Visit Postal Museum in Tokyo

— Encounter the roots of Postal service in Japan

 Meet the charm of the  Postal Museum

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

           Refer: Postal MuseumHP:

 ♣ History of Japanese Postal System looked in the Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 ♣  Transition of mail posts and delivery system in the exhibition

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

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

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

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

 ♣  Attractiveness of Postal Stamp collection in the Museum

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

 ♣  History corner of letters to convey social change

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

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

 ♣  Exhibition of the transition of communication means

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

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

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

♣  Remarks after the museum visit

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





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Visit Photo History Museum of Fujifilm

 Hot Spot showing Camera History

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

Refer to :


♣  Exhibition of the Photo History Museum

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


♣  Advancement of photosensitive tools

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

♣  Evolution of the early brand camera and Fujica camera history

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

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

♣  The Photo Salon where People can enjoy the photo culture

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




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Visit Kamaishi’s “Museum of Iron History”

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

– 日本の製鉄と釜石「鉄」の歴史を語る博物館「鉄の歴史館」

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

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

♥ 釜石「鉄の歴史館」HP
♥ 「釜石郷土館」HP

♣  Outline of the Iron Museum Kamaishi

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

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

♣  The theater Exhibition of  ” Century of Flaming Fire”

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

♣  Corner of the Modern Steel Industry Development

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

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


♣  Exhibition on the Iron industry and Kamaishi

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

♠ <Track Records of destiny of Kamaishi Steel Works >

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

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

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

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

♣  Remarks after the visit

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

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

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



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


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Visit Kamaishi and its heritage of Iron Making site

– Explore the industrial heritage of Hashino Iron Mining in Kamaishi


♣  Significance of Hashino Iron Making site

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


♣  Hashino iron mine as a world heritage

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

 <Why Hashino iron mine was developed>

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

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

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

 <The reason of construction of Western blast furnace>

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

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

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


♣  Current State of and its Blast Furnaces

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

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

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

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

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

Hashino- Fuigo x01

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

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

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

♣  History development of steel industry in Kamaishi

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

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

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

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


♣  After visit; an impression

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





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

Hashino- illust x08.JPG

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Visit Mitsubishi Industrial Museum

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

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

♣  Mitsubishi and Minatomirai Yokohama

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

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

♣  Exhibition of Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum

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

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



♣  Exhibition of Space Zone

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

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

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

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

♣  Deep Ocean Development Zone

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

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

♣   Land Transportation Zone

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

♣  Environment and Energy Zone

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

♣   Technology Experiment Zone

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

♣   Remarks after visit

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







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Visit IHI Ishikawajima Archive

Archive told the fate of Ishikawajima society with IHI industrial development

What’s Ishikawajima all about

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

see HP of Ishikawajima Archive:

♣  Exhibition of Ishikawajima Archive of IHI

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

♣  Exhibition of “Ship building”

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

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

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


♣  Exhibition of “Creating the Times”

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

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

♣  Exhibition of “Short Story of Heavy industry”

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

♣  Exhibition of “Factory Diary”

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

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


♣  After the Archive visit

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

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



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



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Visit the “i-Muse” IHI’s Technology Museum

IHIものづくり館 i-Museを訪ねる―造船から航空機、宇宙機器への挑戦をみる

 IHI Shows the challenges of shipbuilding to space equipment business

What’s “i-Muse”

 IHI- outlook x02.JPG      IHI (formerly Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries) is one of the industrial enterprises representing Japan. The company is proud ofIHI- outlook x03.JPG150 year history since its establishment in 1876, and it holds a large share in the shipbuilding, heavy machinery, social and industrial infrastructure, and other areas in Japan now. This IHI established the technology museum, called “i-Muse “ at the IHI head office in Toyosu, Tokyo in 2006. The
purposed was to show the company history and its achievements of technology.

