Visit a historical Heritage in Mietsu, Saga

Historical Heritage of the Mietsu Navy Site in Saga, Kyushu

-= Challenges of modern shipbuilding by the local clan under the feudal Edo

 ♣  Outline of Mietsu shipbuilding heritage 

Mietsu- Illust x01In Saga prefecture in Kyushu, there’s the famous historical heritage  of Mietsu- Outlook x01navy facility,  named “Mietsu Kaigunnsho” (Navy Training Site in Mietsu).  This heritage was later designated as a World Industrial Heritage.  I could happen to visit this heritage of Saga in my travel to Kyushu.  The Site was constructed for building up Mietsu- Outlook x05military vessels and conducting naval training by the Saga Han (Feudal local clan) in the Tokugawa period (in the end of 19c). This report is a small visit note of my visit



<Saga’s Development Challenge of Shipbuilding>

The Saga Han, and its Daimyo Nabeshima Naomasa,  was well known as one of the  enlightened feudal land lord Mietsu- castle x01who was actively working  introducing  modern science and technology from the early time of his rule, even under the seclusion of Japan at that time. Mietsu- Old x01So this heritage was a precious evidence being able to  trace the technical challenge of the local government Han in the Edo period. Eventually this navy site got  successful to build the Western steamships and to construct modern docks  in this Mietsu, Saga, by Saga clan’s local initiatives.

Mietsu- Nagasaki x01.JPG       In the meantime, around that period, Tokugawa Shogunate (Edo government) had been engaging the strong policy to  counter the threat from Western naval power by building own battleships and conducting naval training in several strategic points. Mietsu- Ex Board x02.JPGThe “Nagasaki Navy Training Institute” was major one for this purposes. And they had nurtured a bunch of naval engineers and talents there. However, it was closed soon because of the financial reasons. Then the Saga Han had created its similar facility in the Mietsu district by themselves, and began the “Naval Training” independently by their own initiatives, because they felt the direct threat from the foreign naval power and it required to cope with them.

 ♣   Mietsu Navy Training Site and Sano’s Memorial Hall

Mietsu- ruins x01        The local government and academic circles, which have recognized the historical importance of this navy site, have launched the investigation on the footage of the Mietsu Navy Training Site (Mietsu NTS) in 1990s. Then they found the several remaining relics at the site of Mietsu recently, such as ruins of shipment lodges, sailing training spots, ship buildings, and Mietsu- Ex Board x07.JPGrepairing facilities. Among them, the relics of dry dock in the premises was highly valuated  as the first modern ship’s dry dock constructed in Japan. People could observe the clear trails there how energetically Japan, even the local government, had been challenging to develop shipbuilding technology by using the traditional craftsmanship combined with the Western modern technology when facing the foreign military threat.

Any ways, this historic site was begun to excavate since the 2000s while the local government Saga was hoping the nomination of “World Heritage” of Unesco. And it was Mietsu- Outlook x04decided to become a historic park in order to memorialize the old time endeavors of Saga clan.

However, when people visit the the site now, unfortunately they couldn’t see much of the visible appearance of the relics, except of the several scattering stone marks in the grassy field, which is associated with the iron furnaces, training stations, repairing sites, mooring places, and others. Mietsu- dock x01They seem to be the only remaining proof which certificates the old working sites there. Of course, there were a number of explanatory boards facilitated on the remaining ruins here  in the site including dry dock though.

As a matter of facts, these environments might be inevitable if it considers the preservation of historical heritages like these. Mietsu- Ex Board x06.JPGThe restoration of the Mietsu NTS, particularly the sites of the dry dock was quite hard to deal with them, because they were made of wood, and easily damaged if expose them to the open air. Then, the heritage sites had been buried back under the ground in order to protect them. It is a pity for the visitors, but it might be the fate of the historical remains like this .

Instead, the artifacts and reproduction pictures as the result of excavation are displayed in the Mietsu- Outlook x02“Sano Tsunetami Memorial Hall” located nearby the Mietsu NTS . So the whole figures of the “Naval Training and Shipbuilding sites” can be examined by these. Also,  a kind of CGI scope was prepared there for visitors to inspect the former figures of the site by 3D’s live figures.


 ♣  Historical significance of Mie-tsu Navy ruins

Mietsu- Ex Board x01        Meantime,  this Mietsu Naval Relics are regarded as a valuable evidence to illustrate the development process of shipbuilding technology of Japan from the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Meiji Period. Firstly it shows the footage of construction process of the large style vessels by Mietsu- ship x01combining the techniques of traditional Japanese shipbuilding methods and Western technology, and for the second, it was indicating the existence of highly level of technique in Japan’s engineer which built up steamships for the first time in Japan under the limited resources and short knowledge about the modern shipbuilding techniques. It can be well recognized, more than anything, in the several remaining  “Repairing and Production sites” found around the dry dock compound .

Mietsu- Tools x03.JPG       At the production site, many fractured bricks of rectangular furnace, crucible furnace, casting place were found by the excavation of the academic teams, in addition to the lots of components made by iron and copper alloy, like the iron bonding rivet used for assembling boiler and others. These were never found anywhere in Japan before. It was believed that  the extremely high skill for its production, and well organized material control method required to crimp the red heated rivets on to the curved iron plate in a short time.

Mietsu- person x03.JPG       In these works, Tanaka Hisashige and other talented engineers, who had been Mietsu- Old x02invited by Saga Han, were actively involved, and they had been working at the so called “Seirenngata” (Science and Technology Institute of Saga in the Edo period). Along with this lices,  Japan’s first steamship “Ryo-Fu maru” was completed by facilitating the unique boilers made of Saga in the end of Edo period.

Mietsu- ship x02       In addition, the Mietsu NTS is listed as the existing oldest dry dock in Japan which was used for restoring the large Western ships by Saga clan. In this dry dock, structurally the wooden frame staircase was used, and huge numbers of shells were placed on the bottoms  to protect the dry dock.

Additionally, whereas the dock of Mietsu- dock x02”Yokosuka Steel Works was constructed under the hand of foreign engineers, but this dock was designed and built by Japanese engineers using only its own ingenuity.  So it is the unique facility never being observable in the other docks in this meaning. It is considered that the wisdom and ingenuity of engaged engineers who developed new technology were shown there.

Mietsu- Expo x01.JPG    It would be significant that the Saga clan, which was just a local force, but how could accomplish such a great works by overcoming many technical barriers. And it is surprising too how they could mobilize numerous technicians in the last days of Edo period. We have to astonish the engineering power and outstanding leadership of Saga’s government at that time.

 ♣  Sano Tsuenetami’s accomplishment and his  Memorial Museum

Mietsu- person x02.JPG      While the archaeological excavation of the “Mietsu NTS “ was proceeding, the “Sano Tsunetani Memorial Hall” was constructed in Mietsu- exhibit x03.JPG2004 to introduce the Mietsu’s significance as historical heritages and the great role of Sano in associated with the construction of the naval base.

In this memorial hall, a number of relics and materials are stocked and displayed which had been excavated from the Naval site. There, the three-dimensional models, the space-time Mietsu- person x05.JPGchronology, the dome theater, etc. are facilitated to convey the history of naval center. And particularly the Hall is playing the role of information spot for the Mietsu heritage after the designation of ” World Heritage” in 2015.

Sano Tsunetami known as a head of management staff of this naval facility in the Edo era, so, the Hall also exhibits the materials which show his yearly notes, memorabilia and others related the Mietsu NTS and his pioneering works of scientific and various social activities.

Mietsu- person x04.JPGAccording to the explanation, Sano learned “Ranagaku” and “Western Medication”Mietsu- Ragaku x01.JPGdeeply from the the master piece of Ogata Koan and Ito Genboku in Edo and Osaka after finishing his study at the Saga’s “Kodokan” school in his young age. And then Sano was ordered to back to Saga to take post of head of “Seirengata” institute (Saga’s science institute) by Saga’s Daimyo Nabeshima Naomasa.

Mietsu- person x01.JPGThere, he contributed much to the advancement of modernization of military and development of industries in Saga, such as the construction of Reflectance Furnace at Tsukiji, completion of steam engine model, Mietsu- Furance x01.JPGbuilding of Western large vessels, etc. with the collaboration from the great Edo’s engineers like Tanaka Hisashige (Later become a founder of Toshiba in Meiji), Nakamura and other figures.

Sano was also assigned to the leader at the Mietsu NTS and directed the operations of shipbuilding there. The steamship “Ryofu-maru” constructed in 1865 as a first large steam ship  in Japan by his hand.       In addition, Sano had participated to the Paris Mietsu- Expo x03.JPGExpo in 1867 as a representative of the Saga Han clan in the end of the Tokugawa period, and after Meiji, he was even assigned to take a leading figure at the first held domestic Expo in Japan.

However, his greatest achievement would be the establishment of the “Japanese Red Cross Society” (the original name is “Hakuaisha”) in the early Meiji Era.     Therefore, Sano’s great achievements would be the introduction of “Benevolence” , a global  humanistic ethics, to Japan and promoted the modernization of society as a whole, not only introducing modern technology.

In my understanding, “Sano Memorial Hall” is a valuable museum to acknowledge about the Japan’s initiatives to promote the social and science modernization even under the reclusive Edo period.

 ♣  Last remark

I’ve had a lot of opportunities to visit Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, Nagasaki and Mietsu- Expo x02.JPGKumamoto, and Kagoshima of Kyushu region, but I haven’t been  in Saga for the long time. But I found this time that it is an unique and amazing place worth to visit.
Although Saga played an important role in politics, economics Mietsu- exhibit x02.JPGand society from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji era, but it looked somewhat inconspicuous about its role in history so far. However, through this visit, I realized strongly the fact that Saga had played the outstanding pioneering works in modernizing Japanese society.

Mietsu- person x06.JPG        In particular, it should be noted that under the isolation and feudal system, many pioneering works were tested and done in association of the absorption of Western industrial technology, including shipbuilding, steelmaking, business promotion, social modernization and many others. Even in terms of human resources, significant figures such as Okuma Shigenobu, Fukushima Shiomi, Sano Shizunaku, Eto Shinpei have contribute greatly to build foundation of society after the Meiji era. Mietsu- Outlook x03.JPG
In particular, Sano played important role in the “Seirenngata” science institute,  the innovative activity in the Mietsu NTS, Expo project, social activity like foundation of the Red Cross Japan, and so on. Through visit the Mietsu Navy Training Station and the Sano Memorial Hall, I reminded again of the great role of Saga for modernizing society and science, and social dynamism in the infant period of Japan.




  1. 三重津世界遺産HP
  2. 三重津世界遺産HP History ;
  3. 佐賀・精錬方HP:
  4. 佐野常民博物館
  5. 佐野常民記念館パンフレット
  6. 佐賀城本丸歴史館パンフレット
  7. 「佐賀の幕末維新八賢人」佐賀歴史館刊
  8. 「佐野常民―佐賀偉人伝」佐賀歴史館刊
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Visit artistic Kawashima Textile Museum

– Find the culmination of weaving technology of art there

kawashima- Logo x01.JPG       Kawashima Textile (currently Kawashima Selkon Textiles) is a Kawashima- Museum-x02.JPGlegendary Nishijin textile companies in Kyoto. This Kawashima established an artistic museum in 1990s, named “Textile Museum”, to explore the new form of weaving technology and to disseminate Japanese traditional textile-making craftsmanship in the world. The Museum now exhibits various historical fabric works in Japan as Kawashima- Tsuzure -x01.JPGwell as variety of textile products around the world. Especially, the exhibition of fine artistic woven textiles are glorious. I had a chance to stop by this museum and could observe its wonderful collections while traveling in Kyoto. I found there amazing fusion of modern textile industry and traditional artistic woven works which crystalized into the aesthetics world.  This is a description of this visit.


