Visit Nirayama Iron Furnaces as a World Heritage

Japanese first challenge of modern iron making♣

♣  For the beginning

NRF- Illust x01.JPG        Recently, I visited the Reverberatory Furnaces in Nirayama, Izu, Shizuoka area. This historic site is one of the Western style iron melting furnaces which NRF- Furnace x04.JPGhave built for producing iron cannon in the end of the Edo period. This type of furnaces was constructed in the many places such as Saga, Kagoshima, Yamaguchi for the strengthening naval capacity under the threat of foreign fleet at that time. But the remaining observable sites were only in Hagi, Yamaguchi and this Nirayama furnace only today among them.

NRF- Guide C illust x02.JPG     Particularly, Nirayama’s furnace is unique because it has shown the real figure of practically operated iron making process at the time of construction. For this reason, it was designated as the historic treasure of the country and registered as a Unesco’s “World Cultural Heritage” in 2015.

Meantime, the “Guidance Center” of the NRF- Illust x05.JPGNirayama Reverberatory Furnaces (NRF) was opened at the end of 2016. The facility is purpose to show up its historic site by exhibiting memorial goods and materials, information panels on the furnaces and many others. Now many visitors became visiting there to appreciate NRF now as a tourism target.

  See: Home page NRF:

The furnaces is said to be constructed by the limited knowledge about Western iron NRF- Internal structure x02.JPGmaking system under the isolation policy of Edo Shogunate in 19c. So the work of Japanese engineers at that time had to work relying only on the Dutch engineering books. The challenges had been NRF- Cannon x02.JPGexceedingly severe, but after the laboratory work it led to attain the goal by genuinely Japanese engineers’ initiatives only even though accompanying many shortages in the operation. After the Meiji era, the reverberatory furnace technology itself had become an old one. But, the experience and knowledge which engineers cultivated in the construction has applied much in the subsequent advancement of the Japanese steel industry. These must have been a precious and seldom experience for Japanese in this meaning.

The following is an impression of the visits of the NRF and some additional info on it.


 ♣  NRF as a historical monument

NRF is located Narutaki District of Izunokuni City, about a 20 minute walk from Izu NRF- Illust x04.JPGNagaoka Station. The site is about 3000 square meters in size, with two tower-like buildings about 16 meter’s height. As the NRF- Illust x03.JPGfoundation of the NRF the furnace’s combustion port and iron melting stand were installed. The furnaces are consisted of four twin melting units linking each other by L-shape. The interior parts were covered by heat-resisted brick arch, and it is said that the furnace was covered by the white plaster in the beginning. Today the exterior wall was hardened by the steel latticed frame for the protection of the building.

NRF- CG x04.JPG        At the high time of operation, it is said that the NRF had many workshops in compound, such as casting shop of gun barrel, drilling cabin of barrel with water wheel, blacksmith NRF- CG x05.JPGhuts, and coke piling warehouses beside the furnace facility itself. Then the entire site was believed to be something looking like a huge factory.

The most of the barrels produced there had been moved to the Odaiba (tiny fort land of harbor) off Shinagawa area in Edo bay in order to ward off the foreign naval fleets. This situation is well illustrated in the exhibits in the “Guidance Center.”

♣  Exhibitions of NRF

NRF- Illust x02.JPG       This “NRF Guidance Center” was set up to introduce the structure of furnace, its historical significance and technical background of the NRF just after receiving the designation of ” World Cultural Heritage”  So NRF- Guide Center look x02.JPGIt is quite effective to visit first this center for learning about NRF and before actually visit the furnace.

The center has a video hall and an exhibition room. In the former space, the large screen is showing the
NRF- material x03.JPGconstruction process of the NRF and the iron melting and casting scenes by CG pictures, and in the latter
exhibition room, the chronologies, photographs and illustrations, memorial goods leading construction of the NRF are displayed, besides many bricks, molten iron blocks used for the construction and so on.

CG Image is available by:

♣  What’s Reverberatory Furnace and its Technology

My initial interest was “what is all aboutNRF- Furnace x01.JPG“Reverberatory Furnace” (NR) and where it has come originally. The NRF- Internal structure x01.JPGGuidance Center has explained it in detail. According NRF- Furnace x02.JPGto the
explanation, the iron making using a NR method had originally developed in England in the 18th century and mainly used for the cannon manufacturing. And it is said that the technology was adopted in Europe in the 19th century as a quite common iron making method.
NRF- Book x01.JPG  In Japan, it was introduced through the Ran Kagaku (Dutch engineering books).  And under the military threats, such as visiting Admiral Perry’s fleets in the Edo bay in the isolation NRF- Perry x01.JPGpolicy, the Edo government was obsessed to explore the new method of building iron arms like cannons to avoid the serious foreign threat. The construction of furnace was made based on the text book of “Casting method of the Royal iron cannon NRF- Rangaku x01.JPGmanufacturing place” written by Hugenenin, a Dutch engineer. And Japanese engineers translated this book and applied it in the field with some Japanese modification.
In Japan, since the ancient times, people had been manufacturing iron by so called “Tatara J Sword 18 Tatara 01steel making.” This method was exclusively used for iron making for long time until the middle of the Edo period. However, this manufacturing technology was suitable only for small iron products such as swords and agricultural tools, but it couldn’t apply well to the large casting production like cannon.

In the meantime, the structure of this RF basically formed NRF- Furnace x05.JPGof the combustion chamber and the iron melting chamber in the separate way. So this production system generates, high temperature by combustion of fuels in the chamber, creates a rising thermal air by high chimney, reflects it on the inner wall, and could melt a large amount of iron lump subsequently. This is said to be the best technique for casting of iron cannons at that time.

But after that, this technology gradually became an old fashioned, and large blast NRF- Illust x10.JPGfurnace using coke, converter method, hearth furnace method were continuously invented, then the main iron-making NRF- Illust x07.JPGtechnology have been shifting to the new manufacturing systems. But in the end of the Tokugawa Edo period, this RF was believed to be the latest technology; so the Japanese engineers had to rely on this method.
For that reason, the acquisition of the technology of the latest Western furnace and the actual operation had to inevitably face exceeding difficulties at that time of engineering capacity. Additionally, it was necessary to drill a hole to the molten cast to make real gun barrels. It was a great technical challenge to make hole in the hard iron lump in the Edo period because a strong power source wasn’t available beside water power. The evidence of these struggles is well left in the ruins of the NRF there.

Anyway, with the exhibits and related documents, we could see how the RF has been NRF- Illust x11.JPGNRF- Saga x01.JPGconstructed in history. It was Saga’s Nabeshima clan that built the “RF” for the first time in Japan and succeed in casting iron. It is said that Nabeshima Naomasa, a lord of the Saga, intended to build a RF reflector in Tsukuji for building the sea defense forts in the late Edo period by mobilizing Rangaku (Dutch Study) engineers and started the cannon manufacturing project there. With the successful prospect of this project, the construction of the Satsuma clan’s “Shuseikan” project, the Choshu-Hagi, also began construction of the RF too, and the construction movements of similar furnace started in many places in Japan.

♣   The Construction of NRF and Egawa Hidetasu

NRF- Egawa x02Amid such circumstances, the Egawa Hidetatsu, who had many colleagues of Rangaku people, made technology proposal to the Shogunate on the defense policy of the Edo bay to build of “Odaiba” (small fort land) and NRF- Odaiba x01.JPGthe construction of the NRF, after the time of harboring arrival of the Perry
fleet, even it was somewhat delayed from the aggressive initiatives of the other southwestern Japan’s major clans.

