Visit Yokosuka Ironwork & Shipbuilding sites

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

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

♣     Historic traits of the Yokosuka Steel Works

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

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

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

<Meiji Government continued works and completed the Project>

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


♣   Significance of Yokosuka Ship & Ironworks

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

<Involvements of Yokosuka Shipbuilding in the Naval Power development>

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


♣   Views and heritages of Yokosuka’s port park

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

♣   Exhibition of Verny Memorial Hall

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

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

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

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

♣   Remarks after the visit

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

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

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



  • 「ヴェルニー記念館」案内パンフレット
  • 「ヴェルニーと横須賀」(ヴェルニー記念館)
  • 「小栗上野介と横須賀」(ヴェルニー記念館)
  • 近代日本のルーツ横須賀製鉄所」観光パンフレット
  • 「横須賀製鉄所の事跡を訪ねて」白石健一(東京往古学会講演資料)
  • 「横須賀の軍事遺産」観光パンフレット
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit Inuyama Karakuri Doll Museum

Amazing Inuyama Castle and Karakuri Art 

Inuyama- illust x01.JPG        I got a chance to visit Inuyama city in Aichi Prefecture lately. The cityInuyama- town x01.JPG is famous to have a national treasure “Inuyama Castle” built in the 16th century, and to retain historical townscape of Edo period, as well as to organize tradition of the old ritual festivals. So I went around seeing these historical sites and visited some memorial heritages and Inuyama- Doll x16museums in the city. Among them, the most impressive facility was the “Doll Pavilion” which exhibited the “Karakuri” dolls. It was showing the superiority of Japanese craftsmanship in doll makings.

It was a short time, but it was quite experience to observe the “Karakuri” exhibition there. Below is an impression of my visit.

 Karakuri Pavilion HP :

 ♣  Inuyama’s Castle, Townscape and Festival

inuyama- Museum x03.JPG    Inuyama- illust x08.JPG    The “Inuyama Castle” is a legendary castle built in 1537 in the Muromachi period. Its castle donjon is the oldest style one among the existing castles in Japan, and designated as a national treasure of Japan. In addition, the old township there is still remaining the original style of the Edo era townscape (same shape of Town Block of castle Inuyama- town x02.JPGtown) as well as the idyllic merchant houses.The Inuyama festival in Inuyama city is also famous across the country because of the magnificent ”Dashi” (shrine float vehicle) procession with theater-like play of the Inuyama- Float x03.JPG“Karakuri” dolls in competing their acrobatic actions on the street.  At present, the campaign of “Revitalization of Historical Town ” is going in the Inuyama city. Under these programs, Cultural Historical Museum of Inuyama, “Festival hall” (Donden Hall”), and other facilities like Doll Pavilion (called “Karakuri Kan”) were prepared to advertise their charms on their castle, old township, and Inuyama festivals and other activities.

 ♣  Legendary figure of Karakuri doll in Inuyama

Inuyama- illust x06    “Karakuri” is mechanical auto-moving mechanic tools which were produced and played from the old time of Japan, in particular, Inuyama- Doll x17.JPG“Karakuri doll” was showing a unique movement like human actions. This is equivalent to Western automata in the old days. In Japan, “Dolls” were perceived as a sort of spiritual “proxies” of human body from the ancient times and treated as the sacred ones. This feature is said to be embodied into the “Karakuri dolls”.  Then, human shape dolls have been used in festivals and others ritual activities for long since ancient Inuyama- Doll x20.JPGtime to now.

In particular, since the Edo period, besides festivals, these Karakuri dolls became popular as a general spectacles and entertainment purposes too.

And when the mechanical movement technology like gears and cams, which was widely used in mechanical watches, was introduced from Western countries in the early Edo period of the 17th century, this mechanism was effectively applied to the device movement of dolls. so as many specialized “Karakuri” craftsmen were born in that period and various human shape dolls was beginning to show the elaborate move became produced in Japan in the unique way.


<History  of Karakuri dolls>

In 1620 (the Genna 6th), the first “Karakuri” of “Benkei’s dolls” (an ancient hero Inuyama- Old doll x01.JPGwarrior) was mounted on the religious float “Yama” vehicle of “Nagoya Toshogu Festival”. Since that time, many festival floats carrying Karakuri dolls became popular and widely spread Inuyama- Old doll x04.JPGaround the Chukyo area (surrounding Nagoya area). Also, in 1662, Takeda Omi, a theater player, at Osaka had got a title name of master of Karakuri in the performance of “Karakuri Theater play” (Takeda Karakuri).

