Works is still running by the private company and prohibited to step in to the certain places in the shipyard. So I should say the description had a certain limitation.

♣  The eight historic sites of the “world heritage”

The following eight facilities and historic sites were defined as important evidence for nagasaki-zosen-illust-x04advancing Japanese shipbuilding industry and related machinery industries, and  nominated in the “World Industrial Heritage” by Unesco. These are; (1) Glover House and Office, (2) ” Kosuge Ship Dock” (小菅修船場跡), (3) “Mitsubishi Number Third Dock”(第三船渠), (4) “Mitsubishi Senshokaku Guest House”( 占勝閣)”, (5) old “Mitsubishi Former Pattern Shop” (旧木型場), (6) “Giant Cantilever Crane” all in the Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works, (7) “Takashima coal mine ruins”(高島炭坑跡), (8) “Hashima coal mines ruins”(端島炭坑跡)in the Mitsubishi coal mines sites.

<Development of Nagasaki Shipyard as a Industrial Heritage>

nagasaki-zosen-glover-house-x01ANagasaki Zosen- Glover x01.JPGmong them, the “Glover House” is the former residence of Mr. Thomas Glover, who greatly contributed to the Japanese industry modernization by trade deals of machines and Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x02.JPGtechnology in the last years of Edo and beginning of the Meiji period. It is now a famous tourist spot to overview the beautiful Nagasaki bay.

 Mr. Glover has also help the establishment of the Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery nagasaki-zosen-wh-craneWorks, Mitsubishi, and assisted the setting up “Kosuge Slip Dock” in 1869 and “Takashima coal mine”. This Dock was valued the oldest slip dock in Japan to land ships by steam engine power. It became a model of the subsequent nagasaki-zosen-wh-dock-3similar facilities . nagasaki-zosen-wh-kosuge
The “Third Dock” of Nagasaki Shipyard is a dry dock for large ships which was built in 1905 and continues to be running even today. And the “Giant Cantilever Crane”, was constructed in 1909 with an electric power for loading and unloading of large machinery, This Crane is still operating in the shipyard even after 100 years of construction.
Nagasaki Zosen- Kibaba 1898 x01.JPG     The “Pattern Shop” was built in 1898 as a factory to make up “wood patterns” for casting iron of ships. This is the oldest memorial building in Nagasaki Shipyard, but now it has transformed to the Museum which exhibits many machine tools being used in the shipyard. The “Senshokaku nagasaki-zosen-wh-guest-houseHouse” was used as the State Guest House for prominent businessmen, political circle of people in the initial period of shipyard.

All these facilities and buildings have been functioned as the crucial infrastructures in the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard, and shows how the shipbuilding industry and the machinery technology of Japan have been developed. It is likely to be historical witnesses to tell the ship building industry in Japan.

<Development of Coal Mining Industry as a Industrial Heritage>

On the other hand, the historic coal industry sites are also found in Nagasaki area along nagasaki-zosen-wh-takashimawith shipbuilding industrial sites. The Takashima and Hashima coal mine are the most famous among them.          At that time, the coal mines equipped modern machines were seldom in Japan but huge demand to the coal were
existed because the steamship and steam engines development were in boom in Japan. It was said that the “Takashima coal mine” had developed the powerful “Intake Shaft” system to mine coal for responding these big demands.

The “Hashima coal mines” has developed a large-scale coal mining after the Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x10.JPG“Takashima” with fully using the entire island for mining. This Hashima started and Nagasaki Zosen- Hashima x01.JPGcontinuously run from the mid-Meiji till the post-War period as a flagship coal mine of the Mitsubishi Co. But after the closing coal mines in 1974, the Hashima has changed to the uninhabited island. But in the recent years, the Hashima is becoming famed as a tourism landmark site called “Ginkanjima” (Warship Island) and inviting many tourists.

In the meantime, there are many coal mines of “Miike” (三池炭鉱)too in the Chikuho area, northern Kyushu. They were all major coal mines in paralleled with the Mitsubishi related coal mines at least until around 1970s when the coal industry declined in Japan caused by the energy resource shift..

♣   Nagasaki shipbuilding Works -A forerunner of shipbuilding  

The prototype of the “Nagasaki Shipyard Works” was the “Nagasaki Molten Irons Nagasaki Zosen- N Ironwork x01.JPGFactory” in the Edo period which Edo gov’t had been building for the repairing modern
vessels in 1861. After that, the name was changed to “Nagasaki Ironworks” and managed by Japanese government for a moment after the Meiji Restoration. Then, the factory was disposed to the Mitsubishi Co. Nagasaki Zosen- Machin plat 1885.JPG1n 1884 as the “Nagasaki Shipyard Works” which is now owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Afterward this Shipyard has enhanced the function and innovated the facilities in large scale, and it has grown to the modern full-fledged shipbuilding factory in the period Meiji.

<Nagasaki Naval Training Plant and other Shipbuilding Movement>

On the other hand, prior to this movement in Edo period, the Edo gov’t had established nagasaki-zosen-denshu-x02the “Nagasaki Naval Training Plant” in 1855, and began training of the way of operation of
Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x11.JPGwarships and construction of western ships under the guidance of Dutch marine officer. In this facility many prominent figures are participated who have actively worked and led the Edo-Meiji social and political change as well as industrial development. For the example, Kaishu Katsu勝海舟, Godai Tomoatsu五代友厚, Sano Tsunetami佐野常民, Tanaka Hisashige田中久重 and others had participated.
In the Eastern Japan, Edo Gov’t had also engaged in the Western shipbuilding works by its own hand. Coincidentally, the Russian ship “Diana” was overturned off the coast of Toda
Nagasaki Zosen- Kimisawa xxx.JPGvillage, Izu
in 1854. The Shogunate dispatched shipwrights to Ishikawa-jima (near the Izu) and ordered to repair and re-build the ship “Heda”, and constructed the same type of new ship named “Kimisawa” type in the area.
In addition, the Edo gov’t established “Yokosuka Ironworks” in 1866 and got to work in transforming shipbuilding measures from wooden ships to steel ships under the guidance of French engineers.