IHI- Illust x08.JPG      The various records and products are exhibited there from the original shipbuilding work to the current IHI’s engineering business. It seems to show, in a sense, the total feature of the development pattern of heavy industry in Japan and the current technology challenges as well.  So the museum is a valuable archive to convey the feature of heavy industry and engineering technology of Japan as a whole.
Recently, I visit this “i-Muse” in the head office at Toyosu. This is the visit record at that time.

 refer to  Home page of “i-Muse”:

  ♣ Exhibition corner of Company history of IHI

IHI- Hirano x01.JPG       The origin of IHI is “Ishikawajima shipbuilding” (石川島造船)made by the Edo Shogunate in 1853. But it became a yard controlled by Japan IHI- Old shipyard x01.JPGNavy after the Meiji era, and bought up later by the Tomiji Hirano(平野富二) in 1876 as a private company “Hirano Shipyard”(平野造船所). Based on this foundation, the company “Ishikawajima shipyard” (石川島造船所)was established by him in 1889, and after that, the company began rapidly advancing into various businesses, like power generation facilities, railroad locomotives, automobile and other filed. It is said that in this process the IHI has successfully consolidated the business base leading to the present status.IHI- History x01.JPG

Meanwhile, after the war in 1945, the company continued further expansion of its business as a technology company of heavy industry and engineering venture successfully. Then IHI has gradually grown to the company internationally known in the field of social infrastructure, aircraft engines, large ships, tankers and bridges, and it merged with Hiroshima’sHarima IHI- Illust x04.JPGShipbuilding” (播磨造船)in 1960. The name was changed to the “Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries” (石川島播磨重工業)at that time, and in 2007 the company name was simplified to the current IHI taking its initial.

Then the long development of busness, the IHI has moved its head office to Toyosu, and set up the museum of “i-Muse” commemorated its 150 year in its office. The purpose was to introduce what sort of technology the company has developed and how has it engaged in the field by the exhibition of the products manufactured by the company.

 ♣  The feature of “i-Muse” Museum

IHI- outlook x04.JPG       This “IHI Monozukuri” i-Muse ” was facilitated at the large lobby, and it designed to be seen from the outside covered by the glass specification. The inside space was divided into several corners. Each corner displayed the various records and products categorized by certain theme in chronological style, such as documents of IHI company history, engineering projects worked out, in addition to the model and real products of machinery, ship, building, bridge structures and so on.

 ♣  Company Historic Zone>

IHI- Illust x09.JPG       First of all, as entering the entrance hall, the real size “Jet engine J3”, which has IHI- Jet x01.JPGproduced by IHI in 1959, attracted our eyes. This indicates that IHI is now strongly committed to the technology development in the space and aviation field.

Also, as we proceed to the “Corporate History Corner”, the business advancement of IHI is exhibited by many photos, materials and detailed chronology. As I mentioned earlier, the exhibition extendedly displays IHI- Company chart x01.JPGthat the process of buying up the shipyard in the Ishikawajima area, and starting the ‘Ishikawajima Hirano Shipyard’, in addition to the subsequent IHI business expansion in chronological chart.

The history of ‘Harima Shipbuilding’ (founded in 1907) which merged with IHI in 1960 is also exhibited there too. Through these exhibits we could roughly observe the process that IHI has been evolved its business from the simple shipbuilding into theIHI- Company his x01.JPG various new fields, such as airplane and automobile as well as bridge and building construction sector.

Besides, the diorama model of “Hirano Shipyard” was elaborately installed at the center table there, so we could easily caught the image of the initial shipyard figure at that period of time.

  ♣  History Corner One: 1853-1945           

               — Construction of Tokyo Station, which led Japan to modernization

IHI- Illust x07.JPG        In this section, IHI’s products and facilities, from the Meiji era of 1853 to the 1945 of
IHI- Tokyo station x03.JPGShowa period
, was introduced by various media, like photos, records, models and so on. By this exhibition, we could overview the IHI’s company development process which started from the original shipbuilding works and expanded their business to the multidisciplinary sectors like heavy machinery, rail road, and bridge building, and others.

IHI- Bridge x02.JPG       There could find the memorial pictures of the Japan’s first steamship “Kaiun Maru”
(海運丸1877) and warship “Chokai” (鳥海1888), and photos the construction scene of s “Azumabashi” bridge (吾妻橋1887) of Sumidagawa river, and so on. With seeing these exhibits we could be acknowledged how the company IHI- ship x01.JPGhas advanced the technology and broaden business in the field of heavy mechanical industries.      In addition, a large construction model of the Tokyo Station building which was the epoch making engineering works in 1900s, was installed in the center part. It looked boasting the IHI’s important role in such big project by its architecture technology. Also in this corner a model of “Taiho-maru “ (大鵬丸built in 1906) was displayed as a symbolic shipbuilding project.