川島織物文化館 (Kasahima Memorial Hall) Home Page:Kawashima- Museum-x03.JPG


♠  What’s Kawashima Textile in history

Today, “Kawashima Co.” is known as a total textile manufacturer which is Kawashima- Jinbehe x01.JPGproducing room curtains, theater backdrop, car seats, etc. not only Kawashima- Jinbehe x04.JPGJapanese Kimono. But, the history of Kawashima Textile is quite long and it could traced back to 1843 when the Kawashima Jinbehe opened a kimono shop “Umedaya” at Nishijin area in Kyoto. After that, Jinbehe Jr. (Second Kawashima) established “Kawashima Weaving Company” in 1887. There, he challenged to produce a new interior decoration works using traditional woven cloths, especially for the Western style wall decoration “tapestry”.

Kawashima- Jinbehe x02.JPG     Among them, the wall fabrics with sophisticated making of the decoration for the German Imperial Room, and Emperor Meiji’s New Palace interior decorations are quite significant and these works builtKawashima- Deco room x04.JPG the foundation of company as an establishing company. Also, the company successfully gained reputation by producing Japanese style interior decoration for the authentic room art of “Jakuchu no Ma” ( a famous Edo painter of Jakuchu’s picture room) at the Expo of St. Louis in 1904).

<Nishijin’s  turbulence history>

Meanwhile when Looks back to the textile development history, the Kawashima- Obi x01.JPGformally traditional Nishijin industry in Kyoto had been greatly flourished during the Edo period, but, since the end of the Tokugawa period, the expensive Nishijin Kawashima- works x02.JPGtextile products was declined and lose market caused by the fall of affordable Kyoto’s wealthy class. Under these circumstances, Kawashima visited Lyon, the center of the French textile industry at that time, in order to find the way of new modern textile industry. It seemed that they tried to explore the new sphere of Nishijin waving technology, particularly by focusing on the pattern weaving technique developed by Jacquard looms.

<Challenges of Kawashima Jinbehe>

        Kawashima Jinbehe (second) paid attention to the Goran woven products used for Kawashima- works x01.JPGtapestries at that time. He thought that if they applied the “Tsuzuri-ori” weaving technology which had been developed in Japan, applied it to Golan weaving Kawashima- Tsuzure -x12.JPGtechnology of Europe for the tapestry, then Japanese professional craftsman was surely able to produce a competitive interior decorative s tapestry fabric using silk threads.

<Epoch-making Tsuzre-nishiki Ori and Hibo Kannon>

Kawashima- Museum-x01.JPG        Based on this idea, in 1889, “Kawashima Textile Reference Center” was established in northern Kyoto and started the research work on the full-fledged “Tsuzre-nishiki Ori” weaving methods. (This research facility has been upgraded to the “Kawashima Textile Museum” kawashima- Kannon x03.JPGseveral decades later). Here, Kawashima first opened the new ground of artistic woven fabrics by upgrading Japanese textile technology with “Warimoku” (stereoscopically expressing weave with blur) and cultivating other methods. As its final achievement was come when the company gained the worldwide reputation by presenting a woven works at  the Paris Expo, named “Hibo Kannon”(Mercy Mother Bodhisattva)“which was faithfully simulated fabric of notable painter’s “Kano Hogai” painting.(see picture)

<Technology transfer to the next generation>

kawashima- Logo x03.JPG        Kawashima Textile is said to be designated as a prominent company which effectively blends the traditional Japanese textile industries with artistic cultural world, and also the company built the Kawashima- illust x07.JPGfoundation of interior fabrics of western-style (such as tapestry) in the early time of Japan with fine artistic technology. So “Kawashima Textile Museum” would be one of the most precious facilities in Japan to show the artistic and the historical achievement of textile technology.

Kawashima- illust x02.JPG       In addition, Kawashima has established the “Central Technology and Cultural Center” near the Museum. Many R&D institutes were situated like Kawashima’s textile research function, traditional hand-woven workshop, modern machinery weaving factory, and others. The Kawashima Textile School and Kawashima Maestro School is also installed there to educate young people.

 Exhibition of Kawashima Textile Museum

The Museum has collected tens of thousands of textile products describing Kawashima- Old x04.JPGdevelopment history of textile culture in the world, such as ancient fabric clippings, China’s woven cloths, Coptic textile pieces, various costume goods, and others. Among others they store over eighty thousand kawashima- Kimono x01pieces of Japanese textiles from ancient times, hundred thousands of world fabrics, woven ornamental paintings and sketches, and designated as one of the Japanese textile research center, particularly on the artistic textile technology.

<Artistic exhibits of products of Tsuzure-nishiki >

The exhibits are arranged along the line of historical order and artistic category, so visitors well understood the background of artistic textile technology and the meaning of their cultural bases by observing collection.

Kawashima- Tsuzure -x01.JPG      The exhibition is roughly displaying following order, like “Mai” (Ancient dance picture) series, Kawashima’s Meiji period works, decorative tapestry work, Japanese Kimono & “Obi” (Japanese waist belt) works, and world textile world.Kawashima- Tsuzure -x03.JPG

The first “Mai” products are a group of woven works of describing the scene of “Bugaku” dance that was usually performed on the occasion of rituals and festivals from old days. They are artistic products processed by the fine combination of threads woven vertically and horizontally. These are the weaving products to illustrate precise appearance with the original artistic painting.

<Kawashima’s memorial products>

Kawashima- Tsuzure -x10.JPG

Kawashima- Deco room x03.JPG        The “Meiji fabric” of the second exhibition is the woven design works of designed with flower and bird motifs that had been ardently produced in the Meiji period. The flower and bird design was known as the most favorite theme of Kawashima in the initial time of the company, and the series of products were highly appreciated around the world. Among the collections, the magnificent works which were ordered by the Russian Prince Nikolai (Nikolai II) are included.

<Modern art of tapestry>

Kawashima- Tsuzure -x05.JPG        The third exhibition is the works of wall-hung tapestry for indoor decoration, which is mostly the new modern design ones in the late Showa period. Many wall-hanging fabrics drawing abstract paintings are displayed there, such as saddle-walled hangings named “Blowing Wind” (1973) and “Birth of the Universe” (1986), and Kawashima- illust x01.JPGothers.  All of them were wonderful designed fabric works with full of artistry.
(Unfortunately, photography in the museum was not allowed, so I cited the most pictures from the images in the available pamphlets and others sources).

Besides these works the Museum also tries to exhibit the historical records and documents which is indicating the development history of weaving technology from Meiji to Showa period, as well as the production and interior decoration pictures produced by Kawashima

Kawashima- Tsuzure -x04  Kawashima- Tsuzure -x06.JPG

<Technology of Tsuzure-nishiki > 

Inside the hall, the special corner is provided to introduce the peculiar technology of Kawashima- illust x06.JPGKawashima- Tsuzure -x08.JPG“spinning and weaving” developed by Kawashima and shows actual weaving process by video, so visitors is able to learn the history and development background of artistic woven fabrics from them.

It is remarkable exhibition, in every sense, that makes Kawashima- Tsuzure -x09.JPGvisualize the technology advancement of woven products from simple clothes of Kimono to expand to the world of room interior decoration, and enhances “weaving products” as a painting art works applied Japanese traditional woven technique.

♠  After visit

To be honest, it was my second time to visit this Kawashima Textile Museum here. kawashima- Kannon x02.JPGKawashima- Tsuzure -x02In the 1990s, I had visited there once accompanied with overseas students and trainees to introduce Japanese traditional textile industry. I still remember that I was impressed to see the fabrics being transformed into the fine artistic paintings with sophisticated designs at that time though I knew a bit about the Nishijin textile technology in Kyoto, of course. Particularly, I was amazed with the work of “Mercy Kannon” that was displayed in the front wall of the museum hall. When I visited, I couldn’t see this artistic product because it had already gone to other museums, but I could confess that I was deeply moved by observing many other artistic collections this time again.

Honestly I’ve satisfied I could touch a little about the footprints of Kawashima’s fabric development during the Meiji modernization processes, which seemed to add new values to the “textile” by fusing traditional handcraft work of        Japanese Nishijin with modern textile industrial technology, It was really impressive experience for me.



  1. 川島織物文化館パンフレット
  2. 「美の体現 技の系譜」(川島織物文化館刊)
  3. {建築を飾るテキスタイル}(川島織物文化館刊)
  4. 川島織物文化館 (Kasahima Textle Museum) Home Page:
  1. 西陣織とは(西陣織工業組合)
  2. 川島テキスタイル・スクール




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Visit the Shimazu Memorial Hall in Kyoto

Explore the roots of Shimazu which cradled a Nobel laureate engineer

Visit Shimazu: overview

Shimazu- Illust x04.JPG        The Shimazu Co. is a legendary science equipment manufacturer in Shimazu- Hall x01.JPGKyoto, and  famous to rear a Nobel laureate engineer. This Shimazu set up the Shimadzu Foundation Memorial Hall in 1975 commemorating its 100th anniversary.

I had a chance to visit this museum while shimazu- diisplay x06.JPGtraveling in Kyoto last month. The museum has provided many valuable exhibits of epoch-making products of company and memorable pictures with interesting episodes, particularly, focusing the stories about its founding period. I’ve enjoyed very much of visiting. This is a short description at this time.

 Shimadzu Foundation Memorial Hall HP:

 ♣ Significance of Shimazu Co. and its foundation

<Origin of Shimazu company>

Shimazu- Genzo x01.JPG       The Shimazu Co. was founded in 1875 by Genzo Shimazu, who was Shimazu- Hall x03.JPGborn in the local shop selling Buddhist goods. According to the museum, Genzo was showing curiosity on the scientific subject from his childhood, and captivated by physics and chemistry as he was growing. And, in his youth age, he decided to work for “Seimi-Kyoku” (Industrial Training House) which had newly established in Kyoto, as a junior training Shimazu- Book x01.JPGstaff. A couple of years later, he launched a repair workshop of mechanics and equipment imported from abroad. And during this period, he successfully completed a lengthy science equipment list “” Equipment Inventory Table of Rika” for the first time in Japan.shimazu- Device x11.JPG

This was the start of challenging work of him in the field of science education equipment producer. Then, Shimazu Co. was formally established in 1895. The first business was to offer the science education tools named “Specimen project”. And even today the Specimen Work is maintained and developed as one of the business pillars in Shimazu with large scale.

<Next business opportunity “Balloon Project”>

The other development chance emerged when the Kyoto governor asked Genzo to Shimazu- Balloon x01.JPGmake up a huge helium balloon for the Kyoto’s memorial event in 1877.  Genzo had achieved brilliant success in this work based by only his primitive Shimazu- Illust x01.JPGexperience and a pictorial outline of the balloon. It is said that this launching of balloon had got magnificent success and appreciated much by Kyoto people. This event really exalted the name of Shimazu and broadened his business field.       In the Memorial Hall, the pictures depicting this moment of balloon launching is displayed in large as a highlight of its exhibition. (I have happened observing the “balloon launching picture” being posted at Kyoto Station as a symbolic advertisement of the Shimadzu Co.)

<Starting battery business of Second generation of Shimazu>

Shimazu- Genzo x02.JPG     After Genzo was gone, the second generation of Shimazu, actually shimazu- Device x04.JPGnamed Genzo Jr., became responsible to continue in business. And Genzo Jr. was trying to endeavor into the electric manufacturing business along with keeping original works. Then he cultivated the storage batteries technology based on the “Readily reactive lead powder production method” and could win the own patent by them. In 1897, the company completed the production of “Lead Shimazu- Illust x14.JPGtype acid battery” (the beginning of industrial production of accumulator batteries in Japan). That led the foundation of “Japan Battery Co.” which produces “GS Brand Battery” (naming after Genzo Shimazu) and became later developing to the current GS Yuasa Co. in the coming years.