<Major Ship Products of Nagasaki Shipyard in early time>

Around the same time in the northern Kyushu area, the “Nagasaki Shipyard Works”
Nagasaki Zosen- Dock 1879.JPGhad greatly advanced its shipbuilding capacity and technology. For instance, it had completed the first dock in 1896, and built “wooden pattern plant” in 1898. And after the Meiji, the second and third modern dock was also constructed in 1903. The Ship hull test aquarium completed in 1907, and large crane has installed in 1909. So the infrastructure of shipyard has quickly line-upped through these facilitation and began to show the figures of modern full scaled shipbuilding plant.

Nagasaki Zosen- Yugiri 1887.JPGIn the ship making field, it produced “Yugiri-maru” (the first iron steamship) in 1887, “Hitachi Maru” (large passenger ship) in 1898, “Tenyomaru” (full-scale turbine ship) in 1908, and succeeded to build the modern battle cruiser “Kirishima” in 1915 afterward.

In this way, Japan’s shipbuilding technology is Nagasaki Zosen- Tenyo 1908.JPGdramatically improved in the Meiji period and went up the ladder to the shipbuilding powerhouse of the world only in just 50 years from the start.

So it is clear that the Nagasaki Shipyard Works and its related facilities have been evaluated as one of the leading players in the shipbuilding field, and is natural their old sites were designated as the important historic assets to signify the Japanese successful industrial development.

♣  The exhibition of “Former Pattern Shop” Archive

The old ” Former Pattern Shop” Archive has embodied these long histories of Nagasaki Nagasaki Zosen- Archive x02.JPGShipyard Works and Japanese shipbuilding efforts as above mentioned. The building of Archive itself was formerly used as a machine factory, but it was transformed to the museum facility in 1985. In the archive hall, we could find a number of historically used machines, tools and memorabilia, and many photos with Nagasaki Zosen- memorial x01.JPGshort introductions.
These exhibitions were arranged in order by historic years like the products of government-run period of Nagasaki Works, Mitsubishi founding period’s, the Meiji and Taisho period’s, Showa’s products and memorials, and so on.

Additionally, the exhibitions were also available by the Nagasaki Zosen-Yataro x01.JPGsubjective access, such as the Iwasaki family corner of Mitsubishi, shipbuilding monuments, battleship “Musashi” corner. These were displayed with many photos and commentaries to give lively imagine about the historical background of Mitsubishi Shipyard Works and its historical development.

The rare historical exhibits were also exhibited there, for example, a Nagasaki Zosen- Oxygen x01.JPGdiving equipment “Oxygen Bell”(1834) which was used for wharf construction in the old Nagasaki Shipyard plant construction, Japan’s oldest machine tool “vertical cutting board” (1857), the first domestically produced steam turbine (1908), the “cast iron pillar” used in the construction of the factory, and the like.

Nagasaki Zosen- Steam engine 1928.JPGThe power steam engine for “Shirataka Maru” (1920s), the open-cycle gas turbine of 500 horsepower used in the “Hokuto Maru” (1954), Tsurumi power plant No. 1 turbine welding rotor for Tepco (1962), and other recent machine products were also displayed there as a memorial collection.     There existed many photos too which tell the history of the Nagasaki Shipyard Works. TheNagasaki Zosen- Hitachi 1898.JPG visitors would find the photographs of Nagasaki Ironworks in 1870s, “Akunoura” machine producing plants and “Tategami” first dock pictures (around 1870s), the iron steamer ship (1887), battleship “Hitachi Maru”, “Hyuga” and “Musashi”, all these photos showed the passing days’ memorial records of Japanese shipbuilding history.
Kunio Illust x01.JPG    I’ve looked around the “Archives” in an hour, but it was enough to roughly understand the trends and the movements of Japanese shipbuilding history, and could learn a lot by observing working place and materials. And this opportunity of visit Nagasaki gave me fruitful information regarding initial efforts to build modern western ships in Edo and Meiji period, as well as historical background of Nagasaki Shipyard Works. I hoped to visit there again if I could find another chance to tour in Kyushu.



♥  Column:

Introduction of the Saga’s Mietsu Navy Training Sites

The one of the key roles were played by Saga clan in the development of shipbuilding in nagasaki-zosen-mietsu-x03the Edo period. The Saga has constructed a “reverberatory furnace” and showed pioneering moves in the modern ship making from the early time along with Satsuma, Hagi clan, and Edo gov’t.     The Edo Gov’t had set up a “Navy Training Plant” in Nagasaki in 1850s to promote ship making technology to protect its land, and in nagasaki-zosen-tanaka-x01this time Saga clan sent a biggest number of nagasaki-zosen-sano-m-x02Samurai engineers with following trainees dispatched by Edo Shogunate. Furthermore, the Saga launched its own “Mietsu Naval Institute “ (三重津海軍所)for training Saga’s Samurai engineers after closing of the Nagasaki’s training facility.

Then, the facility of Saga successfully completed the “steam engine for the naval ship in Nagasaki Zosen- Ryofu maru x01.JPG1863, and launched the practical steamboat “Ryofumaru” in 1865. To this challenging project, the members of this Institute, Sano and Tanaka (later he became a founder of Toshiba) and other engineers have participated and contributed much to make these vessels.

Thanks to these significant memorial works, theNagasaki Zosen- Sano M x01.JPG ruins of “Mietsu training plant” was registered in the “World Industrial Heritage” along with the nagasaki-zosen-mietsu-x02
Nagasaki shipbuilding-related facilities. The historical ruins of this “Mietsu” is now been excavating to clarify the historical meanings and is currently being developed as a historic tourist spot as the “Sano Tsunetami Memorial Park”.



  1. 三菱重工・長崎造船所「史料館」パンフレット
  2. 「明治日本の産業革命遺産―近代化は長崎からはじまったー」PRIDEパンフレット 
    (Note: Pictures were quoted from “「明治日本の産業革命遺産」PRIDE” Pamphlet)
  3. 「長崎の近代化遺産」パンフレット
  4. 「開国日本―造船の歴史―」(
  5. 「長崎にある8つの構成遺産」(長崎市ホームページ)
  6. ビジュアル版「日本の技術100年」(3) 造船・鉄道 (筑摩書房)


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Visit the Kagoshima’s World Heritages

♠  Visit the “Shoko Shuseikan” and World Heritage in Kagoshima

Walking around the Kyushu/Yamaguchi “Industrial Heritage” (2)

 ♣  Charm of Kagoshima World Industrial Heritage

Kagoshima- W Heritage x03.JPG     The Satsuma(薩摩)of Kagoshima had strongly felt the military threats and the fear of colonization from European Power in the 19 century Edo period, which was under the seclusion policy. Then, Nariakira Shimazu(島津斉彬), Satsuma’s Daimyo (Feudal lord), began a great operation of modernization of the military and industry, called the “Shuseikan”(集成館)Project in the Kagoshima- Illust x07.jpg1850s. This Project had been pursuing the modernization of industry adopting Western technology, including the field of iron casting for gun barrel, large western style shipbuilding, as well as cotton spinning engineering.

