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The formation of the Japanese bicycle industry : a preliminary analysis of the infrastructure of the Japanese machine industry

Author: Takeuchi, Tsuneyoshi (Johzen)
Series: Japanese Experience of the UNU Human and Social Development Programme series ; 39
Published Year: 1981
Main Text (PDF version)
At the author's request, the tables referred to here have been omitted. They can be found (in Japanese) in the original Japanese paper (HSDRJE-39J/UNUP-212) of which this is a translation.


Preface: Problems and Points of View 1
I. The Bicycle Industry in Japan before the Russo-Japanese War 5
1 . The First Bicycles and their Adoption in Everyday Life 5
2. The Rise of Manufacturers and Distributors in the Mid-Meiji Period 10
3. Division of Labour and Social Relationships in the Mid-Meiji Period 17
II. The Bicycle Industry in Japan between 1904 and the First World War 26
1. General Remarks 26
2. Distribution Structures: Their Development and Reorganization 28
3. The Growth and Social Linkages of Small-and Medium Scale Manufacturers 37
4. The Formation and Characteristics of Large-Scale Factories 46
5. The Apprenticeship System and Employment Relations 56
Conclusion and Suggestions for Future Study 66
Notes on Supplementary Materials 71
Notes on Supplementary Tables 72
Notes on each items 73


This study attempts to give a brief account of the process by which the Japanese bicycle industry was introduced and acclimatized, focusing on the Meiji period (1868-1912)1. In Japan, bicycles were not produced or used on a truly large scale until after the First World War, and assembly-line production methods, which came to be considered standard for production in small and medium-scale factories, were similarly not firmly established until the somewhat later period.2 In this sense, for purposes of analysing the pre-Second World War bicycle industry as a whole, the present study does no more than lay the foundations.

Before one should attempt to point out, as many have tried to do,3 that the bicycle industry "inherently developed from assembly-line production methods," or that producers were "consistently dominated" by the strength of wholesale capital, questions naturally arise with respect to what, even assuming that the above types of situations came to exist, must have been these situations' various "prehistories" prior to their convergence into the patterns of a later time.

Indeed, one motif of the present study is to follow just such an interest in discovering what sorts of things were handed down and what sorts of things were discarded as these "prehistories" developed. The view that bicycle production had its origin in the repair of imported goods and the manufacture of replacement parts, and was later established on a firmer basis after the First World War by means of assembly-line methods, is in its own way persuasive and is indicated in many historical researches. Nevertheless, it is also possible to consider that what was at one time an industry already in the process of growing may have become, due to various restrictive conditions imposed from outside, deflected from its proper development in the field of production, stagnating at an intermediate level short of its full potential. Historical researches have not, though, up until recently, attempted to provide evidence to substantiate such a viewpoint.4

The present study, in limiting itself to the period before the First World War, seeks to focus primarily on the origins and earliest development of various entrepreneurs and enterprises which came to have important roles in manufacturing and distribution, and to shed some light on their social characteristics. More specifically, matters to be investigated are the introduction of and response to new production technologies, the origins of social differentiation and divisions of labour in the production and distribution processes, and also various examples of social interaction (and changes in this interaction) among the various individuals and enterprises involved.

The Japanese machinery and metal processing sector, with which we are here concerned, is a sector of the economy whose weaknesses during and after the Meiji period have often been remarked upon. Various sorts of concepts have been applied in the attempt to explain these weaknesses. First, there is the standpoint which would provide an explanation in terms of the "special character" of Japanese capitalism. Within this point of view may be found several streams of thought. One of these, here tentatively called the "restricted market" or "latent productive capacity" approach, places emphasis on the peculiar imbalance among sectors of the economy caused by the backwardness of agricultural villages. A second approach sees the "special character" or "singularity" of the Japanese capitalism of the time as stemming essentially from the circumstance that an industrial structure based on large-scale, "through-production" factories was not yet established. This might be called a "restricted production capacity" approach, which claims to see the full manifestations of capitalism only in the establishment of large-scale assembly-line factories. Apart from these, there is also an approach based on a "differentiation among types of capital," which tries to see the special character or singularity of Japanese capitalism in the strong and persisting domination of commercial, as opposed to purely industrial, capital, and in the widespread persistence of old-fashioned modes of production stemming from this type of capital domination which was a holdover from a former age.

Quite apart from the above types of interpretation which treat the problem as a question of the "special character" or "singularity" of Japanese capitalism, there is also a type of interpretation which seeks to under-stand the problem through the dimension of "backwardness" inherent in the "stage of imperialism." The latter characteristically places importance on a rigid conceptual framework which those who follow its methodology vigorously emphasize. Regrettably, however, case studies of specific industries using this analytical approach are still few, and those that do exist make very few references to the bicycle industry. Even through the methodological standpoints may be clear in theory, on the level of analyses of individual industries the conceptual distinction between "backwardness" and "singularity" is likely to become vague.

Following the period of rapid economic growth in the 1960s, still another methodology has been coming to the fore which claims to find justification primarily in the very fact of this rapid growth -- in spite of its low starting point -- during the postwar period. It seeks to show reasons for the postwar growth by arranging time-indexed data regarding growth factors or growth processes. Among the attempts made to use this type of "methodology," one can find not a few "analyses" which do not go beyond the presentation of some sharply upward-turning curves, graphically showing numerical increases which are made to testify to feelings of satisfaction in regard to current conditions. However, some analyses, in addition to carefully quantifying and arranging data on the past, are also beginning to make efforts to spotlight within these data the large relative weights represented by "traditional type industries" or "pre-modern management."

In brief, we can say that the various trends of thought in regard to Japan's economy as a whole are also reflected in the field of studies which treats individual industrial sectors. Of course, many of the study approaches which are actually used are elaborated from an amalgam of the Above types of methodologies, especially so in recent years. And sometimes extremely unnatural-seeming combinations may be seen. Not just in relation to the bicycle industry alone, still not a few "analyses" and "investigations" invoke, without qualification, the persistence of traditional patterns and old-fashioned relationships as being the root causes for Japanese capitalism's "singularity" and "backwardness."

It should not escape our attention that even though a "transplanted industrial sector" (such as the bicycle industry) which originated from new technologies introduced from abroad might at some stage be considered to have stabilized itself in line with "traditional patterns," we would still expect there to have been not only a necessary process by which these patterns became established, but also perhaps various currents of behaviour which were antagonistic to the traditional patterns. Without making clear which things were chosen and adopted and which things were discarded, it would be difficult to gain an appreciation of what this historical process meant for those workers directly engaged in production, and likewise it would be difficult to expect to reach a consensus on how to evaluate the history of a given development stage. In order to carry out a full analysis of the Japanese bicycle industry, it would be impossible not to include in the analysis a study of conditions between the two world wars. The present investigation is, in this sense, only a preliminary step toward an analysis of the pre- Second World War bicycle industry, pending this writer's completion of a further study now under preparation.

The limitations of the present study are many, particularly insofar as the bicycle industry was greatly influenced by the levels of development in the metallurgical and metal processing industries, in the production machinery industries, and in other related economic areas. Even in order to criticize the types of "singularity" of the Japanese experience which are pointed to in the "restricted market" approach, a considerable effort at analysing these peripheral sectors is necessary. However, due to this writer's own limitations, these areas for investigation, especially those related to raw materials and unprocessed metals, are in this study scarcely touched upon. This writer hopes that he will be able to treat them more fully on a future occasion.


1. The First Bicycles and Their Adoption in Everyday Life

The earliest period in the history of Japanese bicycling retains many points of uncertainty. There are, for example, a number of different opinions as to the exact time when the first bicycles were introduced.5 Several good studies exist, including the book Jitensha no Isseiki (A century of bicycles), which deal with the various forms of cultural discontinuity that accompanied the introduction of these new products into a traditional society, as well as specific tragicomic episodes in Japan's social and cultural history which were thereby engendered.6 The following discussion in this section will deal mainly with the first half of the Meiji period (i.e., the first half of the period from 1868 to 1912), which encompasses, so to speak, the prehistory for understanding the subsequent period of rapid development in the bicycle industry. We shall look at market conditions and, from a sociological point of view, try to spotlight several noteworthy characteristics of the process through which there came into being a group of persons who were directly concerned with bicycle production and distribution.

It would appear that until about 1890, or the first part of the third decade of the Meiji period, bicycles were for the most part nothing more than objects of popular curiosity and were seen only as a means of temporary amusement. Most of the earliest bicycles appear to have had many wooden parts, with pedals fastened directly to the wheels, which were also in the majority of cases made of wood. Even in the case of bicycles fashioned from metal, most seem to have been of the type known as darumagata, having a large front and a small rear wheel. The earliest bicycles were not objects for private ownership but were rather popularized in the form of kashi-jitensha, or "bicycles for hire." Almost all of the more than one thousand bicycles which one might count in Tokyo prefecture by the late 1880s were classified as being "for business use" (eigyoyo).8 By around 1890, "bicycles for hire" had, in the major cities throughout most of the country, experienced, so to speak, a cycle of popularity decline. By far the greatest portion of these earliest bicycles were imported.

Given the above circumstances, there are some interesting facts which cannot be overlooked. First, even though most of the earliest bicycles were imports, already during the early years of the Meiji period bicycles were being produced by at least one Japanese citizen.

Tanaka Hisashige had already become famous as a craftsman during the late Tokugawa (Edo) period (1600―1868), and was popularly known by the nickname Karakuri ("contraption") Giemon.9 Already well before the Meiji Restoration of 1868 he had succeeded in assembling various types of clockworks, including a "ten-thousand-year clock" (mannendokei), had successfully built a fire extinguishing device (which he called the enryusui), and had tried out numerous other inventions and improvements on existing machines, implements, and production methods. Then, during the early years of the Meiji period, according to one source, the jitensha, or bicycle, was to be found among the "approximately twenty types" of "devices, inventions, and new ideas for improvements" for which he is credited.10

We also have the following record:
In the fourth year of Meiji (1871), a man named Numata from Yokohama built a three-wheeled vehicle with a wooden frame. . . . The following year he completed a two-wheeled vehicle . . . and proceeded to build three of them. . . . It is said that it took him six hours to ride one of them to Tokyo. This man, who was the father of Mr. Numata Keijiro of Motomachi 1-chome, Yokohama, was the first Japanese to ride a bicycle and [also] invented the kijirokuro [a type of potter's wheel]. Enjoying a prosperous business, he came to rank, as a man of wealth, first or second in the whole of Motomachi.11

With the flourishing of bicycle rental businesses in the 1880s, the-newspapers of the time began to carry notices to the effect that these establishments were also engaged in assembling "wooden bicycles."12 Such vehicles were known by the term gatakurisha ("rattle wheels") or by the English expression "bone shakers," and were indeed, as the names suggest, rather rough riding. But rough though they may have been, it is possible to say that in the Japan of that time "the manufacturing skills possessed by forge workers were sufficient" for their construction.13 Or, put another way, we may presume that the levels of competence among Japanese craftsmen of the time were such as could adapt flexibly to the manufacture of such new products. We shall discuss this point in more detail later.

Toward the end of the 1880s, certain persons began to attempt the production of darumagata bicycles assembled mainly from metal parts. We have a record that such vehicles were constructed around 1887 by the Teikoku Jitensha Seisakujo (Empire Bicycle Factory), located in Misuji-cho in Tokyo's Asakusa district.14 Also, as documented in the Supplementary Materials ("Brief Chronologies of Bicycle Enterprise Founders") at the end of this study,15 there are examples of persons, like Kajino Jinnosuke, who embarked on "factory production" (see Supplementary Material 2). Kajino's factory was at first nothing more than a place for assembling and soldering parts which had been imported from the United States into completed products. However, after considerable difficulties, the factory, starting with wheels and handlebars, attained the capacity to manufacture its own parts and began selling bicycles under its own brand names "Kinnippongo" ("Gold Japan") and "Ginnippongo" ("Silver Japan").16

In order to catch a glimpse of the types of social settings in which the earliest manufacturers found themselves, it will be useful to consider in more detail the career of Tanaka Hisashige, outlined in Supplementary Material 14. When we look at the early chronology of Tanaka's whereabouts, we may presume that in spite of the fact that he lived, theoretically, under the conditions of strictly enforced residence which were a part of the Tokugawa feudal system, he managed nevertheless to travel rather freely from place to place, and, as a skilled artisan, was in each locality given relatively easy acceptance into the various communities of fellow craftsmen. Also, even though Japanese society was in theory rigidly stratified into four classes―samurai-administrators, farmers, artisans, and merchants (in descending order of social standing)―Tanaka Hisashige was favoured by opportunities for education, and, despite his family origins, even came to be treated as if he were a member of the samurai-administrator class. And not only that, it would appear that he was able to serve two han (feudal domain) leaders simultaneously, namely, the heads of the Saga and the Kurume han.

The above-mentioned situation would appear to reflect, in a certain sense, the impetus toward change within the feudal system as it existed at the end of the Tokugawa period. Indeed, the state of affairs had been such hat to put faith solely in previous example and in the inertia generated thereby had come to hinder rather than favour the maintenance of the feudal order, and it was for this very reason that Tanaka Hisashige's innovative skills were employed as part of the attempt by the Saga han and other domains to introduce Western technology and to effect reforms in the feudal structure.

In its quest for innovation, the bakufu, the feudal order's top-level councils which met in Ede (present-day Tokyo), even came to request that the Saga and certain other "outer" han, which had in the past demonstrated relatively keen interest in Western technology, undertake the production of steam locomotives. 17

The question of just how widely Tanaka Hisashige's type of free and untrammelled activity could be observed in Japanese society is one which should be later investigated in more detail. It is necessary to do so because in the period of social change encompassing the last years of the Tokugawa and the first years of the Meiji periods, Tanaka Hisashige was, after all, a quite exceptional sort of genius, or, one might even say, "universal man." However, we should also note here that the times were such that a group of persons of "artisan" background, born in rural areas far from Edo, were made to study astronomy in the homes of families related to the imperial house and were furthermore, by directive of the imperial court, given a degree of public recognition and social prestige. Some of these persons of "artisan" origin, as a consequence of their dedication to rangaku, i.e., "Dutch learning," came to be treated as samurai-administrators, albeit the lowest substratum of that class, and some were even allowed to take the lead in opening a new route for sea voyages to Shanghai.

Questions still remain in regard to whether or not, or to what extent, this process of change in the feudal order of class ranking was, following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, accelerated, and also in regard to whether or not such change was at that time diffused among the "common people" to an extent that might truly be described as marking a clear-cut dividing line between different historical "periods." Nevertheless, the case of Kajino Jinnosuke tells us something worthy of our attention. According to the theory of class distinctions which was publicly proclaimed in Tokugawa times, the merchant class was placed below the manufacturing (or artisan) class. However, in reality the strength of the trading class, and especially of those individuals within it who were in the process of becoming founders and owners of business enterprices, was considerable.18 There was a deep-rooted tendency for those of the trading class to look down upon artisans and manufacturers, and cases of merchants' children who took up jobs in the manufacturing sector seem to have been rare. 19

However, for Kajino Jinnosuke, whose natural disposition inclined him to like machines, this sort of social prejudice seems not to have been considered as any great obstacle in practical terms. 16 In the way in which he decided to undertake the manufacture of bicycles -- roused to the decision after seeing foreigners in Japan who rode about on these vehicles -- we can perhaps sense something of the particular "spirit of-the times" in the opening years of the Meiji period as it affected middleclass commoners. In any event, it was through the efforts of Kajino and persons like him that the manufacture of bicycles in Japan got its start.

It will be of interest to make some mention of the fact that already during these early Meiji years the government was not slow to respond to new conditions through policies aimed at regulating the various means of transport, including bicycles. A "Proclamation Allowing Commoners to Ride on Horseback" was issued in March 1871 and was meant to do away, at a single stroke, with former restrictions on road travel which had, like so many other restrictions, been based on the principle of enforcing class differentiation in accordance with the Tokugawa-period norms which had given special privileges to the samurai-administrator class. Afterwards, at least in the legal sense, there were to be seen no more class-based restrictions in regard to the types of animals or vehicles which one could or could not use for travel. Certain types of traffic control were, however, duly established, as seen in the following year's "Vehicle and Horse Regulations" (Tokyo Prefectural Proclamation No. 6), which stipulated that vehicles and-horses were to proceed on the left side of thoroughfares.21 This regulation also gives evidence of the rapid rise in the frequency of travel under the freer conditions following the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

The year 1875 saw the promulgation and enforcement of vehicle taxes, set at 2 to 3 yen for horse-drawn vehicles, and 1 yen for bicycles, the latter being equivalent to 2 or 3 days' wages of a skilled carpenter in one of the larger cities.22 At a time when a consumption goods and money economy had still only very imperfectly penetrated many areas of Japan, for the masses of the people this tax could in effect be expected to have virtually prevented a large portion of the ordinary populace from riding a bicycle even if the bicycle itself had been a used one acquired free. In 1887 a central government "Directive on the Handling of Vehicle Taxes" recommended the principle of a surtax going to prefectural governments and led to the establishment of a two-tiered tax structure.23

2. The Rise of Manufacturers and Distributors in the Mid-Meiji Period

The decade after 1887 (i.e., the third decade of the Meiji period) saw big changes in the circumstances surrounding bicycles and cycling in Japan. Around 1885 there had been several waves of popular enthusiasm for rental bicycles in the large cities.24 After these waves had somewhat subsided, one began to see a very definite trend toward an increase in the number of vehicles owned by individuals. In contradistinction to the past, bicycles, far from being conveyances for "flippant fellows of low class" (as one earlier record put it), appear to have been already on the way to becoming status symbols, together with cameras and hunting rifles, for the wealthier strata of society.25

According to a traffic survey conducted in 1898 during daytime hours on a major street (Honcho-dori) in the city of Nagoya, bicycles were by that year already three times as numerous as horse-drawn vehicles (see Table 1). According to the official statistics for Tokyo Prefecture, in 1902 the number of bicycles in Tokyo Prefecture for business use was 857, in comparison with 4,571 vehicles for private family use. These figures show that the foundations for the further spread of bicycles had by that time very definitely shifted to the side of individual ownership.

The greater part of the increase in new vehicles were imports, and indeed, as one might expect, in the case of Tokyo alone there was, during the third decade of the Meiji period, a rush to open new import businesses and retail outlets dealing in foreign-made bicycles.

For example, in 1892 the Terui Shoten was established in Tokyo's Shitaya Dobocho district and became the sole distributor for imported "Fast" and "Washington" models. In 1894, the lizuka Shoten in the Nihonbashi Kakigara district began to import and sell the "Special" model, and in 1895 the Isezen store in the Ginza district became the some importer and distributor of the "Crescent" model. The Okamoto Shoten began to sell and rent foreign bicycles in 1896.

The Jindo Shoten, which handled the "Cleveland" model, was founded in 1897, and the same year saw the founding of the Sorin Shokai ("Two-wheel Commercial Association"), which came to enjoy rather epoch-making successes with its import and sale of the "Dayton" model. Also in that year the Hamada bicycle store was opened in the Kanda Nishiki-cho district.

In 1900 two import firms, the Ishikawa Shokai and the Nichibei Shoten ("Japan-America Store") began to handle imported bicycles and not long afterward both firms came to specialize in bicycle imports and sales. 26

Among the above-listed firms, Isezen, Ishikawa Shokai, Nichibei Shoten, and Hamada Shoten started as foreign-trade enterprises dealing in products other than bicycles.

The owners of most of the above-mentioned firms had enjoyed relatively long periods of schooling. Yoshida Keijiro, owner of the Sorin Shokai and a Keio University graduate, was first stimulated to go into the bicycle import trade by the experience of having made a "lot purchase" of bicycles for his university classmates.27 The backgrounds of the Ishikawa firm's owner, Ishikawa Kenji, and the Nichibei Shoten's owner, Okazaki Hisajiro, are outlined in Supplementary Materials 40 and 41. Many of the bicycle store owners were men who enjoyed doing favours for others in their neighbourhoods and whose opinions were accorded weight by their associates. The owner of the Hamada Shoten, for example, is said to have become a bicycle dealer through his assistance in facilitating the activities of a "long-distance cycling club" whose members came from the wealthier social strata.28 The owner of the Okamoto Shoten had extensive ties with leaders and work foremen in various types of manufacturing occupations, and himself seems to have possessed many leadership qualities.29

Among the above-listed business firms, the Jindo Shoten, whose owner had first come to deal in bicycles as the operator of a rental store (before advancing to bicycle imports) but had begun his working career as a warehouse attendant at a trading firm run by a foreign merchant in Yokohama, is seen as rather an exceptional case.30 However, by the end of the Meiji period (1912) this type of upward "mobility between social strata" could be widely observed in the careers of business owners. In this regard, then, the case of the Jindo Shoten may also be seen as a sort of "pioneering example" with relevance to later times.

The foreign-made bicycles imported by the above firms sold in all cases for what were at the time extremely high prices, and with unusually high profit margins. The Nichibei Shoten enforced standardized price controls whereby vehicles distributed at a wholesale price of 160 yen were to be retailed at 250 yen, 31 and according to persons who handled the imported "Centaur" model, vehicles purchased by the retailer for 130 yen were sold to the final user at a price of around 200 yen,32 which was equal to well over a year's income of a skilled carpenter.33 Depending on the type of bicycle, prices paid could be much higher. The following quotation tells of a bicycle purchase for the landowning Sakakida family in the provincial town of Omagari, Akita Prefecture (in northern Honshu), made in 1895 through the dispatch to Tokyo of two of the family servants.

When Mr. Sakakida, having seen a bicycle belonging to a gaijin [foreigner], hit upon the notion of buying a new vehicle [for himself], Mr. Shioda Ryokichi and Mr. Mimori took charge of carrying out this request. After coming out to Kurosawajiri, having taken 3 days to travel from Omagari via Yokote, they took the Tohoku rail line to the capital, and then returned, having for 350 yen purchased from the Isezen store (at the time a first-class direct importer in the Ginza) the best of three "Cleveland" models just arrived from America. This journey provided the inspiration for Mr. Mimori to later become a bicycle dealer and a man of means. . . . 34

Thus, for some time this "golden age" for bicycle importers and their retail dealers continued. At the time the most popular type of bicycle was coming to be the type commonly called the "safety" vehicle, not far removed from present-day vehicles in outward appearance, with a diamond-shaped frame but with no freewheel attached to the pedal mechanism. It also lacked a stand.35 Metal construction was preferred for the bicycle body, including the wheel rims. Thus it appears that a period of difficulties continued for some time for makers of Japanese bicycles, which were mainly of the older types and were subject to the constraints imposed by the fact that metallurgical and processing technologies in Japan lagged behind those in other countries.

Even so, in 1892 the Kajino factory in Yokohama supplied the central telegraph office in Tokyo with "five wooden vehicles and five iron, hard-quality tyres [sic]" to be used for delivering telegrams.36 There is a strong possibility that these vehicles made considerable use of American-made parts, but around the same time one could begin to see various efforts to produce bicycles relying mainly on Japanese-made parts.

For example, Miyata Eisuke, a gunsmith who after the late 1880s was on many occasions asked to make repairs on bicycles owned by foreigners, gradually came to show a special interest in bicycles and not long after he in 1890 set up his Miyata Gun Factory (Miyata Seijusho -- in 1902 the name was changed to Miyata Seisakusho, or simply "Miyata Factory"), he managed to "complete his first vehicle as the result of the painstaking work of 5 or 6 workers over nearly one month." It was said that all parts were produced in his own factory with the exception of the tyres. Afterwards, "[bicycle] manufacturing was continued, and sales made to persons so desiring," and one account claims that in 1892 bicycles were supplied for the use of members of the imperial family.37

According to another account, the manufacturing efforts which were begun during the period in question fell short of "complete manufacture," it not being until 1902 that along-awaited "sample product" was finally completed. In regard to the "Asahi" model (the Miyata firm's own brand name) which was being marketed by the latter date, the firm's owner candidly admitted that "everything can be made with the exception of 4 parts: tyres, rims, spokes, and ball bearings," thus revealing something of the factory's technological capacity.38

Be that as it may, one can indeed recognize within the Miyata firm continued and consistent efforts toward technological betterment, giving rise, for example, to success (in 1899) in the improvement of hardening techniques needed for the production of metal parts. One suspects, however, that in all probablity "Asahi" bicycles, which took the American-made "Cleveland" vehicles as models, were on many occasions assembled largely from imported parts.

Matsushita Tsunekichi, who came from the town of Nanao on the Note peninsula (on the Sea of Japan), gained experience working as a machine operator at various factories including the Ishikawajima shipyard, the army artillery arsenal, the Tanaka machine works and the Shibaura Seisakusho. In 1898, while continuing to travel to and from various places of work, he succeeded in producing an experimental-model bicycle in a corner of a shop owned by his son, who had begun a bicycle rental business. From this beginning, further developments led to the production of the "Toyo" ("Eastern Seas" or "Orient") model, which, "second [in sales volume] after the Miyata [products], were sold all over the country and won a fine reputation."39

In the meantime, toward the end of the third decade of the Meiji period, the Kajino factory, which had been one of the pioneer bicycle assemblers, had after considerable effort succeeded in producing its own wheels, handlebars, and other parts. The Kajino factory's "Kinnippongo" and "Ginnippongo" models were awarded a "meritorious third prize" at the 4th National Industrial Promotion Fair (Naikoku Kangyo Hakurankai) held in 1895.

Japan at that time was experiencing a sort of "exhibition boom," which stimulated ordinary people's interest in new commercial products. Also, because of the evaluations and prizes given to goods on display, producers were stimulated to compete in technology and to work with greater zeal toward improving their manufacturing processes. The Japanese government sent able observers to visit exhibitions in Europe and America, and put much effort into sponsoring exhibitions in Japan. Although little research has been done on these exhibitions, it should be noted that, at the time, they were of no small significance for manufacturers.

Okamoto Matsuzo, while a forge worker at an iron works in Nagoya, did bicycle repairs as a side job upon request, and then, after becoming independent in 1899, put progressively more effort into bicycle repairs, leading to the construction of an experimental model and ultimately to a business of marketing his own bicycles after 1901.40 More detailed information about Okamoto Matsuzo is given in Supplementary Material 12.

Takahashi Chokichi began to manufacture jinrikisha (human-drawn passenger vehicles with two bicyclelike wheels) in Tokyo's Asakusa Shoten-cho district in 1892, and not long afterward began to produce bicycle replacement parts. In 1902 he began the production and sale of the "Zebura" ("Zebra") model, whose design was copied from the English "Centaur" model. 41

As we have seen, the spread of bicycles in Japan during the third and into the fourth decades -f the Meiji period involved two somewhat conflicting patterns of development, namely, efforts on the part of merchants to expand the market for imports, and the hopeful efforts on the part of Japanese producers to expand their markets at the same time that they were acquiring their own technological base. At a time when bicycles were still considered very much a luxury, the fact that the retail price of Japanese-made vehicles was around half that of imported vehicles no doubt had in itself a considerable effect in regard to opening up new markets. 42 A major breakthrough for the Japanese bicycle industry was the Miyata firm's contract to provide vehicles to the army beginning in 1903, the year when the same firm's "Asahi" model won 3rd prize at the National Industrial Promotion Fair. 43

Let us here make some mention of the "bicycle control regulations" which were issued in various parts of Japan during the fourth decade of the Meiji period. In the case of Tokyo, such a set of regulations, known as "Metropolitan Police Office Ordinance No. 20," was issued 1 June 1898 and consisted of seven articles, three of which, having relevance to later developments, are given below.
Article 1 -- Bicycles which are not equipped with bells and horns are not to be used on streets and roads.
Article 2 -- When vehicles are operated at night, lamps must be lit.
Article 7 -- Persons who infringe these regulations shall be punished by detainment of from 1 to 10 days, or by fines of from 5 sen to 1 yen 95 sen.44

It may perhaps be said that legal perceptions of a type which show a penchant for regulating the everyday behaviour of the individual have been a tradition in Japan ever since the Edo period. In any case, a part of the above regulations later provided the occasion for the birth of certain well-known electrical equipment makers.

3. Division of Labour and Social Relationship in the Mid-Meiji Period

In accordance with the government regulations on trade associations, the Tokyo Bicycle Association, the first such organization within Japan's bicycle industry, was founded in February 1903. The association had 6 founding members: the Sorin Shokai, the Kajino bicycle factory, the Jindo Shokai, the Yoshichi Shokai, the Nichibei Shoten, and the Mota ("Motor") Shokai. The association's office was established at the Sorin Shokai in the Kobiki district of Tokyo's Kyobashi ward (present-day Chuo ward).45

It was the usual practice at the time for such trade associations to include both producers and wholesale merchants. However, in the case of the bicycle industry, even retailers were included, and the difficult situation -- one of the characteristics of the bicycle industry -- was presented whereby it was often hard to distinguish retailers from wholesalers and small-scale manufacturers. Let us first take a look at the retailers. Below are some observations from around 1894 or 1895.

The original practice of a "bicycle retailer" being first of all a place for repairs and only secondarily for sales lasted a long time, and one can probably safely say that the image one got from a "bicycle shop" was one divided half-and-half between trade and manual labour. Being in this way a kind of business that grew out of putting the major emphasis on repairs, the people who first tried their hand at it were likely to be lathe workers, smithies, pump specialists, watchmakers, or even bicycle racers who changed their occupations or did repair work in their spare time. But there were also among them some who had come as workers to the bicycle factories which in Japan had just recently started, and then, after learning the bicycle's structure and acquiring some skills, they would open up a bicycle shop. The stores at the time had an earth-floor area, used as the repair room, in which [the owner] installed a vice and, in the case that he had changed jobs from being a forge worker, a bellow. . . .

As a way of getting customers to buy bicycles, the retail stores would vie with each other in bicycle rentals. Rental fees were around 10 to 15 sen per hour. The customers would pay this money not to rent bicycles to use for some necessary errand, but in order to get practice in riding. When a customer finally became accomplished at riding a bicycle, to see if we couldn't next persuade him to buy one was always something to look forward to. . . .46

Bicycle dealer Matsushita Tsunekichi got his start from a rental business, and store owner Okamoto Matsuzo is said to have "started out [producing] by himself fender supports, small baggage racks, handlebar posts, etc., with only such facilities as a bellows and a vice."47

In essence, we can say that the most striking feature of the time in connection with retailers and manufacturers was that while both in general possessed characteristics suitable for small-scale production, they were gradually showing trends toward a division of labour. 48

However, in another area of activity there also existed a group of dealers, mainly importers, who came principally from an urban merchant background or otherwise had a socially prominent family background. While their bicycle-related activities started from a plane on which is was sometimes difficult to distinguish precisely between a "wholesale" and a "retail" trade, in comparison with the above-described small-scale retailer-repairmen, the strength of their accumulated commercial capital was far and away superior. One factor which probably facilitated this capital accumulation was the rather low levels of bicycle import prices (which this writer has investigated only for the last years of the Meiji period). The high prices paid by end-users have already been discussed, and we can see from Table 2 that import prices tended to be only about 1/4 or 1/5 of the retail prices.

Now let us look briefly at some of the relationships between these merchants and the bicycle manufacturers. First of all, in the case of manufacturer Miyata Eisuke (a brief chronology of whose career is given in Supplementary Material 2), it is of interest to note that during the period when he was. employed at the Koishikawa artillery arsenal he made the acquaintance of the famed entrepreneur Okura Kihachiro (1837 - 1928) and that he later "became independent" as a result of the latter's commercial activities and capital assistance. Even after losing all his possessions in a fire which broke out in Tokyo's traditional "downtown" (shitamachi) area in 1884, he was able to make a comeback with financial aid from the Okura trading firm.

As might be expected, this arrangement did in fact mean that all subcontracted manufactures were for a period supplied to the Okura organization for marketing. For a small-scale factory which got its start in a two-story building with " a 3-ken (l8-foot) frontage, with two vices, one 2.5-shaku (about 0.85 metre) bellows, one anvil, and one 2-shaku footpedalled lathe borrowed from the Kunitomo factory," this sort of protection by merchant capital (which some might prefer to call "domination by the wholesaler system") seems to have been rather a "fortunate" thing.49

Nevertheless, although despite the restraints of such a relationship Miyata Eisuke might be able to demonstrate his craftsman's skills, it was still difficult for him to raise technological levels to keep pace with the degree of modern rationalization toward which he aspired. Even though his factory was still at the time in question (until 1902) called a "gun factory," the list of items produced by the factory during the Meiji years was, as seen from Table 3, indeed a heterogeneous mixture, reflecting one aspect of the above circumstances which tended to hinder "rationalization." The case of the Miyata firm also reflects the fact that it was difficult in the Japan of that day for small-and medium-scale private manufacturers of machinery to keep themselves in business without some degree of reliance on military demand. In fact, on many occasions, what saved manufacturers from business crises was this demand for military production.

After the Miyata firm took the name Miyata Gun Factory in 1889, it introduced a 7-horsepower steam engine and several types of new-model lathes, and the firm further expanded its facilities as an army supply factory during the war with China in 1894-18. Japan's hunting laws were revised in 1900 leading to a smaller demand for hunting rifles, and soon thereafter the firm made plans to turn its principal efforts to the production of bicycles and changed the company name to simply the Miyata Factory (Miyata Seisakusho). It was just about this time that the Okura organization decided to liquidate, at a single stroke, its relations with its erstwhile supplier.50

We now have before us the question of the Miyata firm's subsequent actions. Although the firm had its own trademark "Asahi" for the bicycles it was producing, it faced the practical problem of being in the short term unable to continue in business without effecting ties with other sources of wholesaler-based capital. These wholesalers specified certain geographical areas in which they were to have exclusive sales rights, and products had to be supplied to them under their own trademarks. Table 4 is a list of what are thought to be the Miyata firm's sales outlets after the war with Russia in 1904-1905.51

At that time direct transactions with retail merchants in certain local areas were beginning to be made in a small way, but in the period before the war the only way to develop new markets had been to rely on certain Tokyo-based wholesalers (who were at the same time importers) and to follow their instructions in regard to brand names. The first such case had been the "Fuso" brand (the name being an elegant-sounding designation for Japan, based on classical Chinese sources) marketed through the Okamoto Shoten. When sales remained slack, the writing of the name is said to have been changed from Chinese characters to the Latin alphabet on the supposition that the more modern image would improve sales. Immediately prior to the outbreak of the war, the "Hoira" ("Wheeler") brand name was being handled by the Jindo Shoten.52 But the Miyata firm nevertheless managed to keep alive its own "Asahi" brand name as part of its strategy for future development. This had particular relevance for the period following the First World War.

Let us next look at some similar situations in the city of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. Although at a somewhat later date Sakai became one of the major centres for the development of Japan's bicycle industry, at the beginning of the fourth decade of the Meiji period (i.e., 1897) there were still no more than just a few bicycles within the city, and bicycle rental stores made their debut only in 1899.

The first rental store was the Sorin Shokai (not to be confused with the import firm of the same name in Tokyo), founded by Kitagawa Seikichi and Itsuki Kozaburo. A half year later a similar enterprise known as the Otsuya was opened by Otsu Yoshimatsu. Somewhat later these two stores opened a new area of endeavour as bicycle wholesalers, but in their early stage they were not essentially different from the earliest retailers and rental dealers in Tokyo which we have already discussed.53

The Sorin Shokai not long after its founding began the production of bicycle racks, and the Otsuya, which assembled from parts a large portion of the bicycles it sold, acquired its own frame factory. The two firms may be seen as pioneer examples of the type of "manufacturer-wholesalers" which came to typify the bicycle manufacturing industry in the Kansai region (i.e., the area around Osaka). It is worth noting that such firms could, from the very beginning, find practical advantage in the existence of other small businesses and individuals who engaged in bicycle repairs and the manufacture of parts.

The city of Sakai had a long tradition as a centre for metal forging, going back to at least the middle ages, and in the late 19th century there were a large number of persons working as artisans in the production of cutlery and edged tools, as gun forgers, and as specialists in metal castings.54 Consequently, the city's industrial structure had an already existing capacity to respond to new types of metal and machine industries, such as the bicycle industry. And indeed Kitagawa Seikishi and other pioneer entrepreneurs borrowed, during the initial stages of their businesses, the skills of gunsmiths like Kondo Kaichi for carrying out bicycle repairs and other manual operations.

The fact that the city of Sakai was located within the very important consumption centre which is formed by the cities of Osaka and Kobe and their environs was a factor which greatly favoured the rapid development of parts manufacture by small producers. This rapid growth is indicated in Table 5. Supplementary Materials 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, and 14 bear witness to the fact that most of these earliest small producers had turned to the manufacture of bicycle parts after first gaining experience as gunsmiths, etc., in the more traditional modes of metalworking.

The relationships between these small-scale producers and wholesale business capital in Sakai and in Osaka gradually moved toward what became a clear-cut hierarchical order. Operating within the conditions imposed by the rapid expansion and changing characteristics of the market, peculiar types of relationships later evolved.

As we have been able to see in regard to Tokyo and Sakai, apart from certain instances of production directly undertaken by commercial capital, the earliest bicycle-related small-scale producers -- initially, parts production, repair work, and retailing were commonly combined within the sphere of activity of a single firm or individual -- for the most part originated from the efforts of manual workers who had experience in already existing machine and metalworking occupations. Many, as in the case of Sakai, got their start from working in traditional metalworking sectors with long histories.

However, it should also be said that such entrepreneurs did not come into being from a static adherence to tradition-oriented thinking and behaviour. Rather, the "leap forward" was made possible by the existence of individuals who, in spite of finding themselves in traditional environments, possessed an interest in and an adaptability toward the new technologies being introduced from abroad. Put another way, the "leap forward" owed its start to persons who, while surrounded by existing traditions of an artisan milieu, were at least to some extent nonconformists. 55 In spite of the fact that numerous restrictive conditions, owing to the various limitations of Japanese society, had their effect on the forward leap, there can be no doubt that individuals of the above type were the most important motive force in pioneering and establishing on a firm foundation the new bicycle industry.

In Tokyo, there were many cases of entrepreneurs who had gained experience as workers in factories which, like the above-mentioned factory operated by Tanaka Hisashige, had already advanced a step beyond the traditional type of metal forging enterprices. Miyata Eisuke's son Seijiro (who later, in keeping with a tradition often seen in the business and cultural worlds, adopted his father's name as "second generation Eisuke") worked for some time at the Tanaka factory, and so did Matsushita Tsunekichi. 56 At the same time our attention is particularly drawn to those persons who had acquired experience working in military arsenals. Included in this number were Miyata Eisuke and two of his sons, as well as Matsushita Tsunekichi and Umezawa Jinzaburo. At the beginning of the fourth decade of the Meiji period, the "artillery arsenal group of five" (so-called because of their earlier work experience) were active in Tokyo as bicycle repairmen. In addition to Matsushita Tsunekichi, they included Miura Ishinosuke (who worked in the Asakusa Shichiken-cho district), Mio Toshiyasu (Hongo district), Mio Toshiyasu (Hongo district), Terase Yoshimatsu (Kanda Jinbocho district), and Uchida Yoshisuke (Kanda Nakamachi district). Something of their activities is recorded as follows.
Unlike the present time, the customers were young masters from trading businesses, persons with influence in their neighbourhoods, officials, military men, doctors, etc., in other words, all persons who belonged to the upper class of the time. . . . [Repairmen] who had anything like real tools and who could do anything like real repairs were for the most part persons [who had experience] related to military [production], where machine technology kept abreast of the most advanced levels. It was only the "group of five" who had worked in the artillery arsenal who could manage repairs using presses, vices, and the like. They were the first to be able to open bicycle shops with self-confidence.57

In the case of Sakai, the level of the facilities for bicycle repairs appears to have been in general not very different. One record has it that "Unlike today, the tools [for bicycle repairs] which were then available were hardly in complete array, and everything was repaired with just a chisel, a wrench, hammer, and a pair of pliers."58 While this level of operations may have been the most common, elsewhere it is recorded that one might, with luck, also see a bellows, an anvil, and a hand-operated lathe, and, at the very best, a simple lathe or boring machine.59

Let us here give some further observations on the military factories which were, so to speak, the training grounds for many who later became small-scale manufacturers. First, we have records like the following.
[At the Koishikawa artillery arsenal in what is today Tokyo's Bunkyo ward], around 1901 several hundred workers were engaged in the manufacture of bicycles and a considerable number were produced. Workers trained there later entered the bicycle factories which were rapidly springing up in the private sector, where they worked as foremen and supervisors as Japan's bicycle industry reached its period of blossoming [successes]. The building of bicycles at the artillery arsenal was done under the direction of "bicycle instructors" -- at the time the army placed importance on the military role of bicycles and an "army bicycle instruction course" had already been set up -- from the army's Toyama school [in present-day Shinjuku ward of Tokyo] .60

No other materials refer to this bicycle manufacture at the artillery arsenal and there is thus some question as to the reliability of the above remarks. However, it is worthwhile to note that the owner of the Umezu Asahi Shokai (who handled bicycles produced by the Miyata firm) had had experience as a "bicycle instructor,"61 that there was indeed considerable demand for bicycles for military and official use (as will be discussed later), and that bicycles for military use were supplied by the Miyata firm during the last years of the Meiji period after production at the arsenal, as referred to above, presumably had been discontinued. Taking these facts62 into consideration, there would seem to be a strong possibility that bicycles were indeed manufactured at the arsenal, in which process various "spin-off" effects were produced, having relevance to the period after the Russo-Japanese War when such manufacture at the military arsenal may be presumed to have come to an end.

The influence which military arsenals exerted on Japan's bicycle industry, as well as on the private machine and metallurgical sectors in general, was far from superficial. Small-scale manufacturers at the time had usually begun their operations with only very simple means of production, relying on Japanese-made -- in fact, in many cases, "homemade" -- tools and machinery, but the more successful and aspiring among them later introduced imported machinery. In the methods by which the military factories were managed during the Meiji period we can perhaps find one source of the milieu which supported such enterprising behaviour and of the patterns by which machine workers responded to modern technologies.

Table 6 reproduces a list of production machinery at the army-operated rifle factory within the Koishikawa arsenal at the time of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, left behind by an army engineer who had long been employed there. This list has its shortcomings for purposes of historical research and does not include, for instance, machines which had earlier been in use but were discarded prior to 1923. Nevertheless, we can see from it that although the arsenal had during the Meiji period depended in large part on imported machinery, the acquisition of new-model machines had not relied totally on overseas purchases, and copies of new-model imports had begun to be produced at a very early period.63 In other words, operations at the military factory had not only relied on imported machinery (whether unmodified or later improved upon to better meet the factory's needs), but also represented consistent efforts to build similar machines and machine parts using the imported machines as models. This means that machine workers capable of responding to such requests for new machinery construction must have been in the process of establishing their skills in a wide range of operations.

Whether we speak of machine shop operators in general or bicycle shop owners in particular, those persons with work experience in the military factories who later set up their own businesses may be said to have clearly transferred to their new places of work their spirit of adaptability and interest in the newest technologies.

Statistics from the last years of the Meiji period suggest that private makers of production machinery enjoyed a respectable amount of success. And if we make the further observation that bicycle parts makers very often designed the machinery which they felt to be necessary for their own production (and even went themselves to the machine-producing factories to make sure that their orders were completed satisfactorily), it seems all the more evident that one of the conditions which encouraged activities of this type can trace its origins to the flexible style of personnel management in the military factories.64 Of course we cannot neglect the close and direct associations which existed among production workers, transcending their various individual specialties. But in this respect, two, an underlying factor which facilitated such friendships and patterns of association can be seen in the way that the military arsenals very generously kept their doors open to skilled workers, including those who sought employment for short periods only, as well as those who came back for second or third periods of employment. This is seen, for example, in the case of the Miyata family and later in the case of Shimano Shozaburo.65


1. General Remarks

About the time of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the number of bicycles in use in Japan exhibited a sharp upward turn. As seen from Table 7, what had previously been a nationwide yearly increase of several to ten thousand vehicles was becoming a yearly increase of several tens of thousands. It is difficult to consider the statistics given therein as strictly reliable, since they appear rather unnaturally to show the most noticeable increases at two-year intervals and are also somewhat at variance with another set of figures given at the end of this study in Supplementary Table 2. Even so, there should be little doubt that the rate of increase had become greatly accelerated. Comparing the statistics for the time in question with the figures from Supplementary Table 2, we may note several points as follows.

First, the years from 1906 to 1908 were the peak period for the import of complete vehicles manufactured abroad.

Second, imports of bicycle parts sharply increased after 1906, and after 1908 the monetary value of imported parts was consistently higher than that of imported complete vehicles.

Third, after 1910 the ratio between bicycle imports and the total number of bicycles in Japan sharply decreased.

Fourth, the ratio of bicycles, in Tokyo fell rather considerably in relation to the number of vehicles in the country as a whole.

Let us here introduce a small sample of the written records and recollections which reflect the above trends. For example, a bicycle trade magazine of the time remarks as follows.
Even though one might think that within the city of Tokyo [the use of] bicycles might be gradually slackening due to the spread of electric trolley cars and trains, in reality bicycles are enjoying great popularity. . . . Between 1902 and 1904 or 1905, bicycles finally reached their age of prosperity. All gentlemen of the middle classes and above use them for both practical business and for pleasure, and they are also being used by stores and companies.66

The following observation, in which we may assume that the prices quoted are wholesale prices, is made by a person connected with a retailers' association in Osaka.
As the Meiji period entered the years following the Russo-Japanese War, domestically made bicycles gradually came to be seen more commonly than imports. Prices at the time for imported vehicles were [generally] from 80 or 90 to 100 yen, while one could get a vehicle of the very best quality for 150 or 160 yen. On the other hand, domestic products were [generally] from 30 to 40 yen, and 50 yen at the most.67

A person connected with a large domestic bicycle manufacturing firm recollects as follows.
After the Russo-Japanese War, the bicycle industry, like many other industries, also expanded, as one might expect. Since times were good in general, from around 1907 it got to be so that [our bicycles] would sell without our having to make a special effort. And then there was the 5th National Industrial Promotion Fair -- in 1904, was it? -- in which we entered a display. Call it a result of Meiji if you like, but I think it's possible to say that we'd succeeded in producing a complete vehicle that was for all practical purposes a domestic product, and not at all inferior to one of foreign make.68

Changes over time in the total number of bicycles in Japan and in the range of standard retail prices are shown in Graph 1. Among imports, during the time in question American-made vehicles lost their former dominant position to be replaced by English-made vehicles, as shown in Table 8. Partly as a result of this change, Japanese bicycles came to be standardized with 26-inch wheels, and most bicycles in the country (including those domestically produced) came to be of the so-called safety type, with "an outward appearance like [the bicycles] of today."69

Having laid forth the above general remarks, let us proceed in the following sections to examine production and distribution, and the relationships between the two.

2. Distribution Structures: Their Development and Reorganization

Although there was a marked increase after 1890 in the total number of bicycles in Japan, there was a decrease in the relative proportion of vehicles in Tokyo, the area which had always registered the largest number of bicycle users. Needless to say, this was an indication of the diffusion after 1890 of bicycles to farming villages and local towns, albeit there were to be seen regional differences in this market expansions. If a somewhat simplified expression may be allowed, it is possible to say that the existence of such regional characteristics reflected weaknesses in the capacity to form a unified domestic market and, likewise, weaknesses in the underlying foundations of the national economy.70 At the present time, however, let us proceed to look specifically at some of the individuals who played major roles in the distribution process.

First, in considering the spread of bicycles to regions north of the. Kanto plain surrounding Tokyo, we may note a common pattern. Namely, clublike groupings of bicycle enthusiasts were formed by persons of high social standing in their local communities (such as landowners, physicians, large-scale merchants, etc.), while at about the same time certain merchants began to take part in the bicycle trade and to make use of semisubordinate blacksmith or metalworking shops for bicycle repairs.

In Sapporo, for example, bicycles started to become popular among physicians and businessmen around 1897, and with the further development of personal contacts a bicycle club known as the Sapporo Airin Kurabu ("Sapporo Bicycle-Lovers' Club") was organized in 1902.71 Bicycles for the group's members were distributed by the Marui dry goods store and the Nanao hardware store. In 1903 the Marui firm's bicycle department manager, Mr. Koyanagi Shukichi, opened a shop of his own which dealt mainly in bicycles for hire.72

In contrast to areas near Tokyo where clubs of bicycle enthusiasts were typically organized as units bearing the names of villages or small towns, bicycle clubs in Japan's northeastern regions remained limited to the old "castle towns" which had been the administrative seats of the pre-Meiji feudal regime. This regional difference, which may be seen from Tables 9 and 10, was related to differences in the types of individuals who became engaged in bicycle distribution.

We see in the northeastern city of Fukushima, for example, that bicycle distribution in the early years was almost always an auxiliary branch of business for already established merchants, taking its lead in 1902 from the Kamataya "western goods" firm and followed in the period up to 1906 by paper wholesaler Tomita Kunikichi, rice dealer Yabuuchi Shutaro, blacksmith Saito Matsutaro (whose specialty was forging saws), explosives firm owner Nagao Koshichi, and the Ozuchiya dry goods firm.73

The situation was, however, rather different in Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures (which included the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama, respectively) and in areas to the west of the Kanto plain with the exception of the greater part of Kyushu and the San'in region facing the Japan Sea along the western end of Honshu. One difference was the relatively fast tempo with which bicycles became popularized, quickly passing over the stage where bicycle-riding was limited to clublike social intercourse among a chosen few. The different ways in which businesses dealing in bicycles tended to come into being also merits attention.

In the small city of Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture (not far to the northwest of Tokyo), for example, apart from the long-established large-scale trading firm Sakurai Shoten which in 1895 was the first to deal in bicycles, all but one of the other bicycle dealers, all of which were established after the Russo-Japanese War, bore the stamp of individuals who were engaged mainly in mechanical trades. For example, about one Yokoyama Chotaro who was at one time employed by the Sakurai firm, it is recorded that "having a strong spirit of self-reliance, he left the Sakurai house and became independent, buying a lathe and other machinery and proceeding to do repair work." It is recorded that one One Eitaro was a "wheelwright who did [bicycle] repair work," and that one Matsue Sakutaro "started by renting bicycles, . . . later installed some machinery, and while undertaking repair work . . . also came to sell new vehicles." The one postwar exception mentioned above was the Yokozeki Shoten, a fertilizer wholesaler which handled bicycles as a sideline.74

In the city of Nagoya, the bicycle business had its start in the period between 1901 and the Russo-Japanese War as a sideline for enterprises already engaged in foreign trade or the sale of machinery, textiles, or cotton yarn. In the period after the war, however, there was a rapid increase in the number of individuals who made the transition from being in charge of the bicycle trade in the above trading firms to setting up businesses of their own. For example, bicycle dealers Sawai Kisuke and Hibi Shishiemon left the Nakamura Kokichi Shoten, while Kondo Daizaburo and Fukaya Ryoji left the Katsuno Komataro firm and the Umemura Kenkichi firm, respectively, to become independent operators. At this time, a number of "millionaire" (fugo) general trading firms, including the Matsuoka paper firm, the Nagoya Shokai, and the Yamagishi Seitaro Shoten (known as "the one and only lumber king in the Tokai region"), also newly entered the Nagoya bicycle market. It was not long afterward that Shimizu Kojiro left the Nagoya Shokai to set up his own bicycle business.75

The above pattern was even more pronounced in the Kansai region around Osaka where, for example, the Otsuya trading firm in the city of Sakai is said to have given birth to several tens of bicycle dealers and repairmen who at one time or another left the firm to become independent operators in Sakai, Izumi, Wakayama, and Nara.76 In regard to the area around Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture, we have a record as follows : "The real founder of the repair business is the Noda ironworks in Sakamotomachi. The parent firm of such [entrepreneurs] as Fukui Tomoji and Ikemoto Tokujiro, it fulfilled the function of being the region's principal base for bicycle technology and saw many bicycle specialists leave its doors."77

In Ishikawa Prefecture, which was one of Japan's centres for the production of silk fabrics for export, the first bicycle dealer had been a metal forger by profession. Similarly, in the later Taisho period (1912―1926), a large number of mechanical specialists left the Yamada Sentaro factory to become self-supporting bicycle business owners, as we may see from Table 11.78

Of course we cannot simply take these instances as proof that similar types of social behaviour were in the relatively "advanced regions" of Japan universally applicable, since one can also point out aspects of adherence to traditional Japanese trading practices and to the preservation of in-group solidarity in such traditional arrangements as the bekka seido ("branch-house system") or the noren-wake seido ("system of establishing separate door-curtains").79 There are, in fact, a number of recorded cases in point. For example, at the Miyabayashi Sozo factory in Osaka, which was the first established among the city's private electroplating firms and later came to manufacture bicycles, we have a record of the following system being preserved in the Meiji period:
[At this factory] an apprenticeship system for males was in use whereby factory workers lived on the .premises and all daily necessities were provided. Workers were given numerically ordered names starting with "Ichiro" (No. 1) and "Jiro" (No. 2), and ending with "Shijuhachiro" (no. 48). However, since the names from "Mijujiro" (No. 22) to "Nijukuro" (No. 29) were considered hard to pronounce, these were omitted. For purposes of fostering management personnel, the surname Miyabayashi was given to the managerial staff, who were adopted into the Miyabayashi family through marriage to the family's daughters.80

We see that management in the above case was carried out on the basis of paternalistic attitudes and interference, both public and private, in the lives of the workers, and we are thus obliged to recognize the stubborn persistence of social relationships rooted in a former era. If this kind of situation existed even in branches of the economy which were devoted to the manufacture of new products and in which factory procedures had to be frequently revised to meet a strong interest in new technologies, we might presume that old traditions were even more persistent in the distribution sector of the economy.

However, it is also well to note that the rapid increase in the number of businesses in the distribution sector caused a gradual division into businesses which would engage in either the wholesale or the retail trade only, differing in nature from the types of divisions seen in the norenwake system. Concerning the Nagoya region, for example, we have the following commentary:
All stores during the first and second periods [i.e., the mid-Meiji period and the period around the time of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904―1905] were engaged simultaneously in both wholesale and retail, but in the third period [around 1907―1912] the majority of those stores which had been in continuous operation became wholesalers, known as oroshiya or ton'ya.81

In more outlying regions, this type of trend was delayed for a time and tended to develop in somewhat diluted form. But the same basic tendency is reflected in the following observation:
From the Taisho period [1912 - 1926] through the early Showa period [1926-], there were no purely wholesale business, but rather as the number of mainly retail enterprises gradually increased and goods for sale became more varied and plentiful, the existence of wholesale transactions became more necessary and the stronger enterprises changed from being [mainly] retailers to being mainly wholesalers. Thus even today there are an unexpectedly large number of enterprises which cannot be distinctly classified as either [exclusively] wholesale or [exclusively] retail.82

The tendency of distributors to concentrate on either the wholesale or the retail trade was related to such other matters as the trend in rural areas for parts of the economy to be dominated by large accumulations of capital in a small number of hands, a trend which was accelerated by the links between rural economic activities and the wide-ranging activities of metropolitan-centred commercial capital.

There were by the year 1907 a large number of major bicycle importers concentrated in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Kobe, as seen from Table 12. From around 1900, that is to say, very soon after the appearance of the first bicycle dealers in local areas, each of these importers began to put effort into building up networks of brand representatives among those local dealers who handled its imports. Interestingly enough, during this period, these efforts were greatest not so much in the large cities and their neighbouring regions where small-scale bicycle dealers were multiplying most rapidly, but rather in outlying regions which had traditionally been under the strong domination of large-scale merchants.
This phenomenon may have been influenced by the fact that in this way the number of vehicles sold through a given retail outlet might be relatively large even though total sales in a prefectural until might be relatively small. However, in spite of these regional variations, the movement to line up networks of brand agencies proceeded everywhere in Japan during this period, as seen from Tables 13 and 14. These tables consider only three import firms, namely, the Sorin Shokai in Tokyo which handled the "Dayton" brand, the Ishikawa Shokai which handled the "Pierce" brand, and the Nichibei Shoten which handled the English-made "Lodge" brand, which entered the market somewhat later than the other two brands. However, it may be said that the many other importers looked to the future with similar policies. This may be seen from the bicycle trade journals of the time.83 Agency contracts of the time, as can be seen from the following example, appear to have been rather unilateral in nature, repetitiously stressing the rights of the importer.

We [i.e., the import firm] express our gratitude that you [i.e., the retailer] have quickly approved [our] recent request that your esteemed firm be a representative agent, and in this regard state that the following conditions must be firmly observed:

In the case that, goods are bought through the mortgage of negotiable papers, bills must be paid by the end of each month. . . .84

While on the one hand nationwide distribution networks were being established and retail dealers were rapidly increasing throughout the country, already by the end of the Meiji period in 1912 certain frictions were beginning to surface, especially in the larger cities. We consider below the case of Osaka.

Among Osaka trading firms, traditional systems still remain, such as that in regard to so-called kogai hokonin (child apprentices). In spite of a type of unwritten contract whereby a firm takes in children of around 10 years of age and then is expected to parcel out to those who have worked without incident for a considerable period of time (10 or 15 years) a certain sum of capital to set them up in business separately from the main house, it is recognized that there exist a great number of unscrupulous and vicious persons who ignore these contracts and who at the end of the stipulated periods make all sorts of excuses to break their promises. . . .85

Through times much later than the late Meiji period described above, the founding (sogyo) or establishment on an independent footing (jiritsu) of small enterprises has continued without interruption, even though the realities of the process changed considerably after the mid-Meiji years.

The surfacing of contradictions in bicycle retail enterprises was not limited to the treatment of employees. For in spite of the expansion of markets and in spite of the already mentioned extraordinary margin of profit which in the mid-Meiji society had been considered quite normal, antiquated customs in the conduct of business had their effect in raising operating costs, as seen in the following example:
Since the earliest [bicycle] customers were all rich businessman, one couldn't dress like a poor man and expect to have them as clients. Dealers like Ito [from the city of Fukushima in northern Japan] rode jinrikisha when going out for business negotiations, and his boy store clerks were dressed up no less elegantly than students of the Gakushuin (Peer's Schoo). Around the time of the Russo-Japanese War the same was true of nearly all the operators of the major trading firms . . . . 86

By the end of the Meiji and the beginning of the Taisho years, conditions began to change somewhat, as seen from the following two accounts:
Miyata's bicycles sold for 65 yen, at a 40 per cent profit. If he sold around three per month he had enough to eat, and all sales were for cash, without any such thing as a monthly instalment. So even keeping his hands in his pockets, he could manage to do business. But before he knew it, [even though] he was getting too much in the way of profits, he'd gotten into the habit of spending beyond his means.87


The customers of those days . . . would always come two or three at a time, and after inviting me out to a restaurant could always be counted on to bargain down the price to the very limit, relying on their numbers and telling me to give in since they were purchasing several bicycles at a time when the talks had been concluded with the maximum discount I could possibly offer, they would call the waiter for the bill. But, "thank you very much," the bill was always left for me to pay. . . .88

For reasons like these, by the end of the Meiji period the situation had arisen whereby, as one writer stated, "The number of profit-seeking fellow tradesmen is only increasing. If all were getting satisfactory results it would be all cheers for the bicycle shops, but things don't go as well as expected, and even though the total number is increasing there is also a steady stream of those who have no choice but to close their business. . . ."89

Bankruptcies and business failures were beginning to appear not only among local retail and wholesale dealers, but also among the importing firms in the metropolitan centres. In 1910 the Ishikawa Shokai was obliged, in the midst of a business slump, to reorganize, while in the same year the Sorin Shokai went out of business. It is recorded that several other importers, namely, "Centaur" importer Ozawa, "Speed" importer Watanabe, "Spark" importer Takanashi, etc., also went out of business at this time.90

Such business failures continued even in spite of the continuation of conditions favourable to the merchants concerned, such as the lowering of tariff barriers at the end of the Meiji period and the drop in import prices which accompanied surplus bicycle production in the United States and Europe. Perhaps we can attribute such business failures, then, in part to a certain overcomplacency in the thinking and response of bicycle merchants with respect to selling a product which at the time was becoming popularized, after a considerably long preparatory period, among the masses.

By contrast, however, we have the example of the Nichibei Shoten, which during the time in question was enjoying a peak of prosperity. We may hypothesize that this success stemmed in part from the following factors.

1. Concentrating sales efforts on a relatively small-size English vehicle (manufactured by the Lodge Co.) which
suited the physique of Japanese customers.91

2. Concluding a direct contract with the Lodge Company in 1906, and gaining exclusive agency rights in Japan.92

3. Concluding agency rights with other companies in Europe and the United States through direct negotiations.93

4. Adopting a policy after 1904 which aimed at setting up retail dealers throughout the country, resulting in the successful organization of 100 such dealerships by 1912.94

5. Requiring the payment of agency fees from retail dealers,95 and requiring each dealer to be responsible for a set number of sales,96 while at the same time instituting a system of premiums and rebates for the top-performing dealers in an effort to stimulate sales, or, as one record puts it, "to get the retail dealers to compete for good results."97

6. Getting the company's own products and racing champions into the bicycle races which were coming to be popular among the masses, thus using the races to great propaganda advantage.98

7. Withdrawing from the racing events and disbanding the firm's racing team in 1913 after ascertaining that bicycles were by then no longer seen as primarily sports items but rather as primarily vehicles for practical everyday use, thus demonstrating an extreme effort to avoid getting stuck with "unnecessary expenses."99

8. Being quick to set up businesses in the colonies, establishing branches in Taipei in 1909 and in Seoul in 1914. 100

Each of the above helps us gain a picture of the basic nature of this firm whose activities developed mainly from foundations rooted in commercial capital. While other firms experienced business slumps, the Nichibei Shoten steadfastly maintained its price line of 160 yen wholesale and 250 yen retail, and adhered to a policy of collecting fines from retailers who sold below the set prices. It would appear that during the period in question many of the Nichibei Shoten's retailers still enjoyed a considerable measure of reserve above the line of a subsistence livelihood.

There were cases where one might sell a bicycle -- a "Lodge" brand sold for around 250 yen -- and then go to stay for a week or so at the home of the purchaser to teach him how to ride, while being treated to the utmost in delicious meals. In some cases one might have enough from the profit of selling a single bicycle to cover three months' living expenses. 101

3. The Growth and Social Linkages of Small and Medium-scale Manufacturers

One notable characteristic of Japan's bicycle industry following the 1904-1905 war with Russia was that manufacturing -- certainly in the case of components and to some degree also in the case of finished products -- began to be carried out in many different parts of the country. This can be seen from the annual Factory Survey which the government began to publish in 1909 as a companion volume to the annual Factory Statistical Tables and which listed by name all Japanese manufacturing enterprises with five or more employees. 102 From the 1911 edition it is found that 33 out of the 246 factories listed under "category 12" (ship and chassis manufacture) and 2 out of the 471 factories listed under "category 13" (instrument manufacture) were engaged in production which was related to the manufacture of bicycles. These enterprises are listed in Table 15, from which it can be seen that their geographical spread comprised 11 cities (shi), 2 towns (machi), and 3 villages (muta), in 10 prefectures throughout Japan. As in the case of Okayama Prefecture, the formation of such enterprises was to be seen even in certain farming villages, and in spite of the small scale of most of the factories, there was an evident trend toward the use of machine power. Nearly 70 per cent of all the enterprises here in question were founded during or after the Russo-Japanese War, and 49 per cent, or nearly half, were founded after 1907. It can indeed be seen that small-and medium-scale manufacturers had begun to spring up all over the country.

If we limit our view to Tokyo alone (see Table 16), we likewise see that the majority of manufacturing enterprises were founded during or after the war with Russia, in contrast to bicycle distribution enterprises, the majority of which had been founded prior to the war. It is noteworthy that by 1911 there were a large number of enterprises. engaged in parts manufacture or partial assembly.

One should point out certain external factors which had a large bearing on the spread of bicycles and the beginnings of the new manufacturing enterprises during the time in question. The following quotation sheds some light on the matter.

Iron rims changed to nickel, and front and back brakes came to be "free style" or band brakes, making bicycles much more suitable and easy for Japanese to ride. Then, around 1907 it became possible little by little to produce Japanese-made frames. But Japanese makers found it extremely difficult to produce the main couplings required for American-style frames and because of the consequent high-costs, production of the American-style frames did not markedly rise. However, during this period it became possible to complete English style 26-inch frames by a process known as "fitting," which meant soldering and painting the frame components. The necessary parts, i.e., main couplings, metal pipes, fork supports, fork tubes, heads, various kinds of pins and other fittings, were imported and sold as sets by the Healing trading company. One after another, new frame makers appeared in Japan who used these sets as the component materials, giving a sudden large boost to frame production. Main couplings came to be imported almost in their entirety, and the majority of pre-assembled bicycle imports came to consist of 26-inch English models. 103

Although it would appear that the import of such component sets was very significant, it is also necessary to underscore the fact that already within Japan, apart from assemblers of complete bicycles, much progress was being made in the production of parts, most notably replacement parts. To take the city of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, as a case in point, Table 17 shows us that in that city considerable effort over a prolonged period was put into parts production and the acquisition of new technology.

The majority of the bicycle parts enterprises in Sakai are recorded (see Table 18) to have met with many frustrations, either because their technology did not develop as well as expected or because of management difficulties which arose in spite of technological success. Nevertheless, starting from partial successes, the limitations were gradually overcome. And it is possible to see in the continuation of these efforts the foundations for the concentrated successes which came to the enterprises in question during the period of the First World War.

In the Osaka-Kobe region a number of rubber tyre factories were established and put into operation, all at about the same time, as seen from Table 19. The largest among them was the foreign-based Japan Dunlop Rubber Company. Although the others were at first all small-scale enterprises and encountered many difficulties in their manufacturing processes, they did come to play a role in meeting market demand and in time even became important as producers of tyres for export, as seen from Supplementary Table 4.

In Tokyo the prevailing patterns in the bicycle industry were not so very different.104 For example, following the example of an entrepreneur named Takahashi Chokichi, who was the first to produce handlebars for replacement use, three other handlebar factories had begun operations by the end of the Meiji period. The indispensable plating enterprises had already begun to be established around the end of the 1880s, 105 and their number gradually increased.

At the beginning of the Taisho period (1912 -1926), gear and crank manufacturers were established in Tokyo under the company names Tsukiji Kojo ("Tsukiji Factory") and Koyama Gia ("Koyama Gear").106 In the case of freewheel manufacture, the Sankosha company in Tokyo succeeded in bulb manufacture in 1913, but success in turning out the complete product did not come until the period of the First World War, later than in the case of similar production in Sakai.

Pedals appear to have been assembled by bicycle wholesalers from small parts whose manufacture was carried out by a number of enterprises. 107

Bells were at the time made of brass and fashioned after English models. Near the end of the Meiji period it was reported that "Japanese-produced bells are beginning to appear with nothing in their outward appearance to distinguish them from imported goods." 108 By the end of the Taisho period such bells were beginning to be exported to Europe.

The manufacture of gear cases, following the lead of Komatsu Chotaro and the Nakamura factory, was taken up by the Kanaya and the Takadera factories, from which a number of other case makers branched off to become "independent" entities, though continuing to be known by the designations "Kanaya-lineage" or "Takadera-lineage." At the beginning of the Taisho period, heads, hangers, and other small fittings were successfully produced by the Kuroiwa factory.

The small parts manufacturers and assemblers whose establishment in Tokyo is sketched above cannot be said to have enjoyed an even expansion of business, but rather found themselves in situations similar to those encountered by enterprises in Sakai during the same period. But also as in the case of Sakai, their improvements in technology and facilities can be seen to have provided the foundation for the appearance of a large number of small manufacturers in the period following the First World War.

Let us now take a closer look at technology and production methods in the factories in question.

In the period before the Russo-Japanese War, in both Tokyo and Sakai, manufacturing in the bicycle industry was almost wholly of a type that should be called "hand production." Steel plates were cut with cold chisels (tagane), bent into semicircular shape around iron rods known as shino, and made into round pipes for the bicycle frames by first hammering taps along the upper and lower points of contact of two semicircular pieces placed in juxtaposition and then soldering the seams with an alloy of copper and gold known as shakudo. These pipes, when used for the forks and handlebars, were then bent by hand at the necessary points. It is said that at times when a danger of breakage was thought possible, sand or soil was put into the pipes to increase the pressure on the inside surface and correspondingly decrease the danger of breakage from force applied to the outside in the hand-bending process. Lathes were run by human power. 109

Machine-powered lathes began to increase after the time of the Russo-Japanese War. Pipes manufactured by the extraction process came into general use and it is reported that in the bicycle industry it was not unusual to purchase pipes from discarded torpedo boats, a practice which continued for some time after the war and gave rise to businesses specializing in such second-hand materials. 110 Although there were not any revolutionary technological improvements, there were nevertheless innovations and small improvements undertaken everywhere by small manufacturers. In factories concerned with grinding and polishing, which were indispensable operations in all types of bicycle-related metal processing and parts manufacture, the following situation is reported from the end of the Meiji period.

Because there was no [publicly available] electricity for motive power, power was borrowed from neighbourhood "power lenders" (doryoku kashiya). The latter used steam engines for their own work and then lent their excess power to some ten other factories in the vicinity, connected in series by means of wooden pulleys and three Manila ropes about 2 inches in diameter. There were a number of power lenders [from which to choose], but in cases where the work of the borrowing factories was concentrated during the same hours, the speed at which the pulleys turned slacked off, the electricity from the power generators decreased, and the grinding machines would quit turning. Each time this happened we would go and complain to the power lenders. . . . 111

Later there appeared specialized "factories" which engaged in "power lending" (doryoku-gashi) only.

In the meantime, among the many and varied manufacturers of bicycle parts there were to be seen certain enterprises which attained an especially fast growth. The enterprise founded by Araya Kumakichi (described in Supplementary Material 3) is a case in point. Araya, who began his career as a woodworker in Yamanaka-machi, Enuma-gun, Ishikawa Prefecture (in the west of Honshu island near the Sea of Japan), later accumulated some wealth as a lacquerware merchant and with this capital set out in 1903 to sell wooden bicycle rims, and by the last years of the Meiji period had established himself in a monopolistic position within the domestic market. During this period, metal rims had yet to meet with much success on the marketplace. 112

Another characteristic of the period in question was the appearance of ever more specialized makers of small parts which were in turn components of such bicycle parts as pedals and forks. 113 Also, albeit to a limited extent, there were to be seen certain improvements in machinery and technology. For example, certain improvements were made on some of the imported bicycle production machinery which began to enter Japan around 1907. From Table 3 we get some idea of the development of the production of milling machines by private machinery factories. Although it is recorded that "the still primitive manufacture of machinery . . . was not such as could stand comparison with imported items," it had nevertheless become possible, with Japanese-made machinery, to perform cutting operations with milling machines on 50 sheets of metal placed together after having been stamped with a press into patterns for gear manufacture. 114

With the formation of small-and medium-scale makers of all types of bicycle parts, there appeared wholesalers specializing in their assembly and distribution. There even obtained the situation pointed out below.

Indeed, big changes were beginning to take place in the bicycle business. First-class bicycle wholesalers one after another were beginning to assemble Japanese-made imitations [of foreign products]. Alas, one could only utter a sign upon seeing the great numbers of bicycles being wholesaled under the guise of imports, when one could hardly be expected to believe that such products were the real thing. . . . 115

What sorts of linkages were effected, then, between these merchants and producers? A reply to this question, scarcely requiring any further explanation, is eloquently given in a "contract" printed for reference purposes in a pre - Second World War publication and reproduced below in its entirety. 116

(No. 4242)
CERTIFICATE OF CONTRACT WITH RESPECT TO THE PRODUCTION AND SALE OF BICYCLE PARTS. The original copy of the certificate of contract is as follows and was drawn up at the city office on the second day of July of the fortieth year of Meiji [1907] by the notary Tsutsui Nobuhiro, resident at Daimachi Nishi 1-chome 36-banchi, Sakai city, Osaka Prefecture, and serving under the jurisdiction of the Sakai District Court. In drawing up the contract among the below-listed parties, the said notary received their temporary commission, heard the petitions of each of the parties, and emoloyed as witness Mr. Wada Sutesaburo.
** Article 1. Five persons, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, on the basis of the following stipulations, promise
to transfer and supply in their entirety the rights to the sale of bicycle parts in whose manufacture they are involved. Matsuyama Shuan is named to purchase the said products and to undertake their sale.
** Article 2. The five persons, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, are not, for purposes of meeting orders from former customers or for any other purpose [other than the one stipulated], to undertake the manufacture or sale of the bicycle parts in whose production they are involved.
** Article 3. The five persons, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, are to manufacture the said products wholly in accordance to the specifications set out in the orders of Mitsuyama Shuan.
** Article 4. In the case that any among the five persons, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, do not meet the orders of Mitsuyama Shuan, or sell the said products elsewhere, 100 yen is to be paid to Mitsuyama Shuan as a fine for breach of contract.
** Article 5. As a necessary point in the supervision of the present contract, [the stipulated] sum of money to be received by Mitsuyama Shuan as a fine for breach of contract is to be provided jointly not only by the contract breaker but also by the other four parties. However, the method of division and the dates [of payment] may be decided by conference among the five parties.
** Article 6. In the case that Mitsuyama Shuan should request from the five parties, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, raw materials for the manufactured products, they are obligated to provide [these materials] in response to such necessity.
** Article 7. All necessary provisions with respect to manufacture and sale in accordance with the present contract will be agreed upon through consultation among the parties concerned.
** Article 8. If Mitsuyama Shuan should wish to terminate the present contract, he is required to give notice one month in advance to the five persons, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi.
** Article 9. If any among the five persons, namely, Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, should wish to alter or terminate the
present contract, agreement must be obtained from all the parties involved.
** Article 10. With respect to the obligation of paying the fine for breach of contract as stipulated in Article 4, the five persons, namely Oizumi Kitaro, Hamada Hozaemon, Watanabe Yoshinosuke, Kino Asaichi, and Kondo Kaichi, will bring no complaint if served an [order of] immediate and compulsory execution.
-- Mitsuyama Shuan (age 40), dealer in bicycles, commoner, resident at Kawaraya-cho 2-bancho no. 235, Minami-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu.
-- Hamada Hozaemon (age 38), manufacturer of bicycle parts, commoner, resident at Shinmei-cho Higashi 2-chome no. 2, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu.
-- Oizumi Kitaro (age 43), manufacturer of bicycle parts, commoner, resident at Yadoya-cho Higashi 2-chome no. 37, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu.
-- Watanabe Yoshinosuke (age 40), manufacturer of bicycle parts, commoner, resident at Shinmei-cho Higashi 1-chome no. 73, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu.
-- Kino Asaichi (age 23), manufacturer of bicycle parts, commoner, resident at Sakuranomachi no. 11, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu.
- Kondo Kaichi (age 22), straw-bag merchant, commoner, resident at Yadoya-cho no. 55, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu.
-- WITNESS TO THE TRANSACTION is Wada Sutesaburo (age 52).
The above parties to the transaction, upon both reading and hearing [its text], attest to its accuracy and affix their signatures below.
Mitsuyama Shuan (seal)
Hamada Hozaemon (seal)
Oizumi Kitaro (seal)
Watanabe Yoshinosuke (seal)
Kino Asaichi (seal)
Kondo Kaichi (seal)
Wada Sutesaburo (seal)
In order to confirm the above contract, the following person signs and affixes his signature: -- Tsutsui Nobuhiro, Notary Public (official seal), resident at Omachi Nishi l-chome no-36, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu, and serving under the jurisdiction of the Sakai District Court.
* * *
This original official copy is prepared according to the above original text by Tsutsui Nobuhiro, Notary Public (official seal), resident at Omachi Nishi l-chome no. 36, Sakai-shi, Osaka-fu, and serving under the jurisdiction of the Sakai District Court.

Even though in later times contracts may not have been to such an extent one-sidedly disadvantageous to producers, it would nevertheless appear that the sorts of notions of social inferiority and superiority on which such contracts were based did stay firmly rooted even in later years. During the oral interviews conducted for this study, this writer was on many occasions made to sense that such hierarchical notions of personal relationships were clearly operating at the base of the perceptions held by many of those interviewed, especially older persons who had at one time been active as large-scale wholesale merchants.

Another point which should be mentioned has to do with the fact that old production methods and facilities were by no means completely discarded as new successes with production techniques were taking root during the period in question. In some cases, the use of old techniques within a given factory was no doubt continued in parallel with work using newer methods being introduced at the same factories. In other cases, some of the old techniques and facilities were transferred to, and given ample room to function in the bicycle retail shops which were rapidly increasing in number and engaging in more and more specialized work. We have the following observation from the last years of the Meiji period:
During these years the number of vehicles sold by a given retail store was still small, and most of the daily work was that of repairs. Thus, lathes and bellows were indispensable business tools, and repairs were made by making use of such machinery, buying individual parts as needed, and sometimes fabricating such parts on home premises. . . .

Spokes, on being shortened, were "brass-soldered," . . . ball bearings, even of the smallest type, were bought, one or two at a time, for replacement purposes, . . . [but] in the case of the screws which were fixed to either side of the inner part of the hangers and which would often get loose and wear out after several tightenings, replacement parts were not available on the market and so repairs had to depend on the retailers' own resources. . . . Because technological know-how of this type could not be had by persons who were inexperienced in metalworking or blacksmith work, the owners of bicycle retail shops were for the most part either persons who had become skilled in blacksmith work or watchmakers with experience in metal crafts. 117

There were also cases of bicycle retailers and repairmen who later changed their occupation to concentrate exclusively on manufacturing bicycle parts. 118

4. The Formation and Characteristics of Large-Scale Factories

It would appear that the previously mentioned Japan Dunlop Rubber Company (Nippon Dunlop Gomu Kabushiki Kaisha), which was founded in Kobe in 1909 with British capital, was established with a keen eye to the future possibilities of the Japanese bicycle market. 119 The following year, 1910, a branch factory of the "Premier" bicycle plant (Coventry, England) was established on the grounds of the Dunlop tire plant, thus becoming the first truly large-scale integrated-production plant for the manufacture of bicycles in Japan. With the exception of coaster brakes and three-speed gears, which were imported from England, the company is said to have carried out an integrated production of all the other metal parts such as frames, handlebars, rims, spokes, chains, gear cranks, freewheels, pedals, hubs, hand-operated brakes, and the small fittings for gear cases. The general sales agent was the Maruishi Shokai, so named following the reorganization of the former Ishikawa Shokai. 120

It was in the same year, 1910, that the method of bicycle assembly known as "set fitting" may be said to have become widely established in Japan. In this system, import merchants imported parts as sets and then assembled these into completed products, welding and painting where necessary.

There is a record of this system having been used by Kajino Jinnosuke in the assembly of older types of vehicles,121 and with the adoption of the so-called safety vehicles with wheels of equal size, the system began to be used by the Sumi Shokai after 1902. 122 In 1907 the Sorin Shokai built a plant in Tokyo for the assembly of "Dayton" brand bicycles. Then, in 1910, several assembly plants were opened almost simultaneously, including the Tokyo Jitensha Seisakusho built by the Futabaya Shokai in Tokyo's Yotsuya ward (present-day Shinjuku ward). A factory for the assembly of "Monopole" brand vehicles was opened in Yokohama by Matsuura Seizaburo of the Kinrinsha bicycle trading firm, and the Hirose Furemu Seisakusho, a factory for frame assembly, was opened by Hirose Fujitaro in Tokyo's Honjo ward (present-day Koto ward). 123

It was the products of such factories which invited the criticism that "first-class bicycle wholesalers are one after another marketing Japanese-made bicycles . . . under the guise of foreign imports." 124 Japanese manufacturers of complete vehicles indeed were hard-pressed to institute means to cope with this preference for imports if they were not to face crises of bankruptcy or forced reorganization.

In 1904 the Okamoto ironworks, operated by Okamoto Matuzo, set to work in earnest to establish a sales network for "vehicles for everyday use suited to the physical build of Japanese." The company sold 1,000 bicycles in 1905, and then steadily increased production until as many as 2,500 vehicles were sold in 1908. 125 The company in 1910 undertook a policy of "rationalization" whose high success rating came to serve as a sort of model blueprint for a number of other enterprises which, under the conditions of pre-Second World War Japanese capitalism, attempted similar "rationalization" policies.

The first step in the success attained by the Okamoto company was to order from abroad production machinery of the most modern types available. Okamoto Matsuzo in 1910 personally toured Germany, France, and England, purchasing a considerable quantity of new machinery. The details of these purchases are unfortunately unknown, though it is reported that "after entering into operation, these new and powerful machines were extremely effective . . . and the number of defective products diminished." Using his newly acquired machinery, Okamoto added some finishing touches to some of the firm's bicycles which at the time happened to be on exhibit at a government-sponsored agricultural and industrial fair (koyshinkai), and as a result won a "third prize" together with a due amount of social recognition. Around the same time, Okamoto reorganized the firm, naming it the Okamoto Kyodai Goshigaisha (Okamoto Brothers, Ltd.), and giving the bicycles which the firm produced the brand name "Enpaiya" ("Empire"). The factory grounds covered 1,530 tsubo (5,120 m2) and factory buildings covered 905 tsubo (3,028 m2). The managerial and office staff (shain) consisted of 23 persons, and the production workers (shokko) numbered 382. Motive power was provided by five 60-horsepower motors. In 1910, 6,200 vehicles manufactured by the Okamoto company were sold. 126

These successes were not brought about merely by expanded factory size or the introduction of new types of machinery. Rather, a second key to success was that "as Okamoto himself had already come to appreciate, it paid to entrust [the manufacture of] parts to parts makers." 127

The combined results of the above-mentioned measures may be said to be reflected in the fact that some 30,000 vehicles per year were being produced by the Okamoto firm during the first years of the Taisho period, as well as in the honour of having Okamoto products which had been displayed at the Taisho Exhibition purchased in 1914 by the Department of the Imperial Household, the government department which looked after the welfare of the emperor and his family. 128

It is a matter for regret that no written materials remain which refer directly to the Okamoto firm's specific policies in connection with the cultivation of subcontractors, or to the means by which production facilities and technologies were acquired. Nevertheless, some part of the reality may be glimpsed from the following record left by a Nagoya wholesaler.

Araya Kumakichi, who was the former manager of the Araya Rim [Co. ] and who until that time had been the only maker of wooden rims in Japan, similarly [to Okamoto] went to England, for the purpose of observing rim manufacture there. Metal rims were
produced and sold after his return to Japan . . . and this greatly stimulated, among other things, the business expansion being shown by the Okamoto firm. It was indeed a time which generally favoured the establishment of all sorts of frame and parts makers, large and small. With easier access to materials, it became a simple matter to build English-type frames, and in turn the production of English-type parts was gradually undertaken as well. 129

While the parts makers were generally small in scale, they did not lead a merely passive existence, but rather during this period had within them forces of their own which led toward growth and development. It may have been largely thanks to such internal forces that the large-scale bicycle assembly plants were also able to respond to changing times and a changing environment.

Here let us consider the case of the Miyata Seisakusho. This factory, which had strong links with the army, halted its bicycle production for a time during the Russo-Japanese war and instead concentrated on the production of percussion fuses and stretchers, being designated a "government factory" under the direction of the Tokyo artillery arsenal. Just before the production of bicycles was temporarily stopped, the Miyata works had received an order for 400 bicycles for the use of army expeditionary units and had gone as far as test-producing a collapsible bicycle also for military use. In 1905, after the war's end, the Miyata works received from the army a "confirmation letter" and a "test performance certificate" approving the "Asahi" brand bicycle designed especially for the use of messengers and scouts. Thereupon, the production and sale of vehicles for military use was recommenced. 130

Up until that time the Miyata products still used an American-type pedal mechanism which was chain-driven but did not have freewheels or coaster hubs. For use in the finished product, the company manufactured its own pipes for frame construction, 131 as well as its own gear cranks, hangers, heads, seat fittings, handlebars, hubs, gears, and block chains. Among purchased parts manufactured elsewhere in Japan were wooden rims from the Araya firm, fenders made by the lida Seisakusho, tyres for standard models made by the Mitatsuchi rubber company, and wooden handle grips covered with leather. Imported parts included seats made by the Wheeler Company (USA), spokes made by "the Torrington Company (USA), tyres for deluxe models made by the G & J Company or by the Goodrich Company (USA), and steel ball bearings imported from various countries.

However, around 1905 popular preference shifted to English-type models using a freewheel, and consequently the Miyata firm took out a monopoly patent on its "Asahi Coaster" model and began production based on English models. Then in 1908, in deference to the company's former products, the Miyata firm improved the design of the heads and hangers so that they would fit both English and American models, thus simplifying production and repairs. 132

This raising of production standards was carried out in parallel with the introduction of newer and more sophisticated production facilities. The most important of the new facilities put into use by the Miyata firm between 1904 and 1907 are shown in Table 20, from which we can deduce several points worth mentioning.

First, it may be seen that the manufacture of a certain portion of the necessary production machinery was already well established in the hands of private machinery manufacturers in Japan. However, the friction press, which was at the time the most advanced tool for the production of small forged parts, was not yet being fully utilized in the private machinery and metalworking sectors of the economy. 133

Second, there was substantial interaction and mutual influence among private entrepreneurs in machine-related enterprises. For example, not long after a set of automatic machines made by the Share-Brown Company had been installed in the Seikosha (a watch manufacturer), the managers of the Miyata factory, after racking their brains over difficulties in producing miniature screws, initiated consultations with one Yoshikawa, who had been a worker at the Seikosha before becoming "independent" and founding his own small factory known as the Yoshikawa Seisakusho. As a result of these consultations, the Seikosha, through the good offices of Yoshikawa, agreed to sell the needed machinery for screw manufacture to the Miyata firm. 134 It is recorded also that the Yoshikawa Seisakusho consulted the Miyata firm in regard to improvements in the machinery used to turn out its own metal products. 135

Third, as seen already from Table 6, in spite of some success in machinery production, in Japan by far the greater part of the automatic machinery in use, including that in the military arsenals (which enjoyed the highest technological levels), was still dependent on imports from abroad. This situation is reflected in the following quotation.

The influx into Japan of various types of machinery dates from around 1907, in line with the expansion of Japan's foreign trade. From around that time machinery specifically designed for bicycle [production] began to be imported in increasing quantities. And it was also from around this time that bicycle manufacturers began to think about making improvements on such machinery. 136

The managers of many bicycle manufacturing enterprises were at the same time both craftsmen and technicians. When they faced the need to devise a new piece of machinery they would often not stop merely at drawing up a design on paper. Rather, it is said, they would not infrequently visit in person the factories of machine makers, where they might spend several days (and nights) pooling their wits in the search for the best solutions. 137

In any event, a variety of new production facilities were introduced and through their use a number of new manufacturing processes were later developed which came to be considered as reflecting the unique technological achievements of one or another particular factory. Examples of such new processes would include the manufacture of pipe couplings through the application of presses to steel plates, and the manufacture of gears with pressed-out open spaces in the shape of Chinese characters. The practicality of these two particular processes is said to have been conceived by Miyata Hikonosuke138 (who was in charge of keeping abreast of foreign technical journals at the Miyata firm), after having read articles carried in American Machinist.

It was likewise around 1907 that the Miyata firm adopted the limit gauge system, and methodically organized quality-check teams among factory personnel. 139

With the establishment of such systems, the bicycle industry began to enjoy a period of "smooth and sound"140 managerial development, influenced of course by the fact that it was a period of rapid growth in demand.

Today, not yet so very many years since the English and American style "Asahi" and "Pason" ["Person"] models made their lonely debut in our country's cycling world, their monthly production is already more than a thousand, and sales are continuing to multiply, though not fast enough to meet the daily backlog of demand. In contrast to these signs of prosperity, imported bicycles have recently been decreasing daily, a development which should truly be a matter for congratulation for the nation. . . . 141

Another observation from just a few years later is quoted below.

The use of bicycles as a means of personal transport in Japan is soon going to sweep the entire country. Although today there is a trend in the cities toward the provision of public means of transport and toward the gradual popularization of automatic bicycles [i.e., motorcycles], the demand for ordinary bicycles is in the process of expanding ever further. Ordinary bicycles are not only being more frequently used for running small errands, but the sight of the bicycle wheel is becoming quite universal even in poor and remote hamlets. Indeed, today it is no overstatement to say that the desire for a bicycle has come to be voiced by practically everyone in city and country alike.

Today the manufacture in our country of bicycles and their parts is gradually moving toward a state of prosperity, and the appearance of such large factories as the Miyata plant in Tokyo and the Okamoto Brothers bicycle plant in Aichi Prefecture is very much in keeping with the times. What had been a 4 to 1 ratio in the number of foreign products compared to the number of Japanese bicycles at the 1907 Tokyo Industrial Promotion Fair has now changed to a ratio of 1 to 2, respectively. For the first time we can see [Japanese-made] parts on display, and the fact that in some of these we can see definite signs of progress leaves us somewhat unable to suppress a most joyful sensation. Although their manufacture is not without points which should be recognized as needing improvement, in general they are up-to-date, of solid construction and good quality, and also low-priced, all these factors making them most suited for everyday practical use. The Miyata products, while perhaps lacking novelty in design, demonstrate a practised consummation of production skills and are among domestic products without equal in respect to quality control. A number of Okamoto products hold patents for new designs. 142

There remained, nevertheless, quite a few matters which would need future attention. These were largely pinpointed in a "survey report" published in 1913 in regard to the Taisho Exhibition, in the observation that "it must finally be mentioned that there is not yet any [Japanese firm] engaged in the manufacture of such bicycle parts as ball bearings, spokes, or chains, and it is very much a matter for regret that manufacturers must rely wholly on supplies of foreign products." 143 This came near to describing the situation at the time, although the latter may have been slightly more complex than would be indicated by the above quotation.

At a slightly later time the Miyata firm's own manufactured products comprised, in addition to frames, "handlebars, front and rear brakes, gear cranks, chains, front and rear hubs, pedals, freewheels, frame-attached tyre pumps, heads, hangers, and seat fittings." However, the firm's own published history, from which the above list is quoted, goes on to candidly admit that there was in reality still a high degree of reliance on imports of these same parts. The products of the firm's own manufacture were "used for the most part in [those finished products sold in] Kyushu, while [finished products sold in] the four stores in Nagoya and Tokyo used mainly imported parts." 144

These "four stores in Nagoya and Tokyo" probably are the Maeda Eiichi Shoten in Nagoya, which was in 1907 given exclusive sales rights in the Osaka region and western Honshu, and the Okamoto Shoten (not to be confused with the Okamoto Seisakusho in Nagoya), the Terui Shoten, and the Jindo Shoten in Tokyo, referred to in Table 4. 145 Since at the time in question most of the Miyata firm's products were sold by these four outlets, 146 we must necessarily consider the ratio of domestically produced parts to have still been rather low. One record specifically states that "Miyata manufactured its domestically produced vehicles thanks to parts supplied from Yokoyama." 148 The firm named here is the Yokoyama Shokai, established in Kobe as a foreign trade company in 1896. In 1904 it became the sole importer for the "Leroy" model bicycle.

After establishing in 1903 a policy of specializing in bicycle manufacture, the Miyata firm also put a certain amount of effort into cultivating subcontractors. For instance, in the book Jitensha no Isseiki (A century of bicycles), a certain rifle store owner recollects as follows.

Not long after Mr. Miyata first became truly established in the manufacture of bicycles, I was asked if I wouldn't help with the manufacture of parts. Since summer is a slack season for work with [hunting] rifles, I agreed to take on for the summer period only, the manufacture of seat posts. 148

In regard to chain cases, it is recorded in what would appear to be a reference to the first years of this century that "the progenitor of [Japanese] case makers is said to be a certain Nakamura who lived in the Bancho district of Tokyo. Nakamura is said to have been an exclusive case maker under subcontract to the Miyata Seisakusho." 149 At a later time the Umezawa Seisakusho undertook the manufacture of chain cases for the Miyata firm. 150 At one time the Yoshikawa Seisakusho undertook the subcontracted manufacture of screws and other small parts. 151

Parts whose manufacture was subcontracted to other companies within Japan were rather more numerous, and such subcontract relationships were organized somewhat earlier than those instances given in the Miyata firm's own published history. It is worth noting that the above-mentioned parts manufacturers operated relatively independently compared with wholesalers who accepted parts subcontracts. As already mentioned, the owner of the Yoshikawa Seisakusho maintained a relationship with the managerial staff of the Miyata firm which was basically one of personal friendship. The Umezawa firm later came to specialize in bicycle parts, but during the time in question, while taking out a patent for the manufacture of chain cases, it was also engaged in the manufacture of parts for radios and cameras.

In any case, leaving aside the question of the type and extent of the subcontract relationships, it can probably be justly said that in the absence of the parts makers' own efforts to develop, the Miyata firm could not have enjoyed the same history of "attaining, through its progress, success in the complete manufacture of standard products for practical everyday use." 152

In those bicycle assembly factories which were operated by importers, a number of factors for progress were found lacking. Such missing factors included rapidity of response to useful new technology, an attitude of striving to develop one's own technology, links with enterpreneurs in similar types of enterprises (including persons with experience in manual crafts), the sort of enthusiasm for technology and product improvements found among parts manufacturers and assembly specialists, and the sort of popularization of "bicycles for practical everyday use" which did so much to aid the expansion of sales by the Miyata firm. May we not say that it was precisely these factors which enabled the domestic makers of "complete vehicles" to gain their superior position? 153

Even such a firm as the Miyata Seisakusho, which had demonstrated such energy and leadership in turning out finished products from large-scale factories, had to cope, during the early years, with conditions which restricted its sales activities. When, for example, the firm in 1904 began to market its "Pason" ("Person") brand products, advertised as a "low-priced vehicle for practical use," the same product had to be supplied to the Okamoto Shoten under the brand name "Enzeru" ("Angel"), specified by the latter, and to the Terui Shoten under the brand names "Fasuto" ("Fast") and "Ami" ("Army"), likewise specified by the wholesalers. In the contract made with Maeda Eiichi in Nagoya in 1907, although sales were to be made under the "Pason" brand name, exclusive marketing rights for the Kansai region and for western Honshu were given to the Nagoya wholesaler while the Miyata firm forfeited all efforts on its own part to further expand its market in this region. 154 Newspaper and magazine advertisements typically carried first of all the names of the wholesalers and their brands, with "manufacturer: Miyata Seisakusho" printed only in tiny characters at the very end of the commercial message. In some cases even the choice of subcontract manufacturers was made by the wholesalers. 155

This situation began to change only after the beginning of the Taisho period. During the early Taisho years, at the initiative of the Miyata firm, a meeting known as the Futsukakai ("Second-Day-of-the-Month Meeting"), composed of representatives from the Miyata firm and from the four major wholesalers, was convened on a regular monthly basis for the purpose of "giving due recognition to various types of sales problems." 156 This trend ultimately became linked to the setting up, by the Miyata firm itself, of a nationwide sales network. This network did not materialize until after the First World War, though it was preceded during the war years by newspaper and magazine advertisements in which an effort seems to have been made to place the manufacturer's brand name and the characters "Miyata Seisakusho" in a central position.

5. The Apprenticeship System and Employment Relations

Not only in bicycle stores, but also in most other commercial establishments, by the end of the Meiji period (1868―1912) employee-employer relations based on one or another system of apprenticeship (known in Japanese by such terms as hokonin seido or nenki seido) were beginning to disappear, as already mentioned. Change and reorganization in a given social order meant, among other things, that those who had played the major roles in the previous system had begun to assume a greater diversity of functions. Let us here attempt a modest investigation of the multifaceted nature of the employment situation in the Japanese bicycle industry, giving particular consideration to the significance of various aspects in relation to the following period of the industry's development.

When during the late Meiji era a boy of around 10 years of age would join a bicycle store as an apprentice, known in Japanese as a hokonin or bonsan (the latter being something of a slang term), he would begin a life similar to that outlined in the following recollections of such a childhood experience.

My work as a bicycle shop bonsan always included dusting every morning and evening and taking daily care of the items on display. Then there was helping with bicycle repairs, for practice. Speaking of repairs, this was really a little bit like work at a small blacksmith shop. Equipment in the shop included lathes and drills, and I was trained in how to use them. . . .

In those days you couldn't expect to have such a thing as electric power to turn the lathes, so the workers had to run them by hand. Well, this was something I was never good at. For 10 or 20 minutes you'd maybe have plenty of energy for turning the pulley, but after 30 or 40 minutes you'd feel tired and your arm would gradually give out. Then you'd be knocked on the head with a small hammer by the machinist.

If you start to think about it, it looks pretty rough, but in those days the "machine worker's temper," so to speak, was always like this. It was atime when everyone was still accustomed to this notion of its being quite natural to take some pounding in the process of getting to be a full-fledged worker. So there was no point in trying to be indignant about it. In fact, it would have been strange if anyone had even thought of making a problem out of it. 157

This sort of life is said to have continued "for approximately a year to a year and a half, depending on the shop's training methods and the apprentice's own efforts and talents." 158 Afterwards, three to five years were spent largely in the gradual transition to other tasks, which included the taking apart and reassembling of front and rear wheels, handlebars and seats, the repair of chains, pedals, and rims, the process of learning how to evaluate the quality of parts, the disassembly and repair of complicated parts like freewheels and coaster brakes, and the acquisition of skills in the operation of lathes. During this period the shop assistants stayed for the most part on the shop premises, where they slept and took their meals. Even after the period of their apprenticeship had ended and they were considered to be "full-fledged" (ichininmae), it was usual for them to continue to live at the shop for two or three more years. 159

What happened later was somewhat problematic. We have one recollection which tells us that, even after the First World War, in Tokyo "almost all the [bicycle] shops followed the old system of a fixed term of [apprenticeship] service, whereby a contract was made upon entering a given enterprise, and when the specified term was over, the enterprise provided a lump sum of money to be used [by the former apprentice] as capital when he became independent." Those who had met the qualifications for becoming independent would perform "gratitude service" (orei hoko) for two or three years at the establishment where they had already served their apprenticeship, and would during this period "gradually develop a base for [their future] activities and build up a clientele, after which they would open their own businesses." 160

On the other hand, it is recorded that in the case of Osaka "when one looks at conditions in the various [bicycle] stores one recognizes that relations between employers and employees are extremely cool . . . and many [employers], just before the expiration of contracted terms of apprenticeship, put forth all kinds of excuses in the attempt to break their contracts." 161

Nevertheless it would seem that we ought to take the above observation as having only limited validity. From Table 5, 8, and 9, we may surmise that even in cases where financial aid and allocation of clientele may not have been provided to help apprentices become independent at the end of their contract terms, such a situation did not necessarily prevent employees from opening their own businesses through their own efforts. Whatever the observed (or ignored) conditions, the practice of apprenticeship followed by a transition to independent operation could still be rather commonly seen in the wholesale sector until at least the late 1930s, and could be seen to some extent in retailing even after the Second World War. 162

Since most ordinary store employees lived on the premises of their respective places of work, it is an indisputable fact that their private lives were circumscribed by and subject to a framework of restrictions which were operative all 24 hours of the day and night. Daily necessities were provided and theoretically apprentices had two free days per month, although in reality a half of each "free day" was spent cleaning the house of the employer. 163 No matter how far into the middle of the night it might be, as long as the employer or any other superior remained at work in the store, an apprentice could not leave the premises because it was his job to tidy everything up afterwards. 164

If, in addition to being denied freedom in their personal lives, apprentices should encounter roadblocks on the way to future "independence," relations with employers lost their stability and personal relations might even be thrown into a vortex of hate and suspicion.

In extreme cases one sometimes hears of persons who steal goods from the master's house or abscond with the master's money -- almost as if one had hired a kleptomaniac to work as a watchman . . . . 165

It would of course be rather too hasty on our part to presume that the restraints placed on the private and social lives of the apprentices necessarily gave rise to perversities like the above, or that they had not also a positive potential. For in fact the type of human relations to which an apprentice was subjected could also provide the occasion for certain types of useful education. Let us again quote from the recollections of persons with direct experience.

In addition to [work-related] training as an apprentice in this type of metalworking shop, as a bonsan in the salesroom I would go on errands to customers or to relatives and in-laws of the owner's family. Also I was meticulously taught by the master's wife how to say things, how to make polite expressions of thanks, etc. . . .

In keeping with the Senba [Osaka wharfside commercial district] traditions, the owner of the Godai Shoten was strict in disciplining his shop assistants, and he also maintained very definite beliefs in regard to sales matters. For example, he firmly maintained a policy of not making any discounts on prices which he had once set, and of refusing customers who tried to bargain prices down. His explanation was that any business which shaved off profits could not stay long in business and could not give thorough service. He was likewise strict about bill collection. At the same time, he was always solicitous about providing services to customers, and instructed his employees to make the rounds of clients to inquire about the condition of bicycles already sold. He even instructed the employees to show a special degree of respect toward certain of the best customers by sleeping in positions such that their legs would not be pointed in their directions [which, according to folk belief, could be a sign of disrespect]. 166

At the time, certain merchant houses in the larger cities still maintained traditional sets of written "house regulations" (kakun) which prescribed rules of conduct not only for employees but also for owners, managers, and their households. Although the wording is somewhat peculiar, an example is given below.

** In accordance with the instructions handed down from our forebears, the family profession is one which in every way places importance on personal associations and prudently seeks to avoid extravagance.

** Given the fact that to be in the trading profession means that master and employees are to be mutual friends to one another, [the master] shows affection toward the house dependents (kerai), while from below [the latter] strive diligently to render faithful service to the master. House members should strive not to [abuse or cause disputes over] rights and formalities. This being so, if any descendant [bearing the master's hereditary name] Jihei should give evidence of misconduct in his personal affairs, consultations should be made with the shop assistants and their views should be enjoined. If it is observed that [the master or heir] should stubbornly fail to take heed and should not be of the proper calibre to inherit [the family estate], the entire house should deliberate together and should consult with the shop assistants of both stores. On this basis it may go so far as to decide on retirement [for the incompetent master or heir] and to choose [another to whom] rights to the family name should be given and to whom the management of household affairs should be relinquished and transferred. . . . 167

Of course, directives of this sort necessarily allowed for all sorts of variations in accordance with different individuals' interpretations of them. There is no evidence that the contents of such "household regulations" tended to become more clear-cut in the course of history or tended to become standardized around any one specific set of social concepts. Rather, we can sense that in the period following the first years of the 20th century which are here under primary consideration, a distorted consumer goods and money economy further penetrated the social fabric in such ways as to cause the above type of self-imposed controls to tend to be neglected, insofar as they at least theoretically existed. While the above is a matter whose investigation must be left to further study, we can here assert that the Meiji era was one whose soil, whether because of or in spite of such self-imposed controls on the activities and behaviour of commercial enterprises' members, made it possible for a bicycle store clerk or for an ordinary lathe worker to rise to grasp opportunities for social advancement, and perhaps eventually to become an influential manager of a large enterprise. On the other hand, it was also possible for a store employee to despair of his enterprise's laxness in maintaining the expected order or in observing certain agreements, and for that very reason to run away to enter a university, and perhaps later to become a noted economist. In any case, the late Meiji period was a time when conditions that allowed such occupational transition were present. 168

Something of the atmosphere of the period may also be perceived from the following glimpses of workers' behaviour patterns.

In every type of manual occupation there is such a thing as a characteristic "craftsman's spirit" (shokunin katagi). Metal plating craftsmen, no less than those of any other specialty, were respected by colleagues and by the public at large in proportion to their skill. And the greater one's skill, the more likely he was to be looked upon as a leader. much attention was thus focused on polishing up one's manual abilities.

Generally speaking, during the early Taisho years there were still relatively few who had worked their way up in the same enterprise from being so-called bonsan apprentices, but it was relatively common, for example, to find plating firm employees who had formerly been gold or silver ornament craftsmen, or persons who after attaining middle age aspired to become metal polishers in connection with plating. Because of the diversity of their backgrounds, metal platers did not necessarily have such a conspicuous "spirit" molded by the special nature of their occupation, but they did put considerable and repeated efforts into trying to make names for themselves as "so-and-so from such-and-such a plating company."

When word got out that so-and-so could in a day's time polish such-and-such a number of bicycle posts or finish up so many dozen mirror frames, this would quickly become a topic of conversation among others in the same not-so-crowded profession. To have such a reputation was of course a source of pride for the craftsman concerned, while his employer, also proud to have one of such skill in his employ, would afford him generous treatment.

If such a metal plater of high repute heard that so-and-so in such-and-such another company also "had a good arm" [i.e., was specially skilled], he might receive permission from his employer to go to the other factory to have a contest of abilities in what were probably somewhat different plating techniques. For 2 or 3 days he would be allowed to work together with the employees of the other factory, and if his skill was recognized by the owner of the other factory, this recognition would be a major source of self-esteem and he could then openly travel about secure in his reputation as a skilled craftsman. [Ambitious metal platers], taking along their favorite buff wheels, etc., wrapped with rope and hung from the shoulder, would, it is said, often walk the distance from Osaka to Kyoto. One could, it is said, leave Tenman [commercial district in Osaka] after dark and arrive in Kyoto by sunrise. By eating baked sweet potatoes as one walked instead of stopping for breakfast, one could arrive at the factory of one's destination by 7 A.M. If the owner of the Kyoto factory praised one's skill, one would work for 2 or 3 days without pay and then happily and in high spirits return to Osaka.

There were also persons who walked the rounds of various towns throughout the Kinki region. In certain towns and villages they would connect their buff wheels to waterwheels ordinarily used for milling rice, and would proceed to polish up bicycles which had been sent [to bicycle shops] for repairs, as well as other metal objects.

Metal plating technologies were for the most part trade secrets kept by factory owners and were disclosed to only a chosen few. Metal plating craftsmen were not numerous, and while for the most part they were not habitual itinerants, certain of them did travel through rural areas, where they seem to have been welcomed for the repair of personal belongings and metal accessories for Buddhist family altars. It is said that [for the purpose of always having a ready supply of gold for repairs] a metal plating craftsman always wore a gold finger ring.

Among the craftsmen who specialized in polishing, those who did the preliminary polishing before the plating process were called migakiya or migakishi, and were considered to be a rank above the shiageshi, who polished the plated surface to add the finishing touches. It was a matter of "losing face" to be demoted to the relatively easy work of applying finishing touches, and this was good reason to exert the utmost effort in polishing up one's abilities.

When polishers would in fun (or due to some real antipathy) apply a mixture of oil and buff wheel dust to items already ground and polished for plating, the platers would without complaint first remove the oil with lye, humming cheerfully as they went about it. To be otherwise [i.e., to raise a fuss over such a small matter] would mean they were not fit to be treated by society as "full-fledged" craftsmen. 169

From the above account we are able to sense a spirit of self-reliance, a pride in one's own skills, an interest in new techniques, and a free and easygoing association among persons in the same profession. Indeed, it appears to have been a period when those directly involved in production could, as it were, give generous rein to their impulses, despite some obvious limitations.

Turning our attention now to "complete bicycle manufacturers," it may be asserted that their employment practices were, as in the case of bicycle shops, based on the apprenticeship system. The description below, concerning the Miyata Seisakusho, is a case in point.

Among the employees, a distinct line was drawn between live-in apprentices and the [older] workers who commuted to their jobs. The apprentice's training was particularly strict since he had to be well acquainted with every type of work and machine. If a forge worker was absent or on vacation, one of the apprentices had to take his place, and if a lathe worker was absent, an apprentice would have to substitute. An apprentice had to learn to be second to none in the use of files. His period of service would be from the time he finished primary school until the examination for recruitment into the army. Only after the end of the apprenticeship period would he be treated as a full-fledged worker. 170

At the same time there existed in large-scale factories like the Miyata firm a number of specific features not found in smaller establishments. The Miyata firm is said to have been the "first bicycle factory [in Japan] to thoroughly enforce a policy of making every Sunday a holiday." Around the same time (i.e., 1907 or thereabout), night work at the Miyata factory was also discontinued. "The [lower Eisuke's] younger brother Hikonosuke was in charge of looking after boilers and shafts and making any necessary repairs, which could only be made on work holidays." It is further recorded that "the owner enrolled all the apprentices in the Municipal Industrial Continuation School, where he had them take night courses. Furthermore he asked a Protestant pastor named Tomura, from Kashiwagi [district of present-day Shinjuku ward], to come once or twice a month or Sunday evenings to give lectures on self-improvement, for which he, together with his employees, were the audience. 171

With the exception of a few cases in the early period of the firm's history, there are very few instances of persons who left the Miyata firm to start businesses of their own, a fact which can no doubt be partially explained by such factors as the owner's own enthusiasm for his work, his daily contacts with the apprentices and other workers, the rational allocation of free time, as well as the high level of the company's own technical abilities and the trend toward a "smooth and sound" expansion of the company's organization and scope of business. The above observation would seem to show that modern management methods had to a degree entered upon a stable course of development and that, to a degree, effective relations had been established between capital and wage labour. Another conditioning factor can probably be found in the supposition that for purposes of becoming independent and setting up their own businesses, many of the employees were, so to speak, "overtrained" in the operation of sophisticated machinery, while on the other hand there remained scope within the expanding organization of the Miyata firm to promote persons of special ability to better and more challenging positions.

Let us now turn our attention to employment practices in large trading firms, and especially in the Nichibei Shoten, which was at the time the largest bicycle dealer of all, dealing mainly in imported products. Apart from the owner, Okazaki Hisajiro, who was a graduate of the Higher Commercial School (which developed into the present-day Hitotsubashi University) and after 1912 became a member of the lower house of the Diet, not a few of the country's managerial staff had gotten their start as apprentices, entering the firm at the age of 14 or 15. Shimomura Seijiro, who was one of the original bonsan (apprentices) at the time of the company's founding, after joining the firm studies part-time at a commercial school, at the age of 25 became the head of the firm's Osaka branch, and in 1916 became a member of the firm's board of directors. Eda Chukichi, who had likewise been one of the original bonsan and a commercial school student, assumed the responsibility of setting up business branches in Taipei, Seoul (called "Keijo" by the Japanese during the time Korea was under Japanese colonial rule), and Kurume in northern Kyushu. 172 Sato Hikokichi, one of the bicycle racing champions of the time, was also later to become one of the company's directors. 173

Reflecting the peculiar needs and characteristics of import firms, after around 1907 one sees among new recruits to the Nichibei Shoten a tendency toward longer periods of schooling. But even those who entered the firm after relatively advanced schooling were made to begin their work careers doing manual tasks as warehouse stock boys or shipping department workers. 174 The Nichibei Shoten still preserved a certain family atmosphere -- for instance, the owner's wife worked in the main store -- as well as a certain character common to places where one acquires a disciplined training, with the result that there was to be seen a situation wherein success depended on-ability and effort, while not so much attention was paid to schooling or family background.

After the end of the Meiji period, in parallel with the increase in personnel and expansion of facilities, the firm rapidly moved toward a system characterized by specialization within a more rigid organizational framework. But without any doubt there did exist a time when there was a ready flow of that peculiar type of energy which accompanies the beginnings of a new enterprise.


It may perhaps seem that the present report focuses too exclusively on aspects which may be observed with a relative degree of concreteness and certainty. Nevertheless, it would seem to be correct to conclude that the middle and late years of the Mei j i period (1968―1912) brought rewards of one kind or another for the managerial efforts and for the peculiar types of ascerticism which characterized the small- and medium-scale manufacturers and distributors of the time.

To such a conclusion we must, however, attach one important reservation. In other words, we must remember that at the time Japan's occupational structure was still very dominantly weighted on the side of agriculture, while in the agricultural villages little real progress had yet been made in practice -- in spite of whatever might be supposed to have been the case in theory -- to sweep away the various restrictions of an older era. Signs of change were weakest of all in regard to farm management, which was characterized by a widespread and stagnant regime of tenancy and landlordism. One result of this situation was that bicycles and other consumer goods whose production was linked to the capitalist economic system penetrated very little beyond a market of middle-class families in the cities and small groups of wealthy and socially prominent families in the farm villages. But before we can say anything definitive about the situation in the period following the First World War when a further market expansion could be envisaged, there remains the problem of giving a historical evaluation to the particular character of the production and distribution carried out by the small-and medium-scale entrepreneurs on whom we have focused our attention in this account. For this reason the present account has not gone beyond a survey of the Meiji period and the first years of the Taisho period, and the scope of its findings is corresponding limited.

The bicycle industry is generally considered to have started with the repair industry and the production of replacement parts, and then to have gradually expanded in scope. While the present study does not try to refute this generally accepted view, it was nevertheless found that at least some "complete vehicle" makers attempted to produce nearly all their own parts from the time they were first established. In such cases the procurement of parts from subcontracting manufacturers came rather later and was even then often carried out in parallel with in-plant production.

There is no doubt that the primary support for the Meiji bicycle industry came from small-and medium-scale parts manufacturers, who formed a stratum of society which overlapped with those atrata represented by repair enterprises and, in some cases, retailers. It is hoped that the present study has brought attention to the fact that social conditions were in the making which facilitated the widespread formation of such small-and medium-scale enterprises.

The types of apprenticeship systems in use were in their own way quite strict. However, skilled workers who had become "full-fledged" (ichininmae) were highly valued, and there was little feeling of social distance between them and small enterprise owners who were themselves likely to be skilled craftsmen, albeit in a supervisory role.

Such skilled workers were able to change work places with relative freedom, to use a good deal of initiative in raising the levels of their own skills, and to follow their own interests vis-a-vis newly developing technologies. "To set up an independent business" (dokuritsu kaigyo) was an easy matter, and in the Meiji period there were not a few business owners of craftsman background who took pride in the fact that workers to whom they had given training had set themselves up independently.

In such small-and medium-scale enterprises, the work place was at the same time a place for certain types of education. While many persons hold the view that the spread of "compulsory public education" played a very great role in the industrialization of the Japanese economy, the appended case-study reference materials indicate that a good number of the business owners in question had not in fact received the full quota of compulsory public education that one might suppose. Looking over the careers of a number of well-known enterprise owners, it would appear that more important as factors in their success were the attitudes toward work and ethics which they acquired within small enterprises and the ways in which these attitudes were transmitted from one person to another.

It would also appear that, in connection with skilled workers who were interested in new technology, we cannot ignore the role played at the time by munitions factories. While the fact that military-related government-run establishments were in many cases the only places available for the introduction and assimilation of the most advanced technologies reveals something of the basic character and limitations of the pre-Second World War Japanese economy, such military factories did for many persons provide some guarantee of a livelihood, and workers could enter or leave their employ with relative freedom. The opportunities for periods of employment (and re-employment) which the military arsenals provided meant a wider scope of activity for skilled workers and would appear to have stimulated a spirit of mutual competition.

Many hold the opinion that one should try to find in aspects like the above a basis for a supposed ingrained strength in Japanese society. And in fact one could until relatively recent times very often find among Japan's business and financial leaders persons who had lived through the times described above and whose careers developed in the world of those times and under the circumstances which accompanied it. The existence of such living examples has even been claimed to provide a sociological justification for publicized views which single out for special praise a "peculiarly Japanese pattern of industrialization." On the other hand, persons who have rejected such a view have tended to show little interest in studying in any detail the various aspects of the question, contenting themselves with simple and superficial generalizations about "backwardness" or "premodernity." And little thought has been given by them to the fact that such easy generalizations have impoverished discussion of the full range of reality implied by "wage labour" as a historical concept.

Apart from the process by which certain business owners (and future business owners) were beginning to improve their positions, questions remain in regard to how the wide stratum of workers directly engaged in production were affected by the fact that the above-described circumstances were gradually being superseded as the transition toward another period was begun. Tendencies toward change of the sort here implied were already starting to be seen in some of the large-scale factories. However, an evaluation of this point had best be left to take account of an analysis of the period following the First World War.

Other problems remain. For example, one can say that during the time in question, in the most basic sense, there were no government policies aimed specifically at fostering and protecting small-and medium-scale commercial and industrial enterprises. Nevertheless these enterprises were able to turn to their advantage certain legal provisions which were on the whole meant to be restrictive in nature. An investigation of these legal aspects must be left to another occasion and discussed in relation to the following period. Likewise, the question of the sociological effects of the fairs and exhibitions of the time is one which awaits further research. At least insofar as the bicycle industry is concerned, the reactions seem to have been quite considerable.

With respect to the proposition that the development of Japan's machine and metallurgical industries prior to the Second World War was to a considerable extent linked to military production, a clearer understanding must be attained of the various conditions surrounding small-and medium-scale bicycle, sewing machine, and other machine industries, and their positions within the structure of the machine and metallurgical sector as a whole. This is a very large problem, several points of which the writer hopes to take up in a study to be published at a future date.

The present study did not include an analysis of sufficient data to prepare a discussion of the vertical "deepening" of the domestic market, a shortcoming for which the writer must apologize.

Most of these materials were gathered as part of the data for a survey of bicycle enterprise founders, the preparation of which is under way. The writer regrets the uneven quality of the data, but hopes future improvements in the data will be possible in order to permit a fuller and more comprehensive analysis of these various case studies.

The survey was conducted largely through the mailing and collecting of questionnaires, and interviews were made to the extent possible. Also, other usable materials, usually in the form of references in already existing books and journals, were included. The present study quotes or refers to portions of these various materials, including those which refer to the relatively small number of enterprises that, among a great number which had similar beginnings, eventually rose to special prominence or developed new areas of activity. The writer will be pleased if the reader can get some sense of how wide-ranging were the social realities and how great were the amounts of everyday planning and labour which were necessary in order to produce each of the "success cases" mentioned.

In the course of this survey the writer has been assisted by many persons and he wishes to express here his gratitude to them all. Especially he should like to thank again persons connected with the United Nations University for their repeated assistance which facilitated the work of collecting materials and putting together this study.

Supplementary Table 1 includes automobiles and "automatic bicycles" (i.e., motor bicycles) in operation in Japan through 1911. The data for 1912 and 1913 include motor bicycles but not automobiles. Increases over five-year intervals are calculated from the beginning year of each relevant statistical entry until 1907, the modified values being the five-year averages. (B) gives the number of vehicles not including those in segments (A) and (D). (F) is calculated in proportion to the combined values represented by (A) and (D) .

In Supplementary Table 2, the figures for (C) prior to 1926 are taken to be those represented by (E) in Supplementary Table 1. (D) for the period 1926―1928 is calculated from average prices during that three-year period.

In Supplementary Table 3, (C) represents production costs and not numbers of vehicles as such. (E) is the combined total of (B), (C), and (D). (G) represents modified values derived from (A).

Please refer to the explanations directly attached to the other Supplementary Tables.