<Development of Genzo Jr.’s X-Ray equipment>

Another business that Genzo Jr. initiated was a project of the development of X-Ray Shimazu- X-Ray 01.JPGshimazu- Device x06.JPGequipment. It was the challenging project which had tackled after the only two years of the X-ray’s discovery by Roentgen. But Shimazu successfully accomplished an educational X-ray model in 1897 even though level was still primitive one. In 1909, he also published a medical X-ray device, “New Aurora”, which was the first Japan’s Shimazu- X-Ray 03.JPGdomestic medical product. This equipment was widely adopted in medical world in Japan. The reproduction model of the original X-ray equipment is now displayed in the museum.

shimazu- Doll x03.JPG     The company also launched the fiber-made human doll project as a Shimazu’s peculiar business, such as producing fashion mannequins (Shimadzu mannequin) and human body structure models (Human Anatomical Model 1911) for the medical education purposes.  This project was later handed over to the “Kyoto Science Co” as a Shimazu’s subsidiary compny.

<Further advancement of Shimazu as medical precision equipment>

shimazu- diisplay x04      After the Genzo Jr.’s period, the business ofShimazu- Illust x06.JPG Shimadzu was expanded broadly towards the more modernized mechanical equipment field. Then the company developed spectroscopic equipment in 1934, Japan’s first electron microscope in 1947, the “Gastromatograph” shimazu- Device x08.JPGin 1967, and bio-magnetic measuring equipment in 1995. In this way, Shimazu has gradually established its solid and strong business base in the field of medical inspection equipment, industrial machinery and so on, as a leading figure.       These series results of development are shown well in the exhibition in the the chronologypanel and real goods, models and others.

<Epoch making Tanaka’s Novel Prize>

shimazu^ Novel x02.JPG       Among others, the epoch making for the company Shimazu- Tanaka x01.JPGwould be the event regarding the winning of the Nobel Prize in the field of chemistry by Koichi Tanaka (a senior engineer of Shimazu) in 2002. The prize was awarded to the successful discovery and exploring “Mass spectrometry Ionization Method” developed by him. This honorable scene of award is explicitly displayed in the exhibition.

♣ Various exhibition of the memorial Hall

Shimazu- Illust x09.JPG       Many medical equipment, experimental tools, scientific specimens, etc. are abundantly displayed in the Shimazu’s memorial Hall. Particularly, it focuses on the works of initial period. By looking at these exhibits, we can address the significant traits of R&D initiatives in the medical equipment technology performed by Shimazu.

<Exhibition of the initial products of Shimazu>

shimazu- Device x05.JPG        The first objects we might be caught eyes in the exhibition were specimens and experimental tools for the scientific education whichshimazu- Device x09.JPG had produced in the period of the Genzo Shimazu’s initiatives.  There found various products such as ‘Stroboscope’, ‘3-D entity mirror’, ‘Sphere collision testing machine’, ‘Magdeburgh hemisphere’, etc. which are showing their structure and function.       These are all the experimental goods that the founder shimazu- Device x10.JPGGenzo had make by his own hand for the purpose of scientific education, which is based on the unique Shimazu- old x01.JPGscience product list “Scientific Sample Inventory” accumulated in his young age.

In addition, there were even old “Wooden lathe machines” in 19c that the Genzo had been presented from Dr. Wagner of the “Seimitsu –sha” institute as a unique collection.

<Exhibits of Battery and X-Ray equipment in the growing Shimazu>

shimazu- diisplay x03.JPG      Shimadzu Co., as mentioned earlier, began engaging the further sophisticated machinery areas when it came to the Genzo Jr.’s period. This situation is visualized by the products and works in the shimazu- Device x07.JPGexhibition.

For example, “Wimseast sensitive electro motors”, educational X-ray wire generating devices, initial GS Shimazu- X-Ray 02.JPGstorage batteries, various performance inspection devices, and medical X-ray devices and others. Incidentally, it’s included the X-ray device “Diana”, which was demonstrated in the original form in the life-size simulation.

<Pictures and documents tracing Shimazu development>

At the museum we could also found a lot of photos, pictorial drawings, documents, models. There, in addition to the founder’s Shimazu- Genzo x03.JPGportrait, a picture of the producing site in the initial period, “a balloon launching map”, an X-ray photograph and the like were able to be observed. These definitely make us recall their endeavors and development traits of the company.

The exhibits  describe how the science company Shimazu has advanced and shaped its Shimazu- Book x02.JPGbusiness style in the yearly chronicle pictures provided too. These figures are really significant and it seems indicating how the Japanese technology advancement was performed by the technology companies from primary period to now as an exemplified figure, particularly in the medical equipment field.
The museum building itself of the memorial hall was also memorable one. It was built in the early Meiji period and still kept original appearance at the born of company, This valuable building was designated as a national treasure in its historic value.

 ♣ After the visit

Shimazu- Illust x05.JPGIt was a short visit, but it really enlightened me. Particularly I was impressed the strongShimazu- Hall x04 initiatives of the founder Genzo’s sincere style pursuing the new scientific knowledge and curiosity to the nature shown in the infant period of Shimazu- Illust x11industrializing Meiji, and the Genzo Jr.’s admirable figure is also impressive which held strong techno- entrepreneurship and kept proactive attitude to appreciate the social consciousness based on the scientific development.
I felt there that the strong pride and spirit of business pioneers the risingshimazu^ Novel x01 period of Japan. And I felt that he founder’s profound spirit and philosophy were actually handed down to the company engineers beyond generation, like Tanaka, who won the Nobel Prize in the advanced medical technology.
I believe this is one of the great corporate technology museum  worth to visit for everyone who interested in business and technology.



質量分析とは?(島津製作所 “田中耕一の思い”)


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Visit the “Currency Museum” of Bank of Japan


Visit the “Currency Museum” of Bank of Japan

  • –Explore the history of monetary affairs and economic life of Japanese

JOB- Illust x10.JPGDuring this summer I revisited the “Money Museum” of Bank of Japan BOP- Entrance.JPG(BOP) in, Nihonbashi, Tokyo after a long time. The museum is a major learning facility on the Japan’s currency and monetary issues. It was founded by Bank of Japan in 1985 to publicize its financial role and the development of monetary problems. JOB- coin medieval x02
In the museum, the historical evolvement of Japanese monetary policies is introduced by showing various real coins and currencies from ancient times to the present.
The museum provides the theme-based exhibition, which illustrates the dynamic flow of the Japanese unique BOP- Entrance x02.JPGcurrency movement in detail with specific charts, documents and commentary panels, not only the display of money and coins.
My visit was quite short, but I could learn much about what kind of functions the “Money” has been bearing in the Japanese economic history and in the people’s social life. The following description is my impression of this visit.

Refer to : Home page of the “Currency Museum” :


♣  Outlook of the Currency Museum

JOB- coin medieval x01.JPG        The Exhibition hall facilitates five exhibition zones based on the particular themes. These are “the First Coins” (Ancient time money), “Inflow of Coins from overseas”, (Medieval time currency system), “Toward a Unification of Currency” (pre-modern Edo period currency system), JOB- JOB x03“Money in People’s Lives” (Money usage pattern of Edo period), “The Era of the Yen and the Bank of Japan” (Shift to Modern currency) following the subsequent flow of time. They respectively indicate how “Money” and commercial business have been developing, and display the historical evidence of currency development and its changing features.
JOB- JOB x04.JPG     According to the museum explanation, the original collection of the antique coins and currencies was inherited from “Sen Hei Kan Collection” (“銭幣館”)of a great currency collector , Mr. Tanaka Takafumi and added the BOJ’s own procurements for the museum establishment.
The exhibition was guided not only in Japanese, but also explained in English, so it is easily accessible for foreign visitors.


♣  “Beginning of Money” –Exhibition of ancient coins

The beginnings of Japan’s “Currency” could be dated back to the 7th century when JOB- Illust x17.JPGthe concept of “money” was born. The currencies were brought to Japan from Ancient Kingdom of China, when Japan adopted “Ritsuryo Code” JOB- Illust x01.JPGsystem (the first Legal Administrative cord in Japan) to build a centralized kingdom of Japan. And the primitive style of “Ichi” (market)” had been already formed at that time, and the metal “Coin” currency was used as a means of government procurement and exchange goods at the market under the authorities.

JOB- coin ancient x01.JPG     According to the museum, the first minted coin  was “non-inscription silver coin”, but subsequently the new coin named “Fuhonsen coin” was produced around the latter half of the 7th. And the government authorized the minting JOB- coin ancient x03.JPG“Wado Kaichin” copper coin and tried to circulate it in the country around the year of 708. However, these coins had circulated for certain period of times, but they were stopped to mint after the last “Kangen-Taiho” in 958 because of the worsening quality.
There are a plenty of precious currencies were displayed in this corner indicating the background story of origin of Japanese currency.

 ♣  The period of circulation of Chinese Currencies

After the minting “Kangen-Taiho”, the coins wasn’t functioned since JOB- Illust x18as JOB- coin medieval x06.JPGmeans of trade and instead the commodities like rice and silk were used for transactions for certain periods. However, since the economic activities and commercial transaction were beginning to thrive around the 12th century, the strong demand for coins had increased due to the inconvenience of the “product” currency like heavy volume rice. From this JOB- Market Medieval x01.JPGtime point on, until the 14th century, the age of the China’s coins came. So these imported coins were becoming widely distributed for commercial purposes. The numerous imported coins were said to be used as the means of accumulation wealth too, not only for trade purposes.

 ♣  Medieval currency circulation and money

JOB- coin medieval x04.JPG        On the other hand, around the 16th century in Japan, the supply of Qian currency began to decline because of changing China’s political JOB- gold mine x01.JPGcircumstances, then, the circulation of “coins” currency was increasingly short and became difficult to use.
In the meantime, however, in this era, a kind of mining development innovation had begun in Japan, and massive metals, especially gold, silver and copper began to be produced. And the development of these mines in various places, as being seen JOB- coin medieval x03.JPGin “Sekishu- Silver” and “Koshu Gold”, had strongly enhanced the economic and political power of local “Daimyo” (Local lord). They produced many coins using these precious metals as a source of wealth JOB- coin medieval x02.JPGand economic influence.
In the display shelves, a numerous JOB- Illust x19.JPGgold and silver coins are exhibited which implicitly suggest their economic power based on the gold and silver miningflourished in this era. We couldn’t help surprising the rich volume of collection of these precious coins.  Among them, the Hideyoshi era‘s “Tensho large-sized Gold Coin“, “Jouyo-Gold Coin”,” Shiso Gold Coin” and so on are attracting visitors as eye-catching exhibits.        They make us reminiscening the days when Japan was called the “Country of Gold” as in the description of Marco Polo and other European travelers.

 ♣  Beginning of the monetary economy in the Edo period

JOB- coin Edo x02.JPG      In the Edo era of the 17th century, the Shogun-ate established the standardization of money unit and tried to manage the JOB- Illust x15.JPGmanufacturing currency of gold coin under the government control in order to encourage trade and commercial activities. They also issued “Kanei Tsuho” copper coin to facilitate their logistics and promote the market trading among local people at that time.

The exchange rate stipulated was one gold coin “Ryou” = equivalent to 50 yen silver JOB- coin Edo x04.JPG“Nonnme” and equal to = 4000 of coins “Mon”. In addition, the gold coins are designated as “Counted currency” with printing the fixed value on the JOB- Illust x06.JPGcoin’s surface. On the other hand, the silver coins were counted by “Weighed money” of weight of coin and calculated in “Mon” units.  As a result, the exchange of currencies was streamlined, and commodity distribution had become more thrived than ever before. JOB- Market Flow Edol x01.JPG

At that time, “Rice” was the major economic unit of “Goku” (showing economic power scale of Daymyo land lord)) and income source of the Shogunate and the local clans. So the rice should be converted into the currency of “gold” and “silver” at the major trade centers, like Edo and Osaka, through the commercial distribution network.

