Visit the “Industrial Technology Museum” of Nippon Institute of Technology

Explore the roots of machine industries in Japan as seen in the Museum collection

Museum NIT- Logo x01.JPG      Last month I visited the “Industrial Technology Museum” in SaitamaMuseum NIT- Overview x05.JPG prefecture in the Nippon Institute of Technology which is widely known for its practical and advanced engineering education. In the museum, a variety of machine tools and historical machinery since the Meiji Period are preserved and exhibited that had been greatly contributing to the development of Japanese mechanical industry. And in Museum NIT- Overview x03.JPGaddition, it displays the latest industrial machinery such as advanced NC equipment, engines, energy-saving and gas turbines too. It is also interesting that the figures of old town machining factory in Meiji is reproduced to able to see the real situation of basic machine industry in Japan at that time as a foundation. I felt that it’s a prominent facility to able to learn the history of mechanical industrial development history. Among the whole collection, more than 270 items of preserved machines and facilities were designated in 2018 for the “Mechanical Heritage” as precious industrial heritages.      The following is an expression of this visit.

♣ Aim and Outline of “Industrial Museum”

Museum NIT- Illust x01.JPG    In the museum, more than hundreds of historical machine tools sinceMuseum NIT- Overview x04.JPG the Meiji period, either imported or domestically produced, are displayed in line categorized by the year of production. Generally, machine tools are classified roughly into a sort of lathes, drilling machines, milling machines, grinding & finishing machines, process working machines, and digital machining centers. The museum’s collection covers all of these diverse. Museum NIT- Machine x03.JPG  For example, the museum preserves and exhibits a “Hand-turned lathe” (constructed by Ikegai Works) of the Meiji era, Pratt & Whitney’s “General lathe 131NCHB” in the early Showa, and a universal milling machine from Frieddeckel (Germany) , Yoshida Iron Works’ upright pole board (1950s), Ship Co. (Switzerland) “Jig boring Museum NIT- Machine x07.JPGmachine 3R type”, Multi-function machine tools, Kelney’s “Machining Center Eb type” (US , 1970s) ), Hitachi Seiko Co., Ltd. “Machining Center MBN-330” (1970s) and many other historical machine tools.   Besides these historic machines, various old looms used in the Meiji Taisho era, the 

Museum NIT- Machine x09.JPGrecent high-performance gas turbine demonstration plant (designed by a private technical research association in 1987), glass mercury rectifier (1961, Nippon Batteries Co.) are on display.  In addition, British steam locomotive “Dub 2100 Model” that had been operated during the Meiji era (1891) was also found there in a good condition.


♣  Utilization and production of “machine tools” starting from import as seen in the exhibition

<Background of development of machine tools in Japan>

Museum NIT- Illust x12.JPG    Japan’s industrial machinery technology now marks the world’s top class as Museum NIT- Machine x01seeing in the  industrial robot technology.  When we look into the history, however, the introduction of modern machine was the matter just started a century ago, so its was extremely difficult to master them in short time because its technology base was very poor, particularly regarding iron machines. As a matter of fact most machine tools using in the modern manufacturing firms had to be imported quite long time before the domestic production technology was finally established in the Show period, especially after the World War II.

<Infant period of Japanese Machine tools industries>

The first modern machine tools in Japan was said to be introduced around 1857 in nagasaki-zosen-wh-dock-3the end of the Edo period and the Shogunate imported them from the Netherlands. Meantime, a number of shipyards and military arsenals of Japan were rashly built to promoteMuseum NIT- Machine x34.JPG industrialization since Meiji era trying to catch up to the advanced countries. However, the Japanese modern machine technology was quite poor at that time, so their move had to completely depend on the imported machines from abroad. Museum NIT- Machine x35.JPGGood examples can observe in the Yokohama and Nagasaki Shipyard where had engaged in the repair work of ship and railway were much rely on the imported technology and machines. But, the experience of using machines had provided Japanese workers a precious Museum NIT- Machine x05.JPGchance to learn their structure and functions. Through this process, many engineers gradually mastered the technology to create this machine tools by themselves.

<Start of domestic production>

Museum NIT- Person x01.JPG        Under these learning process, a town factory of mechanic tools (currently “Ikegai Mfg Co.”) was established in Tokyo in 1889 and its owner Museum NIT- Machine x36.JPGShotaro Ikegai had successfully made two hand-turned lathes for personal use.  This is said to be the first modern machine tools domestically produced in Japan. The similar examples might be existed in various locations across Japan. But Ikegai would be a typical successful firm and their business is continuing until now as a giant machine producing company. This is a reason that the museum is proudly exhibiting this first lathe machine as memorable item to memorize its significance.

On the other hand, prior to this machine tools actually you can find there was a Meiji- Machine x04Meiji- Illust x04“planing machine” marked a chrysanthemum emblem which had been manufactured for training purposes at the Akabane Works under the Ministry of Engineering in 1872. This machine is now preserved in the “Meijimura Park” in Nagoya.  These are all precious machines that is conveying the reality of Japan’s machine industry in the. early days. Some of them are exhibited in the museum too.

Museum NIT- Person x02.JPG       After that, around the 1900s, several leading machine tool manufacturers, launched their business, such as Niigata Iron Works (1894), Okuma (1903), Karatsu Iron Works (1910), and Hitachi Seiki (1910).  But the Museum NIT- Machine x37.JPGdomestic products were mostly limited to be imitation from the Western models and the quality was not yet satisfactory to practical use as well. Then,  most of the machine tools that contributed to the Japan’s modern machinery industry had to be imported from the major manufacturers in UK, Germany, the United States for a long time even until 1950s after the War. However,

Museum NIT- Machine x05   Examples of these imported machine tools in the museum are Craven Borthers’ “Axle Lathe” (1905), Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Gleason Works “”Casa gear Museum NIT- Machine x13.JPGcutting machine ” (1910) etc. and others. Even though, as representative domestic products, the museum dared to display the Otsuki Iron Works “Turret Lathe” (1920) and the Karatsu Iron Works “Radial Drilling Machine” (1929).

Museum NIT- Logo x05.JPG    But in this process, thanks to the tireless efforts of engineers, Japan has finally Museum NIT- Machine x06.JPGsucceeded in developing adequate technology suitable for Japanese advanced manufacturing sites. That has been attained through long successive process in the development observed in history like, as the first step, import the model machines importing, then operate them and learn the mechanism and structure, begin to produce them imitating technology, and then develop own machine Museum NIT- Machine x17.JPGtechnology and apply them to the practical manufacturing. And, finally, machine producing technology in Japan could put forward to achieve the present position being paralleled with the Western advanced manufacturers. The museum has extensively tried to trace this long historical process and apply them for education and research works by the dynamic display of actual machine used in the factory.

<Reproduction of machine factories during the Meiji and Taisho periods>

Museum NIT- Illust x14.JPG  Even in this poor circumstances, several independent machine factories were Museum NIT- Machine x04.JPGactively running in town level to support the foundation of Japanese machine industries.  One of them was Uehara machine factory in Meiji period which founded by Eisuke Uehara in Mita, Tokyo in 1907. The museum exhibits the reproduction of this factory as it were in the collection. This Uehara’s factory has been manufacturing various machine parts for over sixty years until 1950s using domestic lathes made by Ikegai Iron Works. It is precious that we can see the state of the machine factory in its original form.

<Formation of domestic technology and advancement of machine tools>

Museum NIT- Illust x07.JPG      By the way, the economic conditions of World War One in the 1910s became a tailwind blow for development of Japanese machine tool Museum NIT- Machine x14.JPGmanufacturers.  The import of machine tools from the US and Europe to Japan had suddenly been ceased because of War, and this gave to a fortunate chance for rising of Japan’s domestic machine industry. For example, it prompted Ikegai Iron Works export lathes machines to the UK and Russia for the first time.  Also, since the 1930s, the machine industries were Toyota A- First stage x01beginning to show the new development. Toyota has started to engage in production of machine tools in expecting new development of automobile industry in future. Nissan was also followed suite in launching new machinery production with looking for expand of the automobile market.

Museum NIT- Machine x10.JPG   However, the real popularization of full-scale machine tools production in Japan had to wait until the period of high growth after the War since 1960s.  In the post-World War II, the rapid economic and industrial development had started. And it caused the huge demand to the advanced machine tools and strongly stimulated production of domestic machines.  Correspondingly, the domestic machine tool manufacturers, that were still technically in-matured, tried to develop their technology in the measure of focusing on technology Museum NIT- Machine x16.JPGpartnership with leading European and American companies.  As a result, the technical level of Japan’s domestic machine tools has improved dramatically to the level of world standard. Among them, the significance would Museum NIT- Machine x24.JPGbe found in the exert development of electrical discharge machines and the aggressive introduction of NC equipment for domestic machine tools. In particular, the introduction of NC is said to have dramatically improved Japan’s competitiveness in the machinery industries.

<Development of NC machines>

Museum NIT- Machine x18.JPG     The museum displays a variety of imported machine tools and machines produced by domestic manufacturers in the exhibition. For example, Kearney & Trecker’s “Machining Center EB” (1970), Lees-Branner’s “6-axis bobo HD-40”, Matsuura Museum NIT- Machine x12Machine’s “Program Control Milling Machine S-2” (1962), Ikegai’s “Numerically Controlled Lathe LX” -20N “(1978), Hitachi Machining’s” Machining Center MBN-330 “. It would be the best collection to inspect the development of Japanese machine tools.