       Egawa Hidetatsu, who was familiar with Takashima Shuhan who was an artillery advisor to Shogunate at that time, had referred to Rangaku book
NRF- Shimoda x02.JPGand dispatched the trusted subordinate Hatta Heisuke to Saga area where had been advancing the furnace operation. Hatta was believed to learn much about furnace technology in Saga, and returned to Nirayama to bring the results. Then Egawa first started building of the NRF by his initiatives based on his information after the Edo’s permissions.

Initially, he planned to construct it at the Shimoda area, which was close to the production of heat-resistant bricks, but the location was suddenly changed to the Izu Nirayama area, because a peculiar incident touching to the military confidentiality had occurred in the site. So it took five months to complete this first reactor there

However, there happened another tragedy to Hidetatsu, who was a leading figure in construction, died suddenly just before the completion. But the building project itself was NRF- Cannon x01.JPGhanded over to his son, and finally could success to build a small 18 pound iron cannon by this furnace after the painfully hard work. NRF- Guide C illust x01.JPGEven that, the quality of molten iron was said to be quite poor and experienced many failures in the process. Additionally,  the Ansei large earthquake struck the area in 1855, and the furnace was severely damaged.

Then, in the subsequent years, the seven times of melting works had been tried, but it NRF- Illust x09.JPGresulted in the end to complete only two units of iron cannons.       We could imagine how difficult it was to introduce new technology at that time with lack of comprehensive scientific knowledge on the modern iron-making. Many trial and error and technical modifications had been made in this manufacturing process, but the main cause was said to be due to the poor NRF- Egawa x03.JPGquality of material iron (sand iron pig), irregularity of melting process, skill of works, furnace architecture, and basically the short of experience.

However, technological challenges, ingenuity, trial application to the new methods, and other efforts in the process, all these endeavors of are evaluated as being embodied in this NRF’ site. When looking around throughout of Japan, the RF was tried to build in the around eleven locations at the late Edo period. Among them, it is the NRF only in the Izu region where the appearance of furnace completely remains as it was. So its historical value is quite high. Because of his Yahata- Furnas x01.JPGcontribution to the NRF, a statue of Egawa was built by the local people in the premises now.

Yahata- Noro x01.JPG       It is no doubt that the challenging spirit and experience of trial and error of iron
making have become the foundation of the Japanese steel making industry in the Meiji industrial modernization afterwards. Especially, we could admire the wisdom of the Japanese engineers that they tried to follow the new technology only upon the Dutch technical books, and made up real RF without direct guidance or contribution of Western technicians. This was strongly felt when observing the reflector in the field. It seems reasonable to be designated as “World Cultural Heritage”.

NRF- Egawa x06.JPG    (The Egawa’s old residence remains at the “Egawa memorial museum” in Nirayama. The museum holds a lot of records and memorials when he had lived, such as records of the time of NRF building and, traces of his activities as an engineer, a doctor, and architect. They were well kept until now. I’d like introduce this museum exhibition later on the other scripts.)

♣  My impression after the visit NRF

NRF- Illust x06.JPG       It was a great experience that we could observe the NRF site, and acknowledged about the background history of it and glimpsed the NRF- Egawa x01.JPGrecord of technical challenge at the end of the Edo period. After the defense function of Edo government was over, the NRF was transferred to the Ministry of Army of Meiji Japan (1873), but it was left being neglected for long time. But in 1908, the restoration of NRF movement began by the local people on the 50th anniversary of the fall of Egawa who had greatly contributed to the building of NRF.

And it was designated as a national historic site in 1922. However, the preservation crisis of NRF had occurred in 1930 by the Izu great Earthquake and the
NRF- Volunteer guide x01upper part of the NR had become collapsed. After the Pacific War, the demand to the restoration of NRF emerged again and strengthened further by the movement among the local people and government. With that initiative the major recovery project NRF- Fuji x01.JPGstarted in 1957 which was included the architectural works putting steel frame for reinforcement, clearing the premises, and so on. The current outlook of NRF was basically formed at this time.       Many volunteers are participating in the guide actively at the NRF site now for visitors.
That made us felt a sincere proud of local people and NRF- Sakura x02.JPGtheir hot enthusiasm to the historical monument of NRF. Local people sometimes boast that NRF visitors could look over two major World Heritage sites at once there. They say the one is NRF and another is Mt. Fuji. Certainly, as looking over from the hill side of the compound, Mt. Fuji, which is showing beautiful slope wearing snow at its top, can be clearly observed over the furnace tower surrounded by fertile greens.  I have ended my visit NRF while imaging the scenery NRF in the time of full bloom Sakura in the spring season with the good combination of Mt. Fuji over the hill.



  • 「韮山反射炉」構造と歴史
  • 韮山反射炉案内パンフレット Japanese & English)
  • 「韮山反射炉の解説」 堀内永人 (文盛堂)
  • 「たたらから近代製鉄へ」岡田康吉編 (平凡社)
  • 「金属の文化史」 黑岩俊郎編 (アグネ)
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SEIKO Museum revisited

museum showing the history of the clock

Seiko Museum ticks clock history in the collection

♣  Outlook of Seiko Museum

Seiko2- Illust x02.JPG     I visited the Seiko Museum in Sumida ward, Tokyo last year. The seiko2- building x01.JPGMuseum is placed along the Sumida River about 10 minute walk from the Mukoijima Station of Tobu line. The famous “Mukojima Hyakaen Garden”, an authentic Japanese style garden, is located near the museum.

The “Seiko Museum” (formerly called Seiko Clock Seiko2- Exh hall x01.JPGMuseum) was set up in 1981 as a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Seiko Company. And it has done the major refurbishment in April 2012 and transformed to the full-fledged pubic industrial museum at that time.Seiko2- old x01.JPG

The main aim of the establishment is said to acknowledge the development history of clock and watches in Japan as well as in the world. So the museum is displaying huge number of various Japanese precious clocks, old and new, worldwide historical clocks, world famous watches beside Seiko’s own watches, as well as Seiko’s company history.

The museum isn’t so big in size, but the collection was amazingly rich and attractive. The outline of the museum was the following.

♣  Scene of Exhibition Hall

Seiko2- Illust x07.JPG     The Museum has the three floors in the building. The first floor is allocated for the exhibition of historical clocks of around the world from ancient time to present day.Seiko2- time piece x01.JPG
The second floor is assign for the information space of Seiko’s company and its historical products. There many types of clocks and watches produced in Japan are also displayed.The third floor is allocated for the library and conference room.
Among these exhibitions, the most valuable and Seiko2- Wadokeix01.JPGattractive collections would be the Japanese historical clocks produced in Edo period since the 17 & 18 century which are known as “Wa Dokei” (Japanese traditional clock).

(Note: The Contents of major exhibits can be accessible by

♣   “Wa-Dokei” and Japanese Historical Clocks

When referring the Japanese clock history, the first mechanical clocks were brought Seiko2- Wadokeix02.JPGinto Japan in the 17th century from Portugal by the hands of missionaries. After that Japanese craftsmen has challenged to produce clocks by Seiko2- Wadokeix03.JPGshowing unique talent with specific mechanical style, and finally succeed to create the original clocks by themselves. It had a special time management system to adjust the time with several units following the sunrise to sunset time zone called “Seasonal Time System” by using special foliot balance (a mechanism of reciprocal motion) . The clock was named “Wa-Dokei”.  It could inform the seasonally corrected Seiko2- time piece x02.JPGtime to the people to manage their social daily life. The Wa-Dokei is, even in the present view, also appreciable with its artistic nature too, as well as the elaborate mechanical function. We can see the excellent technology level in the old days by viewing the collection of the Seiko museum.