JOB- Illust x05     In particular, “Ryou Gae  ya”(money changer) was functioned as a “money converting JOB- Money C x01.JPGmerchant” at that time. They exchanged money of various units to other type of units and conducted trade with essential commodities, like rice, clothes, and other commodities. They also carried out bank-JOB- Money C x02like businesses for supporting the economic activities of the Edo period.
Thus, the linkage of “Nengu” (annual tribute tax system in the feudal age ), which was circulating the commodity and money, became the basic economic system in Japan during the Edo period, and the system was maintained by the help of money merchants involved. For example, the linkage was circulated like “Nengu” to — Rice JOB- Market Edo x01.JPGtransactions to — monetization to — Shogunate and clan’s to — Consumption of town people” as seeing in the illustration.
In the museum exhibition, this system and function was shown in detail using real weighing tools for gold coins, sample of gold and silver coins, and the flow charts of product distribution and so on. These look to be great learning tools for understanding monetary problems in history.

 ♣  Consumer economy and currency in the Edo period

JOB- Illust x14       Also, there were a lot of “Nishikie” (Printed poly-chrome picture) foundJOB- Illust x12.JPG in the display shelves in the museum, which are depicting the money merchants (Money exchange shops “Ryou Gae Ya”, etc.), big Kimono shops, local street markets, shopping scenery of the town people (Cho min”, etc.), as well as many currency samples and tools related to the money matters. They are all indicating well the appearance how the currency were used in the commercial activities in the Edo era.  JOB- Market Edo x03.JPG For example, they vividly pictured the scene of the bustling “Echigoya Store” that had set up in the Nihonbashi area, the business scene of the money changers, the shopping situation of common people, the town people of Edo who were enjoying with the lottery, the Edo landscape associated with the money matters at the time.

JOB- Market Edo x05.JPG    JOB- Market Edo x06.JPG   JOB- Market Edo x04.JPG

JOB- notes Edo x01.JPG     The various specimens of currencies issued by the Shogunate, many “Hansatsu” (land lord’s paper currency) which was authorized and used in their territories, several paper bills issued by the private sector, all these evidenced the diversification of money affairs in this period. And they JOB- Illust x16seemed to indicate how money economy was permeated deeply and widely in the social life. These environments can be seen in the exhibition quite lively.
It is interesting to be able to see the manufacturing process of gold and silver coins, and other currencies in the exhibition with exact explanations.

 ♣  Transition of monetary system from Edo to the Meiji

JOB- Market Edo x08.JPG       In the mid-nineteenth century, the Edo Shogunate closed the seclusion policy, and the “Opening Port” invited a major change of the money system those days. In particular, the “Opening” free trade caused the rapid outflow of gold to overseas due to the JOB- Market Edo x09.JPGprice difference with the overseas silvers, and it caused significant inflation in the domestic market. And this havoc invited the extreme political and economic turmoil to the Edo government.

JOB- Market Edo x10.JPGAlthough the flow out of gold coins was stopped by the contingent policy, the confidence to the Shogunate and the reliability of “Currency” were dramatically lost and down. In the midst, the Edo shogun JOB- Illust x08.JPGgovernment was collapsed, and the history was shifted to the Meiji period along with the tangled ramification of power struggle among Daimyos, Imperial court and Shogunate.
It is very much interesting that these situations are extensively illustrated from the viewpoint of the movement of “Value of Currency” in the exhibition.

 ♣  Beginning of Monetary System in the Meiji period

JOB- coin Meiji x01.JPG   In these circumstances, the Meiji government promulgated the “New Monetary Ordinance” and JOB- notes Meiji x01.JPGintroduced the policy of “Yen” monetary system in 1981 (Meiji 4th) immediately after setting up the new administration. They issued new gold coins, silver coins and copper coins under this policy line. And Meiji government published even several “Paper Notes” on the premise of convertibility to gold value. This JOB- notes Meiji x02.JPGfirst “Paper Currency No. 1” is the “Jingu Empress Note” (1881) notes adopted Western style design, which was actually displayed as a major object in the museum.
In addition, the Meiji government urged the establishment of new national banks and private banks, and allowed the issuance of “National Bank Note” for a certain period by the National Bank (1872), which also displayed in the JOB- Market Meiji x01.JPGexhibition shelves.
However, on the contrary to the expectation, the increasing number of bank notes had invited the deterioration of value of currencies. To correct these measures, “Bank of Japan” was established JOB- notes Meiji x04.JPGin 1882, and set up a new monetary system by publishing the exclusive banknotes “Bank of Japan Note” in a unified way. The adopted system was the “Gold Standard” measures based on internationally accredited monetary systems.


Various similar banknotes are issued one after another under this system for decades in Meiji, Taisho, and the begging Showa period.      It JOB- notes Meiji x03.JPGwould be a great pleasure to find these abundant samples of currencies in the exhibition. Particularly the designs adopted were quite attractive because of showing the background at this time of social environment.

 ♣  Currency trends up to the present

JOB- Illust x13.JPG       The years went around until the 1920s shifting from the Meiji era to Taisho and Showa, and the monetary policy and finance systems of Japan had put on the roots in the broader fields. However, the World JOB- notes Current x03.JPGDepression which occurred in the 1930s during the Showa era urged Japan major changes of monetary system. That is, in the wake of the collapse of worldwide “Gold Standard System”, Japan was forced to take measures to stop converting gold currencies in the market. Then, after that Japanese government adopted “Management Currency System” later to keep the current system of currency from 1942.
The economic and financial situation during this period is explained in detail in the exhibition along with showing abundant examples of currencies.

JOB- notes Current x01.JPG       In the meantime, Japan had entered the Pacific War in due time of 1940s, and began strict financial control under the wartime with by the fierce restrictions on currency JOB- coin Current x01.JPGissues and price control. And after the defeat of the War, the proliferating inflation occurred and gave extraordinary severe impact to Japanese people along with the shortage of food and daily necessities. In this situation, The Bank of Japan took special measures to limit money circulation and banking transactions, in addition to JOB- notes Current x02.JPGswitch then currency to “New Yen”, and other policies. The museum describes vividly this turmoil by showing many examples and explanation on the panel.

From here, the exhibitions proceed to the display of the current many type of bank notes and coins published continuing until now. The museum displays these series of bank notes and coins with focusing particularly on their design and background history of the publishing. Among other things, the most interesting exhibits were on the counterfeiting prevention and its technology with their extensive comments in the exhibition.

♣  Remarks after visit

JOB- Illust x10 I guess that it was the valuable museum about the history of currency in myJOB- Illust x20.JPG understanding. The exhibition was showing the ancient currency forms, pictured the old scene of commercial transactions and people’s life, as well as the international interrelationship surrounding finance and money of JOB- JOB x01.JPGJapan in history. This museum itself was opened in 1982, but after the renewal in 2015, the exhibitions had great expansion of the collections and dramatically changed the way of exhibition to be the easy-to-understand styles along JOB- Illust x07.JPGwith the responding to multi-language inquires. So  I guess it would be the best museum to explore the Japanese money matters and the finances to Japanese as well as foreign visitors.



  • 貨幣博物館パンフレット(日・英)
  • 貨幣博物館展示図録
  • 貨幣博物館-Wikipedia
  • 日本貨幣史(貨幣博物館)
  • 銭幣館コレクションと貨幣博物館の設立(日本銀行金融研究所)
  • お金の話あれこれ(日本銀行)
  • 図説日本貨幣史(日本学術協会編)



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Visit Postal Museum in Tokyo

— Encounter the roots of Postal service in Japan

 Meet the charm of the  Postal Museum

Postal- Illuust x01.JPG  I’ve just visited the “Postal Museum” in Kitasenju, Tokyo, near the TokyoPostal- outlook x01.JPG Sky Tree Town recently. The exhibits of the museum have extensively shown about the situation of postal services of old and new in Japan. It is said that the modern postal system is regarded as a core infrastructure for exchanging mutual communication in our society. In the case of Japan, the postal system was launched in 1871 by adopting the Western postal system. Since Postal- Illuust x02.JPGthen, it has been developing the way of services in many types of postal activities during 150 years. This visit was a really worth to know on the history of communication and social infrastructure that forms a backbone of the modern society, such as the exchange letters and documents, dissemination of information, promotion of  people’s mutual communication. This is the description on the outline of my impression at the time of visit.

           Refer: Postal MuseumHP:

 ♣ History of Japanese Postal System looked in the Museum

It is believed that the oldest long distance message delivery systems can be trace backPostal- Illuust x10.JPG in Japan to the eight century of “Rituryou” period (8or9 c) by establishing the “Message Relay Depot”(Ekisei; 駅制) in the major network roads for sending government order.

Postal- Illuust x11.JPG     In the Kamakura period (13c), the customs of sending and receiving letter was begun to exchange strategic information by hand of the horse ride Samurai’s “Hikyaku” (Message sender; literally means “Flying Foot”), and it had later developed into the “Hikyaku” system in the Edo Postal- Illuust x12.JPGperiod, not only for Samurai but also among merchants and ordinary people. This had organized individual services of exchanging letters and messages. However, the cost was quite high and delivery time was long and sporadic, then the users were very much limited.

Postal- Maejima x01.JPG       It was just the Meiji period of 19c that the modern postal system was Postal- Illuust x13.JPGestablished in Japan. Japan’s modern postal system was launched in 1870 with the introduction of the postal system of Western Europe. This system was proposed by Maejima Hisoka, Meiji government officer, to respond the needs of expanding social communication and also to advance modernization of industry.

Postal- outlook x04      And in April 1871, a “Postal Office” was opened in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. So this time the Japanese modern postal system was formally established. This system was quite revolutionary feature at that time, because it had handled postal- post x01.JPGmassive letters with systematic way in the fairly affordable cost. It was quite contrary with system that sending and receiving letters were relying on individual-based services like Hikyaku systems.

In the building of this delivery network, the “Nanushi” farmers, who had been the strong leader of the rural community in the Edo era, contributed a lot with offering his home as “postal service” spots. This is said to be a quite unique in Japan which effectively applied the federal social order to the new modernizing society. As a result, Postal- Illuust x22.JPGthe installation of the “post office” was exceeded 1000 places, and the postal network scale became nationwide.

On the other hand, the “postal stamp” was born for the first time in Japan, and the mail “Post” was installed around wide area at this time as well. Through these measures, Postal- stamp x01.JPGthe modern postal service was quickly advanced. For instance, under the system, people purchase a postage stamp, stick it on the letter face, post to the post, then in the end the mail is going to the designated address. This is a familiar method today, but it was a really revolutionary at that time.

By the way, this system is based on the “a nationwide flat rate system” in England in the 1840s. Maejima had learned of this, and introduced it to Japan soon as a Japanese style of postal service network. Therefore, Maejima is now called “Father of Japan Post”.        The process of advancing to this postal system as well as the contributions of Maejima are exhibited explicitly in the “Postal Museum”, Additionally, the Japan’s first stamp, named “Ryumon stamp”, is displayed nearby them.


 ♣  Transition of mail posts and delivery system in the exhibition

Several old “Mail Posts” of the early Meiji period are exhibited in the museum as postal- post x02.JPGmajor displays. When looking at the history of postal activity, one of the reasons why sending letters was Postal- Illuust x07.JPGfamiliar with people of the Meiji era could be the Posts which installed on the various spots near the neighboring town. The convenience of “posting” a letter to the post has encouraged the postal use, which allowed the cost down and the expansion of system itself by massive handling.