At that time, Tokugawa Muneharu, a lord in the Owari Han (clan), encouraged Inuyama- Old doll x02.JPGentertainment and performing festivals among local people to activate people’s daily life in the Owari Nagoya region. It is said that many craft workers were gathered there and started to produce various “Karakuri dolls” in the area. As a result, the areaInuyama- history x01.JPG became a major spot of Karakuri festivals since then. Tamaya Shobei, the first doll master, was one of them. In such circumstances, Inuyama have developed the unique floats and doll making technology which now are facilitating the present large-scale Oyama festival and unique Karakuri performance.

Refer: (

<Variation of Krakuri Doll>]

Inuyama- Doll x08.JPGInuyama- illust x03.JPG    The Karakuri doll can be roughly divided into three categories, such as (1) “Karakuri for festival float”, (2) “Zashiki Karakuri” and (3) “Shibai Karakuri”. The Karakuri for float (1) is loading dolls on the float vehicles that are played during the procession of festival. (3) Shibai Karakuri is used in playhouse, like Kabuki Theater and so on.          They are applied to Bunraku (Puppet    Inuyama- Doll x06  Inuyama- Doll x07       Inuyama- Doll x05play) and other theater stage later.  Karakuri dolls of (2) “Zashiki” (an in-house performing doll)  (In-house performing doll) and they are applied to Bunraku (Puppet Inuyama- craftsman x08.JPGplay) and other theater stage later.Karakuri dolls of (2) “Zashiki” (an in-are made just for entertainment, or use as pet like goods for Daimyo (great warrior lords) and rich merchants, and the dolls showed particularly elaborate movements. They are known well in the forms like “Tea serving doll”, “Bow shooting doll”, “Letter writing doll” and others.       

(Performance can be seen in the Youtube *

 Inuyama- Doll x24.JPG“Tea serving doll” ( )
Inuyama- Doll x23.JPG“Letter writing doll” ( )

     ♣ Contact point of Karakuri and humanoid robot

The mechanism of “Karakuri” in human style dolls is regarded embody basic Inuyama- craftsman x03.JPGoperational principles of modern mechanical engineering. By an analysis of “Karakuri” expert, “The technical force that created a precision movement of wooden machine doll in the Edo period,Inuyama- Doll x09.JPG have actually made advanced the new manufacturing technology by using “iron” materials instead of wooden materials at the time of the industrial revolution of Meiji period.” (Suzuki Reiji “Karakuri Yume Studio” etc.).

It is also believed this technology background of Karakuri made possible effectively Inuyama- illust x07.JPGintroduce of new machinery technology from Europe in the industrialization process, especially in the Meiji period. The quick development of the watch industry and other precision mechanical Inuyama- craftsman x04.JPGindustries of Japan’s after the Meiji Restoration is said match due to these facts.

In the Nagoya area where the Karakuri making was quite popular, now many manufacturing companies concentrated such as automobiles, industrial robots, etc. It is evaluated that the development of Karakuri technology might have given a positive effects to flourish Inuyama- Doll x26.JPGsuch machinery industries in the area. It’s quite understandable why Japanese are holding so favorable and intimate image to the humanoid robots. It would be based on the familiarity to the “Karakuri dolls” which are often played in the daily life now.

      “Tanaka Hisashige” which was called “Karakuri Kyonemon” at the end of the Edo Inuyama- craftsman x02.JPGperiod is particularly famous in making these elaborate movement dolls and carving aesthetic wood puppets. Tanaka was also a scientific engineer, and invented “Exhaustible oil lamp” (Mujintou), a million years clock (Mannen Jimei Mannenn Dokei), and even built “steam locomotive production” in Saga. He is known to set up a manufacturing firm in the Meiji era “Tanaka Manufacturing” that became the founding basis of the current “Toshiba” company).