However, the Japanese calendar time has switched to Western solar calendar in 1873 by the Meiji government. Then “Wa-dokei” became no longer used since that period. And the methods of production of the clocks Seiko2- Wadokeix04.JPGwere changed to the new Western technologies using coil springs and gears. So the most of the former Japanese clock production was Seiko2- seiko w x02.JPGabolished, but the technology and craftsmanship which was fostered in the “Wa-dokei”, could survived and inherited to the new generation of Japanese manufacturers.

Anyway, many clockmakers have entered into this new clock business with their own initiatives and tried to compete with the foreign makers. In this catching up process, the Japanese clock makers brushed up their skills, particularly precision mechanics nurtured in the traditional “Wa-dokei” technology. These challenging footsteps could clearly observed in the Seiko museum collections.

♣   Seiko’s Technology Development

Among these efforts of the clock makers in Japan, the track record of “Hattori Tokei Seiko2- hattori x01.JPGCompany” (currently become “Seiko”) was significant. The company has played a leading role in the clock making throughout the Seiko2- History x01.JPGdevelopment days.

The chronological chart at the second floor corner of the museum clearly shows how the Seiko’s clock and watch technology has been developed, as well as showing the development of Seiko2- seiko w x03.JPGJapanese clock and watch industries as a whole. In the museum collection, the evolvement of Seiko Company’s business is pictorially explained at the panel. We couldn’t resisted to impress much on the Kintaro Hattori’s vestiges as a Seiko’s founder and techno-entrepreneur by seeing his annals on the board panel.

                                                   (Note)  Refer to:

♣   World Precious Clock and Watch Collection

Seiko2- old x04.JPGThe display of historic and aesthetic “Clocks” produced by the world watch producers in the museum is also extremely wonderful Seiko2- old x05.JPGand superb. The artistic watches for French aristocracy in the 18 century, such as decoration watches, big bell clocks, and wall clocks are particularly valuable among them. In the collection, the museum will show us how variety of clocks and watches were existed in the world and how human has been enthusiastic to produce the time keeping tools.

Seiko2- old x06.JPG       Furthermore, we could also realize how the time counting things have been essential in our social life and culture in the history. We can see this fact in the collection that the tireless effort of
humankind has been done to develop the time keeping technology for the sake of fulfilling that desire to acknowledge accuracy of time. The Japanese clock collection in the museum is also interestinseiko2- J clock x01.JPGg. There found many types of pendulum clocks, wall clocks from old to mew, pocket watches with various size and artistic home-use clocks in the museum exhibition. These sophistication seems to reflect of the progressing Japanese mechanical technology since the Meiji period. Through the observing these collections we could trace the Japanese clock producing history along with their businesses and technologies by our own eyes.

♣  Epoch making appearance of Quarts watch 

In these watch and clock development history, the epoch making would Seiko2- seiko w x04.JPGbe the emerging of the “Quatz” system watch. This Seiko2- Illust x03.JPGsuccessful development would indicate that Japanese makers had already attained the high standard of clock and watch technology in the world.   This quartz technology brought us the ultra-accurate level of time management, and, as a result, the Japanese watches could be taking a landslide share in the world market in 1980s.

In the museum, the technical explanation Seiko2- mechanizm x01.JPGabout Quartz mechanism is explained in detail, such as how it has developed, what mechanism is installed there, in addition, how the time counting technology was built of the digital watch era, and how the affordable watches became so popular among the people in Japan than ever before.

Note: You can see the moving internal structure of the watch! Seiko Museum “VR simulator of watch“  by visiting:

The watches are now the personal accessory goods too. We could feel such transformation of time management technology in the exhibition of the museum well.

♣  Current Position of Japanese Watchmakers in the World

Seiko2- seiko w x05.JPG        Regarding to the watch technology and businesses, Japanese makers, including Seiko, have once dominated
the world market because of quartz, but, in recent years, the value of well-designed mechanical watch was going to revive, and the luxury watches made by the Clock Meister, such as Switzerland watchmakers, Seiko2- seiko w x06.JPGbecame enthusiastically appreciated among people and showing dominating position in the high end worldwide watch markets now.

Seiko2- Illust x01.JPG       Japanese watch makers are looked being positioned in the behind in the global market in this field, if compared with famous brand makers like Swaziland manufactures, even they still they are keeping certain shares in the middle end market.     However, Japanese makers like Seiko and likes, now have started to produce high-end Seiko2- seiko w x07.JPGbrand watch products, for example, the watches embodied superior functionality, light and strengthen, solar powered quartz watch mixed mechanical function, such as “Grand Seiko” and others, it might be a positive signs of revivals of Japanese watchmakers even in the high end market.

♣  My last Impression of Visit

Seiko2- Illust x05.JPG        As a matter of fact, for me the visit the Seiko Museum was a quite experience to enrich my knowledge about the history of time management tools in Japan as well as in the world, technology and mechanism of clock and watches, and the evolvement of watches and clock manufacturing Seiko2- seiko w x01.JPGbusinesses. Also these were probably related with the practical technology development of “Monodukuri” and industrialization process in Japan as a whole.       I have realized by visiting the Seiko Museum that the dynamism of business and technology which are evolving from one to another in the history, in addition to know how mechanical engineering of clock and watch technologies fostered in the process.
I felt that this time of visit was quite educational for me in this meaning.



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Visit of Siebold Memorial Museum

Explore the roots of Japanese Western study “Rangaku” in the 19 century

 ♣  Outlook of Siebold Museum

Siebold- Illust x05.JPG       The “Siebold Memorial Museum” is found  at the hilly site not far from siebold-museum-look-x01Dejima, Nagasaki. The name of Siebold is widely known as a doctor and
scientist who expanded the precious knowledge of Western medical and science to Japan while staying in “Dejima” in the Edo period.   He is also famous to introduce first about
Japanese real life to the European world, particularly on the Japanese fauna and flora, folklore, geography and the other subjects.Siebold- Museum look x04.JPG
The Siebold Memorial Museum was built in 1989 as a monumental archive to praise the contribution of Siebold by the
hand of Nagasaki City government. It’s really wonderful place to visit for touching his footprints and contribution to the Japanese society. After visiting Dejima, I visited this “Siebold Memorial Museum”. This is a small description on my visit.

Home Page of “Siebold Memorial Museum”

 ♣  Rangaku School “ Narutaki Juku” and Siebold

Siebold- Narutaki x04.JPG      In the middle of Edo period, Siebold came to Nagasaki for working at the Dejima, and at that time, opened a Siebold- Narutaki x06.JPGRangaku school named “Narutaki Juku” (鳴滝塾) to teach medicine and other science subjects to Japanese students. It was said that this education facility Juku” had given strong impact to foster the essential thought for the modernization of Japan, particularly by the dissemination of medical knowledge and science development.
Siebold- Narutaki x02.JPG       This “Narutaki Juku” was named after the place Siebold had lived. This site became a memorial compound of park for Siebold now. There a statue of Siebold was standing surrounded by many hydrangea flowers. The “Siebold Memorial Museum” was built adjacent to this park with colonial style building which has modified the old house of Siebold in Leiden, the Netherlands.


 ♣  Significance of Siebold Memorial Museum

When entering the memorial hall, a large bronze statue of Siebold was placed in the Siebold- Museum look x03.JPGmiddle with a photo of his Japanese wife “Taki” and daughter “Ine”. These pictures indicate figures of his footprints during staying in Japan and memory of his family life in Japan.Siebold- family x03.JPG

At the exhibition corner in the Hall, we could notice a large map and chronological documents illustrating the geography image of Japan and world when Siebold came to Japan in the 19c. By these we could roughly grasp the Japanese political and geographical circumstances at the time.