It is interesting that both of the convenience and the letter’s reliability were well appeared in the shape and Postal- Illuust x08.JPGdesign of posts. It would be joyful to see this successive real post in the museum.

In the meanwhile, it is also interesting to observe the changing means and tools postal- tool x03.JPGregarding postal handling, sorting and delivery. Along with the development of transportation systems, the method of “mail delivery” has been dramatically changing from the Meiji era to now. This transition is exhibited well in the museum by using many models and real goods. You can see how the postal system has been evolved there in the exhibition.postal- tool x04.JPG

For the example, the changes from the primitive manpower loading to the horse carriage, the automobile carrier carriage, the truck loading mail and so on. The costumes of the postal delivery workers, postal- tool x05.JPGtheir bags and tools, etc. are all reflects the change of the times. Also, the transformation of familiar appliances, such as postal sorting tools, postal measuring instruments, postmark stamps, etc., are also fun and enjoyable.
They are interesting exhibitions to see how the postal system has been advancing since the Meiji to now.

 ♣  Attractiveness of Postal Stamp collection in the Museum

One of the highlights of this postal museum would be the collection of “Postal Postal- stamp x02.JPGStamps” that counts over 330,000 units collected from around the globe besides Japanese examples. There vertical-drawer type shelves are installed in the wide Postal- stamp x03.JPGexhibition zones, and the precious stamps are displayed here and there, such as stamps from North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Oceania. When I’ve just happened to open the several shelves, then, the precious stamps illustrating historical figures, sceneries of various countries, rare animals and plants were crammed there. I realized again that the world is really diverse, but also it connected by means of various postal services and other communication tools.

 ♣  History corner of letters to convey social change

Postal- Illuust x16.JPGHere we can see the various tools related to Japanese “Tegami”postal- letter x04.JPG letters and the history of the customs of writing letters themselves. There found many rare and valuable exhibits displyed, such as special letter boxes “Jobako” with lacquered lacquer in the Edo era, portable writing tools “Yadate”, “Suzuri” inkstone cases with artistic design, “station bell” anciently used, and other goods.postal- letter x03postal- letter x02

The many types and forms of letter were exhibited in the museum too. They also conveyed the history of the way of communication among people and reflecting social changes which have experienced the postal- letter x05.JPGvarious fates. Such as the birth of postcard,, telegram, picture envelopes and memorial postcards, New Year’s cards, etc. There exhibited the samples of “Military mail” that were used for the communication between soldiers and their families during the war too. Exchange postal mail looked mirror the social dynamism and painful experience as well as cultural environment from time to time.

 ♣  Exhibition of the transition of communication means

The exhibition section of communication tools and facility is also fascinating. At the postal- tool x06museum, abundant of equipment that indicates the development of postal related technology. Particularly tools and facilities convey the records on the dawn period of development of Japanese postal- tool x07.JPGtelecommunications in the Meiji.

There, we can see the Embossing Morse Telegraph (1854) brought by Admiral Perry of the United States, the Breguet finger-phone telegraph (1869), the mock model of “Elektel” produced by the Hiraga Gennai (1776).

Postal- Illuust x17.JPG       In addition to these exhibitions, many paintings, photographs, posters, literature, etc. are displayed there which relate to the mail and communication in the Edo and Meiji, Taisho, and Showa (18c -20c).  So that, we can see there, not only the mail maters, but also the ways of people’s communication, the social life and cultural situation of the time..

♣  Remarks after the museum visit

Postal- Illuust x14       Since the sending and receiving letters and parcels are now quite common in our daily life. However, we are hardly aware of what sort of social meaning postal- letter x01.JPGembraced in it, and what kind of historical background were hided there. In that sense, this “Postal Museum” reminds us well about the social communication and its deep meaning. And it gives an idea on the total function of postal services in our society.
However, the major players of communication are rapidly shifting to the wireless and Postal- Illuust x19.JPGthe internet connection in addition of development telephone services. Nevertheless, the exchange of letters and postcards are still prominent as communication tools, and the importance of mail is never losing. Furthermore the network of “post offices” deployed nationwide is still indispensable for daily life for local people through the services of Postal- Illuust x18.JPGsending letters and parcels. and even small banking functions too.
Now the “Postal Office” is transformed into the “JP Post Group”, and the postal service is becoming handled by “Japan Post” as one of their functions. It is really interesting thing where this “Post” service will be going and how transform its under the new organization.
So, this time of visit is a valuable for me when thinking about the people’s communication systems, social functions of postage in history, cultural value of writing letters, and the style of social networking relating postal services, and so on.





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Visit Photo History Museum of Fujifilm

 Hot Spot showing Camera History

Fuji- M- Logo x02.JPG      The Fujifilm Co., which known as a film and camera maker, set up a “PhotoFuji- M- outlook x01.JPG History Museum” in the company’s showroom of Roppongi, Tokyo.  I happened to visit this museum in the last summer. The museum looks relatively small, but it provides an unique  spot with talking about the camera history as well as showing series of Fujifilm’s flagship Fuji- M- outlook x02.JPGcameras, particularly on the Fujica models. The museum displays various pictures and photos indicating global development of the photograph technology. It also provides photo exhibition corner named “Fujifilm Fort Salon” for the photo contest.
This article is an impression of my visit there.

Refer to :


♣  Exhibition of the Photo History Museum

Fuji- M- illust x02.JPG        The Photo History Museum displays the many historical brand cameras Fuji- M- historic camera x05.JPGFuji- M- historic camera x06.JPGwith valuable information on the origins of photo technology and its development. It includes the replica model of “Daguerreotype” camera in the 19th century; the Talbot’s the “Gallo” type camera, and other well-known authentic camera series. It is really enjoyable to see those collections of historic cameras.
Fuji- M- Meiji x04.JPG     The relic story on the Japan photography in the Meiji era is also enjoyable. The portraits of the “Edo-Meiji” people in the colorful picture book, the “Yokohama Photo Album which was taken by the newly visited European photographers in that period besides the exhibition of the photograph tools of them.


♣  Advancement of photosensitive tools

Among the museum collections, the explanation of Fuji- M- material x03.JPGphotosensitive tools is the most Fuji- M- illust x03.JPGunique and valuable ones in the museum. It is showing the process of historic development of photosensitive materials, such as how the photo sensitive method was invented, how it was shifted from the silver plate to the glass plate one (collodion wet method), and from the “wet method” to “dry method” using gelatin, and so on.  Fuji- M- material x02.JPG        Furthermore, the exhibits are explaining, how the “roll film” was born using celluloid materials, why the recent technology was advancing from plastic films to digital IC materials, and other episodes. These film histories are particularly seemed in detail, it is maybe reasoned that the museum is run by the prominent film maker Fuji, which has been leading technology on the photosensitive materials in Japan.

♣  Evolution of the early brand camera and Fujica camera history

   Fuji- M- illust x04.JPG     In the meantime, the highlight of museum, more than anything, would be the Fuji- M- historic camera x01.JPGFuji- M- historic camera x04.JPGexhibition of the well-known classic models of camera produced in the America and Europe in the early time. The famous historic cameras, such as Kodak’s and Icon’s spring camera, along with German Leika’s distinctive “Leika-I” model, and other memorial cameras, are exhibited there in rich. The many type of twin-lens reflex cameras that are rarely seen in the Japan are also exhibited there abundantly.

Fuji- M- Fuji x03JPG.JPG On the other hand, the various cameras produced by Fujifilm Co. are, of course, fully displayed altogether in the museum. Among them, the “Fujica Six IA” of spring camera, a compact camera “Fujica 35M“, film-lens camera “QuickSnap“, “Fujica 35 Auto M”, video camera of “Fujica Single 8” are the prominent exhibits. The FinePix, which has symbolized the digital age, is found at the display shelf too.

♣  The Photo Salon where People can enjoy the photo culture

Fuji- M- illust x01.JPG     Along with the camera exhibition, the “Fuji Photo Salon” is providing aFuji- M- illust x06.JPG specific space to make enjoying the photograph world. When I visited, a photo exhibition called “Colors of the Four Seasons in Japan” was opened there for attracting many casual visitors.
I believe this museum is really good place for exploring photographic world and for familiarizing people with the camera history.




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Visit Kamaishi’s “Museum of Iron History”

Explore the root of Japan’s modern making and the history of Kamaishi

– 日本の製鉄と釜石「鉄」の歴史を語る博物館「鉄の歴史館」

Iron Museum- logo x1.JPG      I came to visit the “Iron History Museum” in Kamaishi just after iron Museum - Outlook x02.JPG“Hashino Iron Mine”, the World Heritage. This museum is famous to exhibit abundant materials and goods regarding history of Kamaishi’s ironworks, along with useful information on the Hashino & Ohashi blast furnaces.
The collection includes many materials relating to the iron-making methods from the old traditional way, the modern iron-works by the Iron Museum- Oshima x01.JPGblast furnace which was introduced in the end of Edo period, the trace of Oshima Takato who contributed much to the development of iron technology, beside the history of the Tanaka Iron Works which led the initial iron-making industries in Japan. And it would be significant that the museum introduces the historical situation of iron industry in the Tohoku area, particularly Kamaishi, as well as shows the states in Japan a whole.        It was a short visit, but I felt I could learn much about the Iron Museum- outlook x02.JPGiron making industries in Japan and its Kamaishi’s role as its original function and initiatives.

I stopped by at the “Kamaishi Regional Museum” too on my way back, and I was acknowledged the turbulence history of Kamaishi’s iron-works which was occasionally Iron Museum- illust x06.JPGwrecked by the War and natural disasters.
Below is the impression of this time of visit. It would be great pleasure if you look it through with the previous record “Visit Hashino Iron Mine.”

♥ 釜石「鉄の歴史館」HP
♥ 「釜石郷土館」HP

♣  Outline of the Iron Museum Kamaishi

Iron Museum- illust x05.JPG       The museum opened in July 1985, renewed in 2009 and became to the Iron Museum- Furnace x01.JPGfacility as a major information center on the iron industry in Kamaishi. The exhibition is divided into several designated blocks, such as “Iron and social life”, “Dawn of iron era”,” “History of modern steelmaking industry”, “Live theater on iron and steel”, and “Iron industry with Kamaishi”, and so on. Among them, the live theater of “Century of an Flaming Fire” was really fascinating. There the Iron Museum- Hashino x01.JPGrestoration model of the full-scale Hashino’s third blast furnace was exhibited the figures lively operating as the way of the original shape. And the museum was also giving effectively commentary about its history background and structure on the screen.Iron Museum- Furnace x06.JPG

At the “History “ section, they introduced the life story of Oshima Takato, who is said to be the “Father of modern steelmaking”, and the foundation of iron industry which had spread in the Kamaishi area Iron Museum- Furnace x03.JPGin the early time, such as Ohashi and Hashino blast furnace.
In the “Steel Industry with Kamaishi” corner, many records and photographs were displayed regarding the establishment of the Kamaishi Steel Works and its subsequent development.
The exhibition contents of the each corner in detail were as follows.

♣  The theater Exhibition of  ” Century of Flaming Fire”

        When entering the theater, there found the real model of Hashino third blast Iron Museum- Furnace x02.JPGfurnace. A blazing red flame is shown in the blast furnace which is indicating high heat molten iron in the operation. We can see there a hut at Iron Museum- Hashino x02.JPGthe top of the furnace and could imagine the way how the iron ore and charcoal were poured into the furnace to melt ores to liquid irons. Also, on the side area, a large Fugo was facilitated to send powerful wind blow into the furnace by the water wheel, and to create high-temperature for melting iron.
It was a surprising thing that such complicated mechanism at the high level of craftsmanship were Iron Museum- Fuigo x01.JPGbuilt up by stones and woodworking, and worked out by local people only by the knowledge retrieved from the technology book of Dutch engineers.        Also in this corner, we could find three dimensional topographic maps of the iron mines of Hashino and Ohashi, and is able to observe how these sites were managed at that dawn stage of iron production.