 ♣  History Corner Two: 1846-1968

       — Taking on the challenges of transporting petroleum with the world’s largest Tanker

IHI- Illust x02.JPG     The main theme of this corner was the role of IHI in the Japan’s post-war high economic growth period of Japan. During this time, how to secure industrial energy IHI- Tanker x01.JPGsources was a major issue in Japanese society.  The IHI has responded to the needs by constructing the “world class largest tanker construction” as its challenging projects with the accumulated shipbuilding technology since Meiji. The exhibition displayed a large scale model of the 200,000-ton tanker “Idemitsu Maru” (出光丸) which was built in 1966 to show its excellence of
technology. IHI- crane x07.JPG
There found the many exhibitions of photo and illustration panels on a yearly basis making it easy to understand the IHI’s technical development.

Also, the development model of a mobile large crane “Jib climbing crane” (1968) which is essential for the construction of high-rise buildings (for example, Kasumigaseki Bldg) was displayed there. This exhibit indicated the company has been engaging subsequently in the technology of the infrastructure project afterward.

♣ History Corner Three: 1869-1989

    — Technology development securing a -162 c high calorie energy source

IHI- Tank x01.JPG        The main theme of exhibition in this period was to show the overseas business expansion of IHI and strengthening technological power towards energy and environmental fields. Major exhibits were the construction of large storage
LNG gas tanks
(1969-) and the LPG plants (1984-) IHI- Rocket x01.JPG.
At the exhibition hall, a model of LNG storage tank  that stores an extremely low temperature of minus 162 degrees was proudly placed there with the elaborate commentary to the internal  structure. It might be suggesting that IHI have born a major role in this field. It also introduced that these type of LNG IHI- Bridge x03.JPGplants were deployed globally not only in Japan but also overseas.

In the aviation sector, the FJR 710 flight test model (1977), a model of liquid hydrogen H-I rocket (1986) can be observed. The Brazil’s shipboard pulp plant (1978) and Turkey “Golden Horn Bridge” (1974) and other global engineering projects were also introduced there.

♣  History Corner Four : 1990-1999

     —  The world’s longest suspension bridge crossing the Seto Island Sea

IHI- Bridge Illust x01.jpg    The feature of this corner’s exhibition is to convey the technical challenges of IHI to IHI- Bridge x01.JPGsocial infrastructure, development of state-of-the-art industrial equipment, and starting to the full-scale commitment to the aerospace field.
One of the symbolic projects featured in the exhibition was the installation of the “Akashi Kaikyo Bridge” (明石海峡大橋1994) project. The construction was a huge suspension bridge of 3.9 km in length across the strait including the technical challenge of overcoming the gushing wind pressure and extreme IHI- Nucler x01.JPGlength of the bridge span. It was very interesting to see there the experiment process of measuring the strength of suspension bridge and the cubic model of the suspension beam of the bridge.

In the corner there were also found the model of a new LNG carrier “Polar Eagle”, TEPCO Kashiwazaki nuclear power plant generator (柏崎原発1996), shield robot digging underground tunnel (1997) and others.    In the aerospace division, the development of “V 2500 engine” (1991), entry into “H – II rocket turbo pump” were introduced there too.


♣  History Corner Five : 2000 –

     — Developing the jet engines that fly the world’s skies

IHI- Illust x12.JPG       In this section, the development projects which are currently engaged by IHI were IHI- Jet x04.JPGintroduced. In particular, the exhibition is suggesting that they are focusing on the technology development of jet engines. The development process of IHI’s challenge since  the air turbo engine “FJR 710” (1971) were introduced there. And the exhibition showed the participation project concerning to the international joint development projects in the upfront area of aviation, such as recent aircraft technology, advanced engine development which is believed being led to the space development.

IHI- Jet x03     In the exhibition, “CF34 turbofan engine” developed in 2000 and the joint engine project of the Boeing 787 (2004-) were IHI- space x02.JPGdisplayed as examples. The participation to the project of refueling space station “Konotori” (こうのとり2009), the development of the new transportation system “Yurikamome” (ゆりかもめ 1996), etc. are also shown as the examples of the engineering activities in the social infrastructure.