♣  Karakuri Museum’s human doll exhibition

        Karakuri Pavilion, an annex of Inuyama Cultural Historical Museum, exhibits inuyama- Museum x02.JPGmany Karakuri dolls and is regularly conducting demons of Karakuri performance in the hall. With visiting this pavilion, you can see the historical roots of Karakuri dolls in detail and also their various forms of performing dolls through explanation given by the staff.Inuyama- Doll x21.JPG

Beside many old Karakuri dolls in the hall in the Edo period, you can see various Karakuris there which are performed in the still being used the floats of Oyama festival, the ” Zashiki Karakuri ” which is showing elaborate movements at the stage, and others. We inuyama- Museum x05.JPGcan’t help admire how many numbers of the different and colorful Karakuri dolls with lively movement were made in the history.

They are quite fertile in content, such as Karakuri dolls based on the stories of old folk tales, noble aristocrats dolls wearing clothes of ancient dynasties, heroic warrior dolls in the medieval time, dolls of peculiar animals, and cute children’s dolls, and other variety of dolls are exhibited there.Inuyama- Doll x11.JPG

Also, the better understanding about structure and mechanisms of these Karakuri clearly, the Pavilion displays the wooden structure, gears, strings, and other parts inside the dolls.

Inuyama- craftsman x01.JPGHowever, the biggest attractive point is that you can actually observe the demonstration of movement of Karakuri doll and their production site by Mr. Tamaya Shobei, who is the ninth generation of the puppet master who continued the craft tradition from the Edo period. This Shobei, currently masterpiece of Karakuri doll, was nominated as a great craftsman of Inuyama- Doll x03.JPGJapan in the field of aesthetic wood manufacturing product. He has also reproduced and exhibited the classic Karakuri dolls in Edo period with fully using the traditional techniques, such as “Tea serving doll”, “Bow shooting doll”, “Letter writing doll” etc. The Pavilion actually highlighted these dolls as the main features of exhibition. There is also the episode that Shobei excellently manufactured a Karakuri of “Tea serving doll” and presented it to the British Museum in London for the special exhibition in 2005.

♣ Remarks after visit

Inuyama- Doll x23The production technique of Karakuri dolls and their craftsman’s traditions are often quoted as a root of the development of Japanese machinery industries and the showcase of excellent craftsmanship of Japan from Meiji era to now. And the modern robot industry was evaluated to be formed under this tradition and technology, particularly pertaining to the humanoid robot.Inuyama- craftsman x05.JPG    Especially, it is pointed out that Tanaka Hisashige who founded Toshiba was known as a “Karakuri doll masterpiece during the Edo period, and Toyoda Sakichi, who is a founder of Toyota, believed that he had applied the Karakuri mechanism for the invention of the first automatic woven loom in Japan. In addition, it is pointed that he was raised in the area of vicinity in Nagoya, Aichi where the Inuyama- illust x05.JPGKarakuri was thriving.
It was a quite experience to visit the national treasure “Inuyama Castle”, the streets of the castle town of Edo period. Particularly the amazingthing is that I could see the “Karakuri in the Pavilion and could know of the diverse features of Karakuri dolls by my own eyes.
Anyway, I was deeply impressed by the significance of “craftsmanship” in Japan which was shown in the Karakuri making techniques. The visit was really enjoyable and educational experience.



  • 「カラクリの基礎知識」
  • 「からくりー伝統・歴史・技術ものづくりを支える」(尾陽木偶師 九代玉屋庄兵衛)
  • 「からくり人形とものづくり文化」
  • からくりフロンティア
  • 「城下町でお遊びーKarakuri-」 (大山氏教育委員会篇)
  • 大山市城下町マップ
  • 大山市文化史料館パンフレット
  • カラクリ展示館パンフレット
  • 「旧磯江家住宅」紹介パンフレット
  • ドンデン館パンフレット
  • 「大山祭りーカラクリ解説集―」


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit a Theme Park “Meijimura” in Nagoya suburbs

   – Shows the Social Modernization and Development Industries in Meiji period, Japan–.

Meiji- logo x01.JPG      There’s a unique theme park which is called “Meiji Mura Village” in Inuyama city near Nagoya Meiji- Illust x03.JPG The purpose of Establishment of the park is to restore and display valuable historic building and facilities in the compound.. Last year I had  a chance to visit this Park while traveling around Nagoya.Meiji- Building x11.JPG      The buildings exhibited there were all brought in from various locations of Japan, and reconstructed them in the park with keeping original style as it was. So they  visualize how Japan  diligently learned the Western architecture  and how fast developed its technology since Meiji period. This writing is my observation of Meiji Village at this time of visit.