♣  Recent progress in machine technology and sophistication of machine tools

Museum NIT- Illust x11.JPG       Japan’s machine tool manufacturing technology have achieved and surpassed the world standard in the 1970s. And Japan’s manufactures have Museum NIT- Machine x20.JPGoverwhelmed the United States and became the world’s greatest producer in machine tools in the 1980s.  The greatest contribution to it has been the development of advanced NC equipment and technological progress. These greatly accelerated the development of Japanese automobiles, electrical and electronic equipment, and various machine industries in the 1970s and 1980s.

Museum NIT- Person x04.JPG    Also, since the 1990s, the industrial robot technology was emerged particularly in the sophisticated manufacturing industries and led to promote of production of industrial robots in various Museum NIT- Machine x32.JPGpurposes.  Among them, you can count several advanced companies have grown fast, such as FANUC, Yaskawa Electric, and Amada, and they account for now a large share of the world.  Today, these industrial robots are widely used in automobile assembly and painting, and for also electronic parts production sites.  On the other hand, Yamazaki Mazak, Mori Seiki, Okuma and other Museum NIT- Person x03.JPGmakers are playing an active role in the machine tool production, especially NC related equipment too.  However, unfortunately these recent mother machines and industrial robots were not seen much because the Museum NIT- Machine x31.JPGmuseum seemingly try to focus on historical exhibits whatsoever.   On the other hand, the collection of other industrial equipment are quite outstanding, such as actual models of high-efficiency gas turbines in Museum NIT- Machine x28.JPG1980s, hydrogen engines, new rotary engines, are broadly exhibited in the museum. These seem to show us significance of Japanese recent technological trends in the machinery industries.
Museum NIT- Logo x05

 (The description relies heavily on the Museum of Industrial Technology Collection Exhibit Guide and the  marked picture is quoted from Guide book too)

After the museum visit

Museum NIT- Logo x04.JPG      The Museum of Industrial Technology was established as one of the commemorative projects for the 80th anniversary of the Nippon Institute of Museum NIT- Machine x25.JPGTechnology. This was aimed to prompt practical education and research work for students, but it also purposes to promote science and technology in the machinery industries among general people. I was just amazed how it was possible to collect that many historic machines systematically in the museum.
In addition, the uniqueness is that many of them are preserved in the condition of operational condition, so we can actually check the functions by moving them. I felt that this museum is a really valuable facility for Museum NIT- Machine x33.JPGverifying the historical fact how machine tools have been used and contributed to industrial development in Japan. In particular, the reproduction of the town factory during the Meiji era, the first domestic lathe in Ikegai, and the exhibit of high-performance gas turbines were impressive.    In addition, although it was not possible to actually see due to time, it is attractive to see the 1890s, Museum NIT- Illust x06.JPGBritish steam locomotives that are actually running in the university.  Anyway, I felt that it was a unique museum that can synthetically link the dynamics of mechanical technology evolution and engineering education in the university.



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Visit JAXA’s Space Center in Tsukuba and Japan’s space exploration

  • looking into the history of Japan’s space exploration by visit Space Center-

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x01.JPG       Recently, one of the great information was brought to JapaneseJAXA Tsukuba- outlook x01.JPG space exploration history. This is a news coverage on the successful landing on of“Hayabusa-2” on the asteroid “Ryugyu” and taking up a sample soil from there. It is really astonishing technology that performed a pinpointed touch down on the planet that’s one billion km away in the JAXA Tsukuba- outlook x03.JPGuniverse. With this inspiring news, I have tried to visit the Tsukuba Space Development Center again this time. This is the description on this experience.
The Center is known to exhibit various memorial satellites, space station, rockets, and other objects which have been launched in the successive generation. It might be an ideal spot for inspecting the Japanese challenges to space exploration until now. I’ve traced here the figure of challenges to the space development in Japan along with describing my experience on this Center in this article.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA):

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x05.JPG     Note: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was formed in 2003, by merging with the Space Science Institute (ISAS), the Space Development Agency (NASDA), and the Aerospace Technology Research Institute (NAL), which were operating independently each other before. Tsukuba Space Information Center is an affiliated facility under this JAXA. For this reason, the major exhibits are inevitably concentrated in the Jaxa’s own activities. Meanwhile, it is said that many of the space satellites launched by the 1990s were mostly from the pre-integration ISAS. So, the article tries to introduce these ISAS’s achievements at the same time.

♣  Overview of Space Center and its Exhibition Center “Space Dome”

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x09.JPG    In the Center’s exhibition hall “Space Dome” are displaying variousJAXA Tsukuba- outlook x02.JPG models and real things of artificial satellites and rockets concerning Japanese space development with the extensive commentaries on the previous achievements. Such as a series of space satellites launched by Japan since 1970s, a structural model of Japanese experiment laboratory in the international space station (ISS), various rocket models which launched satellites, JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x05.JPGas well as the recent spacecraft like “Hayabusa” and others. In addition, the graphic images of weather observation which was obtained from satellites, geological maps of terrains and oceans of earth, terrestrial analysis done by satellite, and other scientific results are also found in the huge screen. By careful observation into these exhibits, we can learn much how the space development has been evolved, what kind technologies are embodied in satellites, how extent the mystery of universe has been unraveled, and so on. It looks an excellent museum facility to worth to visit.

♣  The early days of rocket and space development technology in Japan and the exhibition

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x13.JPG      In the corner of exhibition hall, we can find a model of tiny gray rocket JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x04.JPGless than 50 cm long being quietly placed beside the huge rocket models. This is called “Pencil rocket” (23 cm long and 1.8 cm in diameter), this is the one which was firstly used for the initial experiments in 1950s. And it is said that Japan’s rocket and space development had been begun in this line. In a sense, this is a symbolic exhibit for Japanese space development history.
JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x02.JPG     In retrospect, Japan’s rocket development begun in the 1930s, but it was interrupted by the Pacific War, and even after that, the aircraft and rocket development were banned long during the occupation period. Then, in 1952, under the San Francisco treaty, Japan JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x01.JPGbarely allowed to start development of aircraft and rockets and could step out the exploration in this field for the first time. The leader of this movement was Hideo Itokawa at the University of Tokyo, and this small toy-like “Pencil Rocket” was used in 1955 for his first trial experiments.

However, the advancement of rocket technology and the catch  up process was quite fast thank to the proactive engagement by his research team and the government support. JAXA Tsukuba- rocket x03.JPGAnd in 1958, the what’s called “Kappa rocket” was developed for the weather observation purposes, and it hardly reached an altitude of 40 km. Also, by the “Lambda Rocket” as a successor, the flying record could advance to the 2000 km which was an enough altitude to launch satellites.
And in 1970, the Japan’s first satellite, “Osumi” was successfully JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x02.JPGlaunched by the “lambda-4 S” rocket (L-4S). This was the fourth successful satellite in the world after the USSR, the US and France. The Tsukuba Center unfortunately doesn’t display this “Osumi” model, but pictures and description are presented there.
However, the process of challenge and failure, countless trial and error until reaching to this great attainment, is like a dramatic grandeur story, and this process is depicted in detail on the homepage of Space Science Institute’s (ISAS) titled “History of Space Development in Japan”.

♣   Japan’s early scientific satellite development and the exhibition

JAXA Tsukuba- moon x01.JPG       Meanwhile, the US and Soviet space development and artificial satellite navigation technology were far ahead of Japan. In 1961, theJAXA Tsukuba- moon x04.JPG astronaut Gagarin of the Soviet Union had been around the Earth by the spacecraft “Vostok” as a first human in space in 1962. The  famous message “Earth is blue” had sent to the whole world. And almost the same year, the U.S. had also achieved manned exploration travel to space flown by the “Friendship”. And, in 1969, the United States JAXA Tsukuba- moon x02.JPGsucceeded in landing on the moon for the first time with “Apollo 11”, and it became a dramatic news coverage at the time to memorize the first significant moment for mankind standing on the JAXA Tsukuba- moon x03.JPGmoon.    These space development challenges had somehow affected by the armed race under the Cold War, but it is also signified achievement that has enforced the science and technology and promoted the geographic and meteorological understanding about the situation of our earth. It is also believed to contribute to define the earth as only one unit among the great universe.
JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x10.JPG  On the other hand, Japan, which has participated in the development that was one lap behind, have strongly enforced the space development under the international technical cooperation while upgrading rocket performances. This progress is well shown in the commentary in the space center exhibition.

♣  Birth and Development of Experimental Scientific Satellite in 1970s

JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x01.JPG Meantime, when looking into the exhibition of the Center, the first satellite models is a display of the experiment satellite “Kiku No. 1”.  This satellite started to develop in 1971 and successfully JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x13.JPGlaunched and circled on orbit in 1975. Next to this object, the rather large “Kiku No.3” (1981) is placed in the hall. (These satellites were launched by the N-1 rocket originally developed by Japan). The satellite is a rather smaller size only weighing 80 kg compared to the current ones, but it is said that was a result of great experimental effort to lift up satellite to the space by the hands of own Japanese engineers.
JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x03.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- satellite x04.JPG      Prior to this, the scientific satellite “Sinsei” (MS-F2, 1971), “Radio observation satellite” (M-4S-4, 1972), “Tansei” (MS-T2, 1974), the high-rise Atmospheric observation satellite “Taiyo”(1975), aurora observation satellite “Kyokko” (EXOS-A, 1978)), and others are found in the development history.