These Kagoshima- Shoko x01.JPGvestiges of facilities still remains in the Kagoshima area, and they were registered as the “World Industrial Heritage” by UNESCO in 2015 as a primary model of Japan’s industrial revolution.

These historic sites are scattered around the “Sengan-En”(仙巌園)Park in the Iso district of Kagoshima City now, for

Kagoshima- Illust x02example, the historic ruins of reverberatory furnace, blast furnace, shipyard, spinning plants, and others. Particularly, the “Shoko Shuseikan” (尚古集成館)is a most valuable historical archives to illustrate the whole picture of the “Shuseikan Project”.

I have visited the “Shoko Shuseikan” archive and other industrial sites this summer. The following ascription is this visit record of that time.

 ♣   What’s the “Shuseikan” Industry Project

      Under the constant military threat from the Western power, the eleventh lord Kagoshima- Shuseikan x02.JPG“Nariakira Shimazu” launched the radical reform of the administration in1952, and proceed the modernization project of science and industry called “Shuseikan” Project.

Specifically, he had focused on to the building of iron mills, shipbuilding yard, gunpowder plant, in Kagoshima- Shimazu x01.JPGaddition to the non-military spinning factory and traditional glass crafts (薩摩切り子:Satsuma Facet) workshops. He had tried to absorb advanced knowledge of industrial technology by managing these production sites. These plants building were deemed the first rare example of setting up the modern industrial complex in Japan. However, The “Shuseikan” Project (the first stage) was sadly destroyed to ashes by the “Bombardment of Kagoshima”(薩英戦争)in 1858.Kagoshima- Shimazu x02.JPG

Afterward, the project wasn’t restored for a while, but re-emerged from 1965 by the new lord Tadayoshi Shimazu as the second “Shuseikan” Project Kagoshima- Shoko Map x01.JPG. And this time, the Project was conducted by the direct technical assistance and introduction of modern machinery from UK and Netherlands. It has been evaluated as the epoch of birth of full-fledged factories in Japan. Additionally, the Shimazu has promoted young “Samurais”(侍:
Warriors)to study abroad for acquiring the new knowledge of advanced industrial technology and social systems. These people contributed a lot for advancing industrial modernization in the Meiji era later.

These factories and vestiges were currently designated as “the World Industrial Kagoshima- Sengen-en x02.JPGHeritage,” along with many historical ruins of “Shuseikan” Project. But, these factories, most of Kagoshima- Illust x03them, were destroyed again by the “Seinan Senso” (西南戦争)civil war in 1878. But the “Machine Shop” could barely be survived and be kept the building as it was. Nevertheless, this memorial building was later
transformed to the archives named “Shoko Shuseikan Archive” in 1919, and now it is hoped to commemorate the achievement of “Shuseikan” activities and tries to show the entire pictures of the project for the later generation.     In this way, the ”Shuseikan” was praised as a good example of the initial efforts to build up modern industries in the Edo period.

♣   Factory ruins of the ”Shuseikan” Site

      As mentioned earlier, the most factories that made by the ”Shuseikan” Project  w
Kagoshima- Illust x01ere Kagoshima- Terayama x01.JPGlost, but some historical ruins are found around the Iso area of Kagoshima. The main ones are the vestiges of “blast furnace”, “Satsuma facet” craft workshop located in the “Sengan-En” area. And the other sites, such as the “Gungen” water mill (use for
spinning), the “Sekiyoshi water canal (generated the power for the factory), and “Terayama” charcoal plant (supplied iron-making raw materials), can be found in the adjacent area of Kagoshima. kagoshima- Furnace x01.JPG     Kagoshima- Furnace x03.JPG  However, the most important site would be the Satuma style’s “Reverberatory Furnace”. This was built in 1852 by Statsuma’s own design in reference to the Dutch technology book. The first furnace wasn’t success in building, but the second ones has been successfully producing the casting iron and the practical cannons n 1857. At the same time, the “Blast Furnace” has been built in 1954 using the Satsuma method of rockwork and water wheel bellows.

On the other hand, the Shogunate of Edo had banned so far the construction of large Kagoshima- Ship x01.JPGvessel in the Edo period, then the single mast (150 tons) “large junk” (千石船:Sengoku Bune) was the upper limit of scale. But, the Satsuma had dare to assemble the warship “Shoheimaru” 「昇平丸」by mounting a full-length 31 meters, 370 tons, with 16 cannon in 1953 beyond the government restriction. The Satsuma also challenged to make the Kagoshima- Print xx.JPGsteamboat “Unkomaru” (雲行丸)」in 1955 by own shipbuilding technology. The performance of the steam engine itself wasn’t so excellent, but it became a great step to build the steamboat only by using only Dutch book for reference, which deemed to show their high level of technical capabilities of that time. It was reported the Dutch naval officer had amazed the potential technology power when he inspected the ship.

 ♣   Wonder of “Shoko Shuseikan” and Engineer House of spinning plant

The “Shoko Shuseikan” exhibits valuable historical materials to record the entire Kagoshima- Shoko x01.JPGhistory of the project and its progress and achievements, as mentioned earlier. Inside the exhibition hall, visitors can find a lot of evidence of the results of the project, such as the chronology of contribution of Nariakira Shimazu, pictorial Kagoshima- Shoko x02diagram illustrating the “Shuseikan” project, mock model of reverberatory furnace and shipbuilding yard, and other monuments.

The particular features of this archive were that is displaying the actually used machines and facilities, and its products as it was in the time of Edo. Many of Kagoshima- Metal Geer c.JPGthem were imported directly from Europe, such as metal shaper, press-cutting machine, lathe, carding machine and others. The machine, which seemed particularly significant one among them, was a large gear machine purposed to transmit the power from steam engine to the metal flywheel in the factory.