♣  What’s the “Meiji-mura Village”?

Meiji- Illust x02.JPG        The “Meiji-mura Village” is located at the spacious hill site in the outskirts of Inuyama City.  There hundreds of historical buildings, public facilities and monuments are constructed to keep historical heritage as they were, such as legendary hotels, Meiji- Building x19.JPGchurches, post offices, bridges, and guardhouse, and others.

In the Meiji era, a number of marvelous buildings and facilities were built as the symbol of social modernization. However, Meiji- Building x04.JPGunfortunately the most  were under the threat of going lost because of successive earthquakes, war damages and other natural disasters, particularly, by the vigorous construction booms in the economic development and social change.

In the meantime, after the passing time a century since Meiji, the Meiji- person x03.JPGreservation movements emerged for these historic constructions, and this “Meiji village” was established in 1965 Meiji- Building x02.JPGby the great initiatives by Taniguchi Yoshiro (famous architect) and Tagawa Motohiro of Nagoya Railway chairman. Since the establishment, many celebrities and intellectuals have contributed and supported the development of the Park as a whole. As the result, the Village Park now become famous as a public facility received nationwide supports including the tourism organizations and local people.

Meiji- Building x07.JPG    Meiji- Building x10.JPG The significance of the park is  not only showing appearance of the historic buildings, but displays valuable utilities in the historic buildings, like machines, pictures and documents, and other goods to be recorded the life style and social conditions in the Meiji period. So, people will be charmed by the exhibition of figures of buildings, but they could appreciate historical goods and facilities inside them. Actually many of the buildings and facilities are nominated as cultural treasuries of the country.  We can list many examples like in the following lists.

< Some examples of Meiji-mura’s Historical Buildings >

Meiji- Building x13.JPG     The oldest Western style lighthouse ” Shinagawa Lighthouse” (1870), Rokugo River restored bridge (the oldest Japan’s iron Meiji- Building x16.JPGbridge), Mie prefectural office building (1879), the wooden post office in the Meiji “Ujyamada” (1909), the former Japanese “Kyoto Episcopalian Concordia Hall”(1907), old “Sapporo Telephone Office”, “Kyoto St. John’s Church”(1907), the House of novelists “Mori Meiji- Building x06.JPGOgai & Natsume Soseki”“Tendo Arch Bridge” (1887), and so on.Meiji- Illust x11.JPG
Besides buildings, as the special exhibition, we can spot several treasury collections like “Meiji Emperor’s Special Coach” No.6, (as a railway monument), Kyoto City’s electric streetcar (1895), Meiji- Building x22.JPGJapan’s first public telephone box (1900), Steam Meiji- Building x21.JPGlocomotives imported from England No.12 (1874), etc.

All of them are describing  the diligent people’s initiatives to promote the modernization of architectures, civil engineering, transport and communication facilities of early time of Japan.

Meiji- Machine x01.JPGAmong them, the particularly important would be the “Shimbashi Railway Repair Workshop of  Japan Railway ” (“Machine Hall Museum”), because it clearly portrayed the first situation of railway operation and its development process regarding mechanic industries at that time.

♣   The first “Shimbashi RailwayWorkshop” and “Machine Hall Museum”

Meiji- Machine x15.JPG       The buildings and facilities there are all fascinating  and important, but the “Machine Hall” Shimbashi Factory of JR was particularly attractive among them, because the Hall exhibits various industrial machine tools practically   used in the Industrial Rising Period of Meiji.Meiji- Railway x01.jpg

In a way, the Machine Hall is positioned as a valuable railway heritage as it was constructed in 1872 at the moment of railways starting in Japan. In addition, the Hall exhibits a number of old machines which had been used in the industrialization of Meiji period. So the exhibits seem to indicate how Japan has been developing machinery industries and advancing the industrial revolution in Meiji.

Meiji- person x05.JPG     Anyway, when the railway run first in Meiji, the railway technology was completely lacking in Japan. Then, all the railway related materials and machine tools were directly imported from the UK as well as technology,Meiji- Machine x02.JPG and the facilities were produced by foreign engineers. However, Japan had steadily learned its engineering technology in the consequent year of Meiji. The materials exhibited in the Hall would Meiji- Machine x06be good evidence how Japan’s domestic technological skills had been formed in the Meiji era.
Such as power machinery, various machine tools, textile machinery etc. displayed there. They were all real things to be able trace the course of Japanese <industrial development, including railway.