♣  Corner of the Modern Steel Industry Development

One of the main points of this corner was the introduction of the life and role of Iron Museum- Tanak works x01.JPG Hashino- person x02Oshima Takato to the development of iron industry. The detail of his life history was shown in detail with the many documents and photographs there. It is showing how he contributed to set the foundation of the modern iron and steel making industries Iron Museum- Tanaka w x04JPG.JPGin Japan.     We could recognize the situation of the iron production sites in the early time how that  spread in the Iron Museum- Furnace x05.JPGKamaishi area, such as Ohashi, Hashino, Kuribayashi and others, with the commentary panels and documented historical pictures.

By looking at this series of exhibits, we can learn how Japanese modern iron and steelmaking industry has grown and developed in this region. It was really the impressive exhibition. Especially it was true because the time of my visit was just on the way back from the Hashino Iron Mine and I could recognize the importance of the blast furnace to produce strong iron and steel.


♣  Exhibition on the Iron industry and Kamaishi

In this corner, the relationship between iron industry and Kamaishi was told in Iron Museum- Govt works x01.JPGdetail. Especially the advancement of the “government-owned Kamaishi Steel Works” led by the Meiji government, its technical challenges and the history of failures of the project were shown here. On the other side, the new initiatives of technological Iron Museum- Tanaka w x06JPG.JPGdevelopment which learned from that experience were also indicated there. It is interesting that the profiles of engineers and scientists involved in this project were introduced all together here.
In the meantime, it should be noticed the fact that Iron Museum- Tanaka w x07JPG.JPGthe Japan’s technology challenge was actually cultivated through the experience of the government project and it was advanced afterward by the initiatives of the private firm of “Kamaishi Tanaka Ironworks” which learned from failure. This fact was clearly indicated in the Iron Museum- Tanaka w x09JPG.JPGexhibition.        Additionally, the museum reminded us that the evidence of this early stage of the company development was remained in the old building Tanaka Mining Office” which was designated as a historic heritage in the Kamaishi area.

♠ <Track Records of destiny of Kamaishi Steel Works >

The Tanaka Steel Works had transferred to the Mitsui Zaibatsu, then later turned to Iron Museum- Tanaka w x02JPG.JPGthe Nippon Steel Corporation in 1930s, and after the World War II, the Fuji Steel Corporation took over the management, and finally it has become the current Kamaishi ironworks under the of NSSMC (Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal) as the present stage.

However, it should be pointed that the iron work company and the local community of Kamaishi was fallen later in the turbulent destinies like the serious damage caused by the Iron Museum- Tanaka w x05JPG.JPGtsunami in 1933 caused by the Sanriku Earthquake, the destruction Iron Museum- Current x01.JPGof the facilities by the shelling of the US in the War time, even though the community of Kamaishi enjoyed the increased population and the economy was bristled owing much to the development of Kamaishi’s steel works in the due time. However, additional big destruction came by the recent Great East Japan Great Earthquake in 2011.       The museum shows clearly about these moving histories in the exhibition.

♣ Exhibition Corner of “Iron and social life” and “Dawn of iron era”

This corner exhibits the visualized appearances of the ancient methods of iron Iron Museum- Tatara x01.JPGproduction in Japan and also the way of adoption of iron to the social life in history. There, the iron making method at theIron Museum- Tatara x02.JPG early period was indicated, and the exhibits explained how those iron technologies and products were going to be adopted in the modernization, as well as how it has made rich our the social life by presenting various iron and steel products with many samples.
Iron Museum- product x01.JPG       Furthermore, there were technical commentaries on various steel and iron products and alloys along with the Iron Museum- play g x01.JPGexplanation of the cutting-age steel making technology of current period. These looked the valuable display which is showing the close relationship on the iron and daily life in our society. Even there a special zone is facilitated, such as “Play with iron”. In this corner all the visitors could enjoy playing with iron tools and interacting with iron products including small kids.

♣  Remarks after the visit

Iron Museum- logo x1       Although it was the visit of only around two hours, but I was quite pleased that I Iron Museum- Furnace x02.JPGcould touch on the new knowledge on the iron science and industries, such as the various stories of steelmaking activity in the Kamaishi, its origin, and the major actors contributed to the development of steelmaking technology in Iron Museum- Tanaka w x01.JPGJapan.  In particular, it was fresh for me to be able to learn how the “Tanaka Steel” had been playing an crucial role in history, and how the company activities were linked with the technical development of the Yawata Steel in the late Meiji period, which believed to be as a symbolic attainment of Japanese iron and steel industries.      Iron Museum- Tanaka w x08JPG.JPGIn addition, the restoration model of Hashino blast furnace in the museum was quite helpful to understand the features of the structure inside the furnace and technical ideas, since it was the time just after visiting Hashino Iron Mine in Kamaishi.

Furthermore, after visiting the Museum, it was fortunate to be able to visit the “Kamaishi City Regional Museum”. Iron Museum- City M x02.JPGThere, I’ve got the pictured image of Kamaishi community that has been grown up as a steel town, as well as the social life and culture of the Kamaishi region. And it was depressed experience to see the fact that Kamaishi has often received the destructive fortune in history from the serious natural disasters to the war battles.

Iron Museum- illust x01.JPG       In particular, various parts of Sanriku including Kamaishi were seriously wrecked by the Great East Japan Earthquake, Iron Museum- Tsunami x01.JPGespecially the Tsunami, leaving a large scar in the various parts of Kamaishi.  But, at the same time, I was very much encouraged to learn that the Kamaishi region is now starting to move forward to the reconstruction in the great step.  Particularly the community’s intensive activities aiming to hold the Rugby World Cup scheduled in Kamaishi seemed to be playing their symbolic role of the reconstruction.
Kamaishi is a bit far from the Tokyo Iron Museum- Tsunami x02.JPGIron Museum- Tsunami x04.JPGrea, but I’m thinking to visit again if possible and want to see how the reconstruction and development of local community as well as steel industries will be there.



  • 釜石の歴史(釜石市ホームページ)
  • 鉄の歴史館パンフレット(Iron and Steel History Museum)
  • 釜石郷土博物館案内パンフレット
  • 橋野鉄鉱山―橋野高炉跡及び関連遺跡―(釜石市世界遺産登録推進委員会作成)
  • 釜石の産業遺産と大島高任(小野崎敏氏講演会資料-東京産業考古学会03)
  • 大橋高炉跡・釜石鉱山・旧釜石鉱山事務所パンフレット(釜石市教育委員会作成)
  • 金属の文化史―産業考古学シリーズー(黑岩俊郎編)アグネ刊
  • ラグビーワールドカップ2019推進課ホームページ


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Visit Kamaishi and its heritage of Iron Making site

– Explore the industrial heritage of Hashino Iron Mining in Kamaishi


♣  Significance of Hashino Iron Making site

Hashino- illust x07.JPG       In this June, I took a short trip to Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, to see their Hashino- F Stone x01.JPGsteelworks and observe the Hashino Iron Mining site which has designated as a World Industrial Heritage. The objective was to find the history of the Kamaishi Steelworks (currently the Nippon Steel Sumikin Kamaishi plant), and examine the Hashino Iron Mine which had been built as a first blast furnace in Japan at the end of the Edo period. And wanted to explore the root of development of iron Hashino- outlook x01.JPGand steel industries which believed to be one of important factors leading the industrial modernization of Japan in Meiji period.
It was a short trip, but I saw various relics of Japan’s first modern blast furnaces Japan at Hashino, and understand a bit how the iron Hashino- illust x03.JPGmaking technology have been changed from the traditional “Tatara iron making” to the modern ones at that time.
Following parts are the summary of my observation on the current situation of the “Hashino” and a short comment on the historical move of iron industry in the Kamaishi region.


♣  Hashino iron mine as a world heritage

Hashino Iron Mine is located in the mountain area of Aonogi, Hashino town about 35 km northwest of Kamaishi city. We stayed at the hotel near the Kamaishi station the day before and headed for the site by taxi.

 <Why Hashino iron mine was developed>

The remains of Hashino Iron Mine and its Blast Furnace are the historical heritage Hashino- person x02.JPGsites, and it is famous place where Oshima Takato, Samurai of Morioka clan, had built the Western style “blast furnace” for the first time in Japan by moderating the Dutch technical manual book on the iron making. The book title was ““Casting Method at Royal Royal Iron Cannon Foundry” which had been brought into Japan through Nagasaki and translated by Japanese Rangaku (Dutch Study) scholars.Hashino- Old picture x02.JPG

Based on the description of the book, Oshima Takato was believed to build a unique furnace and iron production site in 1878 near the Aonogi mountain site. The first blast furnace and the iron production sites at Hashino are still reserved Hashino- furnace x01.JPGwell as a relic in the area. There the stone structure of the Western-style blast furnaces is still standing as it is, even it’s an aged stone foundation only, And in the surroundings, people could spot many traces of workshops and others facilities for the iron making. It could be a good example to see where a bunch of the pig Hashino- ASM award x01.JPGirons had been produced by the blast furnace and theprimitive iron works had been run in this place.
For this reason, the Hashino Iron Mine and its Blast Furnace site were designated as a historic heritage of the country in 1957, and even awarded the HL Award (Historical Landmark Award) from the American Metal Association (ASM) in 1984.

Hashino- Ohashi x01.JPG       Meanwhile, prior to Hashino, actually, an experimental blast furnace of western style was constructed in 1857 at the Ohashi, Kasshi village as a matter of fact. But unfortunately the real site of it couldn’t be designated besides the stone inscription. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten the date December 1 of 1857, the old day of Ohashi is now named as an “iron memorial day”, as it is said the furnace there believed to succeed in tapping row iron for the first time in history.

 <The reason of construction of Western blast furnace>

The main reason of construction of furnace was that the strong obsession of Edo Hashino- illust x04.JPGgovernment under the challenge of foreign fleets pushed the move to make up any iron canons to ward off the Western warships for the maritime defense, and then they required the huge volume of pig iron for the production at that period.Hashino- furnace Nakaminato x01.JPG

Meanwhile, the Mito Daimyo clan has tried to build a “Reverberatory Furnace” to make canons in Naka-Minato by the request of the Shogunate at that time, so they were required huge volume of pig irons as a raw material for its operation,
Hashino- map x02.JPG      That time, Oshima, who had stayed in the Mito clan, was asked to cooperate this project and looked for the iron mine around Kamaishi of the Morioka, which was thought to hold huge potential resource of iron ore, along with abundant charcoal producing forests for the fuel for the furnace. So he selected this area in order to respond to Mito’s requirement, Hashino- illust x05.JPGand decided to build the blast furnaces there as the iron production site.      In this result, Hashino Iron Mining area was quickly cultivated and developed extensively in short time.  And in the Hashino, three blast furnaces were subsequently built, and solid production system was built up as the large-scale iron workshops.

These iron sites are now regarded a valuable historical sites as one of the initial Hashino- illust x02.JPGchallenges to try to form Japan’s modernized steel making industry which had later been led to the government Yawata steelmaking technically and historically. So as it looked the good reason why it was designated as one of the “Industrial Revolution in Meiji Japan Heritage” in 2015 “World heritage“.


♣  Current State of and its Blast Furnaces

To visit the Hashino Iron Mine it’s good to access to “Kamaishi City’s Hashino Iron Hashino- Infocenter x01.JPGMine Information Center” first. The staff will kindly provide the necessary information on the site with giving useful guide map. In my case, a local staff guided me to the necessary spots with deliberate explanation.