In the meantime, the core of the second “Shuseikan” Project was a Kagoshima- Engeneer H x02.JPGconstruction of a spinning factory. For this purpose, the project has installed the imported latest machinery, and invited engineers from UK to design the plant and to Kagoshima- Engeneer H x03conduct technical guidance to the factory engineers. The symbol of technical guidance was the “Engineers House” which was built in 1967 along with the completion of the factory. After the factory completed, the British engineers have worked hard and fostered the more than 200 excellent spinning engineers during their one-year stay. It seemed it brought a great result of the virtual cycles of teaching and training by the foreign engineers and diligent trainees.

On the other hand, regarding spinning plant construction, the contribution of Samurai Kagoshima- Ishikawa.JPGscholar was never forgettable. Kakutaro Ishikawa’s, who was a Dutch Studies(蘭学)expert, advised to the Satsuma to proceed the modern industry like power spinning. And young Samurais, who were studying abroad, cooperated with the administration of “Shuseikan” project too because of recognizing the importance modernization manufacturingKagoshima- Spinning M x01.JPG like mechanical spinning for making the country strong by learning England history.

Later, the spinning industry has grown up fast as a major export industry of Japan, and laid the foundation of the Kagoshima- Students x01.JPGmodern textile industry in the Meiji period. It was said that the trained engineers in this Satsuma have actively engaged in the activity to promote the spinning and weaving industry, and trained the workers in the various places throughout Japan.

In this sense, the historic significance of this Satsuma’s “Engineers House” training activities are clear. When the author has visited the “House” , it was reshaped and became a kind of exhibition hall to show the various samples and things about the engineers life, monument of old spinning plant, and others. These made me imagine about the old days of the “Shuseikan” project.

 ♣   Meaning and impressions of Shuseikan Project

      The Satsuma’s “Shuseikan Project”, both of the first stage and the second one, has Kagoshima- Illust x05shown the brave challenge to modernized the industrial power and revolutionize the societKagoshima- W heritage x01.JPGy even under the institutional constraints of the feudal era. These efforts were rewarded as the shape of the Meiji Restoration and Industrial Revolution of Meiji in the 19 century. However, these attempts were actually a long tireless process of the trial and error. We can figure out this process in the “Shuseikan” activities. It showed a kind of unique fusion of traditional technology and new adopted-technology to transcend the boundary of existing engineering capability. Particularly, the “Shusenkan” Project was a big scale and organizational scheme, and seemed to play important roll industrialization of Japan in this meaning.

Kagoshima- Sengen-enx01.JPG     So it would be a natural move that the “Shuseikan” historic sites have been registered as the “Meiji Japan’s industrial revolution heritage” in 2015.

I have finished the visit while praying these historic sites will be kept well and be appreciated for long. For the people who live in the Tokyo area, the sites are a bit far, but it’s worth to visit. Particularly, it would be wonderful to inspect the Shuseikan sites while looking the beautiful view of Sakurajima mountain over the sea.


(Note: The article has referred and quoted from the following materials)

  • 図録 薩摩のモノづくり「島津斉彬の集成館事業」(尚古集成館)
  • 鹿児島から始まる近代化遺産ものがたり(鹿児島県企画部)
  • かごしま世界遺産の散歩道
  • 鹿児島歴史資料センター「黎明館」案内(鹿児島県)
  • その他、「集成館」関係パンフレット


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Visit “Sony Archives” in Tokyo

Visit “Sony Archives” at its Cradle Place Shinagawa

Explore the Sony’s roots and techno sprit


♣  Visit Sony Archive in Shinagawa

     Sony- Ibo 01Sony is well known as an electronic pioneering company representing the postwar Japanese industry which based on the innovative technology. The Sony Archives, located in Shinagawa, Tokyo, is the museum showing the Sony’s significant footprints.

Sony- Archives building.JPG

I have visited this Archives with my friend in this summer. The facility was not so big, but it exhibited number of Sony’s memorial products (over 250 specs) in the hall. It seems they showed the challenging history and technology of Sony. It also indicated the landmark and vestiges of the electrical and electronic industry in the post-war Japan as a whole. I felt this Archives was a valuable facility to be able to examine the Japanese electric industrial development and technology. The following is a small note describing the impression during this visit.

(Note: The pictures in the articles were used in the Sony’s web and brochures, because photograph was not allowed in the archive)

♣  Main Exhibitions of Sony Archives

Sony-Illust x02.JPG    The Sony Archives is visibly demonstrating the Sony’s technology and its manufacturing spirit by showing the products historically developed. The exhibition is categorized into several main corners, such as a video corner of founder’s massage the “Genryu” (源流:Initial Movement) which explains the origin of Sony, “Hatten-tsushi” (発展通史:Products Timeline), and “Hasso-Ko” (発想庫:Idea Box) of technology development, and the additional Library block.Sony- Exh hall xx.JPG

All of exhibit shows well the Sony’s footprints since it established as a small company just after the War in which industrial base was totally lost, but it was success to grow to the world class electric company. Visitor can observe the memorial Soy’s products by their own eyes.

♣   Sony’s Founder’s Philosophy seen in the “Genryu” corner

Sony was born in 1946 just after the war, and it was a called at the time “Tokyo-tsushin-Sony- ibuka morita x2.JPGkogyo” with only employees around 20 people. The founder was the Sony- First Factory workers.JPGtwo engineers of Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. They proclaimed, “The first and primary motive for setting up this company was to create a stable work environment, where engineers who had a deep and profound appreciation for technology, could realize their societal mission and work to their heart’s content………” as the company’s Founding Prospectus.

( .

Sony- Declaration xx.JPGFrom this massage, we can see the company’s strong determination which the company had desired to produce  highly innovative products based on the unprecedented “technology “, and wanted to enrich the social life by new electric goods even under the difficult conditions of the immediate afterward of the War.  .Sony-Founding Video xx.JPG

At the “Genryu” corner, the picture and photo, documents, and videos were displayed tin order to convey these principles and messages by using many episodes and stories.

I have visited this corner for finding the roots of Sony, and moved much by its zeitgeist mind and innovation spirit of the founding period.