< Examples of exhibits of Machine Hall Museum >

For example, the following machines and facilities are exhibited in the Hall;

       Meiji- Machine x11“Steam hammer” (1881) produced and imported from Vulcan Iron Works (1881), “Horizontal single cylinder steam engine” (so called Brunat Engine, imported in the early Meiji era from France) which was used as a prime mover at the Tomioka spinning mill, “Prime steam engine for fog signal light” used at the Niwayama lighthouse in Otaru City, Hokkaido (1897) which manufactured by Yokohama Seisakusho, “Special Meiji- Machine x04Plane milling machine” embedded emblem chrysanthemums as a Japan’s oldest Meiji- Machine x08.JPGmachine tool which domestically produced (manufactured by Akahane Kokubu Branch office, Ministry of Engineering, 1879), first Japan-made Inokuchi type of Centrifugal Water Pump (1912) produced by Japanese engineers with dual suction volute” which applied fluid dynamics engineering theory Meiji- Machine x09.JPG(manufactured by Kokuto Machinery Mfg, (1912), “Mule spinning machine for wool” (made in England) which had significantly helped the establishment of early Japanese spinning industry, “Ring spinning mill” (made in USA), Wooden handmade “Gara-Bo spinning machine” that performed the spinning with a water wheel (invented by Japanese technician and inventor of Gaun Tatsushi, in the early Meiji era), “Francis turbine generator” (made in US, 1913) used at the hydroelectric power plant of Kami-tatsumi, Kanazawa, and many others are found there.Meiji- Machine x05.JPG

Looking at these machines, we could recognize the situation that Meiji people had to fully depend on the imported machines for the first time, as seen in the power Meiji- Machine x16.JPGgenerators, steam engines and others. But under this condition they’ve learned energetically its manufacturing techniques from foreign engineers to master them. Because Japan were completely lacked the technology of industrial power machine and metalworking that time. But Japan quickly emulated the ideas effectively and successfully began to produce the sophisticated machinery in the successive years.

For example, in the spinning industry, Japan started emulating  technology of the imported Mule and Ling systems from Europe in the first stage, and gradually mastered the skills Meiji- Machine x12.JPGof spinning, cotton drawing process, and tackled the roving

Meiji- Machine x13.JPG

spinning machines, and finally shifted to the using of domestic textile machines.
These processes are well observable in the exhibition. The good example of them would be the domestically produced spinning and weaving machines which have developed by  the Japanese engineers, like the Toyoda-style automatic weaving machines (This machine wasn’t displayed in the Hall unfortunately though).Meiji- person x06.JPG

Meiji- Machine x14.JPG      Among many exhibits related to the textile industry, the most interesting example is a unique spinning machine named  “Gara-Bo”, which was inexpensive and easy to use machine applied the Japanese traditional wooden technology.

Looking at these machines and tools exhibited, we can recognize how quickly and widely the textile producing technologies were developed and spread across the country in the industrial regions, even in the rural areas.

♣   Impression of visit

Meiji- Illust x07      Actually this was my second visit to this “Meiji village”. If compared with this visit in 1994, the Park was looked the facilities have increased in number, and improved the contents and quality of exhibition as a theme park.

Of course, the buildings and facilities  in Meiji Village were only a part of the historic buildings and facilities existed in Japan, but it Meiji- Illust x05.JPGclearly  pictures of the Meiji people’s efforts which  grappled with modernization of society and tried to advance the skills by attentive assimilation of the western technology, and  promoted further Japan’s own technology from the scratch.
In this meaning, this “Meiji village” is a valuable park that makes us feel the weighs of historical process, not simply for the nostalgic memory.  I really felt I’d like to visit the Park again and want to examine the exhibition there. .