Siebold- Surgery x03.JPGThe second exhibition was the introduction of Siebold’s life and activities at Nagasaki. Among them we could see the real goods and figures, paintings and the like which Siebold had left in Japan. These Siebold- Surgery x04.JPGare the precious evidence of his lifelong Siebold- Surgery x05.JPGresearch and the process of the medical education for Japanese scholars. For example, the portraits of Siebold, his letters, and medical equipment were there in addition to the eyeball models, surgical instruments, medicine baskets which Siebold had used for medical training to students.

Siebold- Edo x01.JPG    The third exhibition contained the record when Siebold had made in the trip to Edo in 1826. They were included the paintings, letters and documents indicating how he had communicated with Siebold- Map x02.JPGthe Edo’s intellectual persons regarding the Western knowledge. It was also found several exhibits showing the so-called “Siebold
which said to violate the Shogunate’s law at
that time. This is a valuable material
Siebold- Illust x06.JPGrepresenting the severe tension of diplomatic relation with foreign countries at the time.
The map of Japan’s coastal map made by Ino Tadataka (伊能忠敬”Great Map of All Nippon Coastal Area”), a map of Sakhalin area, and others were also displayed there. These are indicating the Japanese challenges in order to explore the scientific understanding of Siebold- Book x01.JPGJapanese landscape.

Another major exhibition was on the Siebold’s scientific Siebold- Portrait x01.JPGanalysis and introduction of
the Japan to the world, such as “Japan”, “Japanese botanical magazine”, “Japanese animal magazine” (reprinted book) and so on..
All these exhibits were giving the vivid figures to our eyes of how Japanese real life situated at the time of Edo, as well as of What Siebold’s footprints and contribution were.

♣  Siebold and Dejima, and Rangaku school

Siebold- Rangaku x02.JPG   As describing earlier, the knowledge of science and technology, particularly medical science, was widely spread in Japan through the route of Dejima and Nagasaki, and it brought deep impact to the Siebold- Illust x02.JPGJapanese people in the form of “Rangaku” 蘭学 (Dutch Learning). This is manifested well in the exhibition of his memorial hall.    Rangaku has deeply penetrated in the society and spread new scientific knowledge to the Japanese intellectual circles in the Edo period. Then it fermented a fresh thought to lead social revolution in the end of Edo. In this mean, “Rangaku-Juku” (蘭学塾) school was the major source of these thoughts.

Siebold- Student x01.JPG       Among them, the “Ranaku-Juku” of Narutaki
in the Nagasaki which set up by Siebold, was the most influential “Juku” to disseminate the medical knowledge to the people, and nurtured the Western oriented “Rangaku medical doctor” in the Edo period. We could count prominent Siebold- Rangaku x01.JPGfigures there, like Rangaku Doctor Ko Ryosai (高了齋), Ninomiya Keisaku (二宮敬作), Mima Junzo (美馬順三),  and others.

The Rangaku master Ogata Koan’s (緒方洪庵) “Teki-Juku” (適塾) school in the Siebold-Fukuzawa x01.JPGOsaka was praised as the most influential Rangaku School which gathered many students throughout Japan who were played the important role in later Edo period. Among them, we could find people like, a military commander Omura Mashujiro (大村益次郎) who led the fall of Edo Shogunate and contributed much to form Meiji administration, and a great liberalist Fukuzawa Yukichi (福沢諭吉) who recognize as a leading figure to promote democratic thought in the Meiji time of Japan.

Siebold- Rangaku x03.JPG      In Edo area, “Edo Ranakujuku” school called “Tenshinro”(天真楼) which Siebold- Rangaku x04.JPGestablished by Sugita Genpaku (杉田玄白), who was pioneering Japanese
anatomy science, was also found in the important line of development of “Rangaku”. Sugita is famous to write the textbook “Rangaku Kotohajime” (蘭学事始), and first to translate the Dutch medical  book “Ontleedkundige Tafelen” into Japanese language titled “Kaitai Shinsho” (解体新書) describing the dejima-illust-x05way of human autopsy for the first time in Japan in 1826.
It is a common understanding that the most of “Rangaku Juku” at the time were more or less influenced by Siebold or benefited by the Dejima’s “Tuji” (出島通詞), Dutch interpreters.

Furthermore, we couldn’t forget that the role of the “Nagasaki Naval Training Siebold- Illust x09.JPGInstitute” (Nagasaki Kaigun Denshu Sho 長崎海軍伝習所) which was established with the cooperation of the Dejima commander in 1855. It was purposed to educate Siebold- Illust x10.JPGthe young Samurai people of Daimyo in Kyushu and Shogunate on the Western sailing technology. Later the trainees of this facility became the core human resources to advance Japanese society toward the new phase to the modernization. It included Katsu Kaishu (勝海舟), Enomoto Takeaki (榎本武揚), Godai Tomoatsu (五代友厚), and so on who became major figures initiated the political movement in the late Edo period.       They were also influenced from the scientific and technological knowledge based on “Rangaku” and leading personnel like Sieblod and Rangaku teachers.

♣  After visiting Siebold Memorial Museum

Siebold- Illust x11.JPG      I could recognize well in the visiting Dejima and Siebold Hall that they have played the significant role in the Japanese Siebold- Book x03.JPGmodernization history as a window to the Western world. As a matter of fact Japanese cultures and the Western new
knowledge have been blending there. These roles are becoming highly evaluated these days. And the movement of the restoration works has begun and tried to show the lively scene of Edo period in Dejima and Siebold Hall. It might be a great contribution to recall our own history by ourselves.

siebold-illust-x08     If refer to the Siebold Memorial Museum, I could see an great role of Siebold as a doctor and scientist, and his in-depth human relation with the Japanese intellectual circles. There a plenty of valuable historical materials, exhibits and paintings on “Rangaku” were displayed. And also I have seen a lot of evidences about the contribution of Siebold to
Siebold- family x05.JPGmodernization of Japan and the dissemination of scientific knowledge brought by him. I’ve learned more than anything about the Siebold’s personality which built deep friendship with Japanese leading people and his warm family relations which continued even after he had left Japan.
I felt that the visit of Dejima and visiting Siebold Memorial Museum this time has brought me really a good memory of intellectual trip. I hope many people enjoy the historic road linked to this Nagasaki, Dejima and appreciate the old scene of the premodern history of Japan there.

(Note) In the Museum it wasn’t allowed to take photo. Then the most of the pictures were substituted by other sources except some pictures taken by the author.



  • 「シーボルトの見たニッポン」(シーボルト記念館)
  • 「長崎遊学9出島ヒストリア」長崎文献社
  • 長崎市「シーボルト常設展」ホームページ
  • “楠本イネ”(楠本イネ
  • 「シーボルトと日本の近代科学」宮坂正英 (Civil Engineering Consultant July 2016)
  • 板沢武雄「シーボルト』吉川弘文館 1960年、
  • ”鳴滝塾“鳴滝塾
  • 「鳴滝塾と若者たち」


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Visit Nagasaki-Dejima and Siebold

Visit Nagasaki-Dejima and Siebold Memorial Museum (part 1)

 ♣  Memories of Visit Nagasaki “Dejima”

 Dejima- logo x01.JPG  Recently I visited the Nagasaki-Dejima to be interest ed in the Japan’s foreign relation with Europe in the Edo period and its impact to Dejima- old x01.JPGJapanese modernization. It is known that Japan had closed diplomatic relationship with the Western countries over 200 years since 1600s with only exception of Nagasaki-Dejima.