♣   Brand products seen in the Timeline

In the “Timeline” corner, the memorial Sony products were systematically displayed by the time series which indicate the company’s development landmark. Sony- historic cornerFirst I found was a “tape recorder” G-Sony- Tape R 01Type in 1950 (first magnetic tape recorder in Japan). And I also observed the first transistor radio TR-55 in
1955 next. Likewise, Sony has been Sony- Radio TRsuccessfully producing many electric products, and built solid foundation of company as an electric maker. The name of the company has also changed to “Sony” (1958) that time. And the Sony has been starting to produce many innovative electrical goods, such as Portable transistor TV “TV-8” (1960), the Sony- TV trinitoronworld’s first VTR “SV-201″(1961), and others.Sony- First portable TV

The development of television was slightly slower than the other makers, but the
Trinitron color TV was introduced to the market in the end of 1960s. All these specimens are observable at the historic corner.

The 1970s was the era of popularization of the household electric appliances. Sony has actively committed in the technology development of television, video and other convenient electric products. The one outcome among them was the VTR with cassette. In the VTR market, Sony invented the Sony- Betamax xx.JPG“Betamax” system and had vigorously fight with Victor’s VTR even though the result was not successful (“Video War” Beta vs VHS). However, it was successful in the 8-mm video which applied CCD ahead of other manufacturers.

Sony- Walkman xx.JPGNevertheless, the most successful electrical product of Sony would be, more than anything, the advent of the portable music cassette player of “Walkman” in 1979. This became a hit product to sell 150 million units by the second half of 1990s, and it was said that this machine had brought the revolutionary change of music culture.

Sony- Ibo xy.JPGThe decade of 1980s was advancing to the digital era in the Sony- Ibo 02.JPGindustry. In the midst, Sony has succeeded in the development of acoustic CD, and shown the technology excellence by producing a portable CD (1984), MO player (1988), and MD type player in 1992. The entry of Sony- Playstation.JPGengineering works to the PC and IT items were made at the same period. In addition, it was the 1990s when the Sony was beginning to focus on the entertainment business with marketing of the Play Station and “Aibo” series of pet robots.

It looked that the new noticeable products haven’t been appeared in the market after Sony- Experia xx.JPGthe late of 2000s, but the digital cameras, game machines, and high definition displays showed that the strong technology was still alive and well in the electric technology field.

When look at these product lines of Sony in the archives, we can  imagine which way the technology has been explored in the electronic industries in Japan and how it was progressed so far. In that sense, “History Corner” of the Sony Archives would show the valuable historical evidence for the visitors.

♣  Sony brand in the “Idea Box” exhibition

Sony- exhib hallThis “Idea Box” section shows the Sony’s attached producing concept and features of products which have continuously been sought and refined in the company. It shows  Sony’s strong commitment to the “Size” (being small and light thing), “Nice Design” (easy to use and smart), and product’s “Originality” (uniqueness and attractive for consumers). It was said that Sony- Gold Rabitthese are consisting of the Sony manufacturing brand concepts.

These concepts looked alive in the Sony’s products when we look the product lines in history, like the low weight portable TV, radio, and handful VTR, the cameras, PC and radios for smart design, and “Walkman” and entertainment robots, and game machines like “Playstation”  for the product originality.


These exhibitions would give us a clear image of Sony’s technology brand and the engineering spirit which had been nurtured in the Sony’s engineering.

♣  Sony Engineering Brand in Future

Sony- Broad C equip.JPGWhen it comes to the 2000s, even the technology oriented manufacturer like Sony looked slightly blurred in business if compared to the previous brilliant Sony- Camera xx.JPGhistory. It may be caused by the fast catching up technology of emerging new manufacturers. So it is a bit unfortunate to see the loosing competitive power in the global market of the electronic and electrical industry of Japan, even in the Sony. However, now Japanese electric makers, including Sony, are trying to activate their own technology in the global perspective, and precede the innovation as shown in the previous period.Sony- Ilust x01.JPG

Anyway, during visit museum, I felt that it is really  wonderful to praise the previous success, but also it is important to review the previous endeavors and founding spirit abut Japanese electric industry for their further advancement. In that sense, I enjoyed and learned a lot by closely look over the many historical exhibits and episode of Sony’s footprints regarding  “Mono-dukuri” (Manufacturing mind).



Referenced material:


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Hagi and World Industrial Heritage

Record of visiting around the WIH Japan (1) Hagi area

九州山口 世界産業遺産関連博物館を巡る①

Hagi World Heritage Visiting Center “Manabiya”and Several Remains in Hagi City

♣  Outline of World Industrial Heritage in Hagi Area

Hagi logo    Several historic industrial sites in Hagi area (Yamaguchi Pref.) were registered as the “World Heritage” by UNSCO under the name of “Meiji Japan’s Industrial Revolution Heritage” in 2015. The reverberatory furnace, old shipyard site, Shokason-Juku academy
Hagi- Illust 05 heritages.JPGand other two facilities were selected. Then the Hagi city has set up a special facility “ Hagi World Heritage Visitors Center ‘Manabiya’” and started to advertise the details about the selected heritage sites commemorating of the nomination. This summer, I had an opportunity to travel to Hagi and chanced to visit this “Manabiya” and several heritages sites there.

Hagi- Illust 02.JPGThe Hagi (former “Choshu clan’s castle town) is well known to bear the renowned figures, and to construct the important facilities which advanced the modernization and industrialization of Japan. The UNESCO has recognized this contribution, and designated the Hagi area as an place forming the roots of the Meiji industrial revolution. The visit i was a short, but I could feel the atmosphere of the industrial modernization of Japan in the 19c Edo period and dawn of Meiji.

The following is the impression of visit this time.

(Note: Please refer to my Home Page describing “World Industrial Heritage HP” (http://   ) and itself is already HP, please refer to)

♣  “Manabiya” World Heritage Visitor Center

Hagi- Manabiya01  The six selected historic sites were, the Hagi castle town, Hagi reverberatory furnace,
Ebisugahama shipyard, Tatara steel ruins, and Shokason-Juku academy.
The “Manabiya” tried to show u

p cultural background of the industrial revolution in Japan, and the footprints of major figures in Meiji who had promoted the Meiji Restoration and industrialization, as well as the heritage sites themselves. It is well known that the “Choshu” clan nurtured the mainstays of the Meiji Restoration. And, many of them had studied at the private academy named “Shokason-Juku”, in wHagi- Manabiya 02hich they were aware of the industrial power of Western world, and tried to narrow the existed gap through the modernization of society and industrialization.