  • 博物館・明治村ガイドブック(名鉄インプレス刊) 2015
  • 明治村案内パンフレット
  • 明治村ホームページ
  • 明治村ホームページ(English)
  • 博物館・明治村の楽しみ方
  • 博物館・明治村の楽しみ方 (鉄道寮新橋工場)
  • ウィキペディア博物館明治村
  • 明治村 《-愛知(名古屋)観光地紹介サイト-》
  • 明治村機械館(愛知の産業遺産を歩く 25)石田正治


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit a historical Heritage in Mietsu, Saga

Historical Heritage of the Mietsu Navy Site in Saga, Kyushu

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

 ♣  Outline of Mietsu shipbuilding heritage 

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



<Saga’s Development Challenge of Shipbuilding>

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

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

 ♣   Mietsu Navy Training Site and Sano’s Memorial Hall

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

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

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

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

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


 ♣  Historical significance of Mie-tsu Navy ruins

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ♣  Sano Tsuenetami’s accomplishment and his  Memorial Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ♣  Last remark

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

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




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

Visit artistic Kawashima Textile Museum

– Find the culmination of weaving technology of art there

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


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


♠  What’s Kawashima Textile in history

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

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

<Nishijin’s  turbulence history>

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

<Challenges of Kawashima Jinbehe>

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

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

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

<Technology transfer to the next generation>

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

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

 Exhibition of Kawashima Textile Museum

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

<Artistic exhibits of products of Tsuzure-nishiki >

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

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

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

<Kawashima’s memorial products>

Kawashima- Tsuzure -x10.JPG

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

<Modern art of tapestry>

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

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

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

<Technology of Tsuzure-nishiki > 

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

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

♠  After visit

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

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



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




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit the Shimazu Memorial Hall in Kyoto

Explore the roots of Shimazu which cradled a Nobel laureate engineer

Visit Shimazu: overview

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

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

 Shimadzu Foundation Memorial Hall HP:

 ♣ Significance of Shimazu Co. and its foundation

<Origin of Shimazu company>

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

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

<Next business opportunity “Balloon Project”>

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

<Starting battery business of Second generation of Shimazu>

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

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

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

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

<Further advancement of Shimazu as medical precision equipment>

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

<Epoch making Tanaka’s Novel Prize>

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

♣ Various exhibition of the memorial Hall

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

<Exhibition of the initial products of Shimazu>

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

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

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

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

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

<Pictures and documents tracing Shimazu development>

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

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

 ♣ After the visit

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



質量分析とは?(島津製作所 “田中耕一の思い”)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit the “Currency Museum” of Bank of Japan


Visit the “Currency Museum” of Bank of Japan

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

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

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


♣  Outlook of the Currency Museum

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


♣  “Beginning of Money” –Exhibition of ancient coins

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

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

 ♣  The period of circulation of Chinese Currencies

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

 ♣  Medieval currency circulation and money

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

 ♣  Beginning of the monetary economy in the Edo period

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

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

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

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

 ♣  Consumer economy and currency in the Edo period

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

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

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

 ♣  Transition of monetary system from Edo to the Meiji

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

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

 ♣  Beginning of Monetary System in the Meiji period

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


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

 ♣  Currency trends up to the present

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

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

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

♣  Remarks after visit

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



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



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit Postal Museum in Tokyo

— Encounter the roots of Postal service in Japan

 Meet the charm of the  Postal Museum

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

           Refer: Postal MuseumHP:

 ♣ History of Japanese Postal System looked in the Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 ♣  Transition of mail posts and delivery system in the exhibition

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

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

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

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

 ♣  Attractiveness of Postal Stamp collection in the Museum

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

 ♣  History corner of letters to convey social change

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

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

 ♣  Exhibition of the transition of communication means

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

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

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

♣  Remarks after the museum visit

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





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit Photo History Museum of Fujifilm

 Hot Spot showing Camera History

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

Refer to :


♣  Exhibition of the Photo History Museum

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


♣  Advancement of photosensitive tools

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

♣  Evolution of the early brand camera and Fujica camera history

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

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

♣  The Photo Salon where People can enjoy the photo culture

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




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visit Kamaishi’s “Museum of Iron History”

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

– 日本の製鉄と釜石「鉄」の歴史を語る博物館「鉄の歴史館」

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

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

♥ 釜石「鉄の歴史館」HP
♥ 「釜石郷土館」HP

♣  Outline of the Iron Museum Kamaishi

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

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

♣  The theater Exhibition of  ” Century of Flaming Fire”

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

♣  Corner of the Modern Steel Industry Development

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

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


♣  Exhibition on the Iron industry and Kamaishi

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

♠ <Track Records of destiny of Kamaishi Steel Works >

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

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

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

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

♣  Remarks after the visit

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

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

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



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


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment