Visit “World Bag and Luggage Museum” of “ACE”

♣- Showing amazing collection of bags and their diversity in the world

Bag M- illust x-01.JPG      Bags are essential goods for travel and expedition for long.Bag M- Overview x-01.JPG So people tried to device  a variety of tools for their social necessity since ancient times.  Many items are included in this purpose, such as holding bags and sacks, box-shaped carrying equipment, handing purses, shoulder basket, large-scale woven containers, beside many other backpacks, suitcases, carrying goods. In this sense, the museum is quite Bag M- Bag Exh x-10.JPGknowledgeable for learning about history of carrying tools and their diversity because it is showing many exhibits classified by time and region in the world. I had a nice chance to visit this museum the other day and could learn much about bags. Such as, old Japanese bringing tools, European traveling equipment in 18th and 9th century, contemporary brand bags, etc.    The museum also introduces the company history of Japan’s suitcase maker “ACE”. It was an enjoyable experience for me too.
The following is a short report of my visit with some comments.Bag M- Overview x-03.JPG

(Access point to the Museum)
“World Bag and Luggage Museum” of “ACE”
Komagata1-8-10, Taito Ward, Tokyo 111-0043


♣   Characteristics of Exhibition of bags and luggage in the Museum

Bag M- illust x-15.JPG      The museum displays exhibit under the section named ” History of bags”, “Secrets of bag design and structure”, “Bags around the world” in the consecutive way. In the “History” corner, the evolution of bags’ design and function is described from the primitive age. In the “Secret” section, the material and characteristics, production process are introduced. Next, in the “World” section, a variety of shapes and characteristics of bags in Japan, as well as Europe, America, Africa, and Oceania’s ones are presented. There is also an exhibition corner of “Favored bags” being loved by prominent figures in sport, cultural world.

♣   The Section of “History of bags and luggage”


Bag M- illust x-05.JPG  Here, the evolution of bags and their origins is elaborately introduced in theBag M- Board x-01.JPG chronological tables along with a bundle of sample photos. According to the description, there’s a stone relief in the ancient Assyrian found which engraved a bag type or box-shaped carrying device in the picture.  So, this is believed to be the first prototype of bags. Also, in the ancient Egypt the trunk-like tools were Bag M- Bag history x-03.JPGexisted that were made of hollowing big trees to transport bulky materials by boat in Bag M- Bag history x-06.JPGthe Nile river. In ancient Greece, the specific tools were believed to commonly use small handy bags hanging in the waist.

However, the appearance of a full-fledged “bag” was the fresh matter from the 15th century Renaissance era, they say. At that timeBag M- Bag history x-04.JPG a kind of modern bag was produced for the first time as a box-like carrier in flattened bottom and round top adding handles.
Also, around this time, a pochette (Chatelain) on the waist was born for women because they hadn’t pockets in their clothes. (This Bag M- Bag history x-05.JPGis said to be developing into handbags) In addition, when the Napoleonic era, a shoulder bag was come to born as a soldier’s back-pocket (Similar to current Ricksack in Japan’s school bag).

Regarding the materials, it seemed it was benefited much from the advancement of leather “tanning” technology in the 19th century. Since with this Bag M- Bag history x-23.JPGdevelopment the leather was able to keep flexibility without damaging skins and the highly qualified leather bags were produced by it. Then, many craftsmen of horse harness had shifted their job to leather bag manufacturer Bag M- Bag history x-24.JPGaltogether. The leather bags were appreciated greatly by upper wealthy class at that time because of its precious color and design along with quality. (For example, a luxury brand bag maker “Hermes” is said to be originally a harness craftsmen)

Bag M- illust x-06.JPGFurthermore, when the times went on, various raw materials were used in bag making process thanks to the technological advancement and the industrialBag M- Bag history x-25.JPG development, and the prices are significantly down as a following result.  Since then, many type of bags were born to attract common people as beneficial commodities for their moves. The popularization of travel also spurred the dissemination of bags. The trunks for travel was also began to be popular around this time too. They say that Bag M- Bag history x-21.JPGthe emergence of wardrobe and trunk were significantly fit in this condition. Ladies’ handbags were also spread for their socialization and travel purposes.

Further progress came in on the carrying tools as time going, for example, diverse functional bags appeared in the business scene, such as “attaché case” beside small trunk and suitcase for travel purposes, and vanity bags or evening bags women became Bag M- Bag history x-26.JPGquite popular which have promoted the social activities. In addition, many bags were going to pursue more aesthetic fashionable designed ones just not merely carrying purposes. It is believed to be around this time that bag manufacturer has significantly grown as an industry from primary craftsman shops.       And recently, further technological advancement brought in the carrying Bag M- Bag history x-20.JPGequipment world, such as the zippers that have greatly widen their function, in addition to the material revolution, like adoption of plastics, nylon, even carbon fiber for materials for bags which have dramatically increased their toughness and durability. and other materials.

Bag M- illust x-17.JPG       Then, the diversified and highly functional bags are now seen in ubiquitous among our life at the present time. These technologies are also applied to overseas travel, climbing mountain, polar behavior,Bag M- Bag history x-27.JPG etc. as well. Furthermore, it reminds us that a strengthened special trunk carried and brought back to earth lunar stones in 1960s.     As seeing this historic exhibition, we can confirm the extensive history of the bags and luggage, the development of bag making technology and the situation of spreading use of bags at the present time.


♣  History of ancient bags in Japan

Bag M- Bag Exh x-22    In the chronology at the museum, the history of Japanese bags and luggage tools is also explained in detail.
Japanese a primitive style of “carrying tools · bags or sack”, are historically found in the records in the ancient epic “Kojiki” and Bag M- Bag history x-07.JPGothers. There a bag-like sack “Uwasashi Bukuro” shouldered by “Okuninushi-no Mikoto” is depicted. There was also a top cap holder “Itadaki-bukuro” drawn in the picture which shaped like crowns in the 7th century.  Further, in the 12th century, a weapon holding bag and a flint bag called “Hiuchi-bukuro” were commonly used among the Samurai world since Kamakura period. Most of them were sack-like bags using locally available Bag M- Bag history x-28.JPGnatural materials.

In the Edo period, “Furoshiki” (a wrapping square cloth) was quite popular, and “Kinchaku” (a drawstring cloth purse), a box-shaped container for accessories, a coin holder box ”Zeni-bako”, tobacco containers, a large-sized loading device named “Nagamochi”, a twin carrying basket “Hasami-bako” on theBag M- Bag history x-29.JPG shoulder, and other variety of carrying tools were appeared. A type of drawstring bag named “Chiyoda-bukuro” and “Shingen-bukuro” is also found widely. Many of these samples are on the display shelves in the museum.

However, it is after the Meiji Bag M- Bag history x-30.JPGperiod that a modern shape of bag (“Kaban”) appeared in Japan.  In 1873, an Osaka’s merchant “Yamashiroya Wasuke” brought back the cowhide bag from France, and asked Morita Naoshichi to remake it to a new bag. This is believed to be the first of Western style bags produced inBag M- Bag history x-31.JPG Japan. This Japan-made new western bag was soon exhibited at the first Japan’s industrial exhibition in 1877. In and after that, Tanizawa Teizo (a founder of Current “Ginza Tanizawa”) began manufactured the modern western bags and commercialized by giving a name “Kaban” since1887. (Name of Kaban was actually a new Kanji character combined “leather” and “cosmetic”). This brand bag was well sold and created a boom among Japanese consumers.  Since then, many bag manufacturers were established, and Western-style bags (Kaban) have become the mainstream of portable equipment in Japan.

Bag M- illust x-02.JPG    The period has changed, in the 1960s, it’s a memorable that a founder Shinkawa Yanasaku of Ace Co.” developed a quality bag using nylon material to compete Western major manufacturers. Bag M- Bag history x-33He also produced a new style of suitcase in collaboration with Samsonite to promote export them. In the midst, modern bags are dominantly produced by western makers, it would be great that a small domestic venture could produce such competitive world class suitcases and bags in the market.
The museum provides a special exhibition section showing the development of Ace as well as the Shinkawa’s contribution to the development of the bag industry in Japan.

♣  Manufacturing Secret of Bag

Bag M- illust x-18.JPG In this section, it shows the structural features and contents of bags with decomposition models, especially suitcases, their functionality andBag M- Bag Exh x-01.JPG robustness are described. It explains how the present suitcase has been evolved, such as structure of frame, lock function, wheel, structure, material, etc. too. Video footage is also provided, which makes it easy to understand the manufacturing process of the suitcase at the factory. I thought this corner contributes a lot for the basic understanding of bags and suitcases.


♣  Diverse style of Bags in the world

Bag M- illust x-010.JPG      This section is a fascinating corner  showing what sort of variety bags have been produced in the different countries and regions, and how people used these bags in their daily life, as well as functions in response to the different cultural in the world.       The exhibition is regionally categorized, such as Europe, America, Asia, Oceania and Africa, and each item indicates regional features and age of production and its usage.

<Collection of Europe and America>

Bag M- Bag Exh x-05.JPG      The major points in this section are to introduce what sort of bags have been appeared and became popular while explaining their specific function and their feature of design. It also indicates the change of customs and life following increasing chances of transportation and Bag M- Bag Exh x-06.JPGtravel in the Europe and American society since nineteenth century. Many wardrobes or trunk carrying on a long trip, women’s handbags of various designs, leather business bags, casual daily bags for sports, document holding attache cases, current travel bags and Bag M- Bag Exh x-04.JPGsuitcases, and many other are exhibited there.       The largest number of exhibits are displayed in this section, in addition to the richest variation of bag and design are displayed compared with the other regional sections. Many collections of brand bags and luggage are displayed there too.

<Collection of Asian Region>

Bag M- Bag Exh x-20.JPG     The characteristic of Asian bags showing in the section are quite diverse in nature and having fancy design in addition to the variety of materials. In China,Bag M- Bag Exh x-16.JPG there are many sorts of textile materials are used, particularly silk, for bags and luggage beside leathers. In Southeast Asia, such as Thailand and Vietnam, people preferred to use sack-like bags and pouches attached shoulder straps using locally available natural materials (animal skin, bamboo wood, hemp and chrysanthemum, etc.) They are bags mostly having strong color and flashy designs.    This section has one of the best collections in the museum.

<Collection of Bags in Japan>

Bag M- Bag history x-35.JPG      Although this is under the same category of Asia, but Japan’s exhibition of carrying tools is naturally abundant. Various mobile tools being used in the Edo period, such as a twin carrying basketBag M- Bag Exh x-13.JPG “Hasami-bako”, a medicinal herb container, tobacco holder, wicker suitcase “Yanagi-gori”, a large-sized loading device named “Nagamochi”, a drawstring cloth bag named “Chiyoda-bukuro”, cash box and a drawstring cloth purse “Kinchaku” etc. can be observed like previously described in the historic corner.
Bag M- Bag Exh x-10.JPG    Since the Meiji era, while Western style bags have spread beyond traditional ones, the exhibits also tend to display a large number of Japan-made bags and luggage based on the Western style.  But Japan’s many modern bags with original design and carrying equipment characterized excellent craftsmanship are observed in the collection.

<A baggage of Africa / Oceania>

Bag M- Bag Exh x-21.JPG      Bags in Africa and Oceania corner, the exhibited bags have unique shapes Bag M- Bag Exh x-15.JPGand tend to use variety of materials, and the way of wearing is very interesting too. And in the exhibition, plenty of strange bags are displayed in the cultural point of view. There are some bags hanging from the neck, bowl-shaped handbags, baskets knitted with Bandanas, etc. These are showing distinctive features and looked fun to see.

♣  Collection of Celebrity favorite bag

Bag M- illust x-14.JPG      In the museum, there is a special zone of bags and luggage donated by celebrities in various fields such as sports, cultural arts, Bag M- Bag Exh x-19.JPGetc. which are loved by them.  By looking at these bags, the lifestyle of these persons and the trajectory of their achievement are thoughtfully reminded. It is really memorable objects that could recall their figures and characters.
In the exhibition, there are names such as Nagashima Shigeo of baseball, Miura Yuichiro of adventurer and climber, Yoshikawa Eiji of novelist, Hanyu Yuzuru of figure skater, Yamashita Yasuhiro of Judo, Dorothy Hitler of violist, and others.

♣  Exhibition of Ryusaku Shinkawa Memorial Hall

Bag M- Shinkawa x-07.JPG      In the museum, a special section “Ryusaku Shinkawa Memorial Hall” is set up to introduce the life and business ofBag M- Shinkawa x-06.JPG “Shinkawa Yusaku” and the development of “ACE Co” as a bag and luggage maker in the chronological style.       According to the exhibition, Yusaku was born in a poor family in countryside in 1915 and sent out for apprentice in his young age under the Bag M- Shinkawa x-01.JPGsevere conditions, But he later began study about the bagmaking skills as well as business spirit while working at a wholesale shop of bag, and established his own bag company in 1941. In the exhibition, his business carrier is further continues as like he successfully invented his nylon bag for the first time in Japan in 1954 and was advancing his business toward leading Japanese bag manufacturer with challenging spirit which had fostered in the toiling childhood.Bag M- Shinkawa x-04.JPGBag M- Shinkawa x-03.JPG
Later, the company name was changed to “Ace Co.” in 1963 and started to produce suitcase as a first domestic maker under the business tie-up with Samsonite UK.          Then, the company have been be expanding the business not only to the domestic, but to the overseas market Bag M- Shinkawa x-05.JPGwhile competing Western major bag producers using its unique design and qualified products. These development processes are extensively described in the exhibition with showing Ryusaku’s lifestyle, business entrepreneurship and working attitudes along with his social commitment in addition to the development trajectory of Ace Co.

After the visit · · ·

Bag M- illust x-04    This “World Bag and Luggage Museum” was opened in 2015 in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Ace, as well as theBag M- Overview x-04.JPG 100th anniversary of the founder Yusaku’s birth year. It was established based on the huge collection of carrying goods by Yusaku himself gathered from around the world. I can’t help admiring the scale of exhibition that try to cover full history of development of bag and luggage, their changing design and materials, social and cultural environment surrounding carrying equipment to make. I thought the exhibits are a valuable cultural heritage reflecting people’s life and society.
Bag M- Bag Exh x-02.JPGBag M- Bag Exh x-07.JPG     Particularly, I felt that the exhibited goods are seemingly reflecting the unique culture and different customs in the countries where they use. So, we can really feel their diversity, valuation of design and its usage, social and cultural characteristics in the world’s life through familiar products like bags. In addition, it was also impressed that the carrying instrument had a long history from the ancient times, and it has been developedBag M- illust x-11.JPG in various ways along with changing people’s needs and social life as well as technology development.  It was a truly fun for me to see the valuable exhibits in the museum.