1. For technical reasons, all the tables and figures to be contained in this paper are omitted. They can be found (in Japanese)in the original Japanese version(HSDRJE-39J) of which this is a translation.
2. Among histories prepared after the war by research teams, see Kajinishi Mitsuhaya, Iwao Hirozumi, Kobayashi Yoshio, and Ito Taikichi, ed., Koza Chusho Kigyo (Lectures on small-and medium-scale enterprises), vol. 1, Yuhikaku, 1960; and Osaka-fu Shoko Keizai Kenkyukai and Osaka Furitsu Shoko Keizai Kenkyujo, ed., Osaka ni Okeru Jitensha Sangyo no Jittai, Ryutsu-hen and Seisan-hen (Conditions in the Osaka bicycle industry, volumes on distribution and production), 1954.
3. See, among articles by individual writers, Koyasu Hiroshi, "Jitensha Seizogyo" (The bicycle manufacturing industry), in Shakai Seisaku Jiho (Social policy bulletin), no. 175 (1933); Okumura Tadao, "Wagakuni Saikin no Jitensha Kogyo" (The bicycle industry in our country in recent times), in Shakai Seisaku Jiho, July 1939; Murakami Taro, "Sakai no Jitensha" (Sakai's Bicycles), in Keizai Hyoron (Economic review), February 1954; Takeuchi Atsuhiko, "Nihon hi Okeru Jitensha Kogyo no Hatten" (The development of the bicycle industry in Japan), in Gakugei Chiri (Scientific geography) no. 11 (1958); and Aida Toshio, "Sen Kyuhyaku Sanjunendai Nihon Shihonshugi ni Okeru Chusho Reisai Kogyo no Hatten Katei" (The developmental process in medium and small industries under the Japanese capitalism of the 1930s), in Shakai Rodo (Society and labor), vol. 25 no. 3 and vol. 26 no. 1 (1979).
4. See, for example, Jitensha Sangyo Shinko Kyokai (Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute), ed., Jitensha no Isseiki (A century of bicycles). Although the main purpose of this work is not to make an analysis based on economic history, it contains numerous episodes which would tend to make one feel that such a viewpoint is to some extent justified.
5. Published works which give 1870 as the date for the introduction of the bicycle include Ishimoda Shun, Tokyo kara Edo e (From Tokyo to Edo), Momoyamasha, 1968; and Kato Hidetoshi, Kita Moji, and Iwasaki Jiro, ed., Meiji Taisho Showa Sesoshi (Social history of the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods), Shakai Shisosha, 1967. Works which hold that bicycles were introduced a bit earlier include Kanagawa Prefectural Government, ed., Kanagawa no Hyakunen (Kanagawa's 100 years), 1969; and Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters, ed., Osaka-fu Keisatsushi (History of the police in Osaka prefecture), vol. 1, 1970. On the other hand, the year 1875 is set forth in Meiji Kogyokai, ed., Meiji Kogyoshi (History of Meiji manufacturing industries), 1930; and Nishida Hakutaro, ed., Dainippon no Sangyo (Industries of "Great Japan"), Kagaku Kogeisha, 1928. The year 1881 is given in Osaka City Office, industries Section, Survey Bureau, ed., Osaka no Jitensha Kogyo (Osaka's bicycle manufacturing industry),1933.
6. Jitensha Sangyo Shinko Kyokai (Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute), ed., Jitensha no Isseiki: Nihon Jitensha Sangyoshi (A century of bicycles: a history of Japan's bicycle industry), 1973. The present study owes much to this book and to suggestions from Mr. Sano Yuji, who was in charge of writing it.
7. The cynical assessment that "However, those who ride [bicycles] belong for the most part to flippant fellow of low class, and persons of the higher classes are not yet to be seen riding them" is found in the Tokyo Shinshi (Tokyo new magazine), no. 147 (1879).
8. See Tokyo-fu Tokeisho (Tokyo prefectural statistical yearbooks).
9. Kobayashi Masaaki, "Nihon Kikai Kogyo to Karakuri Giemon" (Japan's machine industries and Karakuri Giemon), in Kanto Gakuin University, ed., Keizaikei journal, no. 82.
10. Tanaka Omi-o Kenshokai, ed., Tanaka Omi Taiten (Biography of Tanaka Hisashige), 1931, p. 10.
11. Rin'yu (Cycling friend) magazine, June 1902, p. 10
12. For example, the 26 June 1878 issue of Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun (newspaper); and Nihon Rinkai Shinbunsha, ed., Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi (The course traced by the bicycle world in local areas), 1961, p. 40.
13. Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 6.
14. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 40.
15. Records of the careers of individual entrepreneurs are given at the end of this study as chronologically arranged "Supplementary Materials."
16. Chiho Rinkaino Ayumi, pp. 41, 105.
17. Tanaka Omi Taiten, p. 7.
18. For example, Mitamura Engyo, "Tonarigumi ni Tsukete Edo to Tokyo o Nagameru" (Looking at Edo and Tokyo in relation to neighbourhood associations), in Nippon oyobi Nipponjin, July 1943, p. 76.
19. This type of prejudice remained widespread even during and after the Meiji period, as this writer discovered on repeated occasions during the present survey as well as in the course of former investigations.
20. See, for example, Yokohama Seiko Meiyo Kan (Book of honor for successful citizens of Yokohama), P.38
21. Details may be found in Nihon no Keisatsu Hensankai, ed., Nihon no Keisatsu (Japan's police), 1968.
22. According to materials kept at the Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute.
23. After 1896, vehicle taxes went wholly to local governments, but the two-tiered structure was maintained in the form of a prefectural tax and a surtax going to the city, town, or village administration.
24. See, for example, newspaper articles in Nippon Rikken Seito Shinbun, 10 April 1885, and Hinode Shinbun, 23 April 1885. Conditions in cities outside the capital area are described in Jitensha no Isseiki, pp. 74-75.
25. See, for example, Rin'yu Zasshi (Cycling friend magazine), no. 120 (June 1912), p. 1.
26. Manuscript entitled "Tokyo Oroshi Kumiaino Rekishi" (History of the Tokyo Wholesalers' Association), in the possession of the Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute.
27. Details are given in Jitensha no Isseiki.
28. Chiho Rinkaino Ayumi. p. 40.
29. Many references are made to the relationships between Okamoto Ei (owner of the Okamoto Shoten) and Umezawa Jinzaburo (founder of the Umezawa Seisakusho and a person with an exceptional gift for training and directing machine workers) in Umezawa Seisakusho, ed., Umezawa Rokujunen no Ayumi (The course followed by the Umezawa factory over 60 years), 1974. Regarding Umezawa, see Supplementary Material 9.
30. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 40.
31. "Rinkai Tsuioku Zadankai" (Round-table reminiscences of the bicycle world),in Kabushiki Kaisha Nichibei Shoten, ed., Nichibei Shoten Sanjugonenshi (35-year history of the Nichibei Shoten, 1934, pp. 25 26.
32. Manuscript produced by the Tokyo Bicycle Manufacturers' and Wholesalers' Association and entitled "Nihon Jitensha Sangyo Kaiko Zadankai Sokkiroku" (Transcript of round-table recollections about Japan's bicycle industry), 1960, p. 6. (Library of the Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute.)
33. This assumes that a skilled carpenter's daily wages during the last years of the third decade of the Meiji period were between 54 and 66 sen (i.e., 0.54 and 0.66 yen), and that the number of actual work days per month averaged 20. Figures are taken from the Teikoku Tokei Nenkan (Imperial statistical yearbook) and from the collected works of social problems researcher Yokoyama Gennosuke.
34. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 30.
35. Interview with Mr. Otsu Ikujiro. See also Supplementary Material 43.
36. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi , p. 41 .
37. Miyata Seisakusho, ed., Miyata Seisakusho Nanajunenshi (70-year history of the Miyata Seisakusho, 1959, p. 9
38. Interview with Miyata Eisuke published in the April 1902 issue of Rin'yu.
39. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 40. The Tokyo factory founded in 1873 by Tanaka Hisashige (1799―1881) was in 1878 purchased by the government's ministry of industries to serve as a plant for the manufacture of telegraph and lighthouse equipment for the postal and communications ministry. If was revived as a private factory in 1882 under the name Shibaura Seisakusho by Tanaka's adopted son, also named Hisashige (1846-1905). This company was the predecessor of the present-day Toshiba company. See Motomura Yasuichi, ed., Shibaura Seisakusho Rokujugonenshi (65-year history of the Shibaura Seisakusho), 1940; and Toshiba Denki Sogo Kikakubu Shashi Hensanshitsu, ed., Tokyo Shibaura Denki Kabushiki Kaisha Hachijugonenshi (85-year history of the Tokyo Shibaura electrical company), 1963.
40. Okabe Buhei, Jitensha Banzai (Long live the bicycle!), Chubu Keizai Shinbunsha, 1974, pp. 9-30. Some of the observations in this book are somewhat in disagreement with those found in Jitensha no Isseiki and other earlier published works.
41. Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 20. The year of founding is given in "Tokyo Oroshi Kumiai no Rekishi" as 1893, around which time we may presume that the manufacture and sale of parts was begun.
42. See, for example, Jitensha Banzai, p. 30.
43. Daigokai Naikoku Kangyo Hakurankai Shinsa Hokokusho (Survey report for the 5th National Industrial Promotion Fair), vol. 4, 1907, p. 216. See also Miyata Seisakusho Nanajunenshi, p. 20.
44. These regulations were fortified and expanded by the 17-article "Ordinance No. 61" of October, 1901, which goes so far as to prohibit passing and to specify the minimum allowable distances between vehicles. These regulations, while giving a scope of action to a somewhat overly restrictive mentality, give us some idea of the rapid pace at which travel by bicycle was spreading.
45. Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 219.
46. Osaka-fu Jitensha Keijidosha Shogyo Kyodo Kumiai, ed., Kouriten no Kaikoroku (Recollections by retail store [owners]), 1979, pp. 50-51. A similar observation is made in "Zadankai Sokkiroku," P. 7.
47. Fukaya Ryoji , Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko (Recollections of 50 years of the Chukyo [Nagoya region bicycle world), Aichi-ken Jidosha Riyaka Seizo-oroshi Kyodo Kumiai, 1951, p. 9.
48. A detailed analysis is not made in this study, but examples may be seen in a number of the Supplementary Materials.
49. Miyata Nanajunenshi, pp. 3-5.
50. Ibid., pp. 14-16.
51. The table is based on a chronology of the founding of local wholesale firms (not necessarily complete) which can be ascertained from Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi.
52. Miyata Nanajunenshi, pp. 17-21.
53. See Supplementary Material 42 for information on Kitagawa Seikichi, and Supplementary Material 43 for information on Otsu Yoshimatsu.
54. For a fuller record, see Sakai City Office, ed., Sakai-shishi (History of Sakai city) and the separately published supplement to the same.
55. An excellent example is given in Shimano Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha, ed., Shimano Shozaburo-den (Biography of Shimano Shozaburo), 1959, pp. 71, 84-85
56. Among persons with experience in this factory were Oki Kibataro (founder of the Oki electrical goods company) and Ikemi Shotaro (founder of the Ikemi ironworks). See Oki Kibataro Denki Hensangakari, ed., Oki Kibataro, 1932; and Hanabusa Kingo, ed., Ikemi Tekkojo Gojunenshi (50-year history of the Ikemi ironworks), 1941.
57. Nihon Rinkai Shinbunsha, ed., Jitensha Sangyo no Ayumi (The course followed by the bicycle industry), vol. 1, 1957, p. 21.
58. Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko, p. 9.
59. Sakai Ringyo Kyokai and Rinkai Shoko Shinbunsha, ed., Sakai no Jitensha (Sakai's bicycles), 1929, p. 35
60. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 2.
61. Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 30.
62. Ibid., pp. 21, 24.
63. It may be seen from the table that although some new machinery was introduced following the First World War, purchases from private makers were concentrated during the war years. It may also be surmised that the military arsenals did not function as stable business partners for the private machinery makers. As these observations refer largely to a period later than that treated in this study, a detailed discussion must await a future occasion.
64. Interview with Mr. Tajima Eikichi.
65. See Supplementary Material 20.
66. Rin'yu, September 1909, p. 3.
67. Kouriten no Kaikoroku, p. 51.
68. "Zadankai Sokkiroku," p. 30.
69. Kouriten no Kaikoroku, p. 97.
70. Here, the concepts of "domestic market" (kokunai shijo) and "national economy" (kokumin keizai) are based on those discussed in Otsuka Hisao, Kindai Shihonshugino Keifu (The lineage of modern capitalism ), Kobundo, vol. 1, 1951.
71. Majima Hiroshi, "Jitensha to Rokujunen" (With the bicycle 60 years), in Nihon Jitensha Shinbunsha, ed., Nihon Jitensha Koshin Meikan (Japan bicycle inquiry catalogue), Hokkaido edition, 1954, p. 102.
72. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 20. The Marui dry goods store later became a department store.
73. Ibid., p. 27. Bicycle shop owners in Kawagoe included also one Ogawa Shukichi, whose former occupation is unknown, as well as one Sato Unpachi, who did repair work for a short time and then moved elsewhere.
74. Ibid., p. 43.
75. Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko, pp. 3, 4, 17.
76. Interview with Mr. Otsu Ikujiro.
77. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 80.
78. Ishikawa-ken Rinkaishi Hensan Iinkai, ed., Ishikawa-ken Rinkaishi (History of the bicycle world in Ishikawa Prefecture), 1977, pp. 15-16.
79. Excellent accounts of these systems are contained in Nakano Taku, Shoka Dozokudan no Kenkyu (Studies of merchant family groups), Miraisha, 1965; Ritsumeikan Daigaku Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyujo, ed., Kagyo (Family occupations), 1957; and Adachi Masao, Omi Shonin no Bekka Seido (The branch-house system among Omi [Shiga Prefecture] merchants), Yukonsha, 1959. While there is no lack of interest in the possibilities of finding among the peculiarties of such traditional areas of endeavour an explanatory principle for "Japanese" types of social thought and behaviour patterns, the present study, which deals with continuously advancing technological foundations and the formation of individuals whose areas of endeavour directly concern these changing technologies, cannot consider the data presented in the above studies to be directly relevant to its purposes.
80. Osaka Mekki Kogyo Kyodo Kumiai, ed., Kumiai Gojunenshi (50-year history of the Osaka Plating Industry Association), 1967, p. 14. For further references to Miyabayashi Sozo, see also Osaka no Jitensha Kogyo, p. 8.
81. Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko, pp. 4-5.
82. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 20.
83. For example, see Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 116 (February 1912), p. 1, and no. 117 (March 1912), p. 21.
84. Kabushiki Kaisha Maruishi Shoten, ed., Sogyo Sanjushunen Kinonshi (Commemorative record on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Maruishi Shoten), 1937, p. 63.
85. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 115 (January 1912), p. 2. The type of situation here described was not limited to the bicycle business but was seen also in many other fields, as described briefly in Takahashi Kamekichi, Keizai Hyoro Gojunen (50 years of economic commentary), Toshi Keizaisha, 1963.
86. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 27.
87. Ibid., p. 32.
88. Sato Monji, "Hokkaido Rinkai Omoidebanashi" (Recollections of the bicycle world in Hokkaido), in Nihon Jitensha Koshin Meikan, p. 98.
89. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 120 (June 1912), p. 13.
90. Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 14.
91. Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko, p. 6.
92. "Nichibei Shoten oyobi Dainippon Jitensha Kaisha no Genjo" (Current situation of the Nichibei Shoten and the Great Japan Bicycle Company), in Nichibei Shoten Sanjugonenshi (35-year history of the Nichibei Shoten), p. 62.
93. Ibid., p. 63.
94. "Hadaka Ikkan yori Hikari no Mura e" (Starting from scratch toward a village of light), in Nichibei Shoten Sanjugonenshi, p. 76.
95. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 64.
96. Ibid., p. 43.
97. "Nichibei Shoten oyobi Dainippon Jitensha Kaisha no Genjo," p. 31.
98. Ibid., pp. 26-29.
99. Ibid., p. 66.
100. Ibid., pp. 64, 66.
101. Kouriten no Kaikoroku, p. 32.
102. Agriculture and Trade Ministry, Bureau of Manufactures, Kojo Tsuran (Factory survey), 1911.
103. Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko, p. 6.
104. Unless otherwise stated, the information on Tokyo is taken from Nihon Rinkai Shinbunsha, ed., Jitensha Sangyo no Ayumi (The course taken by the bicycle industry), vol. 1, 1957, pp.48-51.
105. Kumiai Gojunenshi, p. 13. Miyakawa Yutaka, founder of Tokyo's first plating factory, was the elder brother of Miyabayashi Sozo, previously mentioned in connection with the Miyabayashi electroplating factory in Osaka.
106. The Koyama gear factory was soon afterward reorganized as the Sato gear factory.
107. Interview with Mr. Ishibashi Sukeji of the Kyokuto Seisakusho. See also Supplementary Material 22.
108. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 125 (November 1912), p. 21.
109. Sakai no Jitensha, pp. 21, 22, 36, 37; and Kouriten no Kaiko, pp. 96-97.
110. Sakai no Jitensha, pp. 36 37; and Osaka City Office, Industrial Section, Survey Bureau, ed., Osaka no Jitensha Kogyo (Osaka's bicycle industry), 1933, pp. 26-33.
111. Kumiai Gojunen, p. 16. A succinct report on factories of this type may be found in Osaka City Office, ed., Tokushu Keitai Kojo no Jitsurei (Case studies of special types of factories), 1924.
112. " Rinkai Tsuioku Zadankai," pp. 51―60.
113. Sakai no Jitensha, p. 37; and Jitensha Sangyo no Ayumi, p. 49.
114. Sakai no Jitensha, p. 47.
115. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 122 (August 1912), p. 20.
116. Sakai no Jitensha, pp. 15-17.
117. Jitensha no Isseiki, pp. 221-223.
118. "Jitensha o Tsukuru Mura" (A village that builds bicycles), in Osaka Prefectural Research Institute for Commercial and Industrial Economics, ed., Osaka Keizai no Ugoki (Trends in the Osaka economy), no. 25 (May 1954), p. 33.
119. Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 217.
120. Ibid., p. 218; and Yamaguchi Sasuke, ed., Maruishi no Ashiato (The Maruishi's footsteps), Kabushiki Kaisha Maruishi Shokai, 1954, pp. 8-3.
121. Chiho Rinkai no Aumi, p. 41.
122. Osaka no Jitensha Kogyo, p. 11.
123. Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 36.
124. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 122 (August 1912), p. 20.
125. Jitensha Banzai, p. 31.
126. Ibid., pp. 31-35, 186.
127. Ibid., p. 38.
128. Ibid., pp. 41, 43.
129. Chukyo Rinkai Gojunen no Kaiko, p. 10.
130. Bicycles for military and government use within Japan proper were categorized as "tax-exempt bicycles for official use" and were distinguished (e.g., they bore different types of licence plates) from the "tax-paying bicycles" used by the general public. Because statistics in Japan proper did not distinguish between taxable and tax-exempt vehicles, the numerical ratio is unknown. According to figures for 1935 i n reference to the Korean peninsula, there were said to be 272,000 tax-paying vehicles (including certain tax-paying vehicles for official use) in the 13 provinces of Korea, in comparison to 130,000 non-tax-paying vehicles. According to Mr. Sano Yuji of the Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute, privately owned non-tax-paying vehicles were probably almost nonexistent due to the strict police supervision of the time. The above figures are taken from Seibu Rinkai Shinbunsha, ed., Choman Rinkai Yoroku (Survey of the Korean and Manchurian bicycle world , 1936, pp. 1―3.
131. Before the introduction of friction presses in 1907, metal tubes were made by cutting steel sheets into long strips, hammering them around an extractable iron core, and then applying brass solder to the seam. (See Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 25.) The bicycle industry is said to have been in the forefront of the introduction of presses to the machinery and metallurgical sectors of the Japanese economy, and is likewise said to have pioneered in the improvement of imported presses for application to specialized needs. For reference, see Puresu no Gijitsu (Press technology magazine), March 1953.
132. Within the Miyata firm this concept was known as the "interchangeable system" and seems to have become one of the company's most honoured business principles.
133. See, for example, "Kanetsu Byoratei Seizo no Sosoki" (Pioneer period in the manufacture of heat-pressed rivets, screws, and nails"), in Kanto Byoratei Kogyo-Kyodo Kumiai, ed., Soritsu Sanjunen Kinen Shikitenshi (30th anniversary record), 1968. The use of friction presses in the private mechanized industrial sector did not become a general practice until after the First World War.
134. "Zadankai Sokkiroku," p. 18.
135. Ibid., p. 15.
136. Osaka no Jitensha Kogyo, p. 15.
137. Interview with Mr. Tajima Eikichi.
138. Miyata Hikonosuke was the younger brother of the firm's second owner (i.e., "second-generation Eisuke") and was a graduate of the industrial middle school attached to the Tokyo Higher Technical School. While factory owners and managers were likely to have worked themselves up from jobs as manual labourers, the tendency for their sons to enjoy higher levels of schooling was already evident during this period.
139. Miyata Nanajunenshi, pp. 21-38.
140. Ibid., p. 39.
141. Quotation from the Miyata firm's 1909 product catalogue, reproduced in Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 225.
142. Tokyo Taisho Hakurankai Shinsa Hokokusho (Tokyo Taisho Exhibition survey report), vol. 1, 1913, p. 58.
143. Ibid., p. 59. The various types of publicly sponsored exhibitions which were popular at the time were not limited solely to encouraging Japanese production, but also kept their doors open to imported goods, which, it should also be said, were likely to be subjected to thorough scrutiny and analysis. The "survey reports" made on each exhibition thus served as technological guidebooks, so to speak, which identified the tasks for technological improvement and provided Japanese producers with a vision of more sophisticated production techniques. The "survey report" on the 1909 National Industrial Promotion Fair included, among much else, a careful introduction to such features of imported bicycles as freewheels and seamless steel tubing, and also discussed the structures of various types of hand and coaster brakes, as well as the materials used in their manufacture. (See vol. 4, pp. 216-219.) The Miyata Seisakusho around this time took out a patent on its own coaster brake.
144. Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 56.
145. The Umezu Asahi Shokai, a onetime wholesaler of Miyata products, had by the time in question gone out of business.
146. Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 21.
147. Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 80.
148. Account given by rifle store owner Okamoto Mitsunaga in Jitensha no Isseiki, p. 16.
149. Jitensha Sangyo no Ayumi, vol. 1, p. 50.
150. Umezawa Rokujunen no Ayumi , p. 35.
151 "Zadankai Sokkiroku," p. 15.
152. Noshomusho Komukyoku (Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, Manufacture Bureau), ed., Shuyo Kogyo Gairan (Outline of major industries), 1912, p. 365.
153. Recently there are many economic historians who, taking note of such aspects of Japanese capitalism, appear to sense some "unique" quality of strength in the latter, to which they try to give a rather incautiously positive evaluation. On the whole, such evaluations would appear to stem from overly facile perceptions of reality which belie a lack of original research.
154. Miyata Nanajunenshi, pp. 24, 34.
155. Umezawa Rokujunen no Ayumi, p. 35.
156. Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 57.
157. Matsushita Konosuke, Watakushi no Yukikata, Kangaekata (My way of living and thinking), Ishoku Shuppansha, 1954, p. 19.
158. Tokyo-fu Gakumubu Shakaika (Tokyo Prefectural Government, Educational Section, Social Bureau), ed., Shokugyo Chosa (Occupational survey), vol. 3, 1934, pp. 124-125.
159. Interviews with Mr. Hashimoto Hirobumi and Mr. Otsu Ikujiro.
160. Shokugyo Chosa, p. 125.
161. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 115 (January 1912), p. 2.
162. When independent businesses were being established, it seems that great pains were often taken in the selection of markets and products so as to avoid direct competition between the new entrepreneurs and their former employers. This was pointed out in interviews with Mr. Kawamura Hiroaki, Mr. Sugimura Akita, and Mr. Nakatani Torazo.
163. Interview with Mr. Nakatani Torazo.
164. Kumiai Gojunenshi, p. 28.
165. Rin'yu Zasshi, no. 115 (January 1912), p. 2.
166. Watakushi no Yukikata, Kangaekata, p. 20ff.
167. Excerpts from the "Nishimura-ke Kakun," which is in the possession of Mr. Nishimura Daijiro. Similar phraseology may be seen in the Mitsui family regulations known as the "Sojiku Isho." See Mitsui Bunko, ed., Mitsui Jigyoshi (History of the Mitsui enterprises), vol. 1 of appended reference materials, 1973.
168. Takahashi Kamekichi, Takahashi Keizai Riron Keisei no Rokujunen (60 years of the development of Takahashi economic theory), Toshi Keizaisha, vol. 1, 1976.
169. Kumiai Gojunenshi, p. 17.
170. Miyata Nanajunenshi, p. 39.
171. Ibid., pp. 38―39.
172. Nakagome Kiyoshi, "Aru Rojin no Kyoshu" (A certain old man's nostalgia), privately distributed, pp. 54-56; also see "Hadaka Ikkan yori Hikarino Murae," pp. 100-102.
173. Ibid.; also see Chiho Rinkai no Ayumi, p. 34.
174. Many episodes in this regard are contained in "Aru Rojin no Kyoshu."