♣  Japan’s past challenges in scientific satellite and exhibits

— Scientific observation and experimental satellites from the 80s and 90s —

JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x05.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- satellite x06.JPG     When it comes to 1980s, many scientific satellites began to launch equipped with various functions. For example, following the “Tansei 4” (MS-T4, 1980), the solar observation satellite “Hinotori” (ASTRO-A, 1981), the high-up atmosphere observation satellite “Oozora” (EXOS-C, 1984), Halley’s Comet Search satellite “Suisei” (PLANET-A), 1985), “Akebono” for magnetosphere observation (EXOS-D), etc.JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x11JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x10

were entered in the space orbit. These are all launched and operated by the Space Science Institute (ISAS).   JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x12.JPG  In the meantime, at the Center exhibition, we can observe NASDA’s technical experimental satellite “Kiku No. 4” (ETS-III, 1982), “Kiku No. 7 named “Orihime” (ETS-VII) which performed docking for multi satellites, and “Kiku No. 8” (ETS-2006) for communication technology development targeted to small terminals, and others.

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x15.JPG     Furthermore, the Center displays a number of satellites used for practical business and social purposes too, such as the satellite “Yuri No. 3” JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x15.JPG(BS-3a) which established the satellite broadcasting network since 1990s, and the new satellite “Ibuki” (GOSAT, 2009) for inspection of greenhouse gas situation, as well as “Daichi” (ALOS, 2006) which purposes to survey terrestrial conditions of earth. By observing the functions of these satellites, we can learn how space satellites are benefited for JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x16.JPGour society and serving for scientific analysis on the earth and universe.

In addition, the satellite “Kaguya “(Selena), launched in 2007, was an observation satellite that took orbits to the moon and it expected to contribute probing the moon in the future. This satellite was named after the Japanese folk story “Taketori Monogatari” and it has conjured a fancy dream and romance to the universe.


♣  Japan’s Scientific Satellite and International Cooperation, and its Exhibits

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x08.JPG     The major exhibition in the Center, by all means, would be a full-scale JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x01.JPGstructural model of Japanese experiment wing “Kibo” (JEM) that is installed in the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is a geostationary spacecraft that keeping orbits 400 km above the earth which built up by collaboration work by U. S., Russia, Japan and Canada.   And astronauts from these countries are staying there to JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x04.JPGjointly conduct scientific research in the various field. The Station Project has started assembling in 1998 and completed in 2011. From Japan, several astronauts, such as Mouri and Wakasa and other staff have already been staying in the station several times and practiced scientific experiments in its Japanese wing.JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x02.JPG

The exhibited “Kibo” is a full-scale model of this wing. And this is the most popular spot for visitors to be able to examine actual environment of inside wing and can directly observe the experimental modules, in addition to JAXA Tsukuba- satellite x18.JPGthe actual working place in and out activities in the space.  Furthermore, the appearance of the robot arm at the outboard position and the docking devices can be watched there.  However, the most crucial issues for maintaining of the function of the space station would be a shipping system of the necessary materials and replacement of astronauts regularly. For this JAXA Tsukuba- ISS x05.JPGpurpose, the satellite “Konotori” (HTV) was used which launched in 2011 in Japan and continuously operated since. This scale real model is  on display as well as an eye-catching object in the Center.

The Japan’s wing was looked rather smaller than I thought, but it was quite effective to figure out of non-gravity world and astronauts’ working conditions that were often aired in TV scene.


♣  Present state of space development in Japan and the display of Hayabusa Project

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x10.JPG However, one of the highlighting issues regarding Japan’s space JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x04.JPGexploration might be the touchdown scene of spacecraft “Hayabusa 2” which headed to the asteroid called Ryugu.” This Hayabusa model is displaed as a special object of the exhibition at the Space Center. This Hayabusa was launched from Tanegashima Island by the Japanese rocket H-IIA in 2014, and navigating around one billion kilometers away in the JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x02.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x03.JPGuniverse and finally successed to land on the targeted asteroid. The satellite is purposed to probe the surface soil of the planet, take the objects out from it, and to be expected to bring them back to the earth in 2020. And as of July 2019, the ship is on sailing in the universe for returning to the earth.

JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x07.JPGJAXA Tsukuba- illust x09     According to Center’s official, Japan’s space satellite operations and communication technology could have been reached that high levels and proven its powerful ability, and even moreover could stir romantic dream to the mystery of universe. It can be said this is an evidence that Japan’s aerospace development, which is started far backwardly in 1950s, now reached to this world level during these 50 years. The scale model is on display with extensive commentary at the venue and many people gathered around there to observe this memorial exhibit.

Beforehand, the first “Hayabusa”, which was launcJAXA Tsukuba- illust x12.JPGhed in 2003 and returned in June 2010, has reached the asteroid “Itokawa” and was success to bring back its tiny topsoil sample.   This was an actually demonstration flight, in a way, to test of the ion engine power, but during the JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x08.JPGreturning flight operation, the serious trouble had occurred in the function of communication devices and forced to stray in the universe for more than 5 years without being located, and the project thought to be completely failed. But after the longtime tireless searching, suddenly a slight signal from the satellite was catch by Jaxa staff, and they could barely traced back to recover the flight. It is a really dramatic return to JAXA Tsukuba- hayabusa x09.JPGthe earth. This successful return was dramatized in the TV and movies and greatly inspired Japanese mind.  Until recently, the model of Hayabusa No. 1 was exhibited in the hall (though the display has been replaced by Hayabusa 2’s great success.)      Even so, in the future, if the return of “Hayabusa 2” is successfully done, it is believed that some evidences for asteroid’s organic stuff  might be detected and considered to help approaching a bit to mystery of life origin in the universe. It will be significant to be able to see such a scientific significance in the future.

After the visit

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x18.JPG      The first visit Tsukuba Center was in the fall of 2015, but I decided to revisit it in JAXA Tsukuba- outlook x04.JPGhearing the recent successful landing of Hayabusa 2.  Recently people’s concerns in space development was quite high, and many visitors were visiting the Center to witness the recent advancement of Japan’s space aviation technology. In the exhibition hall, Jaxa staff take us a tour around the Space Dome and they kindly give us necessary information about the exhibits. Then, it is easy to understand the meaning of exhibits on display there. I felt that the exhibition was a really nice facility to get scientific knowledge on the space problems and exploring technology.

JAXA Tsukuba- illust x16.JPG     In the meantime, for one thing, it was interested that Japan’s general approach to space development seems to comprise a lot of romanticism along with scientifically inquisitive.  This was actually reflected in the naming of the satellites. This will be seen in the naming of “Kaguya” and “Hagoromo” based on ancient folklore in Japan, as well as “Kiku” (chrysanthemum), “Yuri”(lily), “Himawari”(sunflower) and “Hayabusa”(falcon) taking names of flowers and birds for them. JAXA Tsukuba- outlook x05.JPG Furthermore, the name of targeted asteroid for sail “Itokawa,” was named after Dr. Itokawa who was a pioneer in space development in Japan, and “Ryugu,” is a legendary oceanic Arcadia. It seems they were deeply reflected a feeling of romance to the universe and plausible exploration history in Japanese mindset. And I found there’s another important space facilities of Jaxa in Sagamihara of Kanagawa prefecture, so I’d like to visit this place in near future. In addition, I thought if I have a chance, I wanted to visit “Uchinoura” and “Tanegashima”, the satellite launching sites in Kagoshima prefecture, one day.