♣  Special Corner for the Space Endeavor Equipment

– Participation to the “Hayabusa” project with “Collection Capsul” which has brought back sample materials of  asteroid

IHI- Illust x11.JPG       Among the exhibitions, the highlighted special exhibition would be the exhibition of IHI- Hayabusa x01.JPGthe real components of the “Collection capsule” of the asteroid discovery aircraft “Hayabusa” (はやぶさ) which successfully hit the Earth returned in 2003. The rocket capsules must have been suffered by ultra-IHI- Minerva x01.JPGhigh temperature when entering earth atmosphere from space at the time f return. It is said that IHI utilized its insulation technology which has cultivated in the LNG projects to respond this severe condition.      The exhibit that shows the contents of this capsule disassembled was profoundly dramatic. It thought us that the accumulation of technology is going to be utilized in various places in development.

♣  After the finishing the tour to IHI

IHI- Logo x01.JPG      Although it was only a one hour visit, I could learn a lot IHI- outlook x06.JPGabout the fact that the IHI has been advancing its business as a
technological pioneer in the various field for long time, like heavy industry machinery, aviation, engineering business, and so on following the long time axis. IHI believed to be a leading company now in the field of heavy industry in the abreast of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. So through this exhibition, we’ll see how Japan’s heavy industries have been advanced their technology and get to the present day development.
IHI- engine x01.JPG     Besides, many “Japanese industrial heritage” products and equipment has included in the exhibition too. It was also interesting to find the historical fact that the IHI had just started its small ship-making business for the first time by purchasing government assets and actively absorbing Western technology in the Meiji era, and gradually expanded its development area and technology in responding the social industrial needs of the times, and becoming a big engineering company.
IHI- Illust x03.JPG  In this sense, this “Monodukuri i-Muse” is a historic mirror of industrial technologyIHI- outlook x05.JPG development and gracefully shows the figure of “corporate technology” archive.  Even though it describes only on the activity of a certain company, but it could fully suggest the engineering business development of Japan as a whole with rich in stories when glimpse Japanese industrial development.       In addition, it is an attractive exhibition style too that it adopts the display style with the categorized theme tackled by the company responding to the social requirement of the times of development stage.

iHI- Ishikawa Arch x01.JPG       In the meantime, there’s the “Ishikawajima Museum” that introduces IHI’s “Ishikawajima shipbuilding” history and the relationship with the local people in the present Tokyo-Tsukuda area. It is attractive institution to be familiar with the state of initial time of IHI factory and the impact to the regional community and people. It is believed to be worth visiting beside the IHI i-Muse ” itself.




  • 「IHIものづくり館アイミューズ(I-Muse)」 案内パンフレット
  • i-Museホームページ:
  • IHI ホームページ(
  • 「IHI Corporate Profile 2017」
  • 「技術の世界i-Muse」 (booklet)
  • 「石川島からIHI」(石川島資料館)
  • ビジュアル版 日本の技術100年 (3) 造船・鉄道


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Visit the “Kurofune” and the “Kaikoku” Museum in Shimoda, Izu

     Perry’s Black Ship and Shimoda Treaty which opened the door to Meiji restoration (Series visit to Izu and NRF part 3)


 Memories of  Visit Shimoda

Himoda-Perryx01.JPG      While visiting Nirayama Iron Furnace (NRF), I visited the port city Shimoda on its way back to Tokyo. Shimoda is the place where Japan Shimoda- Kurofune Mx03.JPGsigned the treaty on the formal opening of port trade to Western countries such as Hakodate, Yokohama, and Kobe, and permitted Europeans to live inland  Japan for the first time. So the Shimoda became the first place having the direct cross-cultural contact with Japanese local community.

Shimoda- Kurofune Mx01.JPG    Then, in the city we could find many facilities showing this historical event and it’s Shimoda- Kaikoku x01.JPGinfluence, such as the “Kurobune Museum” in the premises of “Ryosenji” temple, where was the place to implement U.S. and Japan’s negotiations on the Shomoda Treaty, and the Shimoda “Kaikoku Museum” (opening port memorial Shimoda- harris x05.JPGmuseum). And at the coastal hillside of Shimoda town, located a historically spot like the “Gyokusenji” temple where the first Consul General  Harris had been staying.

These facilities have been showing interesting materials around the end of the Edo period, like Shimoda- Social x01.JPGJapanese lifestyle observed by American eyes, records of negotiating records, and pictures on the activities of American people among Japanese local communities, and so on. They looked well reflected of the social change of Japan when moving towards the Meiji. So, I could enjoy visiting these places on my tour to the South Ize after the visit NRF..

The following is my small record at that time of visit.