However, the Western information and advanced science knowledge were unceasingly flowing  into Japan through the route of this small island. That has given a profound influence to the Dejima- Restoration x02.JPGmodernization of Japan afterwards. In recent years, this fact was widely recognized, and the restoration project of Dejima was started by the Nagasaki city government. .

When I visited the Dejima, the restoration project was looked like at the final stage. Then the Dejima Dejima- old x06.JPGwas already going as a tourist spot to indicate the way of interaction of European countries and former Japan. So there it has become appearing the original figures of foreign trade and culture of Japan before the modern era.

Dejima- siebold x01.JPG     In addition, the “Memorial Hall of Siebold” located nearby is exhibiting many memorial goods and vestiges which Dr. Siebold had given to the Japanese leading figures during staying in Dejima.

Article below is the current state of Dejima and my impression of visit.

As for the Dejima, the homepages are provide by bilingual way, so the further details are available by the following address:

¶ Home Page “Dejima”
¶ Home Page of Restration “Dejima”


 ♣  What’s Dejima ? – A historic theater of old Japanese foreign relation

The “Dejima” is a special island zone that was built by Edo government to give special dejima-old-x02license to the Netherland engaging trade with Japan.  It looked like something similar to Dejima- illust x02.JPGthe ‘Special Economic Zone’ if we say in the present term. In the beginning, the Netherlands had set the business outlet in Hirado, Nagasaki. However, they were forced to transfer to ‘Dejima’ of Nagasaki in 1641 and designated to run their trade under the strict boarder control and severe surveillance..
On the other hand, this Dejima was a base of the “Dutch East India Company” that had been trading throughout Asia at the time.Dejima- old x03.JPG

However, what was importance of “Dejima” beyond the trade is that Western science and technology, especially medical science, has spread in Japan by the so called “Rangaku” (Dutch studies) learning. The Dejima- Rangaku x01.JPGNetherland doctors staying at “Dejima” have brought various medical knowledge to young Japanese, and disseminated them to the all over the country. In addition, many Western books were imported through “Dejima”, and Dejima- illust x06.JPGthe new knowledge of Europe was also absorbed widely in Japan by “Rangaku” scholars who learned from these books.

But we shouldn’t forget that many “Tsuji” (Dutch interpreter) members of “Dejima” Dejima- Rangaku x06.JPGhave played an important role in this dissemination process. This Dejima “Tsuji” was not only interpreters, but also functioned as catalysts to bring in the fresh knowledge among Japanese “Rangaku” scholars.

Then, the Dejima was uninterruptedly giving huge precious information and knowledge to Japan as the “A window to the Western world” for more than 200 years until Japan officially opened the country in 1859. Furthermore, the Dejima had created  the “learning” and Dejima- Rangaku x02.JPG“exchange” place to advance the modernization of Japan in Dejima- illust x03.JPGterms of human resources too. Particularly the intellectual scholars and political leaders who learned “Rngaku” emanated from Dejima have later become driving forces to widen the knowledge of Western medicines, astronomical geography, military technology, and to lead the social revolution in the Meiji Restoration.

In this sense, the historical position of the Dejima is quite outstanding..

 ♣  Restoration Movement of Dejima       dejima-logo-x02

dejima-restoration-x03 With the appreciation of historical meaning of Nagasaki and Dejima, the restoration  movement started after the Word War Dejima- Restoration x04.JPGII. Particularly after the request coming from the Netherlands, the restoration project of Dejima was masterminded in the 1950s. However, as the original form of Dejima had already disappeared at that time caused by the urbanization and landfill
works of Nagasaki city, and the movement faced many difficulties to proceed to the real restoration.

Dejima- Restoration x01.JPG   The movement have started in 1952 first to seek the original concept of restoration, and then gradually proceeded to realization of reappearance of the former style of Dejima after the thorough investigation.

Firstly the restoration was pursued the restoration of basic Dejima- Restoration x05.JPGbuildings and houses and rebirth of landscape of Dejima as the short term target. And in the long term, it planned to construct complete Dejima by Dejima- illust x04.JPGfull emulation of historical appearance. And the major facilities were restored in the first stage construction by 2006 and could make emerging rough style of Dejima. Then the Dejima was opened to the public as the historical heritage site on that day. When I visited in 2016, the restoration project was advancing to the final stage and becoming visible of the original figures of old Dejima.

 ♣  Dejima as a historic theater

Let’s see the appearance of this restored “Dejima”.
Dejima- W gate x03.JPG  Firstly the “Water Gate” was observed when we entered the Dejima compound. This gate was praised as a symbolic monument describing the history of Dejima. It showed how
Dejima- loading house x01.JPGthe trading goods were transported into this enclosed area and the way of in-and- out of foreign sailors to the area. And on the left side the unloading hut was found along the water way. It looked remind us the scene of Dejima’s practical trade activity.

Dejima- Capitan x06.JPG       A comparatively big building was positioned near there. It was a living site of the “Capitan” (Dutch Trade Director) house. Dejima- Capitan x02.JPGCurrently, many memorial goods were exhibited there to emulate the living circumstance of them at that time. And the ornaments were beautifully decorated in its residential hall with gorgeous banquet table which was provided for the honored guests in the Edo period.
dejima-old-x04Dejima- Capitan x07.JPG

And there was a small building next to the Capitan house. That was allocated for business office for Japanese commercial officers called “Dejima Otona” who control the Dejima- loading house x02.JPGDejima trade. Currently we could see many exhibits illustrating their work in this this building. So we could easily trace the trading activities of Japanese officials in Dejima there.Dejima- Bettle x02.JPG

Next building was the commercial hall known as “Bettle”
room for the Dutch-side’s executives. It was now used as a museum shop and the on-spot exhibition.
Dejima- warehouse x04.JPG      On the left side across the central road several warehouses called “Kura” were lined up. Among them, the first ” Kura” with white plaster wall was believed to store a valuable imported items like sugar, deer Dejima- trade museum x02.JPGleather and others. In the second “Kura” was said to stock dyes and their materials. This second “Kura” is now used as an exhibition room which is introducing unique trade patterns at that time titled the “Exchange of trade and culture” of Dejima.

In addition, near the “Kura” warehouses, there was an office style building where the Dutch trade secretary Dejima- Rangaku x05.JPGwas working. It is called “Rangaku-Kan”(Dutch Studies House)now which shows how “Rangaku” was disseminated in Japan, and how it has given profound impact to the modernization of Japanese society. There, we could observe a number of instruments and machineries used for geographic survey, navigation techniques, medicine and other sciences at the time

Going further backside we could see a stone warehouse. This was a stone-made warehouse built in 1865 and now it is called “Koko-Kan” Dejima- illust x05.JPGDejima- stone ware x02.JPG(Archaeological Museum). In this building, video movies displayed the function of “Dutch Language Interpreter” (Tsuji) “ in Dejima. As mentioned earlier, they were famous for playing important roles to convey the Western science and technology to Japanese.

Besides, in the Dejima compound, there were some monumental Dejima- club x01.JPG
Dejima-Seminary x01.JPGbuildings, such as the “Nagasaki Oversea Social Club” which set up as a socialization place between foreign residents in Nagasaki and Japanese in Meiji era, the Japan’s oldest “Protestant Theological Seminary” built in 1878, and others. There also found a botanical garden that Dr. Siebold had built in the park with seasonal colorful flowers in Dejima.Dejima- mini x01.JPG

Also, near the east side exit, the 1/15 outdoor model “Mini Dejima” was made for showing the exactly emulated figure of the old Dejima. We could imagine the whole pictures of Dejima well by this miniature model.