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Visit Toyota Industrial Technology Museum- (2)Automobile Pavilion

Showing Toyota’s historical car-making challenge and its current advanced technology of Toyota cars

Outline of Automobile Pavilion

Toyota A- Illust x18.JPG        Here, I’ll report on the exhibition of “Automobile Pavilion” in the Toyota A- overview x 04.JPGToyota Industrial Museum, following the last “Textile Pavilion.”. The “Automobile Pavilion” in the museum shows the Toyota’s historical development of technology and its initial business challenge, as well as its current conditions of automobile technology of Toyota A- Model car x 01.JPGToyota. As we see the previous observation, Toyota was beginning to challenge to product automobiles using accumulated technology and capitals based on the textile machinery business from 1930s. The museum shows how Toyota could successfully transform its business from textile sector to automobile and how it expand its automobile technology and business to the current Toyota A- First stage x06.JPGoutstanding great position in the historical views and extensive technological analysis.
The Pavilion is roughly divided into four major categories. That is, a history corner named “Challenge” for producing Toyota’s own passenger car, a corner of the “Technological development process” to show how automobile engine and component have been created, a corner of ” R&D system and strategy” for showing how it build-up automobile industry in the company”, and also illustrations what’s called Toyota A- Model car x 12.JPG“Toyota Production System, TPS” in the production scene.  Abundant exhibits related automobile technology and its structural features, evolution of production technology, in addition to the current machinery development are displayed in the Pavilion. Various historical anecdotes regarding Toyota’s technology development also introduced here.
 See:   Toyota Industrial Technology Museum Automobile PavilionHP:


♣  Technological challenges of Toyota’s automotive business

<Toyota’s initial Challenge to automobile business >

Toyota A- person x01.JPG     In this section, the exhibition shows how Kiichiro Toyoda (a son of founder of Toyoda Sakichi), has started the challenging business of automobile succeeding textile machinery industry by using keywords “Determination”, “Challenge “ and “Leap Forward.Toyota A- History x05.JPG

In the beginning for his challenge, Kiichiro set up “Automotive Department” inside the “Toyoda Automatic Loom Works” (a predecessor of Toyota Co.) in 1933, and he put forward to a trial work of automobile production with it. Then, he firstly set up a “material testing room” and “steelmaking section” in the company for producing iron materials for automobile parts and body by their Toyota A- First stage x01own hand. At this department, the engine blocks for vehicle were tried to make, but it was not easy task at that time. They faced so many difficulties because the high-level casting technology to create enough resilience to the machines, like engine block, had been existed in Japan at that time.Toyota A- First stage x05.JPG

At the exhibition, the old machinery that used in the trial period is placed in the “Test room” in the pavilion. Solid model of casting cylinder blocks there gives lively images of the process of trial and error that time.  And Toyota’s first “A type engine” and other type of initial engine models are also displayed there. These exhibits remind us the actual image of the Toyota’s “Challenge” time and its tireless efforts those days.      The outcome from these continuous efforts was actually the “Type A prototype passenger car” (completed in 1935). Toyota A- Model car x 04.JPGThis memorial car is proudly exhibited in the pavilion along with various metal sheets of body, assembled reproduction models, and other components produced at that time. And in 1936, the company finally completed its marketable first passenger car. This vehicle is exhibited in this corner too. It was the time when the company has changed its name from “Toyoda” to “Toyota” and has entered the full-scale automobile business industry in 1937.

<Road to full-scale car production and its marketing>

Toyota A- Illust x13     Toyota wanted to start full-scale production of automobiles from the initial period with seeing huge potentials in the domestic Toyota A- History x04.JPGmarket, but the true challenge was how to achieve the affordable price to set in production and how to build enough supply chains to meet consumer demand. In order to respond to the requirement, Toyota built the modern “Korom Plant” in Sakae region, Nagoya (1938) for starting the integrated production site of automobiles. There’s an anecdote story in the museum that the concept of “just-in-time” had been initially adopted in the factory.
Toyota A- First stage x04.JPG   However, production and sales of automobiles were interrupted by the Pacific War, and the War time destruction, then the start of full-scale car production had to wait for the postwar period. Although Toyota suffered from severe business crisis after the War, the company embarked on Toyota A- Model car x 03.JPGreconstruction of automobiles business immediately, and Toyota has challenged to produce small passenger car “SA type” and small truck “SB type” in 1947 responding to the strong market demand.  Then, in 1955, the first full-scale domestic passenger car “Toyopet Crown” was born, These model memorial cars is on display in the pavilion and now charm visitors.

♣   Exhibition of the transition toward full-scale car

Toyota A- Illust x07.JPG       This next corner tries to exhibit the transition of its technological development of Toyota’s automobile, specifically on the features of Toyota A- Parts x01.JPGautomobile parts embodied, its functions and structure, in addition to the driving systems consisting vehicles.  For examples, showing the mechanism of the engine, transmission, brake, steering, chassis and body, and others by the real models or cut models. Also there’s an explain in detail about what kind of functions the parts have, and what kind of technology has been used Toyota A- Parts x02.JPGToyota A- Parts x08.JPGto make it.
For example, in the case of showing engines, 14 representative Toyota engines are displayed side by side, so that the evolvement of engine technology can be observed clearly there. The evolution of transmission system is also on display with exemplifying 7 units of them, first from the Crown’s 3-speed manual transmission to the Toyota A- Parts x07Toyota A- Parts x05.JPGToyota A- Parts x04latest automatic transmission with electronic control.
Regarding the driving system and suspension of cars, the specimen models are exhibited to indicate the transition of the mechanism with using model vehicles, like the first generation of Crown, Corolla and Celsior, FF Camry, and Landcruiser for the 4WD system. By looking at this exhibition, Toyota A- Parts x13.JPGvisitors could recognize the characteristics of driving system and its running stability as well as the development direction automaker Toyota has been aiming at.      The steering and braking systems are also extensively introduced. So, visitors could learn well about the complicated mechanism of power steering, the principle of ABS, etc. by seeing devices which installed in the model cars.

♣  Exhibition on the footprint of Toyota’s technology development

Toyota A- Illust x02.JPG      In this section, the footsteps of Toyota’s automobile development technology are described, by showing the typical model cars of Toyota produced in the past decades. It characterizes the broad range of technological advancement comparing the past and present.  For the examples, improvement of materials to use for vehicles, Toyota A- Model car x 13.JPGdesigning skills, structural scale-up, and driving conformity and fuel efficiency, so on.   We can see that the line-up of Toyota’s representative leading cars there, such as variety models from 1930s, the current modern vehicles equipped with advanced functions, to the futuristic model car “Mirai” and other advanced cars. Among them we can find the legendary Toyota A- Model car x 06.JPG“Toyoda AA” passenger car in 1936, and the epoch-making first model car of “Toyota Crown” in 1955 and other cars.
It is also interesting to see the transition of technology to respond the consumers’ preference and social requirement.  For example, the challenges to safety and environment since 1970s and 1980s, and o the current stage of seeking designing, driving conformity and safety.  Toyota A- History x06.JPGSo,  in this corner, the museum is introducing various functions embodied by displaying many real cars, such as the first Corolla (1966), Corona general (1973), Camry (1982), Celsior (1989), and the recent “Prius” (1997). There is also a clear explanation of PHV (2012) system and introduction of Toyota hybrid system in detail.


♣  Reproducing exhibition of automobile assembly line 

Toyota A- History x02.JPG         This section provides the reappearance of image map of Toyota’s first automobile factory, named Koromo works in Aichi prefecture, where the company has fully started producing cars with adopting new systematic assembly line in the 1930s. It reproduces the image of the production process of Toyota’s AA passenger, Toyota A- History x01.JPGshowing how perform casting, forging, machining, pressing, painting and assembly works.  In addition to this, the exhibition tries to evaluate the advancement of production technology from the initial stage to the latest one, so you can check how the production line and processing technology have progressed in the 50 years. This seems one of the highlights of the automobile pavilion too.

<Exhibition of automobile production lines>

Toyota A- First stage x06.JPGToyota A- Illust x05.JPG       This section features the situation of assembly line of “Toyota’s AA” car.  The body making, fender processing, engine block casting, machining, etc. are all displayed here along with the overall configuration of the factory map in the 1930s. And the technology advancement in the press works, machine processing, and other big transfer machines are also lively facilitated.

<Reproducing scene of casting and forging, machining process>

Toyota A- First stage x02.JPG        In this section, the transition of casting technology is displayed in addition to the scene of Toyota’s former Koromo factory in Nagoya. First of all, it shows the casting process of engine, cylinder and block in the 1930s and 40s, beside the explanation of advanced casting technology and its machines, like automatic high-speed high-pressure shaping system, aluminum alloy’s high-pressure casting technology, alloy die-casting method, and other machinery technology..

Toyota A- Illust x14.JPG         The evolution of forging process is explained in detail here, particularly on the forging works of gears and steering parts. It also exhibits how the large-sized automatic press of current using 6000 ton’s press works along with comparatively showing the hand-made forging process in the early Toyota A- Machines x02.JPGToyota A- Machines x03.JPG1940s.  So this exhibition indicates what sort of change has been occurred in the forging working process. Then, we can confirm the technological advancement that has been achieved in machining regarding accuracy and speed with observe the exhibits, especially on the improvement of quality of engine parts. The improved equipment includes the Toyota A- Machines x04.JPGcrankshaft pin lathe (1964), the installation of a transfer machine (1969), and the Toyota’s joint drilling machine (1996), etc. The exhibition looks showing the real picture of how machining innovations have been accomplished in order to accommodate current automation and multi-variety production process.

<Dynamic display of vehicle installation and painting technology>

Toyota A- Assembling x01.JPG       Here, we can see the dynamic models of the automatic welding assembly system that is adopted for  Toyota’s recent vehicle  production in the display. It can be noticed in the section how automated robots are operating in the assembling process. The exhibition also indicates how working process has been shifted from primitive manual sheet metal processing to the high-quality body-making in high speed and massive scale production by introduction of this innovative automation.Toyota A- Assembling x02.JPG
Painting technology has also evolved in the automatic work by robots now. In the exhibition, the technology of coating film which prevents rust on the vehicle’s surface and keeps smoothness of body are explained compactly. Actually the exhibition shows how huge technological advancement has been attained in the coating as well as the composition of paint materials from the manual work stage using simple brush tool in the beginning to the recent automatic high-tech spray operation.
Toyota A- Machines x05.JPG         The scene of moving assembly line of body mounting, automatic and baking process was really amazing. It is a spectacular sight that a number of body panels are transported to the assembly line by belt conveyor, and assembled and welded automatically one after another by the robot’s hands. Also, the painting process is similarly made by the automatic painting system using the electrostatic coating method.  Furthermore, the body is sprayed in a sealed chamber, and there a dipping and electrodeposition coating is done automatically. There it is hardly found human involvement, and the entire works are completely performed only by electronic control system. The scene of smoothly carried out process there were really impressive.