♣   Visit the “Kurobune Museum” in the “Ryosenji” temple

– Observation of social evolution from the isolation policy to the open of the country

Shimoda- Ryosenjix04.JPG        This “Kurobune Museum” was set up in the Shimoda- Perry xx1.JPGpremises of the “Ryosenji” temple where the diplomatic negotiations were carried out associated with the “Japan-U.S. Treaty of Peace”. This consultation was performed between Admiral Perry and the Shogun’s high ranking offers in 1854 on the theme how to implement the opening policy under the Edo’s long time isolation policy. The temple’s premises is currently designated as important Shimoda- Ryosenjix01.JPGShimoda- Ryosenjix02.JPGhistorical sites of Japan, and many travelers have been
visiting there. We could see there a large numbers of photographic pictures on the scene of negotiations between the US and Japan in the building.

In the adjacent to the temple area, the “Kurofune Museum” is located, The museum Shimoda- Kurofune Mx04.JPGis displaying abundant historic collections, like portraits of Admiral Perry, photographs and pictures of the US Shimoda- Social x02.JPGblack steam-ship Kurofune, depictions of Japanese society at the period, and the “Nishikies” (Japanese colored woodprint) which shows the living conditions of foreigners, and so on.

Especially, the portraits of Admiral Perry’s drawn by the Japanese artist was Shimoda- Kurofune Mx02.JPGinteresting which looked to mirror the imagination of
local people to the Westerners at the time of Edo. Besides these materials, a bunch of rare items such as armors and guns, daily living goods, musical instruments were also lining up there.

Among them, I was attracted to the miniature
paintings that are depicting the scene of diplomatic Shimoda- Kurofune Mx05.JPGconsultations of the Japan-US, the maps showing world
and Japan’s geographic conditions at the time, the appearance of Japanese people seen by foreigners.
In addition, “Black Ship Theater”, which interprets the historical background at that time, was also interesting. I felt it was a valuable museum to make us noticing the pre-modern history of Japan particularly on its diplomatic relation.

♣   “Kaikoku” Museum Visit

– A Private museum that tells Shimoda’s history and its opening up

Shimoda- Kaikoku x04.JPG        This “Kaikokku”museum is a precious historical museum Shimoda- Kaikoku x02.JPGwith showing the Shimoda port history at the end of Edo period, as well as the cross-cultural impact
brought by the local community’s first contact with the Western people at that time. It is also known as a seldom public museum managed by a volunteer citizen in the Shimoda city.

The museum holds abundant collection of pictures and documents, and other Shimoda- Kaikoku x03.JPGhistorical goods, such as the records when Admiral Perry had come visit to Shimoda, memorabilia of “Kurofune” (Black Ship), anecdotes on the diplomatic activities of Shimoda- illust x03.JPGAmerican first Consul General Harris and the interpreter Hesuken, the stories of Yoshida Shoin (a prominent opinion leader and educator of Rangaku in the Edo period) who had tried to stowaway off the Shimoda bay in breaking the rule of Edo government and finally died in the prison, and other precious materials. There found a Shimoda- Petjatin x04.JPGrecord of pioneer photographer Shimooka Renjo’s too who had first brought in the camera technology in Japan.

Among them, the most eye-catching exhibit would be the records of Russian navy general Putjatin’s visit to the Shimoda area, in which the records quoted that his ship had wrecked and towed to the Toda bay near Shimoda- Petjatin x05.JPG
Shimoda- Petjatin x06.JPGShimoda, and several anecdotes were talked there regarding the social relationship with local people who helped the Russian people to fix the wrecked ship, and it led the friendship agreement between Russia and Japan in 1855.

In the collection, the records have revealed the Edo government’s embarrassment Shimoda- illust x01
Shimoda- illust x02.JPGwith facing the frequent roaming and harboring of Western Shimoda- Social x03.JPGnaval vassals near the Japanese coasts. And the exhibitions were showing various inside stories associated with the diplomatic consultation in Shimoda. They also vividly display how big magnitude were brought to the local communities in the pictures when the people suddenly saw many foreigners appeared around them by the opening the port.

The museum stated that there were thousands of materials in the museum, but only around 1,000 of them are exhibited regularly, though the special theme-oriented exhibitions were held from time to time.

♣   “Harris Memorial Hall” at the “Gyokusenji” temple

   A memorial hall of Consul General Harris who played active roles in the US-Japan diplomacy at the end of the Edo era

Shimoda- harris x06.JPG The “Gyokusenji” temple is the residential place where the Consulate Shimoda- harris x02.JPGGeneral Harris had been staying for three years while negotiating on the
Shimoda US-Japan treaty. In the year 1927, the “Harris Memorial Stone” and the “Memorial Hall” were build there, but they have been ignored the meaning for many years. But the US President Carter has visited the memorial hall in 1979, and then began to gather attention of many people.