♣  Remark before end

dejima-logo-x02Thus, in looking around the whole area of Dejima, we felt that were invited to the historic theater world which mesmerized us to bring back to the scene of 200 years ago. So in this theater, we would dejima-restoration-x02acknowledge how economic, trade and cultural relationships of Japan and Netherlands have been formed based in Dejima, and remind us how the modern Japanese society has transformed by the advanced Western knowledge which brought in through this Dejima and “Rangaku” schools originated Nagasaki.
I would pray that the restoration project will progress well further and hope the “Dejima” will be recognized as a more attractive historical monument in future.

(part 1 end)

(Next script : Visit Siebold memorial hall and  “Rangaku”





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Visit the Miike Coal Mines site (2) “Coal Museum”

Historical sites of Miike Coal Mines (part 2)
– Visit the “Omuta Coal Industrial Museum”

 (This section is continued section of the Part (1) Miike Coal Mines)

While visiting the historic sites of the Miike Coal Mines, I’ve visited the Omuta Coal
miike-museum-x02Industrial Museum
. This museum used as one of the guiding facility for the visitors to the historical heritages of Miike coal mines in the northern miike-museum-x01Kyushu, since they were  registered as a world cultural heritage in July 2015,

The museum is comprehensively exhibiting the historic materials related to the advancement of coal industries, particularly associated with the Miike coal mines. It seemed the museum was established to utilize this facility as a core promotion spot for the Miike- Museum x03.JPGtourism industries around the Omuta area, as well as to remind people about the social background and technology challenges of the coal industry around the area.

In the museum, we can see a lot of learning materials which are displayed in the hall regarding the coal mining measures, products, and the developed technology by  historical chart, dioramas and pictures, remodeling scenes, real working tools and equipment.
The contents and visit report  were as follows.


♣  Exhibition Corner of Energy and Coal

Miike-Coal products x02.JPGIn this corner, the historical role of coal products was shown with the brief explanation about how coal has been utilized for human life, besides describing about Miike- Illust x02.JPG
development process of Miike mines. We could observe the exact structure of the coal bed, the real mass of coal products which dug out from the mines, and applications products made of coal, and others. They had also panels, photographs, three-dimensional models and the like that animate the real scene of early coal mining stage.
Real equipment, such as steam locomotives, gas lamps and various coal stoves, were also observable in this corner which miike-locomotive-x01miie-coal-block-x01indicates how coal has been utilized as an energy source since ancient time. The variety ways of coal application in industries were introduced in the relevant commentary, for example, the refining process and chemical products which were made from the coal, and the cokes for an iron making.
I felt it is a really “science museum” showing the role of coal products as industrial materials and energy source from early time to the present years.


♣  The Corner of Technology History of Coal Mines 

Miike- Illust x07.JPG       Here, the transformation of coal mining technology was illustrated from the ancient
time to the modern period in the exhibition panel. As a matter of fact, mining work had Miike- Museum x08.JPGbeen really difficult and severe. The main works were done by simple tools under the poor working conditions at least by the 1900s in Japan, and sometimes, the massive prison labor forces were mobilized to work there. However, as the times passed, the coal Miike- Museum x09.JPGmining technology was gradually modernized, and shifted to the working style of mechanization using steam and electricity equipment. This history process was being told using mock models and board commentary panels in this section.

When looking at the early time of the Miike coal mines, the water drainage in the coal pits was an crucial, so various measures and Miike- Museum x06.JPGtechnology were used to solve the problem. At this corner we can see lots of evidences of the technological evolution regarding them.

There are also showing plenty of exhibits of equipment and safety gears for coal mine workers from the early period to the recent time. These goods and tools could invoke our imagination about the scene of the inside coal pits and working conditions there.

♣  The corner of Omuta City and its relation with Coal Mines

This corner was showing the relationship between the Omuta’s social and economic Miike- Museum x11.JPGsituation and the development of coal mines which had been moved in parallel with the development of the Miike coal mines as a “coal mine’s town”. A number of pictures and photos were exhibited concerning the evolution of Omuta town and surrounding mining sites, such miike-manda-x01as the changing landscapes of Omuta region since the launching Miike coal mines. It is also showing the major technology adopted in the Miike coal mines, the railroad network and the construction of Miike port by which Omuta became the axis of coal production and loading base. The development process of the coal chemical manufacturing complex in Omuta area was Miike- Railway x07.JPGalso displayed.

By looking over these matters, it seemed revealed how greatly the social and economic situation of Omuta region has been affected. Therefore, in the midst of business declining of the coal industry, it looked crucial but very difficult how the Omuta could revitalize local community without coal industries in the future.


♣  “Dynamic tunnel” with experience of living mining site

All exhibitions show the full of charm, but “Dynamic Tunnel”, which provides visitors an Miike- Museum x13.JPGopportunity to directly look at the actual coal mining sites, seemed to be the most attractive ones than any other exhibits. This was a “mock” site of the practical coal mines which have been operated at the Miike coal mine until recent days.

When a visitor stands on the entrance corner, the door is open and led him to a pseudo descending elevator. Then as the door reopens again, he is already in the deep tunnel of 400 meters down in the mining pit. Miike- Dynamic tunnel x04.JPG

While looking around in the tunnel, the wall bet of the coal layers loomed in the dark, and suddenly appears the coal gathering site where the dummy mineworkers are digging, sorting the coal stones, and carrying out them by small
railways in the tunnel. As stepping in further inside, several modern mining machines can be found, such as Continia, Minor, and Hobel for mechanically and automatically digging and sorting coal mines.In addition, there is a road header to

Miike- Dynamic tunnel x03.JPGMiike- Dynamic tunnel x05.JPGdrill the tunnel, a modern self-running machine and a drum cutter in the mining tunnel. They are rotating in high speed with thunder like sound. It is a really magnificent scene. I haven’t seen such mining sites before, so it was a quite impressive scene for me.

♣  Impression of visiting Miike Coal MInes

Miike- Illust x09.JPG       What I have impressed in the visit the Miike Mines was, first of all, how intense of the rise and fall of the coal industry in Japan, particularly around the Miike coal mines and the fate of Omuta Miike- Museum x16.JPGregion. In fact, along with steel and shipbuilding industry, the coal
mining industries in the Kyushu region had played the central role in the early period of industrial modernization of Japan.

Miike- Museum x14.JPGBut it has been rapidly falling down the position in the Showa era. It was particular impressive phenomena because these things happened after the glorious development years of the Meiji and Taisho period. It has been a Miike- Illust x11.JPGreally drastic change in terms of economic and industrial process, and it’s given a fundamental impact to the local economies like Omuta and its adjacent areas. So the remains of Miike mines seem to be illustrating a long story of coal mining development and indicating how coal industry has evolved technologically and socially in this process. This could be convinced by seeing the former mining sites and visiting the Coal Science Museum in Omuta. .

Miike- Museum x18.JPG      The second impression of me was that many local volunteers were participating in the guiding activities to cherish the valuable historical heritage around the area, especially after the Miike coal mines have been registered as “World Heritage”. They were enthusiastically guiding visitors by building a hut at the site of the remains.Miike- Museum x17.JPG

In my visit to Miyanohara pit, a former mine worker has kindly guided me to the mine site, and explained the role of Miike mining and talked its history while mixing his own personal experience as a mining worker. Currently Omuta City has been energetically advancing the promotion projects of sightseeing using mining historical sites, along with promoting chemical factories and inviting pubic institutions.
miike-museum-x02    The construction of the “Coal Industry Science Museum” would be one of the social institutions following in this line. I wish these efforts will bring some fruits in the future. This has been my small hope after the visiting the historical sites of Miike mines.