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Visit Toppan’s “Printing Museum” in Tokyo

– Explores development of printing world and society in history –

  what’s the Printing Museum

Print M- Logo x-01.JPG The Toppan’s Printing Museum is located in the Koishi-kawa in Print M- Outlook x-04.JPGBunkyo Ward, Tokyo. The Museum is famed for displaying the elaborate historic features of publishing culture in the world and as well as in Japan.  Last month I could visit the Museum.
In the museum, a wide range of exhibits describing printing culture and technology that Print M- Outlook x-03.JPGinfluenced to human activities and its cultural advancement, such as development of the style of characters and drawing pictures, the way of printing technology. There many examples of historic evidence of printing from the ancient world to the present, including Print M- Illust x-09.JPGChinese text scripts, Japanese woodblock prints, in addition to the Western typographic printings works from Gutenberg, modern printing modes of Japan, etc.   Here I tried to explore the contents and features of the exhibition, history of printing culture, prints and society, and other subjects along the line of the exhibition.

♣  Exhibition Structure of Printing Museum 

Print M- Illust x-08.JPG    The museum comprised several sections. There is a prologue corner, general Print M- Outlook x-02.JPGexhibition section, special exhibition and printing work studio in the exhibition hall. Among them, the prologue corner”at the corridor is showing wonderful view with various printing forms from the ancient times to the contemporary world.
The General Exhibition section displays  various letter-character printings, color printing books, illustrations under the theme of “Encounter to Printing”. It’s Print M- Prologue x-04.JPGdescribing how printing works have invited social evolution and culture advancement in history.  The next printing studio is a performing corner where visitors could experience real printing works. In addition, Special planned exhibition offers specific theme exhibition seasonally.
All of them are well arranged and visitors are able to gain enough knowledge about the development of printing technology, as well as evolution of printing culture.

♣  History of printing culture displayed in the Prologue corner 

Print M- Prologue x-01.JPG print m- illust x-06 In the prologue exhibition, it shows how printing technology was born, developed and spread in the world.  There variety communication tools from primeval time to the present, and its social impact to the society along the line of history.    There are also miniature models showing the evolution of printing technology in image, so we can understand well its historical advancement.
Print M- Prologue x-06.JPG    The first exhibits are the cave paintings of the old Stone Age, primitive letter-like inscriptions which were engraved on the stone and clay, wood pieces or animal bones.  It shows how human beings had exchanged necessary information among them in the early time.Print M- J print x-02.JPG

The printing history after the invention of paper is displayed at the next part. We can see there many replicas of Buddhism Sutrasuchi and manuscripts in the ancient age.  For example, we could see Quran manuscripts, the Tibetan sutras, the Japanese “Dalarni” (Buddhist textbook, and Chinese ancient banknotes, and others.
Print M- W print x-05.JPG    The evolution of the full-fledged printing system, called “Letter-press” invented by Gutenberg and developed in 15th century is also displayed with plenty of replica products. For instance, the “42 Lines Bible ” created by Gutenberg, Shadell’s ‘Chronicle’, Plenius’ Naturalis historia”, “Cosmographia” and others.
On the other hand, the history of Japanese woodblock printing is exhibited in the section too with showing various style.  Such as “Nishikie”, amulet prints, narrative books with Print M- Prologue x-05.JPGpicture, and other style of printings.
The appearance of the modern printing world is intricately exhibited too, in which the contemporary highly developed printing technology and the spreading print culture to the wider society. For instance, cartoons, posters, labels, catalogs, and photograph printings are Print M- Illust x-14.JPGfound there.      Thus, this prologue corner is intended to make visitor capture total pictures which are associated with printing technology and its social impact tangibly.. This aim seems achieved owing to the fine exhibition on the corridors wall.


♣  Main “General Exhibition” Zone

This corner constitutes the total view of development of printing technology and its impact to the society and culture.  The arrangement of exhibition is following.

<Human’s encounter with printing>
print m- illust x-10  Here, the first exhibits of catching our eyes is the reproduction a Print M- Outlook x-05.JPGletterpress printing machine in the Gutenberg period and a scene of production site of woodblock printing “Ukiyoe” picture (Nishikie).    It is really fascinating to be able to compare the printing technology in Europe and Japan where the woodblock printing system was predominantly introduced and developed uniquely.Print M- J print x-01.JPG        The following corner is named as “Encounter with printing.”  There described how closely printing technology has linked with dissemination of religion and people’s spiritual faith, and how printing styles interacted between the West and East in history. At the exhibits corner, various reprints of Chinese and Print M- J print x-03.JPGJapanese Buddhist “Sutras”, old prints of amulets and paper bills, woodblock picture prints, and other materials are abundantly displayed.  For example, a “Hyakuman-to Darani” (A million tower Dalani text), duplicate print seals of Amidanyorai Buddha, talisman paper named “Otsu painting” book and “Namazu painting,” book, famous wooden print pictures “Ukiyoe” in the Edo period and others.

Print M- Outlook x-06.JPG     The next “Letter Print ” corner tries to show the establishment of printing system and its dissemination. There how the printing technologies advanced the science activity, Print M- J print x-06.JPGand how it invited huge social changes in history.  Then the exhibition here gives good examples of the social changes brought by Gutenberg printing technology, and also the influence of Rangaku books Print M- W print x-11.JPG(Dutch Study) in Japan in Edo period as well as the great contribution to promote primary education in the early Meiji by adoption of typographic printing.

Among the exhibits, “42-line Bible” (1455), Galileo’s Print M- J print x-05.JPG“Astronomical Dialogue” (1656), Japan’s “Gunsho Chiyu” (Collective governing rulebook) (1616) are found.  The “Saga book” of a beautiful cursive book with wood typography is also displayed as one of precious examples.
Print M- W print x-02.JPGIn addition, there are exhibits of the first copper-made letter-type Kanji characters in Japan in the 17th century.   The “Suruga version copper type” is one of them.Print M- J print x-07.JPG
The “Japanese English dictionary for commerce” by Motoki in 1859) are also known as a first domestic letterpress print in Japan which was made by Motoki Shozo in the early Meiji.

<Image and Color Printing >
      In this corner, the graphic printing materials combined with character-print are Print M- W print x-08.JPGintricately exhibited as an artistic work. They are suggesting the great impact was existed to the development of science and culture. For example, the spread of graphic printing Print M- J print x-10.JPGtechnologies have given a huge influence to the development of zoology, phytology science, and astronomy in the pre-modern period of Western Europe and Japan. The diversification of artistic presentation is also noticeable, and it helped the popularization of science and culture. As an example, Yonston’s Historiae Naturalis De Quadrupedibus Libri” 1718), Sugita & Maemo’s “Kaitai-shinsho”(Japanese translation of  “Ontleedkundige Tafelen” ) (1774), etc. are displayed.

 <Increasing scale and speeding printing style>
  Print M- J print x-15.JPG      The exhibition here shows how recent advancement of printing technology has promoted the dissemination of mass Print M- J print x-16.JPGmedia and created new style of formation in the industrial society. In particular, it is emphasized that recent digital printing technologies, the expansion of the visual world in the printing culture in our society. Colorful posters and Print M- Outlook x-09.JPGpictures of artistic style, magazines, literary books, etc. are introduced here.

Furthermore, at the Genes of Printing corner in the next, the exhibition tries to illustrate that the digitization isPrint M- New Print x-1.JPG advancing printing methods toward the world where print technology is not confined to the simple “printing-on- paper”, but expand to the “printing-for-everything”. The exhibits show that the digital technology is now shifting to the personal hands by conventional devices like PC, tablets and smart phones. It can be impressive to be able to observe such development in the exhibition.

♣  Attractiveness of “Experience Studio” to experience printing>

In the museum, a “printing Workshop” is facilitated so that visitors allows  to Print M- Outlook x-07.JPGexperience real printing works.  A lot of printing activities are arranged there, such as practical experience and study course of a conventionalPrint M- Outlook x-08.JPG letterpress process . They are introducing what function the print technology has, and how operational work of  letterpress printing makes while giving historical commentaries to Print M- J print x-26.JPGvisitors.  It is a really  attractive to understand the basics of printing method.
Additionally it would be precious experience for visitors to be able to use the printing machines which had used in the 18th and 19th centuries in the workshop space. So visitors can touch on this to experience the typography methods at that time.

♣  “Temporary Exhibition Zone” to  obtain deep knowledge about printing culture.

Print M- Illust x-01.JPG    The printing museum regularly holds the “Temporary exhibition” quite regularly Print M- J print x-27.JPG. Currently The special exhibition of “Astronomy and printing – seeking a new world image” is held at the museum from November 2018 – March 2019.  This is the exhibit showing how the dissemination of letterpress printing have brought the evolutionary change of astronomy and various sciences.  The exhibition is being held at about the pace once a year. In the past exhibitions, there are “Kinderbuck’s 90 Years” (2017), “Samurai and Printing” (2016), and so on. All were attractive exhibitions for many visitors. 

♥  Additional info:

  paper museum- illust x15 Appendix 1 : The lesson learned by visiting Museum

     Here describe additionally what I’ve learned from the visiting Museum

♣  How Japanese Printing Methods walked on the different road

Print M- Illust x-19.JPG         The museum explains that Japanese printing development proceeded on the different track from the western ones, and it also shows that printingPrint M- J print x-18.JPG technology was developed taking its own unique way.  It is believed that development of typography pointing was a major concern in the Western world.  But in Japan, the printing method was eventually constructed on the wooden plate, though some typography printing had been attempted once in the early period
This process was elaborately introduced in the museum. The following  is described in  in the museum.

<Attempt of one-time typographic printing>
       In the ancient time of Japan, most of the Buddhist scriptures and document had been Print M- W print x-02.JPGprinted by manuscripts or wood curving patterns. However, Print M- J print x-19.JPGthere’s a period to try to adopt typography printing method by introducing technology from China and Korea. The museum displays some of these rare evidence in stock, such as the several typographic printings and copper bricks used which had been produced in the Tokugawa Ieyasu’s shogunate.  These are the “Suruga version of copper type for typography printing” (1607-1616). This is regarded as the first application of typology printing in Japan.
Print M- J print x-04.JPG However, this typology printing in the Tokugawa pattern had faded away soon caused by technical complication of producing metal type and due to the difficulty of handling so many kanji characters.    Since then, the printing based on woodblock printing became dominant and flourished In Japan. Under this trend, so Print M- J print x-05.JPGcalled “Saga Bon”( “Saga book”) prints were produced by wood pattern printing methods. These are printed books that were written by hiragana character mixed with colorful paintings.  This printing series produced many excellent literature books like “Ise Monogatari” (Narratives of Ise), “Tsure Zure Gusa” (Collection of Essays by a monk Saigyo). These books are exhibited at the Museum as museum’s important collection.

< Prominence of wooden plate printing and culture of art print >
  Print M- J print x-23.JPG     In the meantime, artistic picture works of woodblock greatly prospered in the Edo era too. So the artistic “Ukiyo-e” and “Nishikie” pictures made by woodblock attracted so many people that various specialized publishers had emerged and published aPrint M- J print x-20.JPG large number of these printings. In the museum, “Nishikie Painting Studio” is set up in the exhibition room to demonstrate the “carving” and “print sliding” of woodblock, as well as displays the real products of multicolored “Ukiyo-e” picture prints.

Print M- J print x-21.JPGPrint M- J print x-22.JPGAlso, a huge number of printed books such as “Kusa zoushi” and “Kana zoshi” printed books which mixed articles and picture charmed common people in the Edo era.  And the information media such as “Kawara ban” paper that tells various topics and gossip news had been quite popular. Many samples of them are exhibited in the museum shelves.

<Returning to typographic printing>
Print M- Illust x-12.JPG  However, in the rapidly changing society and modernizing in the Meiji Era, traditional woodblock prints couldn’t catch up with the huge demandPrint M- Illust x-13.JPG of social information and spreading science and education. Then, it was essential to introduce modern printing method using metal typography which is capable of mass printing.  It was a scientist Motoki Shozo who led the first move in the dawn period as he had studied typography printing method from the Print M- J print x-24.JPGNetherlands. From the end of the Edo period to the Meiji era, he created a number of Japanese Kanji bricks of typograph by lead in his own way and printed several books.  He also set up a “Katasuji Suritate Sho” (typography Print M- J print x-14.JPGprinting firm) for that purpose. This is said to be the first modern typography printing work in Japan.
Since then, the major shift occurred from traditional woodblock printing to the modern Western typography Print M- J print x-25.JPGmethods in Japan, and various academic books, newspapers, textbooks and government papers were beginning to be widely printed in this technology.
This process leading up to the printing revolution is exhibited in the museum as numerous books and documents published during the period. It was interesting to see the way how modern printing technology promoted social evolution and change.

paper museum- illust x15  Appendix 2 : The new finding with visiting the Museum

♥  Another Japanese printing method
                                  – Diffusion of unique mimeograph printing —.

Print M- Light print x-03.JPG    Printing Museum didn’t describe much about light printing and mimeograph printing that has been quite popular in Japan since Meiji, Print M- Light print x-04.JPGparticularly after the War II.  However, this mimeograph printing system is very useful for common people who want to  simply and quickly print anywhere at at low cost.   If there are simple printing tools available it is quite convenient to print daily materials though printing capacity being limited. This is what’s called “Gari Ban Printing” (a sort of mimeograph printing) which is printed by writing characters by hand strongly on the waxed paper using by steel pen, then penetrating black ink on to the print paper.

<Importance of Japanese unique mimeograph printing.
  Print M- Illust x-11.JPG       This prototype of “Mimeograph” was developed by Edison in the 1890’s, but a Japanese inventor Horii Shinjiro rearranged it to reinvent a new tool Print M- Light print x-01.JPG“Toshaban Insatsuki” (mimeograph printing machine) in 1894 in Meiji period. This printing method has spread rapidly because the principle is so simple and inexpensive, in addition, due to be able to freely create a numerous Japanese Kanji characters by hand writing.

<Dissemination of Toshaban Printing>
       In the 1950s and 1980s, a printing culture, called “Gariban Print”, became popular Print M- Light print x-08.JPGin various social movements, education purposes, and cultural promotion activities, such as prints for scripts of theater play, Print M- Light print x-06.JPGmusical scores, and the community arts magazines, etc. After that, this printing method has evolved further by adopting Japanese language typewriter and rotary printing machine/ So it has become the most Print M- Light print x-02.JPGpopular printing style for small scale printing world.
However, the intense technology shift of printing has made small-scale printing industries replace to the newly appeared lithographs and other electric copying machines in the 1980s. It is said though that some artists still like to use it, like script of the animation movies and others. Even now, we Print M- Light print x-05.JPGheard that this mimeograph printing is often used in small schools in Africa and Asia where is lack of electricity, so the beneficiary of its printing system isn’t lost in these areas.
It shouldn’t forget that such a simple and social printing system has been existed and functioned well for development of printing culture, beside a large scale of dominant letterpress printing world.

After visiting museum

Print M- Logo x-02.JPG       When I was young, I had engaged in part-time job at a certain printing workshop. Since then I felt a special interest in printing technology and its Print M- J print x-11.JPGimpact to the society. So, by visiting the museum I could realize how printing technology has made the historical progress and how it has revived.  And I could also know the fact how printing system has made a major role in various social and cultural, academic and educational development at each historic stage.  It was a really impressive and useful for expanding my knowledge about printing world and its culture impact.



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Visit Noritake Ceramics Museum in Nagoya

— Looking into the artistic endeavor  of Noritake’s ceramic business —

For the beginning

Noritake- logo-x01.JPG Japanese porcelain has been an important export item even beforeNoritake- Overview-x02.JPG the Edo era. However, Western ceramic tableware was a completely new field, so it was the Meiji period to begin with producing them for the first time in Japan. Noritake (former name · Japanese Ceramics) was a company which promoted this challenging business. This Noritake has recently established the “Noritake no Mori” Green Park Noritake- Artworks-x09.JPGfor commemorating its 100th anniversary. This park was set up at the memorial place where its first factory was constructed. In the Park, there are some museums and facilities found which display the Noritake’s development story, historic products, working process, and intriguing matters. I had a chance to visit this museum in October while traveling around Nagoya region. This is a small report on this visit.
Noritake- Illust-x03.JPGIn the museum, a plenty of western tableware, in particular, Noritake- Artworks-x03.JPGproduction technique, of bone chinaware, features of Noritake artistic ceramics production are exhibited. And a series of old Noritake brands porcelain are shown there too as a memorial goods. It is really a valuable museum for gaining knowledge about history of Noritake, which now became a world-class Western dishware maker, and the ceramics industry in Japan as a whole.

♣  Outline of “Noritake no Mori” Green Park and its Museum

Noritake- logo-x02.JPG “Noritake no Mori” Green Park is a facility constructed in 2001 in the Notitake ward of Nagoya City where the factory was formerly situated Noritake- Overview-x06.JPG(Name of Noritake’s company was named after this foundation site).  There, the whole park site is covered by a large green and enjoyable walking area, and several facilities are dottily allocated, such as, “Craft Center” which shows porcelain manufacturing process of porcelains, “Noritake Museum” displaying historic chinaware produced by Noritake, “Welcome Center” introducing Noritake- Overview-x03.JPGcompany’s history and current business area.

Also, in the site there is a red brick factory buildings and chimneys found which constructed for the ceramic firing works in the Meiji era.  They are now designated as national industrial heritages of Japan and viewed as a symbol of modernization of ceramic and porcelain industries in Noritake- Illust-x04.JPGJapan. It is a unique space that the ambiance of modern and past memory is uniquely mixed.  So I tried to explore the techniques and origins of Noritake’s ceramic pottery production while referred to the exhibition of museums.

♣  Exhibition of “Welcome Center” telling the history of Noritake

Noritake- History-x05.JPG When you go into the “Noritake no Mori”, first you will be guided to the “Welcome Center.” Here is facilitated a video corner showing the outline of Noritake’s development and a state of the factory in the Meiji- Taisho era by picture. As going inside to the room, there is aNoritake- History-x04.JPG corner called “Noritake History Table” which is visually displaying the development of Noritake company from the foundation period to the present stage. This exhibition is interestingly showing the innovative business advancement of Noritake.

<Creation and development of Noritake>

Noritake- History-x03.JPG First, the founder “Morimura Ichizaemon” had established a “Morimura Gumi” group in 1876, and launched a branch office in NewNoritake- History-x06.JPG York to export Japanese antiques goods and variety of handcraft products. This was said to be nationalistic motivation by Morimura aiming to reduce the trade deficit, because the rapid influx of Western manufacturing products had  worsened financial condition of Japan at that period.

TNoritake- History-x08.JPGhen, in 1889, at the Expo in Paris, he decided to produce and sell western style porcelain with Japanese design, since he was strongly attracted by the beauty of western tableware and seen merchandise valuethere. In 1904, he established “Japan Pottery Co.” (later Noritake) in collaborating with Okura Magobei and Noritake- History-x02.JPGhis son Kazuchika to produce Western-style porcelain tableware. However, this process was quite challenging and never easy task at all.  Firstly, it was difficult to produce uniformed porcelain products by industrial way, since Japanese pottery had been basically manufactured by individual or small traditional scale craftsmen group.
In addition, western kitchenware is dispensable to paint on the pure white plate fabrics in mass scale for the commercial purposes. And Noritake- History-x09.JPGNoritake- History-x10.JPGWestern-style dinner set had to be perfectly flat shape of bottom and have smooth surface too.       This means that many challenging work and innovative effort were required for the Japanese manufacturers to master this technology at that time.

Noritake- Illust-x09.JPG Then, Noritake had dispatched engineers to Germany to learn these technologies and continued the tireless effort to gain such skills for many years. As a result, Noritake- Artworks-x08.JPGNoritake had finally succeed in producing pure white and flatten plate dish in 25 centimeters (Standard scale of European tableware) in 1904. Then, in 1914, the company announced to produce dinner set named “Sedan” as an original Japan brand. Through this process, Noitake’s business was consolidated in the field of as a western style maker of tableware. After that, Noritake further worked and accomplished Noritake- Artworks-x01.JPGmaking technology of “Born China”  in 1933.
Through these efforts, the company was expanding market share of high-end Western style dishes and porcelain decorations in America and Europe, and the name of Noritake’ s “Old China” chinaware became known worldwide.

♣  Exhibition of “Old Noritake” at Noritake Museum

Noritake- Illust-x02.JPG At the Noritake Museum, a plenty of luxury Western dishware being produced by successive Noritake is displayed. They look to be Noritake- Artworks-x04.JPGproud of magnificent porcelains. These series of artistic products are known as “Old China” chinaware. The luxurious table and dinner sets, vases and decorative dishes, pots, coffee cups and other items are displayed there with stunning color and designs. It was quite fun as we are just browsing around these exhibits.
Noritake- Artworks-x06.JPG         The “Sedan” table set of the Noritake mentioned earlier is also listed as a memorial exhibition at the museum.
What is the most interesting would be the change and evolution of works by years of produced. You can see this feature in the Western dishes fully decorated on the wall of exhibition room. This exhibition of works would be a highlight of the museum.

♣   “Craft Center” showing manufacturing process

Noritake- Illust-x08.JPG It is the Craft Center where we can experience how Noritake’s western tableware and ceramics can be made. Here, we can see the real scene of Noritake- Process-x01.JPGproduction process and work directly, such as Western dish of bone china, ceramics ornaments, vases, porcelain dolls, decorative objects and statues.

Generally, the production of pottery consecutively proceeds from clay formation, molding, drying, painting, glazing, and to baking process in order. At the Craft Center, you Noritake- Process-x02.JPGNoritake- Process-x03.JPGcan see the typical manufacturing process, like making “prototype mold pattern” with gypsum, and real “molding” process pouring clays into molds pattern, unglazed baking (tightening), and painting on the unglazed wares, and other scenes directly.
However, the most amazing scene was “painting”. They were the first for me to Noritake- Overview-x05.JPGsee the real working process that professional printing craftsmen draw beautiful pictures on the unglazed plates with variety of colors, or they are drawn on the paper and transfer them into the pottery.  And we can observe the working scene that craftsmen are drawing gold wire at the cup and painting on the dish edge and firing them wonderfully in the kiln.
Noritake- Illust-x07  It was the really the first time again I could reaffirm the high cultural value of Noritake ceramics through my tour of this manufacturing process.

♣  Current Noritake’s business 

Noritake- Artworks-x05.JPG With this visit, I recognized the splendid works of Noritake in the pottery and porcelain, but also knew that Noritake has expanded their business field and fostered many affiliated companies in the various ceramic industrial areas too. Its trend was indicated well in the exhibition of Welcome Center.

Firstly, in 1917, it established “Tokyo Toki” Co. (TOTO now) as an Noritake- Company-x03.JPGindependent firm by the branch-out of its sanitary ware division, then set up “Nihon Gaishi” a ceramic insulator company in 1919, and after the War in 1967, “Japan Resin Industry”, ”Ise Electric Co.”  Beside these companies, Noritake has launched other companies, like “Imari ceramics”, “Hiroshima abrasive industry”,Kyoritsu Materials” and others as affiliated companies.   All of them have fully used the Noritake- Company-x04.JPGacquired technologies, such as cray molding, grinding, polishing, developing new ceramic materials, painting and printing, etc. which have been refined in the porcelain making process.      Currently, Noritake is further advancing into high-tech electronic circuits, dentistry, photovoltaic power generation membranes, ceramic condensers. These are exhibited at the hallway in the Center with brief comments.

After Visit ……..

Noritake- Illust-x06.JPG     In the Meiji era, beyond the old type of traditional pottery making, Noritake had advanced to the western tableware business with the Noritake- Overview-x04.JPGaim of exporting ceramic products to the world and developed its own ceramic processing technology while absorbing western methods, Then Noritake has grown to the global company adding unique design and skills of Japan. These seem to be a kind of typical pattern being observed in the Japanese industrial development.      Noritake- logo-x02Also, for me, it was amazing and fresh impression to know that Noritake has been initiating the tireless efforts for blending Japanese traditional artistic element with modern industrial production in the ceramic products.    I really felt that I want to visit again if there’s another opportunity.





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Visit Mikimoto Memorial Hall

 —  Explored the life and works of  a “Pearl King”  Mikimoto Yukichi

Mikimoto-H Kokichi x04.JPG    In the Pearl Island, there is Mikimoto’s “Memorial Hall” besides Mikimoto-H Hall x01.JPGthe “Pearl Museum”. This Hall is showing the amazing works of Mikimoto Kokichi who has developed Japanese pearl industry.  Kokichi is noted as an innovative entrepreneur to produce the cultured pearls for the first time in the world.       In the Hall, the biographical story of Mikimoto Kokichi’s life and work is elaborately described, such as how he began Mikimoto-H Hall x03.JPGthe pearl business in his young age, and how he challenged and succeeded to produce “cultured pearl” while even facing many difficulties and hardships. You’ll find a plenty of exhibits about  Kokichi’s business life which is displayed by numerous photos, real products, memorials and documents, commentary panel and others.


♣  Life and work of Mikimoto Kokichi seen in the Memorial Hall

Mikimoto-H Kokichi x03.JPGMikimoto-H illust x06.JPG At the Memorial Hall, the life story of Kokichi since his childhood to the matured businessman who established his own pearl industries is displayed along the time line. And many interesting exhibits are found there with depicting the anecdotes on his 96-years-long business life, including the story about his devotion to the pearl making, and the engagement to his family, friends, and colleagues.

<His family and boyhood life>

Mikimoto-H Ilsland x03.JPG   Mikimot Kokichi was born as a son of small “Udon shop” (Noodle shop) in the port town Toba in 1858 in the late Edo period. It was saidMikimoto-H Lifel x05.JPG that he was a smart in nature and talented boy, and held an excellent business sense from young age.  He had been helping his family’s shop since his childhood. He had to be hawking the marine goods and vegetables in the area to support the household because his family was quite poor.  But he could learned much how commercial activity works through this experience.
Mikimoto-H Hall x07.JPG       In memorial hall, the restored model of ” Udon shop” named “Awa Ya” was exhibited where Kokichi had spent his younger ages. There also the episode is introduced showing his sales talent that successfully sold marine products to a harbored Western ship in Toba bay using his artist performances.  It suggested that his business talent was already demonstrated from early age.

<Youth period being inspired business>

Mikimoto-H Pearl make x18.JPG      Around at his 20 years old, Kokichi visited Yokohama because he’d heard that dried abalones and pearls in Toba were sold well at high Mikimoto-H Ilsland x05.JPGprice among Chinese traders. He had thought these products could bring a business chance for him. As a matter of fact, the grinded pearls were widely used as medical stuff in China.
Mikimoto-H Help x01.JPG Mikimoto-H Help x02.JPG     After that, Kokichi launched a small trading business of marine products, such as abalone, seaweed, while searching for the possibility of development of Akoya oyster as raw material for Shima’s pearl. Around this time, he had fortunately a chance to meet Yanagi Naraetsu who was a president of the National Fish Products Exhibition Committee. Also, from Mitsukuri Kakichi, an Mikimoto-H Pearl make x03.JPGauthority of marine science, he received a positive comment on pearl farming, like,Mikimoto M- Illust x13Technically extremely difficult, but pearl farming itself is theoretically possible.”
     Then Kokichi determined to start the pearl farming with believing in its success in someday future, even he recognized it would have accompanied with painful difficulties.
The background of the decision making is interestingly depicted in the memorial Hall along with many episodes about his   families and friends.

<Troubles and challenges in aquaculture business>

Mikimoto-H illust x07.JPG  Although he decided to cultivate cultured pearls, the business process had been seemed extremely difficult to handle for him.  First of all, he had to feed a hugeMikimoto-H Pearl make x14.JPG number of mother shells of Akoyagai in the sea for making pearls. Also, it wasn’t clear what substance was suitable as a “nucleus” for cultured pearls, how to plant this nucleus to Akoyagai by opening shell without hurting, and others, Kokichi had to experiment from the scratch.
Mikimoto-H Pearl make x16.JPG    Initially, he began to breed Akoya oysters in the sea of Ago Bay, near Toba, and experimented many times to embed various nucleus in the pearl shells in his aqua farms.     It is said that Kokichi was repeatedly experimenting his work for long in the continuing of trial and error, even in the midst of many derision coming from neighboring people to be a  kind of “swindle” activities.  In addition, he had also to encounter so many crises to happen in this process that he was almost forced losing all his property.

Mikimoto-H Pearl make x01Mikimoto-H illust x02.JPG       However, four years later, in 1893, while red tide inflicted serious damage to Shima Bay and pearl shells, finally the several pieces of cultured pearls was discovered in the shore of Toba’s Aino-shima (present Pearl Island) among thousands of remaining shells. This is the moment when the world’s first cultured pearls Mikimoto-H Pearl make x02.JPGwere born. Kokichi thus became the first inventor to successfully develop cultured pearls. In this way, Kokichi established the new development methods of cultured pearl and gained the patent of pearl farming. The moment of birth of pearls and hard work engaged by him are displayed well in the exhibition with the form of panels, photographs, paintings and so on.

<Troubles and challenges in pearl aquaculture business>

Mikimoto-H Pearl make x04.JPG Then Kokichi launched the pearl farming and began the pearl sales after taking “patent” (for Semicircle pearl production methods) in full-scale.  First activities he’dMikimoto-H Pearl make x12.JPG done were   the opening and expanding the breeding base of pearl shells at Tatoku-shima in Ago Bay, and he embarked a large-scale aqua farming business there. And, nearly 4200 pieces of pearls (semicircular) were successfully harvested in 1933, and he started the commercial business of pearl jewelry in his main trade items.        On the other hand, Mikimoto-H Pearl make x06.JPGmany pearl researchers had been pursuing a method of making round pearls (true Mikimoto-H illust x09circle pearls) at this time around that time.  Kokichi had also engaging in the works and devoted himself in study of full circular pearls too, while expanding the semicircular pearl business. After several years of laborious works, he finally reached the goal to be producing the long-awaited true pearls in his aquaculture farm in 1900.  This story is also elaborately recorded in the Hall together with the collaborators’ contributions for it.

<Leap to overseas pearl business>

Mikimoto-H Pearl make x05.JPGKokichi, who had succeeded in pearl making, first opened his pearl shop in Ginza, Tokyo in 1888.  He dispatched his brother Yoneda to the United States and tried to explore sales channels there with paying Mikimoto-H Pearl make x19.JPGattention to the higher demand of pearls overseas. Also, the beautiful cultured pearls were becoming soon popular in domestic too. Particular it was loved by the Imperial Family. And Mikimoto pearl has chosen as an “Emperors goods” by the Imperial Court.

Mikimoto-H Pearl make x20    Thus, Mikimoto pearl has gradually permeated in the overseas markets and led to the business expansion in the UK and France. Around this time, Kokichi had actively participated in various World Mikimoto-H Pearl make x09.JPGExpo and exhibited his artistic pearl jewelry products there. The strategy was succeeded and receive high valuation at the Expo.The memorial products exhibited at Expos are now displayed in the Pearl Museum as “Mikimoto Memorial Jewelry”. And it’s truly a splendid artistic works. In the Memorial Hall the early work “Military Leader’s Fan” is exhibited too.

Mikimoto-H Pearl make x11.JPG Through these challenges, Mikimoto’s pearl marketing was expanded in the world.  However, European and American jewelers, who were threatened by the appearance of new cultured pearls which boast of competitive power to natural pearls in quality, invited the hostile reaction Mikimoto-H Pearl make x21.JPGagainst them, such as raising a lawsuit to Mikimoto pearls accusing they weren’t genuine pearls but only “imitation” ones.
However Western European scientists have revealed that Mikimoto’s cultured pearls are true pearls which hold same quality with natural pearls. And, the brand name of Mikimoto Pearl has resulted in being ironically elevated much on the contrary of such accusation.  Then Mikimoto· could establish the solid status as a major pearl maker in the world, and, all the more, Japanese cultured pearls have grown as major Japanese export items.

<Strong commitment to quality of pearls>

Meanwhile, since many companies had entered in the cultured pearl business Mikimoto-H Pearl make x22.JPGriding the pearl boom in Japan, the quality degrading problems had occurred, and even defective items had been appeared in the pearl market. As a result, the reputation of Japanese pearls, including Mikimoto’s pearl, was dropped fast in this period.

Against this situation, Kokichi had taken a drastic policy for recovering trust on the quality of pearl. It was the event ofMikimoto-H Pearl make x13.JPG what it called “Pearl burn-out demonstration ” in massive scale in 1932. At that time, more than 750,000 pieces of expensive pearls were burned and discarded in front of public viewers. This event became widely covered by mass medias as an surprising “Incident” and it was widely Mikimoto-H Pearl make x10.JPGresonated among pearl lovers. But, as a result, Mikimoto pearl recovered its reputation and established the name as a reliable jewelry maker even in overseas since then.  Such anecdotes are also displayed as a memorial of Kokichi’s courageous action at the Memorial Hall

<Mikimoto pearl after the War>

Mikimoto-H illust x03 In this way, Japan’s pearl business, particularly Mikimoto’s pearl business, has been overwhelming overseas natural pearls makers.  However, the Pacific War inflicted serious damage to the Japanese pearl business. Nevertheless, it was fortunate to be able to show Mikimoto-H Lifel x03.JPGrecovery sign soon, even after the defeating of the War, particularly thanks to the strong market demand of American ladies who is enthusiastically fond of Japanese pearls, because many US officers stationed in Japan have rashly flocked to Shima and Toba in order to purchase Mikimoto-H Pearl make x24.JPGMikimoto’s pearls for their souvenirs to their families. It was symbolic scene that the Allied commander General Ridgeway visited Shima and Toba with his lady at that time of period.
So Japanese cultured pearls, not only Mikimoto’s pearls business, but whole Japan could revive and success to export of pearls as valuable trading items from Japan since that time. These episodes are also exhibited here in the Memorial Hall.

<Human element and later years of Mikimoto Kokichi>

Mikimoto-H Kokichi x01.JPG  This way, the name of Mikimoto Yukichi became noted in the world as “King of Pearls”, and cultured pearls became one of Japan’s precious source exports.  The memorial hall explains these Mikimoto-H Hall x09.JPGactivities as a great entrepreneurial talent of Kokichi, and also introduces several episodes on his human characteristics.
The numerous many memorable exhibits were displayed related to Kokichi’s family life, such as many records on his wife “Ume” who struggled with farming assisting Kokichi, numerous statues Mikimoto-H Lifel x01.JPGof deity Ebisu and “Yadate”(Writing tool in Edo era) which have been collected in his hobby as his guardians, letters and memorials relating to his business, and so on. These all seems to indicate his personality, talent, and contribution to the development of pearl industry.

In his later years, the renamof “Aijima” in Toba Bay was changed to Mikimoto’s “Pearl Island” in 1939 , as memorable place where Kokichi Mikimoto-H Ilsland x02.JPGhad successfully developed cultured pearl first in the world. Kokichi has also energetically devoted to developing whole Ise-Shima region as National Park, along with shaping up Pearl Island as an attractive resort spot showing the way of pearl farming.

As a result, the Island have grown to the Mikimoto-H Ilsland x04.JPGnoted place where many royal people and celebrities of various countries. For example, it is said that Queen Elizabeth, Queen Grace, and other prominent figures have visited there to appreciate the Japanese pearls’ tradition and its products. This situation is well shown in a collection of photographs which are displayed in numerous places.
So Kokichi is believed to be working hard for tourism development of Ise Shima region until 96 years old. This situation is well depicted in a collection of photographs displayed in the Hall.

♣  Remarks after visit

Mikimoto-H Kokichi x02.JPG     In the memorial hall, there is a special room called “Shinju-kaku” reproduced where Kokichi had lived in his later year. From this room you can clearly observe Mikimoto-H Hall x08.JPGthe beautiful landscape of Ago Bay and the situation of his fishing farm. It is said that the one of pleasure for Kokichi in his later year was to talk with prominent guests from overseas and domestic at this room while looking over down the beautiful green Ago Bay.
Mikimoto-H Hall x04.JPG       It seems an amazing thing that Kokichi, who was only a poor son of humble noodle shop in the local rural area, challenged to the difficult pearl farming, successfully started pearl business by his own hand, and later even became the world class entrepreneur of pearl jewelry, in addition to contribute a lot to promote international culture exchange and diplomacy of Japan.
Mikimoto-H illust x06 And the time went around fast and in the year 2015, the “Ise Wan Summit Meeting” Mikimoto-H Pearl make x23.JPGof world leaders was held at “Kashiko-Jima” in Ise-Shima and Ago Bay where Kokichi had struggled with making a cultured pearl for the first time in the world and later developed as a world class marine resort.
I just wondered how Kokichi, if he still alive, would have felt about this international diplomatic event at the place where he had opened the cultured pearl business.  The Pearl Island and the Mikimoto Memorial Museum enticed me to conjure such a fancy imagination.




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Visit the Pearl Museum in Toba and Mikimoto

—  Explore the secret of pearl jewelry world and Mikimoto’s pearl revolution

Mikimoto M- Logo x01.JPG   I had a chance to visit the “Mikomoto Pearl Museum” in “Pearl Island” ofMikimoto M- Museum x04.JPG Toba, in Mie Prefecture this year. The Pearl Island is a famous place where Mr. Mikimoto had successfully developed “cultured” pearls for the first time in the world, and the island is now one of the tourist attractions Mikimoto M- Miki treasure x01.JPGMikimoto M- M history x08.JPGin the Ise Shima National Park too. The Pearl Museum shows us amazing pearl world by providing exhibits of real pearls and elaborate explanation regarding nature of pearls, way of breeding of pearl, making process of pearl’s jewelry, and other information related to pearls. It was a quite knowledgeable Mikimoto M- Illust x04.JPGmuseum to see the history of pearls, and how man-made culture pearl was born and developed in this area. In addition, I had an occasion to visit the “Mikimoto Kokichi Memorial Hall” which shows the development story of “cultured pearl” of Mikimoto Co. and its founder Mikimoto’s biography. I was quite interesting visit, so I’d like to report it here.


♣   Outline and exhibition of Mikimoto Pearl Museum

Mikimoto M- Illust x01.JPG       The museum exhibitions are divided into four sections.  First, the naturalMikimoto M- Museum x02.JPG built pearl jewelry and its jewelry were displayed there, next corner shows the scientific explanation exhibition on how pearls are made in the sea and the way of pearl farming, then the comment is given on the pearl making process to finalize it as a jewel. Finally, the Mikimoto M- Museum x03.JPGMikimoto’s legendary artifacts of pearls are exhibited in the special corner. In addition to the exhibition, the museum staff will lecture you how pearls are produced and crafted with using real pearl shells there, so you can understand the scientific mechanism of   pearls in detail.  The composition of the museum are as follows

♣   History of pearls and jewelry worksMikimoto M- History x01.JPG

Mikimoto M- Illust x07.JPG       According to the museum exhibition, there are several categories of pearl shells found, such as peal oysters, black butterfly shells, white butterfly shells, of which the pearl oysters are the most prized one. These pearl oysters inhabit at bottom of the relatively deep sea, so people must dive deeply and exploit them to harvest them.     Therefore, naturally born pearls have been counted as one of the most precious “jewels” for long time.
Mikimoto M- Illust x12.JPG       In addition, its rainbow-colored gloss was regarded as a symbol ofMikimoto M- Treasure x02.JPG people’s valuable fortune, wealth and power, so it has been worn as a valuable jewelry since ancient times. At the museum, numerous natural pearl jewelry is displayed which were worn by European wealthy aristocratic class of ladies.

For example. Ancient Roman pearl earrings, Renaissance era’s Mikimoto M- Treasure x01.JPGpearl pendant, Mughal Kingdom’s pearl and gold necklace, in addition to the European seed pearls with gold jewelry, cameo brooches in 19th century, and so-called Art Nouveau style pearl Mikimoto M- Treasure x03.JPGnecklace, and so on. Every pearl jewelry you can see there is outstandingly well-crafted artifacts filled with Mikimoto M- Treasure x04.JPGstunning charms. Meanwhile, it was interesting to know that natural pearls in China and Japan have been used medical substances as well as jewelry.

However, the appearance of cultured pearls gave unprecedented impact to the Mikimoto M- Illust x02.JPGMikimoto M- History x03.JPGnatural pearls jewel industry because it broke the monopoly and made shift them from exclusive possession by wealthy class to widely used attractive jewels for general Mikimoto M- Illust x09.JPGpeople, even though the pearl was still expensive ones. The transition process of natural pearls to cultured pearls during this period seems to be very much interesting too.


♣   Structure of pearl shell and development of pearl farming

The museum explains the mechanism how pearl shells produce pearls and production ofcultured pearls at Ago bay of Shima area.

<Natural pearl>Mikimoto M- Illust x06.JPG

In the pearl shell, there is a layer called “mantle membrane” inside theMikimoto M- Akoya x01.JPG shell, which has a function of breathing and absorbing seawater to grow and produces another new shellfish itself. A part of cells of this mantle will be missing and forming a “nucleus” bag (pearl sack) occasionally.
Then the bag is crystallized by a glossy secretion which exuded in shell and grew into multi-layer’s luminous ball. his is the what called natural pearl. The component is almost the same with slime inner layer of the shellfish of rainbow dolor glossy.   This natural pearl is formed  just with incidental case only, Mikimoto M- Natural x02.JPG
Mikimoto M- Natural x01.JPGand a beautiful circular spherical pearl is available This is the what called natural pearl. The component is almost the same with inner layer of the slime shellfish of rainbow dolor glossy. This natural pearl is formed in incidental case only, and a beautiful circular spherical pearl is available miraculously rare.

<Cultured pearl>

On the other hand, the cultured pearls are produced by artificially transplanting a Mikimoto M- Culture x01“nucleus” into the mantle with hand and try to form aMikimoto M- M history x02.JPG pearl using this nucleus.  However, this process was quite sophisticated, and this method had been experimenting long time, but anybody couldn’t succeed in the world.
In these circumstances, a Japanese Mikimoto M- M history x01.JPGbusinessman, called Mikimoto. succeeded to produce a “cultured pearl” for the first time in the early Meiji period of 1890s.   After success to produce pearls artificially, he disseminated this “cultured pearl” as “Mikimoto pearl” which boasts holding equivalent aesthetic value of pearls as natural pearls.

♣  How culture pearls were  produced

Mikimoto M- Illust x08        This aquaculture process had been technically so difficult.  Now it becomes a little bit easy to cultivate pearl shell because the aquaculture Mikimoto M- Process x03.JPGtechnology is advanced due to the continuing scientific experiment, but the experts actually indicate there are still many problems existed.

First of all, it is necessary to collect a large number of precious mother pearl shells and to grow in the sea water for long time. In addition, the special measure was required Mikimoto M- Process x05.JPGto sort out and collect the good shellfish, then they should grow sufficient number of shellfishes.
Even after the “nuclear” is embedded in the shell, the embryo of pearls must be retained and cured over a longMikimoto M- Process x04.JPG period in a relatively deep seabed for several years. It is said that this success rate is not so high, and many are dead or couldn’t produce pearls at all.

Mikimoto M- M history x10.JPG     Also, a lot of hard work is required in the sea, this “tough job” had been handled by “Ama” (professional diving girl)” in Ago Bay. These all were difficult barriers for the long time to proliferate producing cultured pearls in large amount.       Later, the burden ofMikimoto M- Process x02.JPG this work in the sea has been a bit lightened by using floating rafts and hanging pearls shells from them in the sea. And by adopting this method, a large amount of pearl shells became possible to cultivate one time, but it is said the work was still never easy ones.

<Fine pearl making process>

Then, the pearl shells which have bred are pulled up Mikimoto M- Process x06.JPGto the land (“Hamaage”), and the raw pearls should be picked up from the shell, and the sort-out process comes. However, even now, it was said that about half of the pearl shells raised on the beach are dead, 17% are bad quality, and fine pearls are available only less than 5%.Mikimoto M- Process x07.JPG

Next comes the process of finishing the pearl as a jewel. Here, there are strict inspection and sorting of cultured pearls such as color, gloss, size and shape, and finally it will be going to the market as a product. We can easily imagine how patient and delicate works there to create such a perfect pearl product as beautiful jewel.

<Business transition from natural pearl to cultured pearl>

Mikimoto M- M history x08   Now the jewelry pearls as an ornament are becoming popular treasure Mikimoto M- M history x11.JPGfor the general people now, although it’s still an expensive product. But it was believed to be attributed much to the appearance of cultured pearl, because the pearl was so expensive that it was exclusively worn by ultra-wealthy class people only before.  The name was “cultured”, but it has been showing high quality of shining luster same with natural pearl.
Mikimoto M- History x04.JPG    Any way, it is a noted episode that many US military officers flocked to this Toba farm just after the War of Japan and asked for Mikimoto Pearl in rush as souvenirs for their home country. In this way, these cultured pearls in Japan were extremely valuable and popular among foreigners, and it’s quite understandable that cultured pearl became one of the major export items of Japan at the time.


♣   Mikimoto Jewelry’s history and masterpieces

Mikimoto M- Illust x03.JPG      At the Pearl Museum, numerous pearl works produced by Mikimoto isMikimoto M- Miki treasure x03.JPG displaying along with Mikimoto Koukichi’s life story (a founder Mikimoto Co.) The highlight treasury works shown among them are be aesthetic artifacts of pearl jewelry which have been exhibited and gained the highly reputation at the big worldwide Expos.

Mikimoto M- Miki treasure x04.JPG     A series of works exhibited were highly valued at the Expos regarding their unique designing features of Japanese aesthetics style. The exhibited products were, for examples, the “Gunbai Ohgi” (Military commanding fan) in 1893, the “MikimotoMikimoto M- Miki treasure x05.JPG Five-story Pagoda” in 1925 (for Philadelphia World’s World Expo), the “Yaguruma: Large Waistband Clip” (for Paris Expo 1937) “Liberty Bell” (Exhibition of New York Expo 1939), and others. The “Globe”, which is decorated with thousands of pearls in 1990, was also eye-catching work of Mikimoto. These seem to imply the high level of Mikimoto’s pearl art production.

Mikimoto M- Miki treasure x06.JPG      On the other hand, we should admit that Mikimoto’s products were dominantly “Semi-circular pearls”, and many of them incorporated in the part of other jewelry items. Mikimoto has been producing hair ornaments such as combs and hooks using these semicircle pearls and Mikimoto M- Treasure x09.JPGcommercialized them as a jewelry item at the beginning period. However. But as the cultured “spherical round pearl” was beginning to be sufficiently produced and upgraded much, their pearl jewelry was rapidly closed to the high level of European design jewelry, and the artistic value of cultured pearls was dramatically increased. The “Mikimoto Five-story Pagoda” was one of them which was highly appreciated as an aesthetic product at that time.

After taking such track, the reputation of Mikimoto jewelry rises more than ever, and Mikimoto could grow as a world level pearl manufacturer in the field of pearl necklace, earrings, bracelet, and other ornaments. This evidence would be the exhibition of “Mikimoto Prestigious Works” at this museum.

♣   Recent trend of Ise Shima pearl world

Mikimoto M- Museum x06.JPG        Mikimoto, which became a global pearl maker in this way, is no more engaged much in the direct cultured pearl farming though, and the Mikimoto M- History x06.JPGcompany already transformed to the total enterprise primarily concentrating on the pearl jewelry’s designing, its processing and selling businesses. So the distribution of Mikimoto pearls are expanded and the sales network of the cultured pearls are now spreading to the worldwide. On the other hand, the domestic supply of pearls are becoming short and lack of volume for producing pear jewelry, in addition to the worsening of water quality around the Ise Shima bay and the influence of frequent occurring red tide and other unfavorable conditions. As a result, Mikimoto now became to procure the cultured pearl sources around the world.

Mikimoto M- Illust x13.JPG      Then, the Ago Bay of Shima can’ say no more the center of cultured pearls, but thisMikimoto M- History x05.JPG area is still proud of historical significance as a birthplace of Japan’s pearls and also as a memorial place of business establishment of Mikimoto. However, it is said that new “One Piece of Pearl” project starts by a local NGO of Shima in 2003 for breeding high quality pearl shells through creating underwater forest that hopes to foster Akoyagai pearl shells there. It would be a new movement in the local pearl industrial revitalization around Ago bay, beside strengthening tourist attraction of Ise Shima’s pearl industry.

♦   Remarks after visit Pearl Museum

Mikimoto M- M history x09.JPG         By visiting Pearl Island and its museum, I felt I could comprehend a bit about pearl world and its implication, such as long history of pearl and jewelry, scientific feature of pearl, formation of cultured pearls industry, water environment, and so on. It’s a valuable experience for me. Mikimoto M- Illust x01
I’d like to make a further report on the “Mikimoto Kokichi Memorial Hall” in the Island next.






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Visit NYK Maritime Museum and Mitsubishi

日本郵船歴史館と三菱史料館訪問 2018.08

— The museum lively shows a history of Japanese maritime industry and Mitsubishi Zaibatsu development

NYK- Logo x01.JPG      I recently had chance to visit the “NYK Maritime Museum ofNYK- Maritime x14.JPG History” in Yokohama and Mitsubishi Historic Museum in Tokyo. These Museums clearly show the development story of shipping industry in Japan from the Meiji period to now and the evolution by Mitsubishi Group.  By visiting two museums, I felt to be able to understand NYK- Maritime x23.JPGslightly how Japanese maritime and shipping industries were formed and advanced as well as the history of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu which had first built maritime business in Meiji as a foundation and grew to the Japanese major industrial giant.NYK- Mitsubishi x06.JPG

So, I could understand a bit about the development process of maritime industry of japan by visiting the museum, and I was able to learn of certain pattern of business development process of Japanese conglomerate like Mitsubishi and others.

This is a description of visiting impression.

♣  History and exhibition of NYK Maritime Museum

  NYK- Illust x02.JPG   “NYK Maritime History Museum” located in the Yokohama Yusen Building near Yokohama Port. This historic museum exhibits the NYK- Maritime x07.JPGdevelopment story of NYK as well as the evolution of Mitsubishi business group from the early Meiji era. The founder of the business was Iwasaki Yataro, a former lower class of Samurai in Tosa, Shikoku, who set up a maritime company called “Tsukumo Shoji”, and NYK- Maritime x04.JPGadvanced it to “Nipponkoku Yubin Jokisen Kaisha (Postal Steam Ship Mitsubishi Co.”  The museum describes how the Iwasaki family established of Mitusbishi group and established the NYK Line as a major maritime enterprise. This way of development looked like representing the advancement of maritime business as well as heavy industries in the whole Japan since Meiji period.


♣  Exhibition is arranged by timeline of f NYK Lines development.

NYK- Maritime x05.JPG      The first displays are the story of dawn era of NYK from the period of “Tsukumo” to the born of NYK. The second corner is describing the expansion process of maritime business of NYK which hadNYK- Maritime x01.JPG cultivated the full-fledged international routes for the first time, the third part treats with the situation of shipping business at the period of wartimes, when was forced to be mobilized NYK- Maritime x03.JPGinto military operation and got devastating damage with it. The fourth exhibition is for the period of the postwar story proceeding to the revival and new advancement of shipping business in the post war’s innovative way. (Museum categorize them into 1 to 9 corners in the category)

And in each corner, various model of ships used in each period, operation instruments and machinery of ships, photographs and maps for NYK- Maritime x06.JPGsailing, maritime related documents, and other exhibits are displayed in rich with the commentaries in detail. Many of them are designated as the “Japanese Industry Historic Treasury “.
The main ones are listed as follows.


< Principle exhibits in the museum> >

There are lots of exhibits are shown in the Museum, for example.NYK- Maritime x24.JPG
NYK- Logo x05.JPG The Rainwater Tank (made around 1870) used in the “Tsukumo” period, memorial document of NYK Establishment Order (Government ordered the merger of the “Mitsubishi” and “Kyodo”, and established “NYK Line in1885),      Scale model of Takasago Maru which was a memorial ship for the first overseas route vessel (built in the UK in NYK- Maritime x25.JPGNYK- Maritime x23.JPG1859), window frame of Suwa Maru which was a passenger ship first built by Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard for the European navigation route(1914),
Time bell of the Tenyo Maru (1909) used for the San Francisco route, A model of the luxury liner Asama Maru built in 1929, a maritime hexagon tool used in Hikawa Maru (first operated in the North Pacific routes in 1930s), An inscription of Noto Maru discovered in the Manila NYK- Ships x07.JPGBay where the ship was sunk by US Army inked sea (Displayed as a symbol of war damage), etc.
Besides these materials, there are many exhibits, such as the structure model of mammoth tanker vessel constructed in Nagasaki Shipyard in the 1970s and others, the elaborate model of latest luxury passenger liner “Asuka” in 1990s, and others.NYK- Illust x04.JPG
Looking at these exhibits, it can be known how Japan began to launch into the maritime business in the Edo and Meiji period, and how created the “NYK Line” for opening overseas shipping routes as core of the operation, and how the Mitsubishi Group was involved in this shipping field.

Also, the unforgettable fact was revealed too in the exhibition that shows howNYK- Ships x08.JPG Japan’s maritime lines were closely interconnected with the Japanese Navy practices, not only engaging in the private merchant businesses in terms of their shipbuilding and also navigation. And during wartime, the special adoption of commercial ships for military use caused NYK- Illust x14.JPGserious sacrifices and damages in large scale. These facts were exhibited in photos and commentaries, and even a large memorial statue for war victim was placed in the hall to show this.


♣  Development of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu and NYK Line

NYK- Mitsubishi x03.JPG     After visiting NYK Maritime Museum, I stopped by “Mitsubishi Historic Museum” to examine the relation NYK- Mitsubishi x05.JPGbetween Mitsubishi Zaibatsu and its shipping industry. This museum located in Ueno, Tokyo. Nearby there’s a Mitsubishi’s luxurious “Furukawa Residence” situated which had been built in the Meiji era, so the location looks clearly associated with Mitsubishi group from the early time.

NYK- Mitsubishi x08.JPGAt the entrance hall of the museum, a large statue of Yataro Iwasaki (a founder of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu) has proudly placed.  The museum exhibits a lot of panels, photographs and documents which show the NYK- Mitsubishi x07.JPGfounding history and development of Mitsubishi business group in the various forms.

It is believed that Mitsubishi group’s founding is deeply involved in the shipping industry in the early Meiji.  As it’s well known, Yataro Iwasaki NYK- Mitsubishi x01.JPGfirst launched the “Tsukumo Trading” company under the Tosa clan just before the Meiji restoration, and established his own company “Mitsubishi Trading Co.” NYK- Mitsubishi x11.JPGlater under the strong support from the Meiji government.  And the company first embarked the maritime business by its own ships which had been assigned to transport trade and military goods for the Meiji government. Then, with this operation, NYK- Mitsubishi x10.JPGNYK- Logo x02.JPGMitsubishi could hold a leading position in the shipping industry for the first time. However, in the midst, the head-to-head competition started with the newly born “Kyodo Unyu Co.” (Joint transportation company) of Shibusawa which was against the monopolistic action of Mitsubishi shipping business. NYK- Ships x02.JPGUnder these circumstances, the two companies were finally going to merged for avoiding competition and formed the new “NYK Line Company” by the government arbitration. However, even under the new NYK company, the influence of Mitsubishi was still significant that theNYK- Mitsubishi x12.JPG management of new company has been continuously operated under the Mitsubishi’s leadership for the long time.      However, the business focus of Mitsubishi group itself had been gradually shifted from marine NYK- Illust x05.JPGtransportation to the other businesses field like shipbuilding, machinery, electric products, finance, and trading and others. And it successfully took advanced on the way to big conglomerate

through radical expansion of transformation of business afterward.

NYK- Mitsubishi x09.JPGIn summary, Mitsubishi, which built the foundation in marine business in Japan, had rapidly involved in the coal mine business in Kyushu (Takashima coal mine, etc.), shipbuilding business in Nagasaki (Nagasaki Shipyard), monetary and finance industry (later Mitsubishi Bank), warehouse industry (Mitsubishi Warehouse and real estate), and so on.

NYK- Mitsubishi x13.JPGIt was said that Iwasaki Yanosuke and its Hisaya (They were the second and third generation of Iwasaki family) had played a key role to do this diversification, with adopting modern management style in this expanding process.
Japanese industry, which originally started from the shipping industry aiming to NYK- Illust x16.JPGpromote business overseas after ending isolation policy of Edo, shifted the development target to the variety of fields, like shipbuilding industry and coal, steelmaking and mining development, and continued to multiply the manufacturing industrial fields. In that sense, Mitsubishi typically followed in this line.

♣  Genealogy of Ocean Liner on NYK Line

NYK- Illust x07.JPG  As mentioned above, the NYK Historical Museum exhibits lots of scaleNYK- Ships x01.JPG models of ocean ships and memorial goods in the hall.  Looking into the development history of international ocean lines of Japan, “Tosamaru” was the first ship explored the international route to Europe in 1896, and consecutively the NYK- Ships x04.JPGdomestic “Tenyo maru” which produced by a Japanese shipbuilder was setting up service on the Pacific route in 1908. These are well exhibited in the museum as historic evidences of Japan’s shipping liners.     As for the luxurious passenger ships, the subsequent “Asama Maru” (1929 -),  Chichibu Maru (1930 -) and other ocean liners which become famous for their elaborate facilities and services are displayed too.

The Museum exhibits an array of scale model of these historic passenger ships alongNYK- Maritime x22.JPG NYK- Maritime x08.JPGwith dining tables, artistic interiors, memorial photos and so on which would make recall their flourishing days.      Among them, the large luxury liner “Hikawa Maru” operated by NYK Line in the North Pacific routes in 1930, was well known for her artistic shape and marvelous interiors on which many NYK- Maritime x15.JPGcelebrities such as Chaplin and others international figures had been on board.  NYK- Logo x03.JPG     But this Hikawa Maru experienced the turbulent fates, in which the ship was one time diverted to a hospital ship during wartime, then used as a home-returning ship for war victims just after the war, and backed to the ordinary commercial ship in 1960s. Currently, the ship is moored in the harbor park of Yokohama being served as a facility attached to the NYK NYK- Maritime x16.JPGNYK- Maritime x21.JPGMuseum.When visiting this Hikawa Maru’, I was very much impressed by the elaborate interior, good looking guest rooms, wonderful restaurant room, and so on. It could remind us the good old flowing days of Japanese ocean liners.


♣   NYK Line cruiser which was wrecked by war

NYK- Maritime x20.JPG     Many ships, including NYK Line, were forced engaging in military transport services, or diverted to the military ships during the war time, because they were under the strong control of NYK- Ships x10.JPGJapanese navy. As a result, during the Pacific War, many people, crew members, and the ships themselves were experienced severe damages and sacrifices. The Museum provides a lot NYK- Ships x06of space for the war damages corner with strong attention to this tragic period in the exhibition.

According to the material, the number of ships NYK- Maritime x10.JPGwhich lost by NYK was over 185 thousand tons (2568 grubber tonnage 8.4 million tons total in Japan), and, in addition, it is said that 5,000 sailed employee crew members had been sacrificed. If it counts the civilians and military personnel who were ravaged, the numbers would be multiplied.         NYK- Illust x03.JPG   This symbolic display for this was a rusted ship name board of the “Noto Maru” which was bombed and sunk, and later pulled up from the deep sea after the war.This is an clear evidence of the war tragedy and the fate of commercial ships recruited for the military purpose.   A lot of photos of vessels which had lost during the war were also displayed in the museum, so we can’t help surprising huge scale of the sacrifices by the war.

♣  Resurrection and development of the postwar shipping business

NYK- Illust x11.JPG       The restoration of postwar shipping lines started from the catastrophic wartime damage and the strict control at the Allied occupation, so it was never easy way. The new shipping service was begun with the transport of overseas returnees and a small scale of maritime operation only NYK- Ships x11.JPGaround the coast of Japan in this period.     However, it is said that the revival of shipping business has been advanced quickly by the special recruitment from the Korean War around 1950s. NYK- Ships x09.JPGAnd in the 1960s, the shipping service was accelerated by playing a major role as industrial infrastructure building along with the fast economic growth of Japan. This movement was also strengthened by the revival of postwar Japan NYK- Maritime x12.JPGshipbuilding industry and the increasing demand of freight shipping that were promoted Japanese overseas trades and business activities. NYK- Ships x12.JPG      This representative was “Heian Maru” of NYK Line, which was inaugurated in 1951. After that, the regular freight lines began to operate in Japan one after the other, and during 1960s it reached NYK- Maritime x13.JPGto the exceeding level of shipping capacity at the pre-war time. Among them NYK played a major role, and the shipping business began to be diversified into the operation of big oil NYK- Illust x13.JPGtankers and others responding to the strong demand of oil import from the Middle East.     Also, since the 1970s, NYK further diversified its business with beginning of LNG carriers and container ships business to promote the efficiency of NYK- Illust x10shipping services (for the example the container ship “Hakone Maru” built by Japan shipbuilder).
Of course, these are the general trends of shipping industry throughout Japan, but NYK played a leading role in this movement.

Meanwhile, the business of passenger liners was largely behind in comparison with Europe and the United States, but in this century, NYK- Maritime x19.JPGa luxury liner “Asuka II” was born by NYK, following the operation of the first “Asuka” in 1990s, it was beginning of challenges again in this field too. I was happened to observe the scale model of this “Asuka II” which was displayed even only for the promotion purpose in the Museum,Although it is still uncertain whether this cruise ship business can be successfully formed as lucrative business in Japan, but I felt the spirit of NYK is still in life there.


Last remark

NYK- Logo x01.JPG    Through this visit, I could slightly understand how the shipping industry had been deployed in Japan from the initialNYK- Ships x05.JPG period and how rapidly diversified its businesses to other areas like seeing in the NYK development, and could also find the origin of the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu which had started with shipping NYK- Illust x16.JPGbusiness in the early time of Meiji.
I felt that there are some implications in the exhibition how Japanese shipping industry, especially NYK, has evolved responding to the changes of Japanese economy and society there. I thought it was a valuable museum to know the development pattern of shipping industry in Japan as well as history of business conglomerate Zsaibatsu like Mitsubishi.

(Note) Because photographing of the exhibits in the Museum was forbidden, the pictures and photographs in the site have referred to the museum guide, pamphlets, photographs, various materials on the website.



  • 「日本郵船歴史博物館」 案内書 (日本郵船)
  • 「三菱の歩み」 三菱史料館
  • A brief history of Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Economic Research Institute)
  • 日本郵船歴史博物館HP:
  • 産業技術史資料共通データベース:
  • 日本の海運史(日本船主協会)
  • 近代日本の海運史を伝える ~日本郵船歴史博物館と日本郵船氷川丸〜(鈴木久美子)
  • 氷川丸 – Wikipedia
  • 浅間丸 – Wikipedia
  • 天洋丸級貨客船 – Wikipedia
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Visit Tokyo Waterworks Historical Museum

 —  Explore the water management and technology in Edo and Meiji period


Water M- illust 09.JPG     It would be easy to be able imagine that Edo city, where the population had Water M- overview 01.JPGalready surpassed the scale of a million in 19th century, couldn’t have kept the stable and feasible town life in the city, without enough supply system of usable water supply for the people.  The “Waterworks History Museum” in Tokyo described how these waterworks were constructed in the Edo period, and Water M- overview 04.JPGtried to show how these engineering technologies were passed on to the present water system with inherited technology. The museum also informed how waterworks have benefited to our social life, as well as the people’s wisdom to construct them. Under these understanding I visited this historic museum of waterworks in Tokyo recently. This is the record of my visit.

♣  Outline of Tokyo Waterworks History Museum

Water M- illust 03.JPG      “The Museum ” was established in 1995 in Hongo (Bunkyo ward, Water M- overview 05.JPGTokyo) for introducing 400 years’ development history of water supply system in Edo and Tokyo. The facility was inherited the former “Waterworks Reference Hall” at the “Yodobashi Water Purification Plant (1898) and it had passed on to “Water Supply Museum” in 1884. After that this museum was upgraded to the current “History Museum”. It made the major renewal renovation too in 2009.

Water M- Edo Johsui 12.JPGA variety of historic materials related water supply were displayed at the museum. For example, historic traits of Edo-Kanda “Josui” (waterway) in the 17th century, development trace of Tamagawa Waterway, uncovered sites of Water M- Edo Johsui 10.JPGunderground network system of “Water supply channel” in the city of Edo, evolution process to the “modern water service” after the Meiji era, way of securing water sources to the present age, historic evolution of water purification technology, and others. The many goods and materials is involved in the exhibition, like full size models of water channels and old documents of waterworks excavated and historical maps, chronology of development, dioramas and pictures, and so on. These exhibits are amazingly rich.

♣  History  of water supply  observed in Edo period

Water M- illust 12.JPGIt is said that the first construction of full-fledged water supply in Japan Water M- Meiji 11.JPGwas the Odawara Hayakawa Waterway” by Hojyo Ujiyasu in 1540s. After period in 1590s, Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo to build Edo Castle and began to develop surrounding towns. He had actively engaged in the construction works on the coastal reclamation (Hibiya inlet), opening of the moat, river refurbishment, including the completion works of water supply to serve people’s life in castle town Edo.

Water M- illust 13.JPG       Initially, Edo government planned to supply water by the Koishikawa waterway, but later this was upgraded to Kanda Josui Waterway. This waterway was using “Inokashira pond” as a water source, and made it going Water M- Edo Johsui 09.JPGthrough to “Sekiguchi-Mura”, then planned to lead to Mito daimyo’s residence, and it was channeled over the Kanda River by an overhead bridge “Kakehi”.  After that finally the water was managed to distribute to the downtown area in Edo city. This Kanda Josui Waterway Water M- Edo Johsui 05.JPGhad been constantly used in the Edo castle town until Meiji period.  So the Kakehi bridge was painted well by famous artists in the artistic Nishikie Paint (multi-color woodblock picture). (This picture is displayed in the Museum. This is an evidence that Kanda waterway site and the bridge were an enjoyable recreation site of local citizens, not only for the daily water use).  This water supply system seems to show the high-level technology at the time that was able to flow the water by siphon principle transcending the complicated topographic conditions.

<Kanda Josui to Tamagwa Josui>

Water M- Tamagawa 05.JPG       However, even after the “Kanda Josui Waterway” construction, the Water M- Tamagawa 06.JPGdemands of water were further multiplied due to the rapid population growth in the Edo town.  Then the Edo government was pressed to secure massive waterway responding these demands. As a counter measure Tokugawa government had chosen the“Tama river” as the additional water source, and the construction began under this idea.  The construction of “Tamagawa Josui Waterway” was Water M- Tamagawa 01.JPGlaunched in 1653 by amazingly a private contractor, named the Water M- Tamagawa 02.JPGShoemon and Seiemon, a ample rich farmer in the outskirt region of Edo city.

The project had been planned to construct the intake gate at the point of Hamura of Tama river which was far away from Edo town, and it had to excavate the waterway of 43 km to the “Yotsuya” in the central Edo city, all the way with overcoming compound topographical conditions. It can image the project was really challenging at the time under the short of enough construction equipment and technological barriers at that time.

Water M- Edo Johsui 14.JPG     This “Tamagawa Josui” was distributed through the underground water channels from Yotsuya area, and Water M- Edo Johsui 11.JPGafter that supplied as drinkable water through out of town in Edo city. In this network, many wood-made water pipes “Mokuhi” were embedded in underground, and the water was delivered every corner using these wooden pipes. The waterworks are boasted to be architected by quite high engineering skills in terms of its Water M- Edo Johsui 07.JPGprecision level which hardly seen even in the world. In addition, it is believed that the waterway had been distributed under the solid management that is controlling water volume by regulation and inspecting water quality at the several Water M- Edo Johsui 01.JPGdepts by the government. The water was delivered to the public wells in town and was shared among the residences neighbored. The water utility fees were calculated by used     volumes and defined by the government.

Water M- Tamagawa 03.JPGAlso, we have to remember fact that this Tamagawa waterways was used as the irrigation channels near the Edo regions as well, and they were used for the new development of paddy field under the Shogunate for expanding agricultural production and economic development too. (This situation is described well in the Museum)

<Edo Johsui’s prominent exhibition>

Water M- overview 02.JPG       At the museum, the real “Josui” water pipes and actual wells models, and the water distribution maps in the Edo period are Water M- illust 06.JPGdisplayed elaborately. These makes us realize the high waterway construction technology and sophisticated management system at that time. Because of these reasons, the Edo was able to grow till matured urban city which Water M- Edo Johsui 16was able to host a million of residences by securing enough living water.

Although it was not on the subject at the visited museum, it is known that the sewage system of the Edo period was also excellent. (I’d like to investigate this subject later if possible)       The water system of London and Paris is well known, but it can be say that the Edo case was seldom found even in Europe in this scale of water supply at the same period.


♣  Construction of modern waterworks in Meiji period

Water M- illust 01.JPG      However, as the Edo era end and the Shogunate administration shifted Water M- overview 06.JPGto Tokyo, the policy of waterworks has changed to new directions.  Since “Edo’s Water supply lines” were beginning deteriorated caused by degrading wooden water pipes and poor management under the Shogunate at the brink of collapse. Then, the epidemics, like cholera and other diseases, frequently occurred and the hygiene problem became serious in the beginning of Meiji.

Water M- illust 14.JPG    For this reason, the Meiji government was forced immediately to construct a new water system that can supply the high purified waterWater M- overview 03.JPG in massive scale. Then the government set up a revision committee on waterworks and decided to construct a modern water supply system by preparing the “Tokyo Prefectural Water Improvement Design Document” in 1877.

This measure was based on the concept that the tapped Water M- Meiji 04.JPGsource water in the river was led to the pant at the designated points, and filtered and pumped out through iron pipes to the modern public water ways in the city. This system became a norm of Tokyo modern water supply afterward. And while advancing the modern water supply this way, Tokyo prefecture was actively conducting repair work of securing safety of drinking water by Water M- Meiji 07.JPGrefining existing wooden pipes and canals, strengthening crackdown on water pollution.   Regarding planning and construction of this modern water way, UK’s engineers Palmer and Harton greatly contributed in Meiji Period by introduction of the advanced Western technology.
The plan was roughly designed like that. The water of Tamagawa river was led to the Water M- Meiji 01Sendagaya plant for sediment and filter process, then sent it to the water supply plant of Azabu and Koishikawa. From there water was pumped out to the city using iron pipes buried underground.

On the other hand, Nakajima Eiji, an engineer of Waterworks Improvement Office of Tokyo City, has greatly contributed for the implWater M- Meiji 05.JPGementation of plan and the revision of whole design of this project. So, the actual construction was launched by changing the route to the Yodobashi plant for water purification and designated Hongo and Ashiba plants for water supply and water distribution.
From this contribution, the portraits of both Water M- Meiji 12.JPGforeign engineers of UK and Nakajima are displayed in the museum as great contributors of modern water service in Tokyo.    In addition, the museum exhibits a variety of goods and materials, such as the water distribution maps of the time, the water iron pipes and various shape water taps as the monuments showing the development of modern water supply in Tokyo in the initial stage.

♣   Growing  megalopolis Tokyo and improvement of  water supply

Water M- overview 07.JPG      However, Tokyo, which became the metropolitan capital, couldn’t keep up with the huge demand of water if based on the previous facility because of rapid population growth. To deal with these problems, the “Murayama Reservoir” dam was Water M- Dam 01.JPGplanned to construct, in addition to the enhancement of capacity of the Sakai‘s water purification plant, expansion of the waterway and other projects around 1911. In implementation process of these, many obstacles and technological challenges were involved, but after the decades finally the projects were completed by overcoming these Water M- Meiji 06.JPGdifficulties step by step. The museum exhibits these evidences together with detailed explanations of engineering elaborations, and materials, real machinery and equipment  really used.

When we are looking into the long historic process though, the modern waterworks in Tokyo Water M- Dam 02.JPGhas suffered from the countless devastation due to the massive natural disasters and war damages, such as the Great Kanto Earthquake in the 1920s, the subsequent flooding, and calamity caused by the Pacific War of the 1940s, and others. However, in the course of overcoming these Water M- Meiji 13.JPGdifficulties, the civil engineering technology has amazingly advanced and water management was showing the outstanding achievement. For examples, the successful construction of the Ogochi dam, the completion of of Higashi-murayama water treatment plant, the installation of Water M- Meiji 10.JPGKanamachi water purification plant, the reinforcement of the Kinuta water purification plant, and so on.
Even after the War, several new projects and expansion plans were launched too, such as the construction of new water channel to intake water from the Tone River, the start operations of water purification Water M- Meiji 08.JPGplant at Asaka and Misato area, and enhancement of the Kanamachi water purification plant. They are still continuously working now with technological improvement.

And the Yodobashi water purification plant (established in 1898), which became the starting point of Tokyo’s modern water development, was relocated to Higashi-murayama in 1965 with the several Water M- Meiji 14.JPGscaled-up function added. The former Yodobashi site was redeveloped and transformed into the great urban center ” Tokyo’s Subcenter Shinjuku,” which is now fully filled with multi lines of high-rise buildings. This Yodobashi water purification plant is now renown as a certain monument which symbolizes the development of Water M- illust 02.JPGTokyo’s urban development itself. The part of building of the Yodobashi Purification Plant was exhibited in the museum as a museum monument, and it seems to silently describe the history of modern waterworks in Tokyo.

♣  Remarks after visit

Water M- illust 10.JPG      The most impressive things in my visit was the high level of civil Water M- illust 05.JPGengineering technology of the waterworks built in the Edo era and the well-organized  water supply systems at that time. And it was enjoyable to be able to see the historical process to build modern dynamic waterworks since the Meiji era. It is obvious that securing effective “water supply” is crucial for the metropolitan big cities and to keep the healthy and sound social life in the society. Water M- Meiji 15.JPGMoreover, the elaborate water network is indispensable to industrial development.   By visiting museum, I was able to deepen my knowledge about the water problems in history.
These days, there are many reports that numerous artifacts of the Edo period have been excavating at construction sites in Tokyo. These old artifacts would beWater M- overview 04 the evidence to show the situation of the community life and social systems, as well as the level of civil engineering technology at that time. (These excavations and artifacts are extensively exhibited at the museum.) The museum has also disclosed the fact that Edo was a really matured city which seldom seen in the world at the time of the 18th century. I can recognize how the water network has been evolved until now and what sorts of problems they are now facing too.   The museum was really an educational to know these history and reality.






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Visit Japan Stationary Museum in Tokyo

 - Explore the roots of writing and painting tools in history —

Bungu- illust x14.JPG     There’s interesting museum displaying stationery instruments inBungu- outline x01.JPG Asakusa-bashi, Tokyo, so I visited there recently in my curiosity. Name of this museum is “Japan Stationary Museum”, where the variety of historic goods for the business and educational use are collected and exhibited in global scale. This facility is proud of huge collection of ancient writing tools and its historic documents, such as variety of Chinese and Japanese brushes and ink-stones, precious pencils old and new, fountain pens, and others. We Bungu- outline x03.JPGcan also see the many type of calculators and typewriters there too.
It is a bit small and casual type of Bungu- illust x06.JPGmuseum, but I’m impressed that the contents of the collection are surprisingly excellent and superb. So these exhibitions could make us aware of how our species have been cultivating the technology of “Recording and Documenting” for expanding our social activities.
Here I summarized features of the museum, and briefly introduced the development of writing instruments in my view.

♣  Outline of Stationery Museum

Bungu- illust x03.JPG       The Museum was established in 1980 at the Yanagibashi, Bungu- outline x04.JPGs in Tokyo under the collaboration of the leading stationery production companies. And after opening it has expanded function in 2004 by adding the collections of former “Stationery Science Hall” which was located in Azabu, Tokyo.

Bungu- pen x2.JPG     The Museum exhibits precious historic instruments with extensive commentaries, such as ancient scripts (cuneiform) on the clay boards, old pens called stylus, medieval feather pens, in addition to the graphite writing instrument which became the original form of pencils. And as a rare collection, we can see the first pencils in Japan which introduced in Japan in 16th century and owned by Date Masamune and Tokugawa Ieyasu, aBungu- pencil x05.JPG famous historical figure in the medieval period of Japan. (The exhibits in the museum are unfortunately replicas though. The Ieyasu’s original on is treasured in Toshogu-Kunosan Shrine)

        It is also interesting to see the collections of traditional Chinese and Japanese old brushes and ink-stones. The exhibited these writing instruments are Bungu- illust x10.JPGimpressive. It is showing how they were historically changed and developed in the process. For example, evolvement of pencils, changes in ink pen and development of fountain pens, birth and development of felt pen and ballpoint as new writing tools, etc.Bungu- J brush x05.JPG

In addition to the writing instruments, they are showing transitions of typewriters and computing tools too as major exhibits. The visitors can notice there the traits of development from abacus, manual calculates to electric calculators, and the evolution of typewriters from manual to electric ones, and word processor and PC in the exhibition.


♣  Pencils and their evolution seen in the exhibition

Bungu- illust x15.JPG      The structure of modern pencils is said to consist of solidifying graphite (mass of Bungu- pencil x01.JPGcarbon) and a wooden shaft wrapped it. Before the pencil was born, people had used lead and coal for writing, and they were called the “lead brass” (lead pencil). This original form was invented in England in the 16th century, where the bare graphite crystals from the mice vein were used with simply wrapping them by threads or wires. In the medieval ages, stylus tool, reed pen, feather pen were Bungu- pencil x04.JPGcommonly used as writing tool, but because of its convenience the pencil writing has gradually spread and it became popular tools. Around this period, the Ieyasu’s pencil is said to be imported via the Netherlands.Bungu- pencil x03.JPG    Regarding the technical development of pencils, the invention of “Conte method” by a French painter, in which graphite is mixed in clay and baked at high temperature, is important. It is said that pencil industry was consolidated by this technology advancement and the mass production led by this method.

After that, the pencil was popularized as a convenient stationery tool in the world. Particularly the establishment of the stationery companies, like Tedlar and Farber in Germany, has reinforced this trend.

<Japan’s pencil collection>

 Bungu- pencil x09.JPG       In Japan, after the Meiji era, several companies, such as Mazaki Pencil (now Mitsubishi Pencil) and Tombo Pencil were established and contributed to the diffusion of writing tools particularly for the school education.
The Museum displays the abundant sample products of pencil with commentary on their Bungu- pencil x07.JPGdevelopment history as well as the manufacturing process of them. Then, the substantial knowledge on the pencils and other writing instruments could be available by visiting. And also the visitors could realize how variety and multiple purpose pencils are existed in the world.

♣  Chinese and Japanese Brush culture in the Exhibition

Bungu- illust x08.JPG       In Japan and China, brush and China-black ink have been widely used as essential instruments for writings and canvas paintings from the early Bungu- J brush x03.JPGtime. The origin wasn’t so clear, but some say it could be back to the fourth century BC in China, just before the Yin or Zhou period. In Japan, the oldest record of brush, named as “Tenpyo brush”, was used for copying Buddhist texts in the period of 7th century. This replica is Bungu- J brush x04.JPGexhibited in the museum. After that period, brush type of writing instrument has become widely spread for the purpose of writing letters, government instructions, documents, poet descriptions and other purposes. besides paintings.

Bungu- J brush x02.JPG     In the Edo period, even portable convenient writing tools “Yadate” which combines brush and ink as a set was invented for letter writing and other purposes on the road. The museum displays abundant “Yadate” collections which were used as popular writing Bungu- J brush x01tools as well as aesthetic ornaments at that time.
The exhibition of old inks tones is also superb and it seems that these should be prized as a preferable artistic goods in upper class society, not only as a mere writing tool.


♣  Pen’s history and exhibition of fountain pen in the Museum

Bungu- pen x1.JPG      The museum is proud of rich collection of historic writing tools “pen” too. It is known that feather pens were used as a writing tool for long time in Western Europe from the ancient period. But there was a drawback that its tip is easily wearing. For this reason, Bungu- pen x03.JPGthe development of durable tip using metal had been experimented for long time. In this process, the first metallic pen was created in the 1780s by adding crack on the metal tip. Then, in the 1800’s the full-fledged practical metal pens were finally born.

Bungu- pen x09.JPG      In the meantime, in 1809, UK’s Frederic B. Forsch invented a system to store ink in the pen’s body applying the air exchange function. This is the Bungu- pen x10.JPGorigin of so called “Fountain pen” and later this function became a license product which allowed to enter many manufacturers in this field.

During this period, Waterman launched the business in fountain pen in 1884, and Onto, Parker, Pelican, Mont Blanc, etc. were followed suite one after another.  These fountain pen manufacturers are still continuing their businesses until now as major stationery makers.
Bungu- pen x07.JPGAfter that, the refinement of ink, improvement of its suction, replenishment system, and other technology advancement have been continued.  As a result, now the fountain pen has become one of the most popular and major practical writing tools.

For the collection all in the museum, the feather pens, primitive metal pens, precious historic fountain pens and other collections were lined up on the display shelves with the real ones, replicas, and photographs. Then visitors can fully examine the development history of pen and fountain pen there.

<Japan’s fountain pen development>

  Bungu- illust x04.JPG     Bungu- pen x06.JPG The first introduction of fountain pen in Japan was in 1895 of Meiji period, when the Maruzen Co. imported several fountain pens for sale. Later, the domestic pen makers attempted to start the fountain making businesses. For example, Sailor in 1911, Pilot in 1916, Platina in 1919. It is interesting to see these sample of historic fountain pens made by Bungu- pen x05.JPGJapanese manufacturers and know the development of stationery companies of Japan in this field.
In addition, Japan’s original “Makie Fountain Pens” (aesthetic lacquer-coated fountain pen) as high-class preference goods were excellent exhibition too.


♣  Other office equipment and stationery exhibits

Bungu- calculator x02.JPGBungu- illust x17.JPG    Beside writing instruments, the museum displays computing tools, light printing machines, typewriters and other office instruments too. They exhibited various calculation tools, like Japanese and Chinese abacuses old and new, many types of calculators from manual to electric and digital ones, “Dentaku “calculators, and so on. We can understand well about transition of tools and machines used for essential means of science, technology and business of calculation.

<Development of unique Japanese typewriters>

        Typewriters are indispensable means for making documents in modern society, but Bungu- Typewriter x01.JPGin Japan they had to step on their own development way because they should handle more than 2000 Kanji characters. So, the unique Japanese typewriters were produced and used until the 1960s. This typewriter was the form of the “Flatly arranged Kanji-plate” typewriters. This was used until the “kana-kanji” Bungu- Typewriter x02.JPGconversion by PC was born in Japan. It is interesting that this original form of ” Kanji-plate” typewriters are displayed in parallel with many Western type typewriters. It seems these exhibitions are really making us feel how the evolution of office equipment were happened in the business scene.

<Other precious collection>

  Bungu- knife x01.JPG      The exhibition of the paper knife was also fun. Paper knife is said to be widely used in Europe and the United States, and it has been appreciated as a practical but artistic decoration tool. In the exhibition, numerous paper knives from all over the world are lining up on the shelf, and it is interesting that they are showing their own national characteristics.Bungu- casher x01.JPG

Visitors could also find some unusual exhibitions in the museum too. They are “super-large brush” made from 50 horse’s tail hair, a “cash register” in the Meiji era, Karakami woodblocks used in the Edo period, large crystal seals, gold seal imprints of King Alan King and others. These looked priceless collection to us.

♣  Remarks after the visit

Bungu- illust x05.JPG     Although it was a small museum which was built only by the Bungu- pen x02.JPGhand of the Association of Stationery Makers’, I’ve got impressed much about the collection which was excellent also very rich in contents.       It shows us how human being has developed writing instruments as the means of social communication and civilization in history.    I recalled that it was a valuable museum which makes us feel that “stationery” Bungu- illust x19is an important and indispensable tool for our society and promotion of culture, historically as well as practically.
The museum guide describes that the stationery, particularly writing instrument, is the “means to shape culture”. I was aware of it while visiting the museum.     I’d like to visit again with a new point of view in thinking “culture” of writing tools and other stationarys.



  • 三菱鉛筆HP
  • トンボ鉛筆HP


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Visit Paper Museum in Oji, Tokyo

A museum for deepening knowledge about paper’s culture

paper museum- Logo x01.JPG       Invention of paper and its development have greatly benefited to  thepaper museum- Hall x01.JPG society in its lifestyle and cultivated the new frontier of cultural evolution in history. There’s a museum to make us feel like that.  The “Paper Museum” in the Ohji district, Tokyo which established in 1998 is that.  I encountered the fortune vising this museum lately.
paper museum- history x01.JPG       This museum was describing the global history of paper with its socio-cultural impact, and evolution of Japan’s “Washi” paper and other interesting subjects, including  current trends of recent paper industry in Japan,  features of  papers used in our daily use.  Here’s the my impression of visit.


♣  Outline and significance of Museum Exhibition

paper museum- illust x15.JPGThe Museum is well noted for the rich collection of materials on thepaper museum- machine x03.JPG history of paper as well as exhibiting huge valuable paper products.
For example, aesthetic paper arts, historic paper-making machinery, raw materials and products, and documents on the present situation of modern paper industry are displayed. We can find there many exhibits showing the paper-making paper museum- illust x11.JPGmachines, the paper recycling system, and the variety type of paper products. There’s also a corner of “Classroom” to experiment the paper production process in practice. But the particular exhibits among them are on the history of paper development, especially the development of “Washi” paper (handmade paper in Japanese unique  way).paper museum- factory x01.JPG

The museum was originally called as “Papermaking Memorial Hall” by managed “Shoshi Co” (later Oji Paper Co., Ltd.) to exhibit historical materials on paper in the early Meiji era, and renovated to the current facility in 1998.

♣  Paper art collection at the entrance Exhibition hall

paper museum- illust x09       The first monument found in the hall is a portrait picture of “Prince paper museum- history x05.JPGShotoku “ who was believed to introduce the “paper” first to Japan in the Buddhist Sutras. This is a highly artistic painting depicted on the ultra-large size hand-made paper by a famous painter for the memorial to the Museum.
The other memorial goods in the hall is a “Boro Cooker” that is a kettle like pot used for boiling tattered paper museum- machine x04.JPGclothes as a raw material of in the beginning of Meiji period. This primitive device reminds us the days of dawn era of Japanese modern paper industry in the Meiji era.. The museum shop was also attractive place where we can see and buy various Origami (fold paper), paper crafts, paper dolls and other memorial goods.

♣  Corner of the modern paper industry and its products

paper museum- machine x05.JPG     In this corner, the paper manufacturing process, the current form of raw materials, the paper machines currently used, the paper forms in various purposes, the way of usageof paper, and other exhibits are introduced with paper museum- Recycle x03.JPGvarious physical objects, models, panels, and the like.
In refer to the paper making ways, the raw materials of modern paper were “rag cloth” or “wheat straw” in the infant period. But the materials have gradually shifted to the wood pulp for its mass production, and also moved from the pulp of coniferous trees to broad leaf trees. The paper museum- Raw M x01.JPGbackground was the rapidly increasing demand for papers as well as mechanization of paper making industry.

And the source of them have also changed from domestic woods to the imported ones as the times advancing. Furthermore it is said that paper museum- Recycle x02.JPGabout 60 paper museum- Logo illudt x01.JPGpercent of paper materials are said to be supplied by the recycled old paper now. This process is exhibited fully in the panels and the actual things including the indications of volume of production, the technology and machinery advancement, and their source materials.  So we can easily figure out of the practical advancement of the modern paper making industry in Japan.

paper museum- illust x18.JPG      However, the most interesting exhibits were the dynamicpaper museum- Peoducts x01 forms of paper products. There are variety of printing papers, multiple newspapers, colorful wrapping paper, cardboard, special “Paper Cloth” for ritual costumes, aesthetic skin paper of “golden peel paper”, IC board papers embedded for electronic equipment, and many others exhibited. It is really amazing how widely the paper are used as essential products for our social settings.


♣  “The history of paper and the world of Japanese “Washi”

paper museum- illust x12.JPG      In the history corner, the illustrative panels displayed lots on the paper paper museum- history x03.JPGhistory from the description of pre-paper period, the story of “birth of paper”, and the explanations about expanding routes and process of paper, and others, including the explanation how were the diffusion of “hand-made” paper-making technique paper museum- history x02.JPGand how that led to forming the modern paper industry.

In particular, they emphasized process how the technology of Japan’s “Wash” paper was cultivated in history, and how they were developed in Japan in the unique way, in addition to make paper museum- illust x08.JPGa comment on how the modern paper industry was established after the Meiji era by introducing Western modern paper-making technology.
paper museum- history x01       In the meantime, the historical exhibit on the record media of pre-paper period is interesting. It clearly shows the examples of primitive but sophisticated clay boards, wood chips or stone materials, etc. before the invention of paper. It indicates the subsequent paper museum- history x06.JPGprocess how these primitive tools were first used as writing materials, and then progressed to the Parchment and Papyrus in the oriental world, and gradually advancing to the genuine paper which was born in China and spread to the world.  It is also presented in the exhibition that the spread of these papers had given a great impact in the society, politics and culture since spreading in the form of Sutras, ordinances, paintings and letters in the history.

♣  Paper “Washi” development in Japan

paper museum- illust x17.JPG  It was believed that the “paper” was brought in Japan around in the 7th century of Ritsurye period. That time, the “paper making” waspaper museum- history x07.JPG made under the law, but its technology was gradually expanded in the following years and became popular goods around the country.  In the 10th century of Heian period, “Paper Workshop” (a kind of paper making technology center) was created, and manufacturing various decorative papers and paper museum- history x08.JPGpicture scrolls began to be manufacture in a large scale.
However, these papers were quite expensive at that time, so they were used only among the upper aristocrats or limited celebrities. But it had shown the situation that the paper was gradually spreading in the society.
Around the eleventh century of the Kamakura and Momoyama period, the technology of “Washi” production was advanced significantly, and many type paper museum- Washi x09.JPGof papers became produced just in the response to the rising demand for letters, document and records among ruling classes and merchants.
In addition, unique Washi paper was started producing in various places in Japan, and made many specialty products such as Mino Washi paper and Yoshino Washi paper as their local brands.
Further, in the Edo period, it advanced to the era of paper museum- Washi x08.JPGgeneralization of paper culture. Many clans encouraged the paper production as exclusively selected marketing products. And in the responding to the increase of production, the usage of paper had been expanded to cover the wide range of social commodities, such as wood-engraved printing paper, inexpensive disposal paper, paper fold “Chiyo-gami”paper, wrapping paper museum- Washi x10.JPGpaper, “Shoji” wall screen paper, as well as even for the umbrellas and rainwear too. Also, the demand of artistic paper materials was markedly rising, such as for the “Nishikie” printing paper, booklets of novel and drama, aesthetic paintings, and many others. So it can be imagine how the paper had become the essential goods to the daily life in that period.
paper museum- Washi x05.JPG       These products are exhibited in the museum as in the form of real goods, imitations, samples, as well as explanation panels, photographs, pictures.     And the exhibits there show the technology development in the manufacturing process too, particularly on the “Washi paper” and its variation of production methods.


♣  From traditional handmade Washi to modern paper making>

paper museum- illust x13.JPG     The exhibition of development process after Meiji era is also paper museum- history x09.JPGinteresting. The foundation of the modern paper industry in Japan was laid by a businessman Shibusawa Eiichi with the establishment of “Shoshi Kaisha” in Oji, Tokyo, where the Museum is now situated. Shibusawa was said to promote the papermaking industry for the paper museum- history x10.JPGsake of advancement of education and profusion of technology and social knowledge, and believed the production of the massive supply of the easy-to-print Western paper will be contributes a lot for them in the process of the Meiji modernization.
For the first time, the available raw materials were so limited that the first paper production was done by “Cotton Boro” (tattered old clothes) as raw materials. But when it came to near the 1890s, the materials were gradually shifted to paper museum- history x11.JPGwood pulp and the materials themselves upgraded and production scale became larger in scale.

Since then, the paper industries were dramatically grown through these transformations. As a result, the paper industry could make a great leap forward along the steep rise in social demand for the paper. So in the 1930s the production scale has reached one million tons in parallel with advanced paper museum- machine x02.JPGcountries. The paper making companies and their factories were also multiplied and expanded ubiquitously.
On the other hand, the production of Washi paper was declined in the following years, and the major players of paper production have completely shifted to the western type of print papers. Since then the production volume has accordingly also expanded.


♣   Newly development of paper industries after the War

paper museum- illust x05       However, in the Second World War in 1940s, many industrial facilities had been totally damaged and devastated across the countries, and the papermaking industries had also got catastrophic blows. Even in the serious situation, the recovery of the paper industry paper museum- machine x01.JPGhas been quick. Because the social demand for paper was quite strong even after the War, and the needs of printing papers were increased along the way of the economic recovery and beginning of economic grows. In addition, the paper industry has exerted significant innovation both in equipment and technology in this process. So the production is expanded not only on printing paper but also on cardboard and other various processed paper products.       In 1985, 20 million tons of paper could produce at this paper museum- Recycle x01time, and the industry itself was advancing to the huge business sector both in terms of economic and social scales.

The change of raw composition of material, the reformation of pulp making method, adoption of newly developed machines, and advancement of variety papermaking technology were contributed there much.


♣   Reviving traditional Washi making as a artistic works

paper museum- Washi x02.JPG      On the other hand, even in this trend of expansion of paper industry, Japan’s unique paper “Washi” production was drastically declined after the War. But, the “Washi” had been showing to revive and began to get a paper museum- Washi x06.JPGspotlight again as a retaining precious traditional industry. In addition, Washi is now beginning to be  notified as as materials for artworks, traditional calligraphy, culture paper museum- Washi x13.JPGtreasury and other fine arts.
In the museum, the movements of these twists and turns are persuasively displayed in the form of chronology, photographs, models, and other means in the museum.

♣  Memorial collection of the early time of papermaking industry

paper museum- illust x07.JPG       It is also impressive that the memorial monuments were quietly displayed in the paper museum- factory x02.JPGspecial zone in the museum in commemorating the rising period of the paper industry in the Meiji era. They are the precious remains, such as a watermarked gate of “Puppy Fabric” paper company (the first modern paper company of Japan) in the early Meiji Period, a lock gate monument of Emperor Meiji, a signboard of several paper companies existed at the time, and so on.

♣  Remarks after visit

paper museum- Washi x12.JPG      The Paper Museum of Oji was really impressive archive to give extensive knowledge about important rolls of paper in our society and paper museum- Peoducts x02.JPGits dynamic history of development. Since paper was invented in China before the BC, the paper had been spreading to the whole world in various forms, and finally transmitted to Japan around the 7th century. And after that period, Japan had exerted to develop various types of handmade papers “Washi” in its own initiatives using specific paper making technique.
And under this recognition, the museum explained much about the modern printing paper development in Japan, its technology advancement as well as evolvement of paper industry in history. So, the museum has taught us much about paper’s history as well as paper museum- Peoducts x01the way how they were utilized in our Japanese daily life and society.
Particularly, the interesting thing was that it showed us that the paper products was used not only for painting materials, but widely used for the daily necessities in our everyday life such as Shoji paper and sliding doors, lighting equipment, umbrellas and clothes. The museum has made me convinced these facts..




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Visit Yokosuka Ironwork & Shipbuilding sites

Footage of Technology Challenge in the 19 century of Japan and its destiny

Yokosuka- logo 05.JPGLast year, I’ve participated in a grand tour of the former ‘Yokosuka Yokosuka- Ironwork x01.JPGIronworks site in Yokohama. Currently the Yokosuka port are mostly devoted to the military facilities like SDFJ and US Navy base and dominantly designated as offsite area. But the former dock sites and harbor facilities of the “Yokosuka Ironworks” can be observable from the Yokosuka’s coastal park beyond over the sea. And the “Verny Memorial Museum” and other monuments are facilitated to record the history of the Yokosuka Ironworks in the park. Among them, the museum now exhibits Yokosuka- Museum x01.JPGof machinery and equipment which were used in the Yokosuka Ironworks to commemorate their historical activities.
They show the footage how Japan had been engaged in challenging work to master the modern technology in coping up with Western power at the end of the Tokugawa period and afterward.     This is a visit record at this time.

♣     Historic traits of the Yokosuka Steel Works

Yokosuka- Illust 02.JPGThe Yokosuka Ironworks is noted as the oldest shipyards in Japan constructed in 1865 of the Edo period. Since Admiral Perry arrived in Uraga of Edo bay, the Edo government was obsessed to build up Japan’s maritime defense forces for preparing against the Western military threats, especiallyYokosuka- Ironwork x02.JPG the strengthening naval power around the coast near the Edo castle was important. And the construction of shipyard had begun in this Yokosuka area. The strategic plan of Yokosuka Steel Works had started in the line of this policy. The building of Nirayama’s Reflection Furnace in Izu, and the construction of Daiba Fortress of the off-coast of Shinagawa, and others were also launched as parts of this maritime policy.

<Edo government’s initiatives to make up Ironwork and shipbuilding>

  Yokosuka- Illust 04.JPG     During this period, the Satsuma and Choshu clans of the Western Japan had beenYokosuka- Museum x09 approaching the UK to get their technology support, but the Edo Shogunate tried to contact to the France against these movements and wanted taking technology advantages in the ironworks and shipbuilding.
Then, Oguri Kozukenosuke, a Bureaucrat of Edo government, deal with the French minister, Roche, to be hiring a qualified engineer of shipbuilding. In this process a shipbuilding expert François L. Verny was designated as the executive manager in the project.
Afterward Verny had proceeded deep investigation around the Yokosuka bay area together with Oguri, and finally decided to set up an ironworks (shipyard) in this place because the water depth was being enough and the coastal lines are suitable for the building of port facilities.

<Meiji Government continued works and completed the Project>

However, the Edo government was collapsed in 1868 in the middle of construction of Yokosuka- logo 04the ironworks and the project itself had been forced to torn down. The even plan had been given up once under this political situation though, the Meiji government reaffirmed the importance of this steelworks, and the Yokosuka- Ironwork x03.JPGplan was handed over to the the new government.      Engineer Verny was requested to further stay in this position and continuously involved in the construction. Then, the ironwork facility was completed in 1871, the name has changed to Yokosuka Shipbuilding at that time though. The Yokosuka steelworks and shipbuilding operations started in this way. Now the iron works there was evaluated being greatly contributed to the later development of the Japanese shipbuilding and machine industry across the country.


♣   Significance of Yokosuka Ship & Ironworks

       The Yokosuka Ironworks was often cited as successful examples of establishment of various modern machines and facilities, such as, the construction and operation of the Yokosuka- Footage x01.JPGfirst stone dry dock in Japan, turbine production of the Aichi spinning station, Shinagawa lighthouse (the first lighthouse in Japan in 1870), construction of the Kannonzaki lighthouse, contribution to the establishment of the Tomioka Silk mill, and so on. Turbine Yokosuka- Footage x02.JPGturbines manufactured at this Yokosuka steelworks were also used in hydropower stations in various places in Meiji industrialization.
In addition, the establishment of many brick factories around Yokosuka ironworks have contributed to promote the Western architecture too, introduction of the metric system in the industries, etc. are also noted as business achievements related to modern industrial production system.

<Involvements of Yokosuka Shipbuilding in the Naval Power development>

Yokosuka- Illust 06.JPG      The Yokosuka Ironworks, which was established in this way, have headed to the construction of a large warship as a naval arsenal in its operation, and Yokosuka strengthened the characteristics of the naval base as the large scale military port, in parallel with Kure in Kobe, Nagasaki in Kyushu, and others.
Yokosuka- Museum x06.JPG     Main battleships built in this Yokosuka shipyard were included like Battlesh Seiki, Yamashiro, Mikasa, Mutsu, Cruiser Myoko, and others. They have exerted quite significant roles in the naval warfare of Nissin War (China Japan warfare), Nichiro War (Russia and Russia warfare), and even in the Pacific War.
Yokosuka- View 05.JPG       As such, the Yokosuka Iron Works has been transformed into the Japan’s main battle ship production sites and military port since Meiji era. Now it became major part of the US military bases.
So it might be possible to say that the history of the development of Yokosuka city, the port, and the Ironworks are well mirrored the evolution of machinery and shipbuilding industry and even the turbulent process of social and political changes of Japan.


♣   Views and heritages of Yokosuka’s port park

The “Verny Park” was founded as a symbol of Yokosuka in 2001 and now it is a good Yokosuka- View 11place for sightseeing and  relaxation of local citizens. From the park, people can view the dock facilities of the Yokosuka shipbuilding operating since Meiji period, the the MSDF and US military base over the sea. In the park area,there are also the half-length statues of Oguri and Verny who led the construction of Yokosuka steelworks, theYokosuka- Park 02 former quayside gatehouse of the Japanese Imperial Navy in 1930s, the large cannon used at the battleship Mutsu, and various relics of the former Japanese Navy facilities. In addition, the park has prepared a guide board of the Yokosuka steelworks to indicate how the shipbuilding and steelworks had been Yokosuka- Museum x07operated.  But, as a main feature, the particularly eye-catching thing in the park is the “Verny Memorial museum ” that commemorates Verny’s engineering achievement.
The museum is made with the steep sloping roof, stone walls and small windows, chimneys sticking out on the roof. So the building holds the characteristics of  Fabritany district in France where Verny was grown up. It might show the deep respect to the attainment and his personality of Verny by the Yokohama citizen.

♣   Exhibition of Verny Memorial Hall

Yokosuka- logo 02     The Verny Memorial Museum is a facility established in 2002 in order to honor the accomplishment of French engineer François VernyYokosuka- Museum x02 who led the construction of the Yokosuka Ironworks from the end of the Tokugawa period..

The museum exhibits the illustrations showing progress of the construction of Yokosuka Ironworks, the situation of the manufacturing site, in addition to the annual records of Verny and Oguri, as well as the documents of historical heritage of Yokosuka.
But the main exhibit would be a large Steam Hammer Yokosuka- Museum x04which imported from the Netherlands in 1865, brought in just before the collapse of Edo government. A steam hammer is a machine tool that forges a heated metal by steam power, and this is regarded as a machine whichYokosuka- Museum x03 practically used for the first time in Japan. This is evaluated as a valuable machine tool to show the steelmaking process and machine making activities at that time. The machine is now designated as a national important cultural  property of Japan.

Several parts and tools of the Gantrek Yokosuka- Museum x05crane which deployed for lifting large iron equipment at Yokosuka Shipbuilding were also displayed.

Besides, the museum displays the scale model of steam hammer power in order to picturize the way of operation, and the equipment and materials actually used at the Yokosuka mills, as well as the warship Mutsu model as an example of the significant battleship produced in Yokosuka navy shipbuilding works.

♣   Remarks after the visit

Yokosuka- Illust 01      Thanks to the visit Yokosuka, particularly the Verny memorial museum visit have yield me a valuable knowledge how the Japanese shipbuilding and machinery technology were evolved from the end of the Tokugawa period to the Meiji era.Yokosuka- View 04

The Yokosuka Ironworks began since the Tokugawa government had been growing by the hands of the Meiji government, and it enhanced the function as a major Navy Arsenal in the subsequent years and several decades afterward in Showa. Then, currently Yokosuka is frequently highlighted and referred as the large presence of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet and the bases of the MSDF of Japan. And the military-related institutions are prevailing around the region as the naval Yokosuka- View 07port from the prewar to now.

However, it can be said that the role played by the Yokosuka Steel Works, had also been functioned greatly in the technical development of the non-military field business sector too, especially during the early industrial modernization process,
In the Meiji era, the Tomioka Silk mill and the designing of the spinning factory, the production of the power source equipment, the development of machine and Yokosuka- Illust 03shipbuilding industry, the introduction of the modern factory system, etc. were believed to be produced by the Yokosuka Steel Workshop. It was said that even the cars of Nissan Oppama factory located in Yokosuka are also being exported currently from Yokosuka Port.     This visit was a valuable experience for me to know an episode about the Yokosuka’s ironworks, Japan’s industrial history, as well as turbulent history of Japan since the arrival of Perry in Edo era, toward the Meiji and the Showa’s war time and now.



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