Shimoda- harris x04.JPGInside space is not so big, but it contains a lot of photographs, maps, documents related to Consul General Shimoda- illust x06.JPGHarris. So we can glimpse of the scene of Japan-US
diplomatic relations at the time in the Memorial Hall. It must be a valuable memorial hall in knowing the background of Japan’s Edo period and the dawn of Meiji era.

There had been built tombs of soldier of the Perry fleet. But Shimoda- harris x01.JPGanyway it was surprising that there were a “monument of the milk” and “memorial stone of slaughtering cattle”  in the premises. According the prescription of these monuments, they were was built because of the “Gyokusenji” Buddhist Shimoda- harris x07.JPGtemple that was the first place trading the cow’s milk products in the market, and slaughtering cattle for eating against Buddhist tradition in Japan. And it is said that the Shimoda region was the founding place of Morinaga Milk Industry. So we could feel well from the monuments that the absorption of Western culture and life style had been rapidly permeated in this port city, and the society itself began to change fast even in dietary life in the early Meiji Period.

♣    “Monument of Admiral Perry” at Shimoda harbor

Shimoda- perry x01.JPG     There is a small park on the west bank of Shimoda Port, where “Perry Visit  Monument” was built looking like inspecting over Simoda- perry x02.JPGthe whole port. The inscription of monument says that Perry ‘s fleet troops arrived in this area and negotiated the Shimoda Treaty. From this monument site, it is said Perry’s troops went up the river road, marched towards “Ryosenji” temple, and started the historical consultation regarding the Japan-US diplomatic relations. Currently, this road
is protected as a “Historic Street” and it becomes a Shimoda- perry xx02.JPGplace to attract many tourists reminding the dawn Shimoda- illust x04.JPGperiod of Japan shifting from Edo period and Meiji modernization period.

In this way, Shimoda became the first opening port in Japan, as a fully contacting place of Westerners and Japanese people. And people there received various multi-culture impacts. Then we might have to be appreciated Shimoda as a historical site showing peculiar phenomena of rapidly changing society at the end of Tokugawa period. I could feel of that in this time of visit Shimoda

♣   After visit the Izu history tour to NRF and related places

Egawa-gate x01  NRF- Illust x04      In order to learn about the historical background of the NRF which designated as a World Shimoda- Kaikoku x03Heritage Site, I visited the “Egawa Tei” of Egawa Hidetasu, and Shimoda where was the arrival place of the Perry fleet which actually urged the Edo government to start construction of the NRF.

Through these series of visit, I understood well the obsession of Japan which wanted to absorb Western contemporary technology in hurry due to the threat from Western Egawa- Odaiba x01
powers at the end of the Tokugawa period, and the necessity of proceeding political strategy, and also the social change Shimoda- illust x05.JPGbrought by the discard the isolation policy in the past. In addition, through this visit trip I was impressed that the movement toward modernization of society after the Meiji period had already started in the end of the Edo period, and rapidly accelerated by the accumulated experiences in the society as a whole.

Shimoda- perry xx03JPGShimoda- Perry xx1      Even in the steel making after Meiji, the engineers had burnished their technology through constructing
modern furnaces in the various places, and the shipbuilders in Toda port near the Shimoda, who had initiated the repairing work of wrecked Russian ship and built proxy ship of it, were actually contributing to the construction of large-scale Western ships afterward.
travel-illust-x04 I finished my trip with realizing again that these challenges and efforts later formed the roots of modernization of society and technology which started in the Meiji period.