<Dynamic exhibition of assembly line >

Toyota A- Illust x11.JPG        After the completion of body and painting, the works enter the final stage of automobile assembly line. This is the best place to inspect how the real car is going to Toyota A- Machines x07.JPGproduce. The corner shows the real assembly lines remodeled at the Toyota’s Koromo factory. It also exhibits a dynamic visual movement of production scene, what’s called as “Toyota Production System” and “Just-in-time” scheme in the real site.
There, the chassis is attached to car body automatedly, then the various parts like engines, doors, tires and others are effectively installed, before exterior parts are smoothly furnished. It is said that an automobile unit would require to equip with an average of 20000 to 30000 parts for completion. It was a really great chance to directly observe this complicated process with our eyes in the real site.

♣  Exhibition of Toyota production method

Toyota A- Illust x16.JPG     It is sure that there’s many technical difficulties to automate and to effectively streamline the assembling Toyota A- Assembling x03.JPGprocess of a large number of parts which have complex shapes. In this requirement, it is indispensable to harmonize the mechanical movement with human works in production process, and it must ensure the reliability of working procedures in safe and accurately.  In addition, it is crucial to have an effective Toyota A- TPS x01.JPGsystem to supply various parts in the accurate timing as well as in the just volume. Thus, the “Toyota Production System” was first invented by Toyota Co. at the Koromo factory to respond these requirements. And this concept has widely distributed in the manufacturing field and rapidly became as an innovative system, not only automobile assembly factories, but other field too.
Toyota A- TPS x04.JPG     In the museum, a commentary section on the concept of “Toyota Production System” is Toyota A- TPS x02.JPGprovided as well as the examples of application in the factory operation for visitors. According to the explanation, we should see two basic concept pillars of “Toyota production system” in the concept, that is, “Automation” and “Just-in-time” in the manufacturing field. The commentary there extensively explains these with the elaborate illustration and with real adopted cases, such as what’s the scheme and mechanism are involved, what’s the origin of the thinking of Toyota Co., and how’s evolution and development have been actualized for the “method”.
Toyota A- Assembling x04.JPG       For example, the unique messages that “if a problem occurs, the whole operation should be stopped immediately, and do not allowed to continue work before finding the reason of defects” (“Jido-ka” Self-decision automation), and the concept “Only at the time of necessity, the parts are supplied with necessary and enough volume in the process without stagnation” (“just in time”). And the practical examples to these concepts are also visually shown as actual mechanisms, like “string switch”, “Andon”, “Kanban”, Toyota A- TPS x03.JPG“lot production”, etc.  Although the concept itself looks quite simple, but it is well-thought and innovative way in the production process economically as well as technologically. It is really convincing when we see the explanation using practical examples in the site. Also, it was interesting to see the current challenging “Toyota’s Global Production Promotion Center (CPC) and its global Kaizen system too.

♥ After visiting the automobile pavilion

Toyota A- Illust x10.JPG      I could just visit both Textile Museum and tour the Automobile Museum this time.  in this tour, I really could recognized  that automobile industry is how mighty broad and  integrated industry, and could broaden my knowledge a bit about  complex automobile technology. And also I realized how Textile and Automobile industries have been evolved with experiencing in the long period of time. And I noticed as well that the Japanese automobile industry had initially started just Toyota A- overview x 02.JPGfrom the imitation and acquisition of the technology from the US and Europe, but the catch-up speed was quite fast, especially Toyota Co. which has been accumulating its own technology through continuing  efforts and own collaborative findings. And now, the company gains the first-class position in the automobile production in the global world. It was quite fruitful for me to be able to see the complexity of automobile technology through museum visit.
However, it is commonly pointed these days that the future of automobile industry is looked unpredictable, in the meaning of environment problems, changing energy from gasoline to electric , surging autonomous vehicles movements,  necessary safety measures, etc.
Toyota A- Illust x06.JPG    Under  these circumstances, it is really interesting to see how automobile companies, particularly Toyota will move in the future. I’d like to know how Toyota will respond to these circumstances and how it will develop their technologies, production methods, and business strategies to adjust them in the future.  In that means, this memorial visit has been a quite valuable for me.



Toyota A- Machines x05.JPG

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Visit Toyota Industrial Museum (1) – Textile Pavilion

Exploring the secret of Toyota initiative of textile initiatives

ToyotaT- Logo x01.JPG              When the meeting being held last year in Nagoya, I ToyotaT- View x01.JPGhave visited the Toyota Museum of Industrial and Technology.  Because I’ve been long interested in the role of automobile industries in Japan and Toyota’s unique position of technology development and businesses in it. Regarding the automobile industries, it looks lots of hot issues are popularly discussed these days, like future of automotive industry,  environmental measures, technological shifting  to electric vehicles, safety and autonomous driving cars, and so on.  In this circumstance, ToyotaT- loom x01.JPGvisiting the ToyotaT- loom x04.JPGMuseum was really good chance  to get some clues for me about the technology issues of automobile industry as a whole and its development history in Japan.
       It said that Toyota’s Museum was opened in 1994 to  to advertise a historical trajectory of Toyota’s business development and introduce technology background of automobile in Japan.  And  the Museum now become the most attractive facility in Nagoya for learning  historical development of mechanical industry of Japan.ToyotaT- Illust x02.JPG

ToyotaT- Illust x08.JPG    As looking at the museum, the exhibition can be divided into three sections. These are first the “Textile Machinery Pavilion” for exhibition of textile machines. then the “Automobile Pavilion” for automobiles, and finally the “Toyota Group Hall” which shows the achievement of the company history.  There found that a number of valuable goods  related chicaneries are displayed in the redbrick classic  building being used as a factory site of  Toyota’s former Sakae Plant of Toyota.
ToyotaT- spin x13.JPG      Visitors would be overwhelmed with the rich contents of exhibits on the textile and automobile and impressed  how Toyota was advancing its technology and business though a century long strong initiatives that cultivated textile machinery industries and then advanced automobiles business until now.
       Firstly I’ll start my report with “Textile Pavilion” , then continue to the “Automobile Pavilion” next.

♣  Brief View on the Exhibition of “Textile Pavilion”

ToyotaT- person x01.JPGAs visitor enters the entrance hall, the huge real object of the “Circular Loom” appears in front of us. This is the monumental loom invented by ToyotaT- loom x01.JPGSakichi Toyota, a founder of Toyota Co. This is an epoch-making machine for Toyota that could be weaving an ultra-wide cloth in the effective way for the first time in Japan. And the machine also shows a clear evidence of evolution of Japan’s mechanical technology when it was predominantly depending on imported Western technology.
When the visitors proceed to the main exhibition hall, “Textile Pavilion” comes ToyotaT- spin x02.JPGnext. Here the evolution of textile making tools are introduced from primitive tools to machines, particularly development of spinning machines in Japan from the ancient days to the present stage. In the exhibition, Toyota’s business development process is explicitly reflected in the exhibition. For example, how the company has been advancing from weaving machinery to the automobile industry through using technology of textile machinery.

♣   Exhibition of specified to the Spinning Section

The first corner is about the “Traditional technology of spinning and weaving”.

<Primitive stage of spinning and weaving>

ToyotaT- Illust x11.JPG       The spinning and weaving tools and its process using manual handcrafts ToyotaT- spin x03.JPGare shown here in which thread is twisted from fibers such as cotton, and it weaves it to make yarn by human hands. The model displays the Japan’s traditional “Koshibata” (the oldest weaving loom with sitting style) and “Jibata” (the loom by sitting style but it has a frame structure in 1600-1800s), ToyotaT- spin x01.JPGas well as traditional spinning wheels in the various style. It also exhibits the “Batten Hand Loom” which was introduced from China and modified it using flying shuttle in the Edo period for weaving “Kyoto Yuzen” fabrics)

But before long in the modernization process after the Meiji period, the mechanization movement began to influence on the weaving and spinning process in the large scale. These revolutionary technology shifts are extensively explained in the exhibition.

<Initial stage of spinning technology and machines>

Actually, Japan’s spinning business had to start with the import of the European ToyotaT- spin x06.JPGtechnology and much depend on the expensive machines in the industrial mechanization in Meiji. On the other hand, while the development of cotton textiles needed as a major export commodity, the productive textile machines were used in the big state-owned enterprises or ToyotaT- spin x05.JPGlarge private companies only with limited capacity. In this situation, Japan’s textile industry strongly demanded simple and low-priced machines at that time. For answering these demands, unique manual spinning ToyotaT- person x04.JPGmachine “Garabo” was produced in 1873 by ‘Tatsumune Gaun, who invented it using Japan’s wood-making technology. Then, this wood machine was quickly spread in the textile industrialists throughout the country and became to contribute a lot to promote export textile industry as a whole in Japan. At the museum, this actual machine was displayed in the exhibition corner.