  1. 「三池炭鉱の歴史と技術」(大牟田市石炭産業科学館ガイドブック)2014
  2. 「世界文化遺産―三池炭鉱」ワークプレス刊 2016
  3. 大牟田の近代化産業遺産ホームページ
  4. 宮原坑跡 大牟田の近代化産業遺産ホームページ
  5. 宮原抗跡
  6. 旧三池炭鉱専用鉄道敷
  7. 三池港
  8. 大牟田のさまざまな近代化遺産
  9. 三池炭鉱 万田坑 | 九州の世界遺産
  10. 三井三池炭鉱-Wikipedia


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Visit the former Coal Mines of Mitsui Miike (part 1)

Historical sites of  Miike Coal Mines (1)
— The rise and fall of coal mining industry around Omuta, Kyushu

Miike- Illust y01.jpg    The “Miike Coal Mine” was established around1899 in Omuta, northern Kyushu area. This mining site had equipped Miike- Miyanohara x01.JPGwith modern facilities being unusual at that time, and yielded a massive chunk of coal in order to respond to the huge demand generated by the rapid industrial growth in the middle of Meiji era (1900s). And this mining project is renowned for the contribution a lot to build the foundation of industrial success in the early time of Japan.
With this historical value, the former Miike Coal mines sites miike-illust-y02were designated as one of the “World Industrial Heritage” in 2015 by Unesco.
I’ve recently had a chance to visit these Miike coal mines while traveling in Kyushu, such as Miyanohara coal pit, Miike port, railroad track of Miike mines, as well as the “Coal Industry Science Museum in Omuta”.
This is a small record at that time.

 Access to the Coal Mines sites

 ♣  Outline of Mitsui Miike Coal Mines

Miike- Illust x06.JPG       The coal industry of Japan was positioned as one of the most important basic industrial fields for long time from Meiji era to Taisho period (1900s to 1920s), and even just after the War period (1945–).  Miike- history x01.jpgHowever, since 1950s on time, the coal industry began to decline by energy conversion movement from coal to oil and the rapid globalization of the economy. And like as the area of Hokkaido Yubari and other coal mines sites, many coal mines in Kyushu were closed one after another, and nowadays they were down to the hard circumstances, in which it left only the ruined buildings of coal mines. The Miike coal mines in Omuta followed this trail too. “Hashima”, known as Miie- Scale model Coal mines x01.JPGa tourist destination as a “Warship Island”, was also the mining site under the same siuation. The economy of Omuta area, where Miike mine was located, has lost its vital strength, and the even population was declined since the closing of the coal mines in the 1990s..

With visiting the mining sites, I have noticed again of the dynamic but fluctuated fortunes of the coal mining industries, such as the Miike mines, which have shown the initial challenges of business and technology and its critical contribution to the industrial development in the Meiji period, as well as the long process losing vitality of coal industries in history.

The following is the visit impression on the Miike coal mine sites at the time.

 ♣  Story of  Miike Coal Mines in the Historical Perspective

Miike- Illust x05.JPG  A lump of coal materials were begun to use as a fuel for salt production in the Edo era Miike- history x02.jpgfor the first time, but the full-scale coal mine development was started only after the Meiji government had launched the vigorous promotion of modern manufacturing industries around 1870s. And major development of coal mines was initially handled by the government in the Kyushu area under the strong fostering policy of the industry development at the time.

Miike- Dan x01.JPG      In the midst, the Mitsui Business group bought up the government owned Miike coal mine in 1889, and started its own coal mine development as a private project. After that, the Miike mine achieved Miike- Old mining scene x01.JPGsignificant growth under the management of modern large-scale coal mines. It is said that this success was owed much to the outstanding leadership of Takuma Dan, who mastered the mining science in the US, and joined as a manager of the infant Mitsui Miike coal mine company. Then Mr. Dan was called the founding father of Miike Coal mines as an engineer and business innovator, and he was also appreciated as a figure greatly contributed to the whole industrial development of Japan.Miike- Model pit x02.JPG

In particular, Dan has gained great reputation as a man who firstly introduce modern technology in the mining, such as modern pumps for drainage, construction of new railroads for loading coal in large scale, and he has even built large Miike Port where a large ship can be berthed, as well as introduced the integrated coal mining management system. So the foundation of Miike coal mine had been consolidated by this Miike- diorama mines x01.JPGway with his contribution. In addition, in the surrounding area, many coal chemical factories were established around 1900s, which were producing coal, coke, fertilizer, dye and other chemical products.

Then the coal industries could be flourished through out of the period of 1920s and 30s. Even after the War of 1945, the coal industry has played a crucial role in economic recovery from the total damage of Japan’s industry.

Miike- Illust x04.JPG       However, it has been gradually lose competitive power because of radical energy shiftMiike- History x03.jpg from coal to oil being progressed around 1960s. In addition, there occurred large-scale coal mine accidents, labor disputes, and other unfortunate incidents. And the mining sites had been experienced great setback even under the big government supporting policies. The coal mines’ sides have also made their own efforts to improve productivity, mechanization, and technology measures for safety, but the coal production was gradually declined.

The Miike coal mines has followed the same lines and   the Mitsui coal mines were Miike- Miyanohara x05.JPGfinally closed in 1997 and their historical missions were over.

However, currently the new movements of using these historic mining sites for tourism and cultural promotion have been moving. In particular, since the Miike coal mines were designated as “World Heritage” in 2015, the movement has strengthened in the area..

 ♣   Visiting Miyanohara Coal Mine Pit

The ruins of Miyanohara coal mine is quietly standing on the hilly side of Omuta city Miike- Miyanohara x01.JPGlikely indicating the long historical development of coal industries. Back in the Meiji era, the coal demand was sharply increased, because the government had been strengthening the strong Miike- Miyanohara x03.JPGindustrial base and required the huge energy sources like coals. Then, it was necessary to run the coal mining in larger scale and the modernized way from the deeper coal shafts.  In order to respond this requirement, Miike’s Miyanohara coal pit was set up by Mitsui business group. However, it was necessary to properly handle of the ground water, but this Miike- Miyanohara x04.JPGoperation was quite difficult because the volume of yielding ground water was too huge in the deep pit

In this situation, Mr. Takuma Dan, who became the president of the Miike coal mine, has introduced the world’s largest British water pump to prevent this spring water, and made possible to produce massive coals from the Miyanohara Miike- Miyanohara x02.JPGmines as at first experiment in Japan. It is said that these innovative management and technological challenges have led the success of Mitsui Miike Coal mines by consolidating the business foundation. Currently, several facilities have remained as a historical monument, such as the oldest pumping pump steel turret built in 1901, several buildings and traced pump huts attached to the Miyanohara mines.

These historic sites are accessible now and the volunteer staffs are doing a guide for
the visitors. Then I visited the sites following the guide too. I was impressed in the Miike- Hisotry x06.JPGtechnical challenge which exerted in the initial period of development of coal mines. But on the other hand, I also recognize the fact that a number of prisoners were sent to the mining pits from the prison called “Miike Shuji Miike- prison x01.JPGKan” and made them work under the severe condition in the
Meiji period. This fact was confirmed in the small panel board at the Miyanohara pit.
I thought these remains were showingd us the harsh reality which occurred in parallel of the glorious industrial development in the Meiji Industrialization.

  ♣  Visiting Manda Coal Mines site

I couldn’t visit this Manda Coal mine, which located in Arao city near the Omuta city, Miike-Manda x01.JPGthis time. This mine was built in 1902 after the opening of the Miyanohara coal mines. It is said that it has boasted the largest scale of coal production among many other coal mines in Kyushu. The coal mine site has been registered as one of the World Heritage too. Currently, the second vertical shaft “Yagura”, the hoisting machine rooms, warehouse and pump room, safety lighthouse and bathroom, management office, some religious facility are preserved as memorial sites.

This Manda mine was one of the largest facilities in the Meiji and Taisho periods among other existing Miike coal mines, and coal production has been continued until 1951.

 ♣ Visiting the ruins of Miike Mines Railway

The railway line of Miike coal mine initially began by using the horse-drawn cart in

Miike- Rail x02.JPG1878 around Miike area. And around 1905 the railway reinforced the loading power by adopting the steam locomotives, and transported coals from the Miyanohara
and Manda mine to the Mike port to follow the increase of production. Subsequently, the railway have made the power-up renovation of the key equipment, such as Miike- Railway x06.JPGintroduction of electric locomotives, expansion of railway route, and widening of tracks. The railway has been continued to run until 1997 at the time the Miike coal mines was closing.
The rail tracks have been already removed, but the old railroad sleepers and basement bed remained in the some sections like as its original shape. We can see them along the nearby roads.
They remind us the former scene of railway operation at the time.  So this railroad remaining site was added to one of the world heritage as a historical monument because it witnessed the initial technology
Miike- Railway x09.JPGMiike- Railway x07.JPGdevelopment of Miike mins in the Meiji period.

It is known that the special architectural measure was taken for the construction of railways to overcome the intense geographic ups and down in order to make them run smoothly in the hilly landscape with heavy coal cargo. We could observe the railroad ruins passing through the east side of the Miyanohara mine along the way to the Miyanohara mine. The old tunnel made of bricks, old iron bridge, and other ruins would remind us the moment when the railroad had been operating.

 ♣  Visit Miike Port as a Historical monument

The Omuta area, where Miike mines located, was surrounded by the Ariake Sea which Miike- Miike port x02.JPGis known its shallow sea bed near the shore and big tidal change over 6 meters. For this reason it was very difficult for large vessels to anchor there. So the coal shipment from the Miike Miike- Miike port x01.JPGcoal mine formerly had to be done by small boat. Therefore, the loading harbor for coal was required to construct before the coal mines’ advancement. The port was completed in 1905 by facilitating the special opening gate to adjust the tidal change over there. The tidal gate for port was technologically quite difficult and bore huge cost at that time, but Mr. Takma Dan has bravely decided to install this specific facility of port for the future development. It is said that the Miike coal mines could attain a big leap because of this construction of port.

Miike- Miike port x05.JPG       The lock gate is said that the water level in the dock could be kept around 8.5 meter high from the open sea level even at lowest tide. Consequently thanks to the gate, the big cargo ships of 10,000 tons level became possible to harbor in the dock. This completion of port evaluated to make a great contribution in the successful businesses of Miike coal mines’. This Miike port is still used as a departure point for regular vessels and cargo ship from near harbors like nearby Shimabara and others even today.

The lock gate is equipped with two steel gate with double open doors tied to the pier. Miike- guide x01.JPGThe gate is not allowed to access now, but the opening and closing movement of the gate can be observed from the hill beside the sea shore..When I visited, I couldn’t see the movement of the gate door, but I could see the overlook of the port from over the distance hill near the guiding hut..

Miike- Port x01.JPG      The harbor equipped with this kind of lock gate is quite rare and is unique in shape too. Additionally it is said to bear the important role of coal industry development in history. So, this Miike Port was designated as a World Heritage too as a historical monument with the evaluation of the functions which had served and promoted the coal industry in the initial industrial revolution in the Meiji period.

I was convinced that  the Miike Port is  a really valuable site to  show the challenging project for the industrialization  in the Meiji Japan.

(Part 1)  end

See next to the  “Visit the Omuta Coal Industrial Museum”



  1. 「三池炭鉱の歴史と技術」(大牟田市石炭産業科学館ガイドブック)2014
  2. 「世界文化遺産―三池炭鉱」ワークプレス刊 2016
  3. 大牟田の近代化産業遺産ホームページ
  4. 宮原坑跡 大牟田の近代化産業遺産ホームページ
  5. 宮原抗跡
  6. 旧三池炭鉱専用鉄道敷
  7. 三池港
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Visit the Museum of Logistics

 Look into the logistics world now and past —


Museum Homepage:

What’s about “Logistic Museum”

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

This is a report describing the impression at that time.

 ♣  Outlook of the Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ♣  What exhibitions are there?

 <Historical View of Logistics>

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

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

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

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

 <Exhibition of Modern Logistics Corner>

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




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

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


<Video Room and Library>

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


 ♣  Feature of Museum and Visit Impression

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

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

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



物流博物館New「収蔵資料展」特集 (2001)

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Visit Yawata Steel Works and its Blast Furnace Site

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


♣  Outline of Yahata Steel Works

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

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

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

♣  Yahata Steel past time and present

 <Initial Period; Why Steel Works>

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

<Technology Development of Steel Making>

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

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

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

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

 < Yahata Steel Afterwards and a New Transformation >

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

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

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

<Yahata Steel as a Historical Site>

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

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

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

♣  Yawata Steel Works designated as World Industrial Heritage

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

<First Head Office of Yawata Steel Works>

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

<Former Forge Shop of Yahata Steel Works>

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

<Repair Shop of Yahata Steel Works>

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

<Onga River Pumping Station of Yahata Steel Works>

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

♣  Remarks after Visit and Report

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

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

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

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

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



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



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Visit Chiba Museum of Science and Industry

Explore the modern Industrial technology in the museum of Chiba

♣  Museum Outlook

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

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


 ♣  Overview of Museum  Exhibition

 <Aim of establishment>

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

<Main Exhibition>

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

♣  History Corner of the Modern Industry

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

< Historical review of modern science and technology>

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

<Development of Electric, petroleum, and Iron Technology>

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




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

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

<Iron and Steel producing devices>

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

<Machinery devices>

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

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

♣  Exhibition of modern leading edge industrial technology

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

<New materials for industrial use>

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

<New materials for electronics>

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

<Biotechnology exhibits>

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

<Equipment to make Ultra environment>

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


♣  Exhibition of creation in the Open Space

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

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

♣  End Remarks 

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




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Visit Bridgestone Today -Museum of Tire World

Visit of Bridgestone Today; the Tire’s Science Museum

–Touch the Tire’s Engineering Technology and Entrepreneurship

ブリヂストン博物館訪問 -  ゴムとタイヤの科学が学べる博物館 —

  ♣  Museum Outlook

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

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

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

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

See Museum guide of IGS Forum:  Bridgestone TODAY

Museum URL:

♣  Overview of Exhibitions

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

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


♣  The History of Bridgestone and its Track Record

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

 <Founding Story>

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

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

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

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

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

<History of Bridgestone technological development>

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

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


<Leap to the world tire companies>

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

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

BS-Products x01.JPG

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


♣  Exhibition of a variety of Bridgestone tire

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

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

♣  Exhibition showing tire structure

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

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

♣  Exhibition of the manufacturing process of the tire

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

♣  Bridgestone’s new initiatives

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


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

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

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

.♣  Last remarks

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





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