  • 「黒船ミュージアム」案内パンフレット
  • 同ホームページ
  • 「幕末異文化交流下田絵巻―黒船―」(黒船ミュージアム)
  • 「開国殿 了仙寺」 案内パンフレット
  • 「下田開国博物館」パンフレット
  • 同ホームページ
  • 「玉泉寺」パンフレット
  • 同ホームページ


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Visit the “Egawa Tei ” in Nirayama, Izu

  ( Journey to Nirayama Iron Faunas part 2)  Visit the “Egawa Tei Residence” Archive, highlighting Egawa’s contribution to the defense policy in the Edo period and the construction of NRF Furnace


♣  Position of “Egawa Tei” and Egawa clan

Egawa- illust x01.JPG       Just after visiting the Nirayama Reverberate Furnes (NRF), I decided toEgawa- house x05.JPG drop by at the former residence of Egawa Hidetatsu who had
contributed much to the construction of the NRF. The Egawa clan had belonged to the prominent Samurai class based in Izu region since the 15 century. In the Edo era,
the Egawa clan was assigned to “Daikan”, a bureaucrat of Tokugawa Shogunate, to govern the whole Izu area, Shizuoka for several generations. In this family line, Egawa Hidetatsu had taken special position Egawa- family crest x01.JPGto contribute for the Shogun policy regarding the Edo’s maritime defense, foreign policy, and educational activities around the end of the Tokugawa period.

This Egawa family’s former residence “Egawa Residence” Egawa- house x02.JPGbuilding, which had built in the 15 century, is well known to be  still remained as it is even after the 600 years or more. Egawa- illust x07.JPGSo the Residence was already nominated as an important  national treasury of Japan. Recently, this Residence complex  became to be owned by the NPO Institute of Egawa- house x04.JPG“Egawa Bunko“, and  publicly opened.  And nowit  exhibits valuable materials to trace the former Egawa family’s lives and Egawa clan’s history, especially the exhibition is showing that the political and social contribution of Egawa Hidetatsu and his life.

It is said that Hidetasu was well known to have played significant role in the Edo Egawa- Bunko x01.JPGperiod, such as opening of the “Ranagaku Juku” (Dutch Study), construction of a “Shinagaw Odaiba” (Defense fort), building of a refractory furnace NRF Egawa- illust x03.JPGat that time while the Western military threat was rising. All the materials relating his contribution and work are exhibited in the “Egawa Residence Archive “now. These collections seem to be quite important and valuable to see the pre-modern history of Japan.

The below description is the result which I saw the current state of the house, the major exhibits in the archive, and the history of Egawa itself. It also forms the appendix to the series of NRF observation and my World Industrial Heritage tour.

See Egawa Residence Home Page


♣  Overview of historic building of “Egawa Tei Archive”

Egawa- illust x02.JPG   The historic buildings which  still remained  now is a main house complex constructed in the 1600s, along with the main gate, the “Shoin Room” (study room), the “Butsuma” Egawa- warehouse x01.JPG(pray room of Buddha ), the warehouses, the outer guarding wall, and several buildings attached to the residence. They have executed the major restoration in 1958 and 1993, and after that they came to form the present condition.

It is said that these buildings are frequently used as the background theater scene of the Japanese Samuai TV
Egawa-gate x01drama, because these are well kept the old appearance of the samurai period.

Anyway, inside the house, we could find the entrance of castle Egawa- doma x01.JPGcalled “Masu Gata” (square ground space) place, and beside it, found that a main gate named “Yakui Mon” gate (gate of pharmacy) made in 1696 is standing .( Note: Egawa residence was also used as a medial office) . In the compound, there are several historic buildings standing in row, such as armor warehouse, library, well, stock house of food and daily Egawa- wooden pillar x01.JPGgoods in addition to the ruins of administrative building. They have also an old  historical gate “Uramon” (backside gate) which built in 1590.

We could observe the main house’s huge roof which is covered by thiEgawa-well x01.JPGck thatches, and be possible to see the whole house structure which the big wooden plates and pillars are
supporting the high ceiling too. It’s also significant that the Egawa- water wheel x01.JPGhouse building has a large un-floored space for the kitchen and utilities on the ground.     It would be surprising thing for us that such old buildings, which experienced several hundred years, have still remained as it is in the rather isolated country area far from major cities.

 ♣  Historical collection of “Egawa Residence Archive”

As I mentioned the Archive displays a number of exhibits on the history and originsEgawa- Treasure x01.JPG Egawa- Hidetatsu x01.JPGof the Egawa clan as well as Egawa Hidetasu’s major contribution to the Edo government in the Edo period.

For the examples, the Egawa family’s “Haori” costumes of the past, flags describing family crests, ogre tiles, ancient documents, maps, and others which had been using in the successive generation, these are systematically displayed. Regarding Hidetatsu Egawa- painter x01.JPGcollection, there found a lot of paintings and scientific pictures drawn by himself.  Because it is said he was a genius of cultural affairs and master of painting, beside Egawa- photo x01.JPGas his role of a Samurai technocrat. And as an influential Samurai clan’s tradition, the archive shows horse riding harness, Japanese sword, firearms, ammunition, crest, flags, and other historical goods Also, in the rare collection , we could find the goods like Ambro type photos,  the first time in Japan, taken by John Manjiro (first Japanese to learn in the U.S.) , and artillery cart brought in by the American Admiral Perry are displayed there.