Hagi- Hirofumi xx  For example, Hirobumi Ito, later became the Prime Minister, contributed to the construction of a steelHagi- Endo xx
blast furnace at the Yahata, Yozo Yamao established the engineering college “Kobu-Daigakko” (later became University Tokyo) for the first time in Japan. Kinsuke Hagi- Yamao xx.JPGEndo became the president of the first Mint Bureau for stabilizing Japanese money system, and Hagi-Inoue xx.JPGMasaru Kaneko initiated the railway business and technology, and referred as “Father of Railway” in Japan.

In the “Manabiya”, visitors are available necessary information how they had
contributed to the industrial development of the Meiji Era. It’s a good facility to get the knowledge about the Meiji Japan’s industrial revolution and the heritage sites in Hagi area.

♣  Significance of “Shokason-Juku” Academy

The personality of Shoin Yoshida, a school master of “Juku”, was characterized as a philosopher with pure but a bit abstract thought, and a military theorist with radical spirit. Hagi- Juku 01.JPG Hagi- Juku 02.JPG  However, from seeing the exhibition in this “Manabiya”, I have realized that he had have surprisingly broad vision and recognized the reality of the world well. So it was natural thing that

at the “Juku” academy the students could learn much about the world from Yoshida through his lecture, for example, using the “Koyo Zushiki” (World Geography Book) Hagi- Juku 03and the “Komou YowaHagi- Five xx.JPG(Confucian Story) as text books. On the other hand, the Mouri Daimyo clan of Hagi had liberally disseminated the education among the Samurai class and even ordinary people by the establishment of “Meirinkan” school. These series of education activities had given the strong
Hagi- Map x2determination to study abroad for the young elite class even they were under the strict travel ban at that time. And with the results of study at “Juku” and the experience of learning overseas, the young elites in Hagi have grown to act major driving force of the Meiji Restoration, such as “Choshu Five” personnel who absorbed a
lot of Western advanced knowledge in Europe and tried to apply them to the Industrialization in Japan.
It’s fair to say that the successful Meiji Industrial Revolution had never been realized without their dedications and their overseas learning experience. In this meaning, it is natural that the “Shokason-Juku” academy and the education systems of the castle town of Hagi have been nominated as one of the World Heritage sites.

♣  Challenge of Hagi Reverberatory Furnace

     The “Hagi Reverberatory Furnace” is a symbolic presence of this heritage nomination. The reverberatory furnace is said to be the primary metal melting device which had been developed in the West. This furnace, with reflecting the heat generated in the combustion chamber (heat rays and combustion gas) to the ceiling and wHagi- Furnace.JPGalls, concentrates heat to a hearth, and refines the iron metal in the floor. This is a large-scale casting apparatus which had never been available in the “Tatara steel” methods. But Japan’s craftsman had tried to make up them by using the Dutch design book only. It was really reckless adventure in a sense, but it was finally completed even though it limited to the experimental stage.Hagi- Furnace x1.JPG

The Hagi clan has built this furnace ahead of the other regions, and tried to make gun barrel in order to defend military threat from the West. Some other clans had also built the similar furnaces, but the existing furnaces are only two units, say, Hagi’s furnace and Nirayama’s one in Shizuoka, central Japan. These are all valuable heritage to record the pioneering effort of Western-style iron-making technology of Japan.

Hagi- Illust 04.JPGThis experience of furnace construction had benefited much to build the first full-blown modern blast furnace in the Yahata region, northern Kyushu, in the mid-Meiji period, and they had formed the base of the steel industry in Japan later.

Currently this important facility is put on the top of the small hill in the Hagi city suburbs, and it is now quietly telling the 100 years history.

♣  Hagi’s Historic Shipyard Heritage


The Shogunate had prohibited the building of large ships in the Edo era. Therefore, Hagi- shipyard 01.JPGthe shipbuilding technology with multiple masts and steam power were not existed in the Edo period. However, the Daimyos of western Japan was afraid of the thread of Western colonial warships, and decided to build the Western-style warships for their own defense.

Under these situations, the Hagi’s Daymyo had built
a Russian-type warship “Heishinn Maru” in 1856, and “Koshin Maru” in 1860 consequently by studying Dutch technology. These were Hagi- shipyard 03.JPGbuilt at the “Ebisugahana” shipyard ruins in Hagi city. The warship was, in fact, a wooden sailing ship, instead of a steam power big ship, because of the technical limits at that time. However, it had a great implication to the modernization of shipbuilding, because these had been completed by fully Japanese craftsman’s technologies with the repeated trial and error efforts, and it had also done by the design drawing maps only brought by Dutch. The traditional techniques of Japan had been applied too, such as the “Tatara Steel” iron was used for the component parts for the warship building.

That kind of fusionHagi-Tatara 02 had contributed s lot to the shipbuilding technology in Japan, and advanced the shipbuilding industry in the Meji era and the afterward. That challenge had been done here in Hagi shipyard ruins. I felt that the designation of the historical site for the World Heritage was reasonable.

Previously this shipyard ruins has been never attractive much among the people, but after the designation of the World Heritage, the visitors were increased and local volunteers became quite active as guide and other activities. I have assumed that these performance contribute a lot to the revitalization of local community.

♣  Position of “Hagi” in the World Industrial Heritage

Hagi- Illust 01 try and errorThe industrial heritage of Hagi seems very important to see the effort of trial and error process for advancing modernization of the industrial technology in the dawn period of Meiji, and give us a chance to examine how was it emulated the Western advanced science and technology toward Japan in the initial time. Above all, there we can find the footprints of figures who had played the major rolls in the Meiji Restoration and industrial revolution in Japan.

It was really a meaningful experience for me to look over the roots of Japan’s industrial technology evolution.




「明治日本の産業革命遺産と萩」2015 萩博物館刊行


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Olympus Museum; Excellent Exhibition of Optical Technology and its Development History

Visit Report on the Olympus Zuikodo Technology Museum

– A Pioneer of Optical Science Engineering Olympus


♥  Outline of Olympus Museum

Olympus Ilust 01    The “Olympus’“Zuikodo Technology History Museum” (Hachioji, Tokyo) is a precious industrial museum which exhibits the essence of optical technology of Olympus. It was named “Zuikodo” in honor of its original lens “Zuiko” which was developed in 1920s.

Initially, the Museum was an in-house training facility for the company engineers, but it was reopened later as an industrial museum for the general public in 2013.
Olympus New buildingオリンパス技術歴史館―瑞光洞―
Olympus Zuikodo Technology Museum

Ishikawa-cho 2951, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-8507
Phone: 042-642-3086 (jpn)
(For visit the appointment is required)


♥  What’s it all abut Olympus and “Zuikdo”

Nikon Illust x04 Camara and person    The author has visited this ” Zuikodo Museum” for the first time in this Spring. There many historical and current advanced optical instruments were Olympus Exb Hall 01displayed. Such as historic and high performance super microscopes, and high-end endoscopes, not only Olympus’s propriety cameras. (Note: Olympus Co. currently has nearly 70 percent share of endoscope products i
n the world). Through the visit I was impressed much to the facts that the optical science and technology was deeply permeated in the people’s social life, as well as showing Olympus’s excellent technology.

Olympus Illust 02 The following is a brief visit note on the “Olympus Museum” with the historic technology development story of Olympus, as well as the development of Japan’s optical technology as a whole.

(Note) The pictures in the article were posted by the figures acquired in the company’s website and catalog instead of real picture, due to not be allowed the photography in the museum rule.

 ♣ Founding Story of Olympus and its challenges to the Optical Technology

    The “Historical Exhibition Corner ” in the museum shows a development history of the Olympus Co. including its founding process and technology development process.

♥  Historic background of the Olympus  

Olympus YamashitaThe company was launched in 1919 by Takeshi Yamashita (picture) and began to engage a trading business of the scientific instruments.
Olympus Logo   At that time, the Company name was the   Olympus Buiding 1920“Takachiho  Seisakusho”, but name was changed to “Olympus” in the later period. It is said in the description that the name of “Takachiho” was quite resembled to a mountain top “Takachiho-no-Mine” in Kyushu, Japan where, according to Japan’s old myth, the ancient Gods (Kami) was believed to congregate for ritual ceremony, and its belief had led to think of taking after ” Mt. Olympus” in the western Greece myth. Then, the company decided to put the name “Olympus” for the company’s own name in 1949. With the museum guide, with this naming, it is said that they tried to embrace the spirit of producing “world class products” all the time and being globally adopted.

♥  The Olympus which has fostered by the microscope technology
Olympus Asahi-Go 1920The company’s technology was initially explored by the thermometer gauge and microscope. But the first one was transferred to “Terumo” company later, and “Takachiho” has concentrated into the microscope development. The first product was the “Asahi Go” microscope of 1927 in this Olympus Lens Zuiko 1938process. This development has given a great opportunity to “Takachiho” in the optic technology and business.
In 1934, the company also started the development of photographic lens by applying the optical technology fostered under a microscope manufacturing. The first product, which was the “Zuiko” lens i
n 1936.  The “Semi-Olympus I” was the first product using this lens. This experience has given a great technology base of Olympus camera businesses and other optical equipment.

♥  The initial development of medical optic technology

.    Olympus Illust 02During the 1940s wartime, the Company was involved in the manufacturig of optical weapons at the request of the military, but, after the war, it turned the business to the livelihood consumer goods. The Company has become to bOlympus Illust 03e engaging in the camera business, along with the advancing the microscope technology more than before. In the 1950s, the company was exploring for the first time in the endoscope development as a new business field. Then the Olympus has finally succeeded to product the first innovative Gastro camera (stomach camera). This process can be observable in the exhibition.

 ♣  Evolution of Microscope ~ A Great Footstep of Optical Technology

Then, let’s take a look at the technology evolution of “Microscope” world in the “Zuikodo” exhibition.

♥  Amzzing Historical evolution of Olympus microscope

Olympus microscop Illst 03As mentioned above, the company’s first microscope was “Asahi Go” of 1920, but, the improved type of next “Mizuho Go” and “Showa Go” was consequently produced in 1925 and 1927. In addition, The Olympus has produced “Seika Go” microscope. It was awarded of the “Excellent Product Prize”  at the Grand Industrial Expo of Japan in 1928. This microscope was honorably presented to the Showa Emperor, who was well-known person specialized in biology, and it was said to be beloved by him for long time. The ” Seika Go”, which Emperor Showa had used, is now decorated in the exhibition shelf in the museum as a treasury goods. This footing gave the company unwavering position among the microscope and optic makers.Olympus Seika-go 1928

The Museum now displays many microscopes there, such as the “Universal microscope with Super Photo” (1938) which functions not only observing the objects, but creation photo with sharp images along with “Mizuho Go LCE” microscope (1935) which equipped Olympus Bio micro DFwith large binoculars. In addition, after the War, Olympus has begun to produce a new type of biological microscopes, like “Showa Go GK” (1946). And consequently the company made “Biological microscope DF” (1957) and other high precision machines year after year with high magnetic power, which were giving full-scale biological images.

♥  Advancement of sophisticated microscope

Olympus microscope FV1200On the other hand, the microscopes are becoming widely to use in the industrial field too. Various “Stereomicroscopes” using new advanced optic technologies were appeared in this area. The “Stereomicroscope SZ” of 1961, a high grade type of “Stereomicroscope SZH” (1984), the “Laser scanning microscope LEXT”, and GX series (2001) series were all purpose to produce for the industrial use.Olympus scan micro FV1000

The development of high-sensitivity microscope has made great stride these days too, particularly for the current sophisticated medial fields. Among them, as we can find in the exhibition, the “Inverted biological microscope” (1958), the “Multi-photometry microscope MMSP “(1971) to inspect intracellular materials, and a new type of scanning microscope, the ” Upright LSM biological system for -GB “, and the “Confocal laser scanning biological Olympus inds micro on spotmicroscope FV1000” , are all fall on this category. It was a bit difficult for a novice person like me, but at least I could grasp a bit about the microscope technology development assisted by the kind museum guide.
The “Microscope Exhibition Corner” seems to be the valuable place to examine the microscope technologies and there development process.

♣  Olympus Camera – Small, Light, and High-performance is Feature

♥  Historical review of Olympus cameras and its feature

 Olympus Illust 02   When in speaking of the Olympus, it might be still on the camera products. The strong “camera corner is provided well in the museum for sure, where the successive Olympus cameras displayed in the chronological order.Olympus camera Semi Olympus
As mentioned earlier, the Olympus has embarked on camera production by “ Zuiko ” and its first product was the ” Semi Olympus Type I “(1936).  And, in the 1940, “Olympus Six” has released, and successively the “Olympus Chrome Six IIIA” (1951) was produced too as a small folding camera series in 1940s and 50s. In addition,

Further, the Olympus has put  the “Olympus Flex I type” into the market as a  first twin-lens reflex camera in 1952, and Olympus camera Flex 1952gained a high reputation..Olympus camera Pen 1959

However, the product which raised reputation most of Olympus name would be the camera of the “Olympus Pen” series. Its primary machine is produced in 1959. This was a small, low-price, high-quality half-size camera. The Pen series have become a long time hit products with more than 17 million unit sales so far.

♥  Epoch making Olympus camera “Pen” series

Olympus camera Pen series

In addition, Olympus announced the production of a single-lens reflex camera in 1973. It was a lightweight high quality camera named the “ OM” series, and its first issue was “Olympus OM-1.” It wasOlympus camera OM-1 said that this camera was a world’s smallest lightweight single-lens reflex camera at that time. The “OM”- series was produced until the 1980s with continuous improvement.

♥  Olympus “OM” and “Camedia” camera series got a high reputation

The Olympus has also produced a simplified camera for beginners, such as “Capsule Camera” (1979-85) as a pocket camera. All are used the Zuiko lens which the company has developed with continuous innovation.

Olympus camera Pen LiteIn the digital camera area, there is a CAMEDIA series, the primary machine is the “Camedia C-800” which launched in 1996. Digital single-lens reflex cameras appeared in the 2000s in the market too. In this period, many camera makers were competing to make this category of cameras in the market. Among them, the Olympus Olympus camera E-5launched the “OLYMPUS PEN Lite E-PL1s (2010) “as a latest work in this area. Meantime, Olympus’s first interchangeable lens type digital camera named “E-1” (2003) were released. And “E-330” was added to the digital camera series with live view function in 2006. Currently the Olympus has introduced “E-5” (2010) as a company’s flagship product in the market.

The sales of Olympus cameras have never taken the highest position compared with Nikon, Canon or Sony, but they have been building its own world by taking advantage of specific features with the uniqueness of small and light and high performance of its products. We can see these characteristics in the exhibition..

♣  Endoscope Miracles with the Second Eye of Optical Science

    ♥  Advancing medial optic engineering by the involvement of endoscope

Olympus endoscope Illust x05     But the most standout evidence of the technology by Olympus would be the superiority in the endoscopy development area.Olympus Gastro 01

The museum has a specific history exhibition corner to show how
Olympus has engaged in the endoscope development and how could get the top reputation in this field. The exhibition gave us a clear story of the excellence of Olympus endoscope technology.

♥  Invention of the first practical endoscope in the world “Gastrocamera”

ion    Olympus Gastro GT-IIt was in 1949 that the Olympus began to work on the endoscopic development. The company has succeeded for the first time to develop the practical “Gastro camera GT-IJ” in 1952. This was the results of the cooperation work with the doctors of the University of Tokyo’s Hospital. Previously endoscopes were difficult to bend Olympus Gastro Fiberscopebecause of using straight metallic tools, but the Olympus’s gastro-scope has broken through this dilemma by adopting a winder pipe for it. Then, in the
1960s, the internal human organs became observable easily by endoscope in real time by using the new material fiberglass which could bend the light ray in the flexible pipe. This first achievement was the “Fiberglass Gastro-Camera” of Olympus in 1964.

Olympus endoscoe with CCDThis technology made the endoscope to play more active and comprehensive roles in the medical operational field, because it made possible doctors to inspect deep internal organs, not only in the stomach area. Then, 1970, and in the 1980s, the advanced cameras and video technology, Olympus endoscope surgery toolincorporating a video camera used CCD, were added to the endoscope. Then the “Videoscope” endoscope was born. And by this innovation, the medical sites could become materializing the hope of creating the comprehensive treatments and surgery systems which can manage the medical observation, recording, as well as treatment operations at the same time.

♥  Endoscope is advancing from the simple Observation to the total medical treatment

Olympus endoscope Illust x02    Then, in the 2000s, even the world’s first “high-definition endoscopic system” was born. This equipment has advanced the medical systems furthermore by giving highly accurate diagnoses which never miss even a very small lesion. Currently, a capsule Olympus endoscope capsuleendoscope in diameter 11 mm is also going to be developed which can be swallowed from the mouth. It has revolutionary changed the general concept of the endoscope. It is believed that the Olympus is the top maker to promote these technologies in the advanced level.

We can see fortunately these technology evolutions as well as sophisticated instrument in the Olympus museum.

♣  Visit Impression and Comments

♥  Let’s visit the Olympus “Zuiko Technology Museum”

 Olympus microscop Illust 02The “eyesight” is certainly the most important human nerve, but, for long time, people couldn’t see the utmost minute object by our naked eyes. However, by invention of microscope and endoscope, human could obtain the second eye to be able to observe the micron size particles. It would be a great and wonderful footstep in science and technology in this area. Human now can put bright light on the “shadowy object” with expanding the artificial “vision” by physical lenses, microscope, and endoscopes supplemented by photo recording media and video scopes.iNikon Illust x01 mages

The  greatest charm of this “ Olympus Ziko Technology History Museum” would be that we can directly see these  excellent optic technologies and its technology evolution  all together. It must be a valuable industrial museum in the field of optical technology by all means. I’d like to recommend every one to visit who is interest in this  area.


Reference materials:
1.オリンパス社ホームページ:テクノロジー:オリンパスの歩  (
2.オリンパス技術歴史館・ホームページ (
3.「オリンパス技術歴史館―瑞光洞―」 案内パンフレット 「オリンパスのある世界」(オリンパスCSTレポート2013)

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