Hashino- map x01.JPG        The Hashino Iron Mine site is located upstream of the Futamata river which is flowing down through the Aonoki area of Hatano Town, and surrounded by the rather high mountain. The iron making sites are consisted of three parts in row from top to the bottom, like the from the beginning of the ore digging site, then the ore carrying alley along the ridge, finally then getting to the blast furnace situated in the lower terrace.Hashino- F Stone x02.JPG

There are three blast furnaces are situated in Hashino in all, from the south, No.1, No. 2, No. 3 on the hill, and these blast furnaces remained the stone structure as the foundation keeping original form at the time of construction. In the vicinity area, the ruins of waterwheels used for the Fuigo (Japanese bellow) were found, in addition, the trace of waterway, and several relics of iron workshops, the landmarks of management office used in the Edo era, named “Ohi Harai Ba” (Payroll Office for workers) , are spotted too.

Hashino- Old picture x04.JPG  Hashino- Old picture x05.JPG  Hashino- Old picture x06
On the mountain side, the ruins of stone cutting working sites, the monument of the Mountain Gods, called “Yamagami shrine”, and other mining relics.

Hashino- Old picture x03.JPG  Hashino- shrine x01      As for the producing process , it is said that the iron ores were dug out at the mountain site first with simple tools, then they were carried out down through the mountain route with bare hands or by loading cattle Hashino- illust x06.JPGpower the workshop area, and there they were crushed into small pieces and burned to remove impurities. After that, the processed ores were poured into the blast furnace mixed with charcoal, and Hashino- Guide post x05heated with high temperature an blown by hydraulic power Fuigo and melted down in the blast furnace. Finally the heated iron was tapped in the melting pools.         When walking around the iron making sites, we could easily find the traces of “Iron seed crushing place”, ruins of “Seed burning kiln”, traces of Fuigo installation, traces of “Water wheels”, ruins of “Smith working factory site.”

Hashino- Fuigo x01

For the blast furnaces, there remained bare stone of the structural foundation only. However, they are valuable historic monuments because it could clearly figure out the iron making process at that time, such as the furnace structure, its scale, and functions as well as iron making process. At the guide post near the furnace of No.2, the structural pictures of furnace were described to indicate them.

According to that description, it had a 4.8 meter stone frame in the 4.8 meters Hashino- person x01.JPGsquare, with refractory bricks in the interior and chimney area over to the top covered by plaster. The furnace had a height about 8 meters structure attached by the Fuigo cabin.They were all designed by Hashino- Fuigo x02Oshima Takatoshi with reference to Huggenin‘s book, and it is believed that Japan’s own ingenuity was applied to the original structure of them.      Especially it is said to have unique features, such as the structure of the blowing Fuigo to derive a high heating power and the water turbine which strengthened the movement by waterwheels.

Hashino- outlook x01
In any case, after this Hashino’s operation, the production site of this iron mine had expanded and it’s said more that than 1,000 workers were working there during the peak period. Based on these foundations, the mining industry was thought to develop fast after the Meiji era, and before long it led to the establishment of the government owned “Kamaishi Ironworks” and the development of “Tanaka Ironworks” in the Kamaishi region.

♣  History development of steel industry in Kamaishi

NRF- Illust x09      As mentioned above, since the establishment of Western-style blast furnace in Hashino- specimen x01.JPGHashino- specimen x02.JPGHashino,  iron industry was developed  in the neighboring area of Kamaishi with quite extensive way.  Even though the Hashino Iron mine itself became stop to supply iron to the Mito’s Nakaminiato refinery due to the collapse of the Edo shogunate, but the production had continued for the while as one of the “Jhu-Sen Ba” (“Casting coin production center” until 1889 until the currency casting ban ordered by the Meiji government.

Hashino- Tanaka x01.JPG      Later, in 1880, the “government-owned Kamaishi Steel Works” was created near the Hashino area. For the designing of the Kamaishi Iron Works, the government adopted a plan of UK Hashino- person x04.JPGengineer’s plan, rejecting Oshima’s proposal, but the iron making was actually failed due to make expected results. Then it end up closing with big deficit in 1883. After that, a merchant Tanaka Cho-bei bought up this government mills, and started iron business as the “Kamaishi Mine Tanaka Ironworks.”

This Ironworks was quite good in business and its said that the company contributed Hashino- person x06.JPGmuch to the development of iron industry in Japan for the sake of responding strong Hashino- Tanaka x02.JPGdemand of Japanese society that time. The Works were producing huge quantities of high quality pig iron by using cokes. This is believed to be owing much to the technology support by engineers like Noro Kageyoshi and Yokoyama Kyutaro.  Along with this, Tanaka Ironworks had initiated the expansion of factory area, modernization of facilities, maintenance of transportation railroad (initially horse railway railroad), and installed the first yahata-furnas-x0-1901-towerintegrated iron-steel works of Japan in 1903.

Around this period, the “government-owned Yahata Ironworks” was born in the Yahata village, Kyushu in 1901 which was regarded as the most significant landmark in Japanese steelmaking industry in Meiji period. For this launching, it is said that many engineers from Kamaishi Steel Works were Hashino- Sumikin x01.JPGdispatched there and contributed a lot for its establishment.       In due time, the Tanaka Iron Work had changed the name to “Tanaka Mine”, and the company management shifted to “Mitsui Mining” in the process of twists and turns, and then the additional change came on the ownership before the war in 1942 and Hashino- Kamaishi x01.JPGmerged with the Fuji Steel and Nippon Steel. After the War of 1945, it has transformed the current Kamaishi Steel Works under the Nippon Steel Sumikin Co.        When looking at these process, it is possible to say that the destiny of Kamaishi iron works was indeed to follow dynamic historical movement of the Japan’s steelmaking industry, from the beginning of Hashino and amaishi works to now.,       By the way, the former “Kamaishi Mining Office” was remained as a cultural monumental building as a Kamaishi City’s historical site, and the huge materials relating to the Tanaka Works were preserved and opened to the public.


♣  After visit; an impression

Hashino- illust x07.JPG    Although it was only a short time visit, I was lucky to be able to see the Hashino IronHashino- Total picure x01.JPG Mine and the blast furnace ruins to the first time for me, and I felt I could get certain image of the ironworks in the dawn period of Edo and Meji period, particularly regarding Kamaishi which started with the vigorous modification of the Western blast furnace, and understood a bit about the old Japanese iron making systems and its characteristics.
In Japan, Saga, Kagoshima, Hagi (Yamaguchi) and other areas were trying to build the numerous “Reverberatory furnace” aiming to produce iron cannon based on the Dutch book, but it was believed that most of them had ended up failed. Hashino- illust x08.JPGHowever, people these initiatives would encourage the engineers here and there. Among them only limited examples were found with some shapes of relics like the Hagi and the Nirayama’ as it is. We could observe the real appearance of the original Reflection Furnaces there, and others were completely disappeared in the dust of history.
I have already been to these two sites, Hagi and Nirayama, last year, but I felt the Hashino- illust x09Hashino looked more significant in term of technology and business, because the Hashino’s endeavors had been expanded broadly to the development of Kamaishi iron works and Yahata Steel later.   I’m quite satisfied to be able to see these facilities with my own eyes.





  • 釜石の歴史(釜石市ホームページ)
  • 鉄の歴史館パンフレット(Iron and Steel History Museum)
  • 橋野鉄鉱山―日本近代製鉄の先駆け-(釜石市教育委員会作成)
  • 橋野鉄鉱山―橋野高炉跡及び関連遺跡―(釜石市世界遺産登録推進委員会作成)
  • 世界文化遺産・橋野鉄鉱山パンフレット(橋野鉄鉱山員フォーメーションセンター)
  • 釜石の産業遺産と大島高任(小野崎敏氏講演会資料-東京産業考古学会03)
  • 大橋高炉跡・釜石鉱山・旧釜石鉱山事務所パンフレット(釜石市教育委員会作成)
  • 金属の文化史―産業考古学シリーズー(黑岩俊郎編)アグネ刊

Hashino- illust x08.JPG

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Visit Mitsubishi Industrial Museum

— Showcase of Challenging Technology of Mitsubishi HI today
三菱みなとみらい技術館訪問  ―三菱重工の技術挑戦をみるー

MHI Illust x02.JPG      I just visited the “Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum”MHI general x01.JPG(MMI Museum) located in Yokohama recently. The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is the Japan’s oldest engineering technology company which has been leading and promoting Japanese heavy industries for long time. Now the MHI established the MM Museum in 1994 in Yokohama for the purpose to advertise the technology achievements and goals of company along with the Technology Development Center in the Minatomirai district of Yokohama.
MHI general x04.JPG       At the Museum they introduce the company’s major leading projects rigorously conducting today, such as environmental energy, deep sea exploration, aircraft, space and rockets equipment, transportation systems, and so on by presenting real products, MHI space x-02.JPGmodels, simulation devices in  systematic way.  Among these exhibition lists,  particularly spectacular ones wee the aircraft model of jet airliner MRJ which Mitsubishi is currently developing , the real appearance of the H-2 rocket engine, the real vessel exhibition of the manned submarine “Shinkai 6500”. I felt that the museum is showing the excellence of technology owned much to the first class MHI engineering group.
                 ♥  see  MHI Museum site:

♣  Mitsubishi and Minatomirai Yokohama

MHI Illust x01.JPG       The origin of the “MHI ” was the “Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard” which had been MHI general x07.JPGbought up by the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu from the early Meiji government in 1884. After that in 1917, it became “Mitsubishi Shipbuilding”, and merged with Mitsubishi Electric (later split off company), Mitsubishi Aircraft later, and then integrated to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (1934). The Mitsubishi’s relationship with “Yokohama “Minatomirai”  district could be traced back to the process of absorbing “Yokohama Docking Co. under the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in MHI general x06.JPG1935,and it renamed “Mitsubishi Yokohama Plant” under the MHI starting operation at the Yokohama port area. (The Yokohama Docking itself was established in 1889 in the purpose of enriching the dock and warehouse facilities at theMHI general x08.JPGYokohama Port)

Then in the 1990s, the Yokohama Plant decided to move its factory to Kanazawa in the Hokuriku Japan. Concurrently the redevelopment project of “Minatomira 21” in Yokohama’s port area started with using this vast shipyard area and its adjacent railway site. This MHI general x05.JPGproject was intended to develop the multi functional metropolitan district representing Yokohama, such as building of the present landmark tower, modern hotels, museums, business offices and other township facilities.
MHI Illust x07.JPG       MHI itself built the “headquarters office” and “MHI Technology Center” there, and established the “Mitsubishi Minatomirai Museum” in this district. In addition, it created the relics of the dock site of its Yokohama Plant there in its original figure as a historic monument, and transformed to a historic site where citizens could enjoy along with the other tourist site like “Red Brick Warehouse” in the Yokohama Port.

♣  Exhibition of Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum

MHI general x02.JPGMHI Illust x02       The MHI has been managing the broad technology areas of and business so far. So the exhibits of the Museum are extensive. The exhibition hall is currently dividing into several zones, such as the exhibition of aerospace, deep ocean ship, land transportation, human life, environment and energy, scientific exploration, and others. The MHI’s top technology achievements are displayed there using large models and live simulators..       Let’s see the exhibition corner by each field.

MHI general x03.JPGThe visitors are able to examine the exhibition by plug in the following YouTube site.( )



♣  Exhibition of Space Zone

MHI space x-01.JPG      In this space corner, we can find the MHI’s newly developed aircraftMHI space x-03.JPGMRJ and space rockets in the scale model.  There it exhibited the actual products of engines LE-7 and LE-7A for Japanese original rocket of H-IIA and H-IIB produced by MHI which ordered by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The H-II rocket is an improved version of the H-1 rocket which was developed and MHI space x-07.JPGlaunched in the 1980s as a space exploration satellite. And this latest type of LE- 7A is said to be developed by Mitsubishi as the first stage mainMHI space x-05.JPG engine for the H-II rocket since the 2000s. This engine is adopted a two-stage combustion cycle system with high fuel efficiency. The real model of booth part scaled 3.4 meters in length and 1,7 tons in weight was exhibited there. The bursting sound of the simulation engine was really dramatic and amazing.