Egawa- sword x01.JPG       Among the collections derived from Hidetatsu, there are the minuteness portrait
animals, self-portrait, and NRF Construction map, wooden model of Odaiba. And  also found also the letter documents with Sakuma Shozan Egawa- cannon x01.JPGand  Takashima Shuhan. They are the evidence he had a strong relations with the outstanding intellectual political and social leaders around the period of Edo period.
Egawa- Treasure x03.JPG    All these materials are available in the Archives, including important national treasuries. Then, by looking at these exhibitions, we could  recognize the social environment at the end of the Edo when people were experiencing the drastic political change and social revolution  heading  toward the modernization  age from federal social framework. And also we can see how the enlightened social leaders have behaved under the pressures from of the overseas, like seeing in the social activities of Egawa Hidetatsu.


♣  Role of  Hidetatsu as a political and social leader

Egawa- Treasure x02.JPG It seems that the name of Hidetasu was not so noticeably quoted in
the history book because the Edo Shogunate was forced to collapse by the leading anti-Tokugawa political powers of Meiji Restoration. NRF- Illust x04.JPG

However, the Egawa’s footprints are now beginning to be emerged concerning his contribution to the technology advancement and enlightened behavior as well as  his personal character as a techno-bureaucrat at the time.

Particularly, three activities have recognized as his great performance. Firstly the matter he had led the building of defending fort “Odaiba” off the Egawa- Odaiba x01.JPGShinagawa in the Edo bay, the second was the thing
to architect the NRF, and thirdly Hidetasu had delicately worked for restoring the wrecked Russian ship “Diana” and helped the building of a Western Egawa- deana x01.JPGstyle sailboat at Toda bay for the first time. Regarding “Diana”, it is said that the ship carpenters who engaged restoring work in it, have played the leading role to construct the Western type sailboats in the various parts afterward , and believed to set the foundation of ship building technology in Japan at the early period Meiji.

Egawa- bread x02.JPG   Egawa- bread x01.JPG  In addition, it is famed that Hidetatsu had baked bread for the first time in Japan (The monument of bread-baking is standing in the compound), and had performed the medical treatment by vaccinating people to prevent smallpox epidemics. He is also noticed that he had trained “Farmer Infantry” contingent to try to defend the foreign invasion from the sea at Egawa- Book x01.JPGthat time (This is said to be a kind of training model of Meiji Japan military infantry forming ) .  Egawa had also tried to disseminate Western gunnery and Western technical Egawa- soldier x01.JPGknowledge to the people through the “Rangaku Egawa Juku ”  too.

Among them, the construction of the NRF was a major work by Hidetatsu. However, it is really regretted that he died just before its completion caused by his extreme hard work burden. The subsequent work had been handed over to his son and successfully NRF- Egawa x03.JPGcompleted. As the result the achievements of Hidetatsu are still remembered by the local people and wider citizens as a person who behaved many things in ahead the time, and gave outstanding impact to the later society.

So in order to honor the accomplishments of this Hidetatsu, a Egawa- house x03.JPGbronze statue is built
on the grounds of the NRF. More of that, the descendants of the Egawa family has established the foundation “Egawa Bunko”, and they are maintaining huge relics and managing the NPO for creation of the historical database associate with the Egawa Residence, besides performing various events to promote his contribution.



  • 「江川家の至宝」 橋本敬之 (長倉書店 2015)
  • 「江川家の至宝」伊豆新聞特集連載記事(No.1-60)
  • 江川邸―史跡 韮山役所跡― 案内パンフレット
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Visit Nirayama Iron Furnaces as a World Heritage

Japanese first challenge of modern iron making♣

♣  For the beginning

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

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

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

  See: Home page NRF:

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

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


 ♣  NRF as a historical monument

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

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

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

♣  Exhibitions of NRF

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

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

CG Image is available by:

♣  What’s Reverberatory Furnace and its Technology

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

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

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

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

♣   The Construction of NRF and Egawa Hidetasu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♣  My impression after the visit NRF

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

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



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