<Development stage of spinning machine since 1900s >

ToyotaT- spin x04.JPG        As for the spinning machines, Japan had been predominantly depended on the Western technology until 1900s, but many efforts of modification and improvement were activated by Japanese engineers for leading to produce competitive domestic ToyotaT- spin x10.JPGmachines. Among them, Toyota’s initiative was significant.
ToyotaT- person x03.JPG      At the exhibition site, Toyota’s various spinning machinery are placed in line along with many European machines, including the “Super High Draft Ring Spinning Machine “ which eliminated the rolling process never seen previous spinning mechanism. This direct spinning machine was invented by Kiichi Toyoda in 1920s by using Japanese original technology.
ToyotaT- spin x09.JPG      In the postwar years since 1945, the fully automatic spinning system were widely adopted and developed originally in Japan owing to progress industrial technology which was cultivated by Japanese engineers beside using European machinery. A large number of spinning machines were exhibited side by side at the ToyotaT- spin x12.JPGexhibition hall. It shows how spinning machines have progressed in technology in Japan, such as high-speed carding engines, drawing frames (1951), fly frame (1951), ring spinning frame (1955), continuous automated spinning system (1960) and others many.


♣   Exhibition of specified to Weaving Machines

<Initial condition of loom technology development>

ToyotaT- Illust x03.JPG      In this loom exhibition corner, the history of weaving the “cloth” is shown, for example,  how loom technology has been transitioned from human hand to power looms, ToyotaT- loom x03.JPGautomatic looms, and until latest sophisticated looms which controlled by computer, with providing real machines by each generation.
The first exhibitions here are ancient “Koshibata” and “Jibata” mentioned above. And we can also see a so-called “Battan loom” loom too, which equipped with flying shuttle as a historic exhibit there. This Batten loom was famous for epoch making loom which was brought back from U.K. in 1873 by one overseas trainee and widely used in Japan in the Meiji period.

<Exhibition of Toyota’s development of looms>

ToyotaT- Illust x12.JPG          After that, a number of original looms were produced in Japan by Japanese textile companies including Toyota Weaving Machine Co.  At the weaving corner, many Toyota style looms are exhibited of this period as main features ToyotaT- loom x05.JPGthat was developed by Sakichi Toyoda.  What being particularly valuable exhibit would be the “G-type automatic loom” which invented by Sakichi in 1924. This loom facilitated a 24 automatic, safety device including non-stop automatic conversion device, which can smoothly ToyotaT- loom x10.JPGreplace shuttle without reducing the speed during high-speed operation. This Japan’s unique loom technology is considered as evidence that weaving machine has achieved to world class level until that time. The first unit of G-type machine is designated as a “National Machinery Treasure ” in Japan, and the reproduced machine is displayed at the hall as one of the main exhibits of museum.

<Crest weaving and advanced high-tech looms>>

ToyotaT- Illust x04.JPG    On the other hand, in Japan, “Sorabiki Bata” (Draw loom) were widely used as a ToyotaT- loom x17.JPGToyotaT- loom x16.JPGloom machine enables to weave complicated crests or patterns on the thick damask or curtains. For weaving by this machine, two operators, who are sitting at upside and lower side, are required to work together in a synchronized way. This loom was commonly used until just before modern “Jaccard looms” were introduced in Japan which enable automatic control of this ToyotaT- loom x18.JPGtype of weaving. At the hall, the both type of crest, Sorabuki and Jaccard weaving machine, are exhibited for the comparison. Furthermore, the series of technological advancement in this crest weaving are displayed in this corner along with current electronically controlled automatic looms which are actually used.

In addition, abundant high-tech real looms are displayedToyotaT- loom x15.JPG ToyotaT- loom x13.JPGas well at this corner which indicates current technology advancement in the weaving machines, such as “Water jet looms” and “Air jet looms”, computer-controlled picture-drawing looms and others by exemplified Toyota’s latest products.

<Toyota’s initiatives from textile to automobile industry>

ToyotaT- Illust x13.JPG     According to the explanation, the basic technologies used for developing these spinning and weaving machines, in particular, the sensor and control technology, which was pursued  in the ToyotaT- Mech x02.JPGToyotaT- Mech x01.JPGautomation and safety method adopted by Toyoda loom, looks passing down to the operational spirit which enabled the innovative cultivation of Toyota’s automobile industry in the next stage. Anyway, the technological background and passion for new technology by founders Toyoda Sakichi and Kiichiro seem finally lead to the successful challenge to the automotive development of the ToyotaT- Illust x14.JPGcompany. It seems that The Textile Pavilion of this Toyota memorial Museum realized us these facts in the exhibition. At the next description, I’d look at the situation of “Automobile Pavilion” that indicates what Toyota has cultivated the new technology and the situations Toyota cars present and future in the exhibition.

(Part 1 end)




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Visit Suzuki History Museum

 Suzuki’s business development from weaving to bike and towards automobile

SuzukiM- logox01.JPG  I had chance to visit Hamamatsu recently. There we could realize that SuzukiM- View01.JPGmajor world-class motorcycle manufacturers, like Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha,  were all born  and developed around this industrial zone in Shizuoka prefecture.  Among them, Suzuki is quite strong in the motorbikes and lightweight vehicles business and SuzukiM- View02.JPGholds quite big share in Asia.  Then, I decided to visit the “Suzuki History Museum” in this occasion. The Museum exhibited many motorcycles and lightweight-cars which were produced by Suzuki while describing the evolution of its manufacturing there.

Suzuki History Museum HP:

♣  Outline of Suzuki History Museum

SuzukiM- logox09.JPG   The exhibition in the Museum is displayed in line following SuzukiM- View03.JPGSuzuki’s business advancing process. At the first scene, it shows the first stage of Suzuki history by describing a founder Michio Suzuki’s episode regarding his unique product of “Double foot-operating loom system” and the story of establishment of his company, along with displaying this loom machine as well as various real SuzukiM- person04.JPGautomated looms which had developed after setting-up company and business expansion.
At the next corner, it introduces how the firm started to involve in the motorcycle business after the War. You could understand how Suzuki has opened up new business by this business conversion. It’s interesting that there various types of bikes developed during this timeSuzukiM- bike05.JPG are exhibited as examples. Additionally, in the automobile field, a series of newly developed light-automobiles are displayed there too which produced in the expanding process to four-wheel vehicle sector. Also, the interesting exhibition is found at the other corner as well. There Suzuki’s current SuzukiM- View07.JPGoperation management concept is displayed, such as the process of creating new products, concept making and designing of motorcycles and automobiles. The demonstrations of production assembly lines are also attractive sector. In addition, at the Asia Corner, Suzuki’s business operational activities in overseas are nicely introduced.   Let’s take a closer look at the contents of the exhibition with development history of Suzuki below. 

♣  Founding of Suzuki as a loom  maker

SuzukiM- Illust03.JPG      In this section, Suzuki’s business founding is introduced with an SuzukiM- Loom01.JPGepisode of the invention of Suzuki-type “Up-down Shuttle Box” loom by  Michio Suzuki. According the explanation, Founder Suzuki produced a foot-operated type of loom after finishing his apprenticeship works in a carpenter shop in the young age. After that he decided to set up SuzukiM- person01.JPGa new firm called “Suzuki loom Co.” because the loom machines he developed won the big market reputation, and he thought it had good prospects in future. Then, Suzuki began to produce the various automatic looms one after another adding new functions. The company was quite success in business by these efforts and could SuzukiM- Loom02.JPGmultiply its business, particularly Suzuki-type loom machines “One side 4 twill loom” became were exceptionally success because they could efficiently weave “Lattice patter” clothes which were very much favored in Asia, especially in Indonesia and the other southeast Asia. As a result, Suzuki could expand broadly their SuzukiM- Loom03.JPGoverseas market as a leading manufacturer in the following years.
On the other hand, Suzuki was showing its will to develop own automobiles in the 1930s by using of their textile machinery technology. (The development in this process might be similar with Toyota’s experience)     At the History Museum, a number of looms at that time were displayed, along with the episode of Michio Suzuki and Suzuki’s business development.

♣  Business conversion to motorcycles and its evolution

SuzukiM- logox03.JPG    Although the business was greatly expanded in the 1930s, Suzuki, which got seriously damage by the War, was forced toSuzukiM- bike01.JPG change its business strategy. What had directed to was the challenging to new cultivating motorcycle business by using engine technology of textile machinery and its related equipment. Then, Suzuki’s first Motorbike “Power Free” (launched in 1951) was born using remained equipment survived from the war with SuzukiM- bike02.JPGengineering skills being nourished in producing weaving machines.      But the challenged new business by Suzuki was highly successful. The company tried to make a simple type of auto-bicycle, which equipped with small auxiliary engine to the bicycle. Soon this bike became quite popular and sold well because of its convenience and inexpensiveness, though SuzukiM- bike03.JPGsimilar bike was already produced by Honda in 1947 and gained the favorable reputation among consumers. As a matter of fact, these types of auto-bicycles were produced much by many makers reflected SuzukiM- person02.JPGsocial demand to such vehicles, but they were soon disappeared by sever competition and poor-quality. Among them, Honda and Suzuki were survived and successfully expanded business supported by continuous improvement of qualitySuzukiM- bike05.JPG and producing innovative new products.  The person who explored this business was Shunzo Suzuki, a second president of Suzuki. His statue is proudly placed at the exhibition corner along with his first real model of “Power Free” there.
Since then, Suzuki was consecutively producing various new bikes based on this first model with advancing technology and expanding marketing SuzukiM- bike04.JPGSuzukiM- bike06.JPGSuzukiM- bike08.JPG




strategy. As these evidences, numerous newly motorbikes are exhibited in the hall to show its successful development. Among them, many models can be observed, SuzukiM- bike07includes the first full-fledged motorcycle production “Koleda 90cc” (1954), Suzuki “RM 63” winning the Isle of Man TT race, and the Diamond-free car traveling in Japan in 1953, and others. Meanwhile, in the development of the motorcycle business, the company’s name was changed to “Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd.”


♣   Challenge to Light-weight vehicle and its growth

SuzukiM- Illust02.JPG     In the 1950s, Suzuki began to entry into the 4-wheel SuzukiM- car01.JPGautomotive field by applying its pre-war technology experience.  The vehicle named “Suzulight” (1955) is the one which produced as a lightweight-car for the first time in Japan. This was a really outstanding work that seemingly fitted to the Japan’s economic condition SuzukiM- car10.JPGand the consumption pattern at that time. In the museum, the anecdote story pertaining challenge of this lightweight-car which was introduced using a life-size model and theater shows. There also an animating scene is provided that describes how light vehicle was accepted in the general families in this period. These settings are quite attractive for us to figure out of people’s lifestyle that time.

SuzukiM- car02.JPG  SuzukiM- car03.JPG  SuzukiM- car04.JPG
These lightweight cars have continuously changed and diversified in their feature down the road, like light vans, SVs, or light trucks for the commercial use , not only sedan type passenger cars, while the technology was proceeding from the SuzukiM- car07.JPGSuzukiM- car08.JPGfirst generation to second and third generation. At the museum, a number of the real automobiles are exhibited to indicate how expansion of light car market and its technology had advancement in this period. Among them, the “Suzuki “Jimny” in 1970 was a good example of the new type of light vehicle at that time. Furthermore, “Alto” in 1979, “Cartas” in 1983, and SuzukiM- car11.JPGSuzukiM- car09.JPG“Suzuki wagon R” in 1991 are known well as innovative products among them, besides recent “Swift” in 2004.  These cars are extensively displayed in the hall to attract visitors.

While development of these mini vehicles in SuzukiM- Illust01.JPGprogress, technology of motorcycle has also significantly advanced and could cultivate massive domestic market and export. Then Suzuki’sSuzukiM- bike11.JPG name as a motorcycle manufacturer became greatly appreciated not only in the Japan but across the world, particularly in the Asian market. In the exhibition, various advanced SuzukiM- bike10.JPGmotorcycles which developed in this market expansion were fully displayed in the hall. The “T350” in 1960, the “Crazy-doctor T500” in 1968, “RS-5” which mounted rotary engine in 1974, “GS750E” in 1978, the GSX400FS Impulse in 1982, , and the Bandit 400V in 1991 are proudly displayed side by side. They also published a new model of “Katana GSX” in 2000s.

♣   Road to the global light vehicle manufacturer

SuzukiM- logox06.JPG The advancement since the 1980s was outstanding especially in the Asian market, in addition to the launching of a new type vehicle SuzukiM- View08.JPG“Wagon R”, which became a pioneer of general lightweight wagons, and “Swift” as a world strategic car. These movements are the Japanese history of lightweight car development itself.  It can be said that Suzuki was one of the significant leading makers in the light cars Japan as well as in the SuzukiM- View04.JPGworld.
Furthermore, another interesting corner is available in the Museum. This is “World Adventure” corner which shows Suzuki’s worldwide operation scheme, including its overseas production bases and marketing channels. The uniqueness of this corner is the exhibition of Asian culture and history which were expressed in multiple languages to familiarize Suzuki’s overseas operation.  It seems proclaiming how Suzuki is focusing on the Asian market now as its strategy.

♣    “Factory Corner” showing the site of Suzuki’s technology development

SuzukiM- Illust04.JPG     One of the attractive points in the museum would be the exhibition that Suzuki’s current production lines are fully revealed in SuzukiM- Process01.JPGthe museum. For example, the making process of motorcycle and four-wheel vehicle are extensively shown in the full-scale models. So that visitors can understand how the vehicle is developed and manufactured by viewing them.
SuzukiM- Process02.JPG   First, the way of setting-up new model of vehicle is introduced, and how to decide its design, process of creation of clay models and structures is clearly described, then how to make quality control and safety systems are also displayed in detail and actual car assembly lines are shown too. These are all exhibited by the dynamic moving models in the easy-to-understand manner in the museum.

♣   Remarks after Visit


  -– Considering Hamamatsu area as an incubator of machine industry development

SuzukiM- logox11.JPG   The industrial area around Hamamatsu, where Suzuki was SuzukiM- View09.JPGborne, has been widely noted as an area being flourished in the machinery industry for long time. For example, Yamaha, which is famous for musical instruments and motorcycle products, Honda, a worldwide manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycle, and Toyota which is named outstanding business leader in the global automobile industry. These global manufacturers are all SuzukiM- View11.JPGSuzukiM- View10.JPGoriginated from the broader industrial region called “Chubu area” stretching from Hamamatsu to Nagoya. Hamamatsu Photonics is also noted in the electronic and optical manufacturers sector. It is believed that it is a rare industrial cluster zone to densely concentrate and develop machinery industries, particularly automobile industries in the world.

SuzukiM- View13.JPG      According to the officials of Hamamatsu City, the roots of these active industrial base could be “far backed to the Edo era, when the textile, lumber and woodworking industries had been flourished there and formed the economic foundation of Hamamatsu area.” And many innovative inventors and engineers were nurtured  on these foundations. They insist  these factors are continuously giving strong influence to the textile industry and  weaving machines in SuzukiM- person10.JPGSuzukiM- person09.JPGthis area since Meiji era, and even after the world War II.  So, they say that numerous technological and entrepreneurs’ spirits born in this area under these environment. 

       And it made advancing their unique industries.  For example, it could find there countless entrepreneurs, like Yamaha Torakusu (Yamaha Founder), Suzuki Michio (Suzuki Founder), Toyota SuzukiM- View14.JPGSuzukiM- logox13.JPGSakichi (Toyota Founder), Honda Soichiro (Honda Founder), Kawai Koichi (Kawai Instruments Founder), etc.     The “Suzuki History Museum” made me recall these things. This time, my visit was only Suzuki Museum alone, but I felt I need to visit the “Toyota C. Museum of Industry and Technology” in Nagoya again and Honda’s “Soichiro Honda Craftsmanship Center” in Hamamatsu City before long.




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Visit Mizuno Printing Museum in Tokyo

—  Insight of the printing history with amazing exhibits

Mizuno- view x01.JPG       A unique private museum is found near Tsukiji, Tokyo on theMizuno- view x03.JPG printing materials.  So recently I visited this museum as it was just after visiting “Toppan Printing Museum” The museum displays a number of historic printing machines and various printed products. It was established by a medium-sized printing company “Mizuno Pritech Co.” in Tokyo in 1988   aimed to introduce development of printing technology and culture for social Mizuno- Exhibt x06.JPGcontribution.

There many Japanese and European historic printing works are observed, including the old European typographic booksMizuno- Exhibt x09.JPG since Gutenberg, in addition to Japan’s ancient and medieval book prints, wood-curved products in Edo period, first letterpress prints in Meiji period.
        Beside printing goods, the museum exhibits valuable hand-press machines too. They were machines actually used in the pre-modern Europe and classic typographic press machines in Japan. I’m really impressed on the quality and volume of exhibits the museum shows though it’s never a big facility. I’ve tried to describe the feature of collection and its cultural significance in the following section.
Mizuno- illust x04.JPG
♥   Mizuno Printing Museum
〒104-0042 Irifune 2-9-2, Chuo Ward, Tokyo

Tel. 03(3551)7595

♠   Amazing collection of printing works a exhibited

<Ancient Collection> 

Mizuno- Exhibt x01  The first exhibit found in the shelf is the “Million tower Dharamni” sutra that printed in Japan in the ancient kingdom of Japan in 8th century (770).  This is actually a replica of Buddhist scripture which said to be the oldest existing printed materials in the world. Mizuno- Exhibt x02.JPGAnd one of the precious collections in the Museum.
       There are lot of valuable ancient printing works collected and exhibited too, including the printed Buddha image in 8th century which excavated in Dunhuang in China, Papyrus documents in Egypt 4-7th century, European old parchment documents Mizuno- Exhibt x03.JPG(13th century), in addition to the Japanese history book “Nihon Shoki” (16th century) using old printing-type, the Fushimi” version’s beautiful prints “Johgan Seiyo” (Political document in 17th century, Japan) and others.

<After Gutenberg Printings>

Mizuno- Exhibt x07.JPGThe eye-catching exhibits in the collection would be a“42 lines Bible ” book (15th century) by Gutenberg, which is said to be the beginning of modern printing system in the world’s first typographical press. There is a rare collection of “Chaucer’s book “ (15th century), “Dante work ” Mizuno- Exhibt x16.JPG(19th century), “Daus Bible” (19th century), etc. too in the exhibition room.
By examine the collection we could recognize that the new printing technology initiated by Gutenberg has given tremendous impacts to the medieval Europe in the field of religion, science, and literature, and so on.

<Japanese classic collection>

Mizuno- illust x03.JPG      In the Japanese section, many modern printed books published since beginning of typography in the Meiji Era are found too, such as Fukuzawa Yukichi’s Mizuno- Exhibt x10.JPGenlightenment book “Gakumon no Susume”( Promotion of Study), “Beiou kairan Jikki” (A Report Plenipotentiary tour to Europe) ”, “English Citation Books” (Keio University) and so on.
Mizuno- illust x10.JPG    These publications have given enormous influence in the civilization process of Meiji period, Japan.      In that sense, it seems to be a valuable museum that displays really enlightenment collection even in spite of small scale.

♠   Collection of antique letterpress machines

Mizuno- illust x05.JPG    Another attraction of Mizuno Museum isn’t only available many Mizuno- view x05.JPG printed works, but various  tools and parts, which had been used in the technological evolution of printing, can look and directly touch in the exhibition room.
There, from the replica models such as Mizuno- Exhibt x05.JPGancient seals, cylinder stamps, clay boards (Ancient wedge-shaped letters in Sumer period) to the wood letter-type (17th century) used in Mizuno- Exhibt x08.JPGKorea, “Ukiyo-e” of Japan (wood curved picture in Edo period), copper plate widely used e in Europe (18th century), and dozens maternal sample of letter-type mold (17th century) were exhibited side by side.

<Exhibition of European printing machine>
     A couple of old classic typographical printing machines are displayed there as a Mizuno- Exhibt x14.JPGsymbolic collection. For example, the Columbian Press (manual guided letterpress manufactured in 1850), the classic Albion press (one of the most popular handmade letterpress printing machine), etc. are found in the collection. These are surprisingly still usable, and visitors as possible to handle them by our own hands, and you could  piratically learn how the typography print works and history of printing.

Mizuno- History x02.JPG<Print works in Meiji Japan>
       Among these exhibits, the most significant machines seem to be the letterpress printers which produced first in Japan.  This machine was made by Hirano Tomiji in the early Meiji Period. He has produced this machine at the Tsukiji letterpress manufacturing factory in Tokyo under the Mizuno- History x03.JPGsupervision of Motoki Shozo who was a pioneering engineer of modern printing.  And currently this printing machine has been designated as a “Japan Machinery Heritage” in Japan.
In the room, when examined the prints with this letterpress, I’m surprised its fine figure and clear image.

<New advancement of exhibition>
        Exhibits of these historic machines and printing seem to indicate profound Mizuno- illust x12.JPGimplication of a long human efforts to communicate their experience and disseminate knowledge through various devices. Particularly evolvement of printing tools and advancement of  printing devices Mizuno- Exhibt x15.JPGare significant. I can’t help really amazed how  significantly the museum  contribute to enhance our knowledge on printing culture and technology.
       Additionally, in recent years, a museum has added a collection of “World postal stamp of 1000 on printing” that were donated from Mr. Hiroshi Kumagai who is a famous stamp collector, and it has added further charms to the exhibition.

♠   History of Mizuno and its Museum

Mizuno- illust x08.JPG       The Mizuno Printing Museum seems really unique facility in termMizuno- person x01.JPG of motivation and establishment process.  The Museum was actually set up by the single handed volunteer achievement by Mr. Mizuno, chairman Mizuno Pritech Co..  He has gathered massive domestic and foreign historic prints and machines by his life-long consecutive effort, and finally could successfully exhibit his collection at his company building in Mizuno- History x01.JPG1988.  The motivation of museum establishment is told in the episode in the museum guidebook. It says that it was begun when Mr. Mizuno had a chance to go overseas for study in Europe before professionalizing in the printing industry, and at that time, he encountered the exhibit of “One Million Tower Dalarni Sutra” at the Mizuno- Exhibt x17.JPGUniversity of Cambridge Library.
That time, he said he first knew this Japanese sutra was the oldest prints in existence in the world, and he had shamed not to had known this fact before as a person engaging in printing business. Then, he began to study genuine history of printing and launched collecting and researching on the printing affairs.
In the process, he could happily obtain Gutenberg’s “42th line Bible” in his hand by chance and began to Mizuno- Exhibt x04.JPGcollect other classic books in Europe and other countries too.  Sequentially Mizuno added Japanese historic printing works in his collection, while collecting and introducing the history of printing in his laboratory. Then finally he could set up his own Museum.

<Mizuno’s special focus on the development of Tukiji’s letter press plant>

Mizuno- History x05.JPG print m- illust x-06  As his printing office was geographically close to Tsukiji, his learning focus was particularly drawn to the background of “Tsukiji Letterpress Plant”, a pioneer of modern Japanese printing techniques.  Because of it, he was very much appreciated when he got a Hirano’s Albion type letterpress machine used in this Tsukiji plant for his collection. This is a valuable printing machine which is currently displayed at the “National 1000 Special Technology Exhibition in Japan” at the National Science Museum.

Mizuno- person x03.JPG     The Mizuno- person x02.JPG“Tsukiji letterpress Plant” was established in 1896 by Hirano Tomiji being commissioned by Motoki Shozo who developed the typographic printing for the first time in Japan.  It is well known that the typographic printing industry was spread rapidly in the Meiji period by their own initiatives and gave big impact to the society at that time.   we could imagine that Mr. Mizuno’s enthusiasm for setting up the museum is motivated by awareness of the social significance of printing works and he himself was inspired by the depth of its history.

After the visit…..

The museum was on the 6th floor of an elegant building in the corner of Tsukiji Mizuno- illust x02.JPGwhere the printing industry was thriving. Portrait of Gutenberg was Mizuno- view x02.JPGplaced at the entrance, and when I visited Mr. Mizuno himself guide me to the exhibition room. Although it was not that big room, there a number of historical printing machines were fully allocated, and series of print works were displayed in the shelves in line. I couldn’t help feeling wonder how Mr. Mizuno could collect these rich collections solely in his hand and put extensive Mizuno- view x04.JPGcommentary on the huge exhibits.
Mr. Mizuno kindly gave me a detail on the circumstances of establishment and content of collection. Honestly, I was just amazed by the abundance of collection, and also moved by his great passion that enabled to build the such level of collection in his private hand.
The museum was named in the Guide the “Print Museum to serve Society and Culture through Historical Understanding”. It is really deserved to that message.



  • Mizno Printing Museum (A Guide book)
  • Mizuno Printing MuseumHP:
  • “PRITEC” (published by MIZUNO Pritech) 1989
  • Fuji Film Imaging Information Vol. 5 (1990)
  • “Beginning of Modern Printing in Japan” by Masao Mizuno (in Japanese)
  • 「中央区まるごとミュージアム」2018
  • 中央区まちかど展示館:
  • 「機械遺産」特集・おふせっと100周年 (水野雅生)
  • 印刷文化の流れに沿って (水野雅生)  ⽇本印刷産業連合会
  • ぷりんとぴあ 「 印刷の歴史」⽇本印刷産業連合会








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

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

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

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


♣   Characteristics of Exhibition of bags and luggage in the Museum

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

♣   The Section of “History of bags and luggage”


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

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

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

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

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

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


♣  History of ancient bags in Japan

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

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

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

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

♣  Manufacturing Secret of Bag

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


♣  Diverse style of Bags in the world

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

<Collection of Europe and America>

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

<Collection of Asian Region>

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

<Collection of Bags in Japan>

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

<A baggage of Africa / Oceania>

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

♣  Collection of Celebrity favorite bag

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

♣  Exhibition of Ryusaku Shinkawa Memorial Hall

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

After the visit · · ·

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




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Visit Toppan’s “Printing Museum” in Tokyo

– Explores development of printing world and society in history –

  what’s the Printing Museum

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

♣  Exhibition Structure of Printing Museum 

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

♣  History of printing culture displayed in the Prologue corner 

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

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


♣  Main “General Exhibition” Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♣  Attractiveness of “Experience Studio” to experience printing>

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

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

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

♥  Additional info:

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

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

♣  How Japanese Printing Methods walked on the different road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After visiting museum

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



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Visit Noritake Ceramics Museum in Nagoya

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

For the beginning

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

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

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

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

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

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

<Creation and development of Noritake>

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

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

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

♣  Exhibition of “Old Noritake” at Noritake Museum

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

♣   “Craft Center” showing manufacturing process

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

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

♣  Current Noritake’s business 

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

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

After Visit ……..

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





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Visit Mikimoto Memorial Hall

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

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


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

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

<His family and boyhood life>

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

<Youth period being inspired business>

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

<Troubles and challenges in aquaculture business>

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

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

<Troubles and challenges in pearl aquaculture business>

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

<Leap to overseas pearl business>

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

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

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

<Strong commitment to quality of pearls>

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

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

<Mikimoto pearl after the War>

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

<Human element and later years of Mikimoto Kokichi>

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

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

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

♣  Remarks after visit

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




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