MHI Illust x08       Besides this exhibit, many previous H-type rocket models were displayed there in the hall, and it is showing how the Japanese space rocket has been advancing till now in which the MHI engineer team MHI MRJ x-01.JPGhas actively involved in its development. Also, it provides the pseudo environment model of the Japanese space station and describes the future goal of space development. There was a video room so called “Frontier Theater” too to show the future image of space development.

On the other hand, in the flight aviation corner theMHI MRJ x-02.JPG museum placed the simulator of commercial jet aircraft MRJ which is currently under development by MHI as a flagship project. So this zone is the most popular site among visitors. The exterior and interior of MRJ’s nose and front torso part are displayed there, and it is possible to try the flight simulation of MRJ in the cockpit.

♣  Deep Ocean Development Zone

MHI Illust x09      The MHI has been building many functional special vessels, MHI Ocean x-03.JPGsuch as submarines and deep sea exploration vessels in addition to the conventional passenger ships, container ships, LPG ships, and so on. Among them, the museum is exhibiting a full-scale manned submersible ship “Shinkai 6500” and the MHI Ocean x-09.JPGdeep earth exploration vessel “Chikyu”.        Here, the interior part of the vessels had been reproduced in detail there, so the real facilities such as the mounted manipulator, pressure hull, buoyancy material, etc. can be observed seen as well as the outside appearance of the submersible ship,

In the deep ocean part of the earth, there existed many mistrial things that are not yet MHI Ocean x-05.JPGMHI Ocean x-02.JPGknown in human world, such as in the field of geology, topography, biological environment, and ocean resources that assumed sleeping in the deep ocean. So the exploration of this field would be the one of today’s biggest tasks for human race.       Then it is indicating how MHI has been engaging with the deep-sea submarines, exploration development in the museum. In this context, this corner might be one of the best facilities to convey the knowledge on the deep-sea scientific research and deep exploration technology.

♣   Land Transportation Zone

MHI Illust x10.JPG       This corner displays a large-scale diorama model that makes us imagineMHI Trans x-01.JPGabout the future urban construction and transportation system. The theme is how to advance the possible transportation system in future, in particular the public transportation that MHI Trans x-03.JPGneeds not necessarily rely on automobiles in the worsening global warming and air pollution. The visitors are led to examine the on-going communication network, power supply system and others facilities to securing this safe and comfortable goal of urban life. The museum side calls this simulation like “Perfect City”.
It is attractive part too since it can try driving of future compact tram car there. 

♣  Environment and Energy Zone

MHI energy x-01.JPG     The MHI has been engaging long time on the nuclear reactor development along with Toshiba andMHI Illust x03.JPGHitachi. This nuclear power is somewhat becoming down in business these days after the Fukushima nuclear accident, but Mitsubishi still continues its R&D activities in the development of nuclear technology by adopting “pressurized water nuclear reactor” systems.MHI energy x-03.JPGMHI energy x-04.JPG The exhibition shows numerous safety mechanisms in the museum in order to prevent accidents, cooling water spray in containers, control system, etc. by the one-thirty scale model with the description of the mechanism of MHI energy x-02.JPGnuclear power generation. Apart from discussions on whether the nuclear power plant is ultimately safe and secure, it was an excellent exhibition that clearly shows the mechanism of nuclear power generation.
In this section, they also introduce the company’s energy development initiatives such as sunlight, wind power and geothermal heat too.

♣   Technology Experiment Zone

MHI experiment x-02.JPG       There’s an exhibition corner of the Museum called the “Science MHI experiment x-01.JPGPlaza” at the part of the museum which presents the appearance of the future of science and technology in the hands-on manner. This corner is the facility for visitors to familiarize the recent science advancement by using MHI experiment x-03.JPGvarious machines and tools. The futuristic science screens and the like are prepared there, so that even the first-time visitors are able to enjoy the advancement of science and life style in future. This corner is quite attractive and gains a good reputation particularly among young generations.

♣   Remarks after visit

MHI Illust x01.JPG     After the visit I was coming to feel that the purpose of this museum wasn’t only introducing the challenging technology of Mitsubishi, but also MHI space x-06.JPGit was trying to show all over the top-notch technology which Japanese engineers are currently challenging in the exhibition, such as the technology of industrial machinery, aircraft, ships, space development equipment. Though this facility wasn’t extensively introduced the MHI’s past business records like showed in the IHI’s i-Muse and Toshiba’s “Science MHI Illust x06.JPGHall”.  But I thought it is a really attractive museum where we can experience the technological challenges in the industry world with tangible models and simulation in the easy-to-understand measures.
The comprehensive guidance and the commentary on the exhibits are available there, so it is an advisable industrial museum to visit for familiarizing Japanese current advancing industrial technology.







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Visit IHI Ishikawajima Archive

Archive told the fate of Ishikawajima society with IHI industrial development

What’s Ishikawajima all about

Ishikawa logo x01.JPG      I have visited “Ishikawajima Archive”(石川島資料館) just after observing the IHI’s” i-Muse”. This museum was established by Ishikawa Outlook x01.JPGIHI on the purpose to introduce  IHI’s development since its beginning  and the local history of Ishikawajima region from the Edo era to now. It has been titled like -“Area development from Ishikawajima shipyard to IHI Industry corporation “. The museum site is located in the corner of “River IHI- Illust x02City 21″ complex along the Sumida River where’s transformed to the residential area after IHI had moved to the newly reclaimed island Toyosu, Tokyo.  It’s never a big facility, but the exhibits are nice and attractive in contents which show well the  evolving society of Ishikawajima area, as well as a history of shipbuilding industry  in Japan. This short description is my impression of visit.

see HP of Ishikawajima Archive:

♣  Exhibition of Ishikawajima Archive of IHI

Nikon Illust x04 Camara and person        The Archive is divided into several  zones. They are the corner of Ishikawa Outlook x02.JPGIshikawajima community in Edo and its area’s involvement to ship building activity (“Ship building”), the corner of IHI’s business situation at the initial Tsukuda and Ishikawajima Plant (“Creating the Times”), the corner of Japan’s development of heavy industries (“Short story of beginning Heavy industry”), and the corner of “Factory Diary” zone that provides the daily appearance of operation in the Ishikawa shipbuilding factory of initial period.   They are elaborately introduced in illustration panels, actual models such as a ship model, diorama exhibitions at factory facilities, and video materials.
The contents of them were as follows.

♣  Exhibition of “Ship building”

 “Ishikawajima” island located at the estuary of the Sumida-gawa river was formally Ishikawa kabuto x01.JPGTUS-Illust 17used as the residence space by the Ishikawa Samurai family for generations. After that, this land had transformed into the workplace of poor people in the Edo era, so called “Ninsoku-Yoseba”( 人足寄場:Special labor camp zone). However, the Edo Shogunate at that time had changed the fate of this island in 1853 because the Shogunate created a shipbuilding yard at this area in the end of the Tokugawa period due to the necessity of maritime protection.

After the Meiji Restoration, Hirano Tomiji, a founder of IHI, was handed Ishikawa hirano x01.JPGover this shipyard for establishment of a private company “Ishikawa Hirano Shipyard”. Since then, this land began going developed as a cradles place Ishikawa factory x04.JPGof the heavy industry based on the shipbuilding industry by IHI. The archive deliberately introduces  this process with various illustrations, panels, and documents.      In the exhibition, the old armor of Ishikawa Shigetsugu, owner of the land in the Edo era, is displayed in the corner and make us to feel the oldness of history of this land.

Ishikawa Ship x01.JPG       Also, a miniature model of Japan’s first steamboat which built at the Hirano Shipyard is exhibited there too. These things will lively remind the appearance of the Ishikawajima shipbuilding factory, as well as the local society since its early time


♣  Exhibition of “Creating the Times”

This zone serves as a corner showing the chronological history chart of IHI from the Ishikawa Outlook x03.JPGbeginning of the original Ishikawajima Shipyard in the Meiji era to the its Tsukuda factory in the Showa period, and further until the time of relocation of IHI to current Toyosu region and its business expansion. There, the exhibition shows many models and photographs concerning company’s memorable goods, and try to introduce the details of the technology development of IHI.   Ishikawa Ship x03.JPG      For example, the model of the first screw type steam warship “Chokai” (鳥海1885), the model of the large hammerhead crane (1916), the miniature of the electric locomotive used in the Omi Railroad, and the picture of the Tokyo station building (1911), and others are broadly displayed.IHI- Illust x03

Ishikawa shibusawa x01.JPG       Additionally, we can find many memorial photos there, like the portraits of founder Hirano Tomiji, Shibusawa Eiichi who  helped the development of early time of the IHI, Ishikawajima shipbuilding, a portrait of Doko Toshio who led the merger with Harima Heavy Industries and consolidated the development of the current IHI.

♣  Exhibition of “Short Story of Heavy industry”

Ishikawa Bridge x01.JPG    This is the exhibition zone highlighting the IHI’s Ishikawa crane x01.JPGtechnical achievement by showing the Ishikawa Ship x04.JPGmemorial pictures like Japan’s first iron bridge “Miyako-bashi” (都橋 Capita Bridge), powerful AC generator, domestic jet engine, tanker “Idemitsu Maru” (出光丸), ”Ajia-Maru” (亜細亜丸)and so on. All these  exhibitions looked  symbolizing the development of heavy industries in Japan.

♣  Exhibition of “Factory Diary”

Ishikawa factory x02.JPG       Among the exhibitions, the most attractive Ishikawa worker x01.JPGand characteristic one was this “Factory Diary” corner here for me. They are trying to describe the varety of scene on the daily workers’ lives and the appearance of factory operations at Ishikawajima and Tsukuda area where IHI’s factories were located, by the means of  big illustration screen, beside expressing the  daily movement of employees with a factory’s diorama model. Also, many audio videos Ishikawa factory x03.JPGare facilitated  in the exhibition hall in order to live up the figures of workers and local people who were with the factories in Ishikawajima and Tsukuda factory area in the high-growth industrial period of Japan.

Ishikawa worker x03.JPG Ishikawa worker x04 Ishikawa worker x02.JPG


♣  After the Archive visit

Ishikawa logo x02.JPG       Actually it was the time of visit of  IHI’s “i-Muse”, when I was advised to visit this “Ishikawajima Archive “. However,  in a sense, it has been looked very much attractive for me even more than IHI’s  i-Muse itself. It was quite unique that the exhibition was arranged under the consistent concept makings together with the clear introduction of the history and culture of Ishikawa and Tsukuda community where the factory operation has been going.

Back then, IHI was called Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries, and the major Ishikawa Outlook x04.JPGproduction base was located at this Ishikawajima or Tsukuda region, but in 1979, the Tsukuda factory was closed caused by the move of IHI’s operation site. Since then, this area has been incorporated into the Sumida River Waterfront Development Program by Tokyo government, and transformed into “River City 21” for the residential and office buildingIHI- outlook x06s space in row. It seems that it is representing a moving pattern of relocation of  production sites according to the transformation of the Japanese economy and society among the post-War evolvement, from the  mass production and scale priority growth pattern to the more environmental and energy saving style, and the movement of production sites from the centralizing manufacturing in the urban area to the locally spreading development along with the urbanization and diverse relocation. In this meaning, it looked a valuable archive implicating how local communities have been changing along with Japan’s industrial development and social transforming too.



– 石川島資料館ホームページ:
–  IHIの沿革・歩みHP:
– 石川島資料館 中央区まちかど展示館



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