Ryugo and the angel: Cross-industrial and cross-sector collaboration on business archives exhibitions in Japan
Case studies of Morinaga & Co., Ltd. and the Tobacco & Salt Museum, and Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. and the Shibusawa Memorial Museum
The Tobacco & Salt Museum
Morinaga & Co., Ltd.
Forging connections: Morinaga candy box: A gift from the angel special exhibition
Achievements of the exhibition
Further collaboration: To the north (Morioka) and the south (Saga and Imari)
Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd.
The Shibusawa Memorial Museum
Reconnecting: Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. and Shibusawa Eiichi: Trust as the foundation of all things special exhibition
Achievements of the exhibition
* The abridged version of this article was presented at the 2015 ICA SBA conference "Creating the best business archive", Milan, Italy, 15-16 June 2015. The Slides for this presentation is available at the ICA website. http://www.ica.org/download.php?id=3804 (PDF 1,816KB)
In Japan's prolonged financial stagnation, businesses have been forced to adopt new approaches and various reforms to survive, let alone thrive. In particular, there are an increasing number of initiatives to improve corporate value by leveraging corporate commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors for external corporate communication, such as Integrated Reporting 1 or Global Reporting. 2 Within this context, elements such as the founding philosophy of a company, corporate history, and commitment to local communities are drawing ever more attention. 3 This means a wider focus on and expanded role to play for business archives and corporate archives departments in moving forward.
Traditionally, the writing of shashi (volumes of business history) was the most common way in which business archives were utilized in Japan. Since most shashi are created as a part of an anniversary event and may or may not have been compiled with the assistance of a trained archivist or curator, these valuable volumes often languish unused. In some instances, business archives, without staff charged with their care, were even disbanded completely after the compilation of the shashi. Recently, however, interest has been growing into other ways in which to better leverage business archives. One such way is the holding of museum exhibitions on business history. These exhibitions have the potential to increase interest in and raise the corporate profile of the company both in-house and out - including external contacts and the public at large.
This paper will focus on cross-industrial and cross-sector collaboration on business history exhibitions as a way of maximizing the effect and impact of business archives in advocacy with senior managers and for community involvement. Two examples have been chosen for this paper; those of the collaboration between food manufacturer Morinaga & Co., Ltd. and the Tobacco & Salt Museum, a non-profit affiliate of Japan Tobacco Inc.; and between Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. and the Shibusawa Memorial Museum, run by the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation. Neither Morinaga nor Shibusawa Warehouse has its own brick and mortar museum or any physical space designated for exhibitions on company premises. In both cases, the company collaborated with a museum across industry or sector lines and an exhibition was held that benefitted not only the hosting museum, but the company as well. This paper will examine both the lead up to and end results of the collaborative projects by charting how the two projects got started and what kind of value they produced. By doing so, this paper aims to offer insights for other companies and business archives without exhibition space on ways in which they might be able to work with external museums for mutual benefit.
This paper was made possible with the kind cooperation of Ms. Kuniko Sako of the Office of Corporate History, Morinaga & Co., Ltd.; Mr. Seiji Noaki, executive board member of the Morinaga Angel Foundation; Mr. Yoshifumi Shizume, a curator at the Tobacco & Salt Museum; Mr. Shinji Kudo, general manager of the General Affairs Division of Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd.; and Mr. Isamu Sasaki, deputy general manager of the General Affairs Division of Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. 4 All opinions expressed here are, however, of course my own and the responsibility for any and all shortcomings in the paper rests with me.
Let me start by introducing the Tobacco & Salt Museum. The combination of tobacco and salt together in one institution may seem odd at first, but the two have a shared history in Japan. The Japanese government had a monopoly on tobacco from 1904 onwards and on salt from 1905. Thereafter, business in both industries was run by the Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. The Japan Monopoly Corporation, a government-affiliated public corporation, took over in June 1949. With the establishment of Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT) in 1985, however, the Japan Monopoly Corporation was dissolved and the domestic tobacco market was opened to foreign manufacturers.
The Tobacco & Salt Museum was first opened on November 3, 1978, with the goal of showcasing the history and culture of tobacco and salt in Japan and around the world. Initially opened by the Japan Monopoly Corporation, the museum is run by the Tobacco Academic Studies Center, a non-profit foundation now affiliated with JT. The museum closed in September 2013 for relocation and expansion and recently re-opened in a new location in Tokyo.
The collections now held by the Tobacco & Salt Museum predate the opening of the museum, going back more than half a century. Collecting began in 1932, when Kenichiro Sasaki, then the director-general of the Monopoly Bureau in the Ministry of Finance, established the Collected Goods Handling Section within the General Affairs Department of the Bureau's secretariat and started systematically collecting tobacco- related historical materials such as Japanese woodblock prints and smoking paraphernalia. During the Second World War, most of the collected materials were stored in the Mitsubishi Edobashi Warehouse, which at the time had the most up-to-date temperature- and humidity- controlled facility. Despite this precaution, however, most of the materials were lost in a fire in 1941. Some of the materials had been placed in safes and were able to survive un-harmed, only to be subjugated to further loss and destruction due to confusion and repeated moves during and after the war.
Despite these setbacks, collecting continued and, as of the end of March 2014, the collections of the Tobacco & Salt Museum included ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) and paintings; Japanese pipes, tobacco trays, tobacco pouches, and other tobacco-related items from Japan; tobacco-related items from overseas; tobacco boxes and other wrappings; items related to the manufacture, sale, and advertising of tobacco; pre-modern literature and other documents; and modern books and printed materials in addition to a range of materials related to salt. 5
In addition to the permanent exhibition, 6-7 temporary exhibitions are held each year, including special exhibitions (comprising mostly items borrowed from other institutions) and feature exhibitions (comprising mainly items from the collections of the Tobacco & Salt Museum). Over the years, many special exhibitions were co-organized with embassies, universities, and other museums, but the Tobacco & Salt Museum had not previously featured the history of a commercial company other than Japan Tobacco in a temporary exhibition. This is despite the fact that the museum's research interests include the themes of 'corporate archives' and 'industry and company-based museums,' and the fact that the Tobacco & Salt Museum had previously explored the possibilities and future of business records and archives as well as topics related to design, factory-related materials, Tobacco production survey records, and dealing with copyright issues.
On August 15, 1899, Morinaga Taichiro established T. Morinaga & Co., the first western-style confectionary shop in Japan. On February 23, 1910, the company was incorporated as Morinaga Confectionary Co., Ltd. and today Morinaga Co., Ltd. is still a leading confectionary company in Japan, with headquarters in the Shiba area of Tokyo's Minato ward. As of March 31, 2014, the company had over 18.6 billion yen in capital. Morinaga's main business is the manufacture, purchase, and sale of confectionaries (caramels, biscuits, chocolate, etc.), foodstuffs (cocoa, cake mixes, etc.), frozen desserts (ice cream, etc.), and health products (jelly drinks, etc.). Total sales top 177.9 billion yen with confectionary and foodstuffs comprising 65%, frozen desserts 16.8%, health products 12.1%, and others 6.1%. The Morinaga Group includes 20 companies in Japan and around the world with a total of 1,356 employees or 2,978 employees consolidated. 6 Less than 10% of shares are held by foreigners. 7
In recent years, Morinaga has chosen 'Hi-Chew' candies as a strategic product and has been working to build local production and sales networks in the target areas of the United States, Southeast Asia, and China. Local production in China started in 2004 and the United States is scheduled to follow in the summer of 2015. In regards to Southeast Asia, a joint venture company was established in Indonesia in 2013 while Morinaga Taiwan has a 50 year history and is beginning to play a role on the global manufacturing stage in addition to its role in the Taiwanese market. Morinaga also has partnerships and distribution agreements with leading companies around the world including: a license for the manufacture and sale of Pack'n Cho biscuits by Burton's Foods Limited in the UK; the import and sale in Japan by Morinaga of Chupa Chups (Spain) products from Perfetti Van Melle in Italy, Pez products from Pez International in Austria, and Werther's Original products from August Storck KG in Germany; the licensed production and sale in Japan by Morinaga of Thin Wheat Crackers with Wheat Germ from Dare Foods Limited in Canada; and the sale in Japan by Morinaga of Pringles from Kellogg Company in the USA. In addition, Morinaga is licensed to use Weider Global Nutrition (USA) trademarks and Disney (USA) trademarks and copyrights in a variety of products.
In April 1991, Morinaga established the Angel Foundation, an affiliated non-profit organization. Due to the reform of the public interest corporation system in Japan, the Angel Foundation became a general incorporated foundation in April 2012. It aims to contribute to the improvement and development of people's lives by conducting academic research on life and culture throughout history, for example organizing lectures on La Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri, the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, and theology. The Angel Foundation is currently conducting research on three central themes, those of 'children and learning', 'great books', and 'angels'.
Turning to the history of Morinaga, its founder, Morinaga Taichiro (1865-1937), was a merchant from Imari in Saga prefecture on the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, Kyushu. After having worked as a pottery merchant in Tokyo and Yokohama, he went to San Francisco in 1888 in order to develop new markets in the United States. Due to the influence of an elderly couple he met in Oakland, California, Taichiro converted to Christianity in 1890. He returned to Japan to propagate the Christian faith, but soon returned to the United States again, this time to be trained as a pastry chef. In 1899, after 12 years in the US, he returned once more to Japan and started Morinaga's Western Confectionary Shop, which manufactured and distributed Western-style sweets. As the first domestic producer of genuine Western-style sweets in Japan, Morinaga offered an alternative to traditional Japanese confectionaries. In February 1910, Morinaga Shoten Co., Ltd. was established with 300,000 yen in capital. The company changed its name to the present in 1912.
Taichiro's faith was closely related to his business as can be seen in signboards on vehicles carrying sample boxes that were emblazoned with messages such as "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (Timothy 1:15) or "Virtue exalts a nation, but sin is a people's disgrace" (Proverbs 15:34). Taichiro also chose a design featuring an angel as the company's trademark in 1905. Although the design has changed numerous times over the years, the company's trademark still features an angel. Today the trademark has become a very well known corporate mark to the extent that the term Morinaga can directly refer to the symbol of an angel. According to the company's archives, the reason why the design of an angel was chosen for the company's trademark came from the fact that the company's most popular product (mashimaro) was called "Angel Food" in the United States at the time.
Figure 1 - The evolution of the Morinaga trademark
Morinaga published shashi twice: Morinaga go-jū nenshi (Morinaga 55 Year History) in December 1954 and Morinaga Seika hyaku nenshi: habataku enzeru isseiki (Morinaga 100 Year History: One Century of the Flying Angel) in August 2000. Chronological tables were also published: Morinaga go-jū nen nenpyō (Morinaga 50 Year Chronology)in 1953, Morinaga Seika nana-jū-go nen nenpyō (Morinaga & Co., Ltd. 75 Year Chronology) in 1974, and Morinaga Seika kyū-jū nen nenpyō (Morinaga & Co., Ltd. 90 Year Chronology) in 1989.
In 1955, after the publication of the 55 year history, a small amount of space on company premises was made available for the in-house exhibition of archival materials. In 1974 the exhibit was moved into a building that had been completed the previous year (1973) and today serves as the company's head office today in addition to still being used for archival storage and in-house company history exhibits. 1974 also saw the appointment of a manager in charge of shashi, but corporate records note that the manager of the Office of Corporate History was first appointed in October 1991. In addition to the compilation of shashi, the Office serves to respond to inquiries from consumers, facilitate the lending of materials to museums and galleries, and provide information and facilitate access to records by academic researchers.
Although records and archives had thus been collected and maintained since the 1950s, it was not until the completion of the 100 year history that the records were properly arranged, finding aids were created, and the records began to be actively used with digitization and exhibition.
In June 2003, Mr. Seiji Noaki was transferred to Morinaga's Office of Corporate History. 8 The strategy he adopted for the Office was known by the phrase 'enhancing internal valuation by increasing external appreciation', that is, increase appreciation of the Office outside of the company in order to make it better appreciated within the company. In order to achieve this, he first turned to the preservation and digitization of materials and the creation of finding aids. 9 The next step was brainstorming and proposing projects. As a part of this, Mr. Noaki created a high-quality colour pamphlet (A4 size, 22 pages), entitled "Morinaga Seika kigyō korekushon wo ikashita tenrankai no teian (Proposal for Exhibitions that take advantage of the Morinaga Corporate Collections)". Authorized by company management, the pamphlet was printed under the name of Morinaga & Co., Ltd. and included not only an overview of a proposed exhibition that explored the history of the development of Morinaga, advertising campaigns and posters over the years, and the role of characters and kawaii (cute) culture, but also included background information on 32 exhibitions to which Morinaga had loaned items, suggestions on possible related events, and products to be sold at the gift shop. 10
As outlined in the exhibitions proposal pamphlet, before the collaborative exhibition at the Tobacco & Salt Museum, the Office of Corporate History had cooperated with public museums by loaning materials for special exhibitions. One such example was the loan of materials to the Tobacco & Salt Museum for the exhibition, "The story of Japan from 1955 to 1964: Searching for the corner tobacco shop" in 2007. This previous experience prompted the Tobacco & Salt Museum to respond proactively when Mr. Noaki approached them with the pamphlet in the early autumn of 2010.
The Tobacco & Salt Museum first expressed interest in the possibility of collaborating with Morinaga in November 2010 and followed through with a formal request in January 2011. Both sides agreed to start monthly joint planning meetings in February. The Great East Japan Earthquake struck one day after the second planning meeting in March, but April's meeting went ahead as scheduled and preparations proceeded as planned (for a detailed chronology leading up to the exhibition, see Figure 1). 12
Figure 2 - Chronology of planning leading up to the collaborative exhibition
|2010||November||Tobacco & Salt Museum expresses interest in an exhibition|
|2011||January||Tobacco & Salt Museum submits official request (business plan) for an exhibition|
|February||First planning meeting (monthly meetings scheduled)|
|March||Second planning meeting on 10th
Great East Japan Earthquake strikes on 11th
|April||Event schedule made public|
|May||Designer for poster and flyer chosen, planning for direct marketing campaign begun|
|July||Copyright issues dealt with and special events discussed|
|August||Exhibition plan outline decided upon, poster and flyer design developed|
|September||Schedule reviewed, items to be exhibited confirmed
Materials photographed and text drafted for catalog
|October||Catalog drafted and exhibit built, transportation arranged|
|November||Exhibition opened on the 3rd (ran until 9 January 2012)|
The budget for the exhibition was also collaborative. It was agreed that the Tobacco & Salt Museum would pay for fixtures; the transportation of materials and associated insurance; and the production, design, and publication of the catalog. Morinaga & Co., Ltd. and the Morinaga Angel Foundation, on the other hand, would cover filming, event costs, and other expenses.
The Tobacco & Salt Museum articulated a number of different goals for the exhibition. In the catalog for the special exhibition, museum president Hideo Katsura stated that one of the goals was "to explore new perspectives and innovative ways to use collections through staff exchanges" 13 and the museum's annual report for 2011 stated that one of the goals had also been "to shine a spotlight on the cultural value and richness of corporate records and to think about the significance of their preservation and use by exhibiting, as a cross-section of the history of daily life in Japan, historical materials that had been carefully stored by the company". 14 It was for this last reason, in particular, that the Business Archives Association supported the exhibition. 15
The exhibition was made up of six sections. Upon entering the exhibition space, visitors first saw "Morinaga Angel Club Shop", a virtual reconstruction of a 1960s sweets shop based on old photographs. The next section, "Morinaga Time Travel", traced the development of Morinaga from its founding in 1899 to the present, including early products discontinued following WWII such as pharmaceuticals and shoe polish. This was followed by sections with in-depth examinations of the founding of the company ("At the time of the founding") and the Morinaga milk caramel, one of the company's longest selling and most popular products ("The Story of the little yellow box"), and then a section on Morinaga products and tie-in merchandise and goods ("Gathering of Morinaga products") and, finally, one on nostalgic advertisements through the years ("Morinaga advertisements").
During its 54 day run, the exhibition saw a total of 13,108 visitors, or an average of 243 a day. 16 Different from the Tobacco & Salt's usual older visitor profile, young and middle-aged visitors were noticeable and workshops that were organized for children were very well received. 17
Completed visitor surveys include many stories and memories from visitors, indicating that the old packages and posters lead many visitors to become nostalgic. Exhibition organizers see this as evidence of the social and historical significance of Morinaga and the influence it has had on Japanese society. 18
Students of design showed particular interest in the exhibition due to the opportunity to see original archival items from the Morinaga archives, which had never been displayed to the public on the same scale before. Interest was also demonstrated by specialists in other fields, including fields previously seen as unrelated or individuals who had not previously had contact with Morinaga's Office of Corporate History. 19
Looking internally, most of Morinaga's board members visited the exhibition and left feedback. Some even remarked on their surprise at discovering the extent of the Office of Corporate History's valuable archival holdings. 20 Kabunushi tsūshin (Shareholders newsletter) for fiscal 2011 21 featured the exhibition in a full-page article with colour photographs, highlighting it as a topic of interest to Morinaga & Co, Ltd shareholders. 22 In addition to giving a brief description of the exhibition, the article highlighted external interest in the exhibition, particularly the large number and wide age range of visitors as well as the fact that the exhibition had been picked up by numerous media outlets. At the end of the article was an announcement on the subsequent special exhibition to be held in Morioka (described in more detail below).
The collaborative exhibition resulted in wider implications, extending beyond the borders of the project and the initial collaborative partners. Since both Western confectionary and tobacco have more than 100 years of history in Japan, are luxury packaged goods consumed by the general public, and are also categorized as "apparatus industry" (or as being created through process manufacturing), similarities were found between the two in such areas as new product development, design strategy (packaging), and advertising strategy. 23
The fact that the Japanese Copyright Act lacks a concept such as that of fair use means that museums often decide to avoid the complicated process to deal with obtaining usage rights when planning exhibitions. This exhibition, however, demonstrated that, in the case of materials from in-house business archives, the attribution of rights is a straightforward matter, which makes the planning and holding of exhibitions a much smoother and easier process for museums. 24
The effects of the collaborative project were not all positive, however. The exhibition lead to the deterioration of some of the materials that were on display. The Office of Corporate History was thus forced to take additional conservatory measures to protect these items, a process that tied up personnel and other resources and, in turn, negatively affected regular work in the Office. 25
Despite this, however, the collaboration between two institutions was a largely positive experience. The collaborative approach to planning, organization, operation, and expenses as well as the general business method and simplification of the processing of copyright, resulted in an exhibition that took advantage of the differing strengths of both partners, thereby benefitting both sides and demonstrating that collaborative exhibitions can increase the value of corporate records and archives and contribute to their use and outreach.
The exhibition at the Tobacco & Salt Museum was a catalyst for three additional collaborative exhibitions between Morinaga & Co., Ltd. and other museum partners. The first was the special exhibition "Sweets bring smiles: From the corporate archives of Morinaga & Co., Ltd." from July 21 to September 23, 2012, at the Morioka History and Culture Museum, located in the city of Morioka in Iwate prefecture, and co-organized by the Morioka History and Culture Museum, Morinaga & Co., Ltd., and the Morinaga Angel Foundation. The second was an exhibition commemorating 150 years since the birth of Morinaga's founder, "Morinaga Taichiro: The (sweet) revolution that started from a small 6 1/2 square meter factory" from July 18 to September 7, 2014, at the Saga Prefectural Museum, located in the city of Saga in Saga prefecture, and co-organized by the Saga Prefectural Museum, Morinaga & Co., Ltd., and the Morinaga Angel Foundation. Following this, a third exhibition, "The king of sweets born in Imari" was held from September 21 to November 16, 2014, at the Imari City History and Folklore Museum, located in the city of Taichiro's birth, Imari in Saga prefecture.
The exhibition in Iwate positioned the significance and value of corporate records and archives at the center of the exhibition, as is demonstrated in the explanation on the exhibition's flyer:
Records and archives from the Meiji era to the present day of Morinaga & Co., Ltd., the first manufacturer of chocolate bars and caramel-flavoured candy in Japan, have been carefully stored and managed by the company. Records and archives created as a result of corporate activities tell the story of the history of the industry and also that of cultural heritage reflecting people's lives and the shape of the society.
The exhibitions also resulted in the discovery of related materials held in other collections. Old photographs, works of calligraphy, and paintings were discovered in the collections of a local dealer in Morioka and letters were discovered in Saga. Furthermore, an oral history session was successfully held to supplement certain holes in the collections of the Office of Corporate History. 26
In addition to external recognition, the exhibitions in Iwate and Saga also received attention from within Morinaga. Top management demonstrated high interest in the exhibitions, with the chairman and two senior managing directors visiting the exhibition in Morioka and the chairman, president, and two senior managing directors visiting the exhibition in Saga.
In Japan the divide between the public sector, such as governments, local public museums, and non-profit foundations on the one hand, and for-profit companies on the other is wide and collaboration between the two has long been regarded as difficult if not impossible. One of the underlying assumption is that cross-sector collaboration would impinge on the openness of institutions in the public sector. The collaborative exhibitions between Morinaga and museums run by private foundations and local authorities, however, did not cause any such problems or draw major criticism. In fact, quite the opposite was true as the exhibitions increased interest in business archives among both the general public and company managers and received positive feedback including such comments on the visitor surveys as "I was very impressed by corporate efforts to preserve and conserve business records and archives," or "I discovered the richness of corporate culture". 27
Mr. Noaki points out that the recent trend of introducing the designated manager system into the management of museums in the public sector has reduced the number of professional curators in these museums. Providing tools such as the pamphlet he created with detailed suggestions for an exhibition can reduce the burden on the overworked or underqualified staff at a museum by offering help and encouragement in planning an exhibition. 28
In summation, the collaboration between Morinaga and the Tobacco & Salt Museum increased the profile of Morinaga's collections and business archives in general and also the recognition of trust in and the historical identity of Morinaga and thus provides an excellent example of successful cross-industrial and cross-sectoral collaboration. The exhibition was a superb opportunity to mediate the diversity and cultural features of business archives and their importance to students in design and related subjects, local communities, the general public, and senior managers within the company. Furthermore, the exhibition paved the way for related exhibitions in regional areas as well as similar exhibitions at other institutions, including an exhibition on Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. at the Shibusawa Memorial Museum, the first in an ongoing series of exhibitions on the history of companies.
Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. is a small- to mid-sized Japanese warehousing company with headquarters in the Eitai area of Tokyo's Koto ward. 29 Situated close to Tokyo Bay, Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. has expertise in warehousing, land-sea-air transportation, and an array of property leasing enterprises. As of March 31, 2014, the company had 1,074 employees, 54.68 billion yen in total sales, and 7.84 billion yen in total capital. 30
The company was established in 1897 by Shibusawa Eiichi with the belief that "logistics will offer an important key in the industrial and financial development" of Japan (「物流が、産業・経済発展のための大きな鍵となる」). Originally established as the Shibusawa Warehouse Department (Shibusawa Sōko-bu) on the eastern coast of the Sumida River, Shibusawa Warehouse became a joint stock company in 1909. Eiichi passed away in 1931, but the company continued to grow. In 1933 it acquired Naniwa Warehouse in Osaka to complete a domestic network of offices connecting the main ports and harbours in Japan and then in 1950 it was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Along with the rapid economic growth of the late 1950s to 70s, Shibusawa Warehouse integrated land and marine transportations in its warehouse operations. Beginning with its first locally-incorporated company in Hong Kong in 1969, Shibusawa Warehouse opened a branch office in Singapore in 1970 and signed business collaboration agreements with companies in the United States and Germany in 1971. Recently expansion has been seen through East and Southeast Asia, with branch offices or local subsidiaries being established in Shanghai (2002), Guangzhou (2005), and Suzhou (2007) in China and Ho Chi Minh City (2009) and Hanoi (2011) in Vietnam.
The company has published four shashi: Shibusawa Sōko Kabushiki Kaisha san-jū nen shoshi (Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. concise 30 year history) in 1931, Shibusawa Sōko roku-jū nenshi (Shibusawa Warehouse 60 year history) in 1959, Shibusawa Sōko no hachi-jū nen (Eighty years of Shibusawa Warehouse) in 1977, and Shibusawa Sōko hyaku nenshi (Shibusawa Warehouse 100 year history) in 1999.
The Shibusawa Memorial Museum opened in 1982 in two historical buildings in the Nishigahara area of Tokyo's Kita ward. Located on the site of the former residence of Shibusawa Eiichi (1840-1931), the museum is run by a foundation dedicated to honouring his ideals and achievements.
Shibusawa Eiichi founded or was involved in some 500 enterprises and economic organizations as well as nearly 600 organizations for social welfare, education, and international exchange. As a result, he is often called the "father of the modern Japanese economy". Although he achieved significant economic success through his business ventures, he believed strongly in the interconnectedness of what he referred to as the abacus and the Analects, or the harmony of business and morality. He recognized the importance of individual and private initiatives and advocated for recognition of the public good of business ventures despite the fact that entrepreneurs and for-profit business had long been looked down upon in Japan.
In 1886 a group of students lodging at the Shibusawa residence organized a study group they called the Ryumonsha. The name translates as "Dragon Gate Society" and refers to a Chinese tale of carp swimming upstream against the strong current to become dragons. Similarly, the Ryumonsha's goals were to learn about, honour, and promote Eiichi's philosophy and ideals in order to emulate or become like him as well as publish a magazine to share their thoughts and opinions with society at large. The group continued to grow, being incorporated as a foundation in 1924, and eventually became what is now the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation.
Prior to the establishment of the museum, the foundation published the Shibusawa Eiichi denki shiryo (Shibusawa Eiichi Biographical Materials), 68 volumes of primary sources including diary entries, letters, newspaper and journal articles, and other contemporary documents and materials relating to the life and activities of Shibusawa Eiichi. These were published from 1955 to 1971 and offer an in-depth look at the various businesses in which Eiichi was involved.
Since its establishment, the museum has held a number of special exhibitions every year, including a number around the life and business involvements of Eiichi, but only one exhibition in the history of the museum has focused on the history and archives of a company related to Eiichi, that of the First National Bank. Established as the first bank in Japan in 1872, the First National Bank was the cornerstone of Eiichi's business ventures and he remained its president for most of his life. The special exhibition, "From the National Bank to the Japanese financial big bank: The 125th anniversary of the modern bank in Japan", ran from October 24 to December 6, 1998.
With the advent of the twenty first century, the foundation started to review its mission. With the socio-economic backdrop of the prolonged recession following the collapse of the bubble economy, the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, and the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster in 2011, the foundation looked to the past for ideas on how to move forward and came up with a new project, the exhibition series "Tracing the origins of companies". 31 The series aims to reevaluate the significance of businesses in contemporary society by looking back into history to examine the beginnings of companies related to Eiichi that still exist today.
Such a project could not be undertaken alone, however, as the Shibusawa Museum would require the assistance of the various for-profit companies it was focusing on in a range of industries. To do so, the Shibusawa Museum looked to the precedent of the collaboration between Morinaga and the Tobacco & Salt Museum for inspiration and practical advice. 32 With an example in mind, curatorial staff at the Shibusawa Museum first tried to contact Shibusawa Warehouse in the autumn of 2011 and started preparations for the exhibition in March 2012.
Figure 3 - Contents of the exhibition
|Introduction||Make Fukagawa a logistics hub: Shibusawa Eiichi's vision for logistics|
|Chapter 1||The return of the warehouse industry to Fukagawa: The birth of Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd.|
|Chapter 2||The warehouse industry is a "Public Affair": The revolution of logistics|
|Chapter 3||Reconstruction after the Great Kanto Earthquake and a new concept of logistics|
|Conclusion||Shibusawa Eiichi lives on in Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd.|
Originals and copies of company records including contracts, research reports, correspondence, articles of incorporation, financial statements, daily reports, minutes of branch manager conferences, and others were displayed in the exhibition. Some of the documents were accompanied by reprints and detailed explanations to make them more understandable to modern visitors. In addition, maps, postcards, old photographs, company uniforms, and calligraphy from the collections of Shibusawa Warehouse were exhibited to illustrate the role Shibusawa Warehouse has played in the local community and the interactions the company has had with a range of people. One of the pieces of calligraphy, a framed work by Shibusawa Eiichi of the phrase shin wo banji no moto to nasu (信為万事本, "trust as the foundation of all things"), had been preserved in the collections of Shibusawa Warehouse over the years and had pride of place in the exhibition. Given that the warehousing industry predominantly serves other businesses instead of the general public, the industry is not generally well-known or understood by the public. By examining the history of Shibusawa Warehouse and the role it played in the modernization of Japan, however, the hope was that general understanding of the industry as a whole could also be increased.
One of the most visually impressive items on display was a shirushi hanten, a short coat worn by work men and other employees with the crest or name of the store on the back and lapels. The shirushi hanten on display in the exhibition has been carefully preserved by Shibusawa Warehouse and, although the exact date of its use is unknown, it is said to have been worn on-site by cargo handling staff. The Shibusawa Warehouse shirushi hanten is a dark blue coat with the scarlet ryugo mark and waves in grey beneath (see figure 3). Ryugo is used even now as the corporate mark of Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd., but it dates back to the trademark used by the Shibusawa family and their business of manufacture and selling aidama (balls of indigo dye) during 19 century.
Figure 3 - Shibusawa Warehouse shirushi hanten with the ryugo mark
Various theories exist regarding the original meaning of the mark, but within the company, the ryugo mark is said to be a stylized silhouette of a bobbin wound with thread and to symbolize the company's roots, the founder's family, and the founder's philosophy on business ethics. In that sense, the ryugomark could be said to stand for the collaborative exhibition between the Shibusawa Museum and Shibusawa warehouse as a whole - tracing the roots of the company, outlining Shibusawa Eiichi's involvement in its development, and demonstrating the role of his ideals on the company and the modernization of Japan in general.
The Shibusawa Memorial Museum often draws visitors from related local areas, particularly Kita ward in northern Tokyo, where the museum is located, and Fukaya city in Saitama prefecture, where Shibusawa Eiichi was born and raised. The collaborative exhibition, however, attracted visitors from the Tokyo Bay area and Koto ward, (approximately 10 kilometres from the museum) the location of Shibusawa Warehouse headquarters. These visitors included residents, municipal officials responsible for cultural properties, and museum staff and curators. Shibusawa Eiichi had lived in the Fukagawa area of what is now Koto ward for many years, so this was a re-forging of connections of sorts, not just between the Shibusawa Memorial Museum and Shibusawa Warehouse, but also between the museum and Koto ward.
Following the exhibition, Shibusawa Warehouse asked for some of the photographic fabric panels that had been produced for and exhibited during the collaborative exhibition. These were given to Shibusawa Warehouse by the museum and have been hung on the wall of a hallway by the large conference room in the headquarters of Shibusawa Warehouse. Although this is not an area that is normally accessible to external visitors, they can make an appointment in advance to view the panels. In this way, Shibusawa Warehouse employees and customers, as well as local residents and students at nearby elementary schools have been able to visit the headquarters and learn about local history, the origins of Shibusawa Warehouse, and Shibusawa Eiichi's philosophy of business ethics. For a company that previously had a relative low presence locally as well as a weak general recognition on a larger scale, this marks a significant change and step forward.
Visits by school children were initiated by the teacher of 4th grade class in an elementary school near Shibusawa Warehouse headquarters who visited the Shibusawa Museum to consult with staff about the possibility of organizing workshops to teach about Shibusawa Eiichi. The Shibusawa Memorial Museum curator in charge of the exhibition and the deputy general manager of the General Affairs Division of Shibusawa Warehouse cooperated to hold a workshop at the company's headquarters and then later another workshop at the elementary school. The workshops were tied to the social studies curriculum and run as national-level open lectures for elementary school teachers. Titled "Shibusawa Eiichi and his contributions to industrial development", the lectures were held in November 2013 with the Shibusawa Museum curator and Shibusawa Warehouse deputy manager collaborating as guest teachers.
The collaborative exhibition with Shibusawa Warehouse became the first in a series for the Shibusawa Memorial Museum. As of June 2015, four exhibitions had been held by the Museum as part of the "tracing the origins of companies" special exhibition series, 33 and two more were planned for the future. 34 All six companies or organizations were founded or had a close connection to Shibusawa Eiichi and boast more than a century of history. None, however, have a museum or exhibition space within company buildings and are thus limited in their abilities to leverage that rich history. A collaborative exhibition with the Shibusawa Memorial Museum offered each one of these companies or organizations an invaluable opportunity to share their history with various stakeholders and the public at large.
In Japan the long tradition of shashi compilation has meant that the collection and preservation of corporate records and archives has been carried out for some time. The longstanding employment system and inadequacy of records management programmes, however, has lead to a lack of professional archivists and a difficulty in maintaining collections long-term and leveraging them actively. Economic stagnation since the mid 1990s has also meant that many companies cannot afford to allocate resources to shashi compilation and the number of published shashi has decreased demonstrably. This is especially noticeable in the financial industry, which was particularly affected by waves of mergers and acquisitions. 35
Amongst these and other funding and programme cuts, however, has been an increase in global interest in corporate management that urges companies to take the initiative and make efforts to tackle environmental, social and governance issues. Business archives are perfectly suited to respond to such issues and should be reexamined in that light, as potential resources for leverage in a range of ways.
Hopefully the two examples introduced in this paper provide some suggestions on how corporate archives without museum or exhibition facilities can hold exhibitions and just a few of the many benefits this can have given the effectiveness of exhibitions as a means to spread awareness and interest in a company and its archives. By creating tools such as Mr. Noaki's pamphlet or capitalizing on shared history such as that between Shibusawa Warehouse and the Shibusawa Memorial Museum, a company can overcome limited resources in terms of space, funds, and personnel and find collaborative partners for special exhibitions in already established museums.
In the exhibition catalogue of Morinaga candy box: A gift from the angel, Mr. Katsuhiro Utada, the president of the Business Archives Association commented that:
Due to a lack of exhibition facilities or of opportunity, historical archives, which in a sense have public value, were dead weight in a number of companies. This exhibition is a very fortunate occasion for such companies. It is a company's mission to provide access like this for the general public to its historical archives, which can be said to be equal to cultural assets.
I sincerely hope that this kind of special exhibition can continue to be held in the future. 36
I too hope that these two examples, and the subsequent related exhibitions that resulted, are just the start of many more such collaborative exhibitions. Breathing life into dormant collections or mobilizing corporate archives that were previously seen as dead weight is of the utmost importance in the Japanese business world and I hope that it provides useful ideas to those beyond Japanese borders as well.
1 International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). http://integratedreporting.org/ (accessed May 14, 2015).
2 Global Reporting Initiative. https://www.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx (accessed May 14, 2015).
3 For example, see Hiroshi Komori, "Gaikokujin kikan tōshika no shiten de kangaeru CSR kara ESG he no nagare (From CSR to ESG: Thinking from the viewpoint of foreign institutional investors)," in Kenkyū hōkoku CSR hakusho 2014: Tōgō wo mezasu CSR sono genjō to kadai (Research report: White paper on CSR 2014: CSR towards integration, current status and issues), Tokyo: The Tokyo Foundation, 2014.
7 Morinaga & Co., Ltd. "Corporate governance." http://www.morinaga.co.jp/company/ir/ir_inc/pdf/governance.pdf (PDF 119KB) (Accessed May 14, 2015).
8 Prior to being transferred, Mr. Noaki had worked for Morinaga's Consumer Life Research Division, Customer Service Center, and Innovation Center. He is now a director of the Angel Foundation and a registered archivist of the Japan Society for Archival Science.
9 Seiji Noaki and Kuniko Suko, in discussion with the author, March 18, 2015. See also Seiji Noaki, "Dai-nana sho - Shishiryo no kanri (Chapter 7 - Management of historical materials)," in Kigyo akaibuzu no riron to jissen (Management and case studies of business archives), ed. Business Archives Association of Japan, 99-114. Tokyo: Maruzen Planet Co., 2013. This publication was the first professional monograph on business archives in Japan.
12 Yoshifumi Shizume, "Kigyo akaibuzu kara tenrankai he: Sono kikaku tenkai ni tsuite (From business archives to exhibition: Planning developments)," presentation at the 21st Meeting of the Consortium of Museums on Industry and Culture (COMIC), November 30, 2011.
13 Hideo Katsura, "Go-aisatsu (Greetings)," in Tokubetsu-ten Morinaga no okashibako: Enzeru kara no okurimono (Special exhibition Morinaga candy box: A gift from the angel). Tokyo: Tobacco & Salt Museum, 2011, 4.
17 Yoshifumi Shizume, "Kigyo akaibuzu kara tenrankai he: Sono kikaku tenkai ni tsuite (From business archives to exhibition: Planning developments)," presentation at the Shibusawa Memorial Museum, April 7, 2012.
22 "Tokubetsu-ten 'Morinaga no okashibako: Enzeru kara no okurimono' kaisai ('Morinaga candy box: A gift from the angel' special exhibition)," Morinaga Seika Kabushiki Kaisha kabunushi tsūshin (Morinaga & Co., Ltd. shareholders newsletter) 164 (Fiscal 2011), 11. http://www.morinaga.co.jp/company/ir/ir_inc/pdf/1211_164.pdf (PDF 5,518KB) (Accessed June 9, 2015).
26 "Shakai boken katsudo no torikumi: Saga-kenritsu Hakubutsukan de Morinaga Taichiro no tokubetsu tenji kaisai (Corporate social responsibility: Special exhibition on Morinaga Taichiro at the Saga Prefectural Museum), Morinaga Seika Kabushiki Kaisha kabunushi tsūshin (Morinaga & Co., Ltd. Shareholders newsletter) 167 (April 1 - September 3, 2014), 10. http://www.morinaga.co.jp/company/ir/ir_inc/pdf/1412_167.pdf (PDF 4,896KB) (Accessed June 9, 2015).
29 "Kaisha shikiho online: Shibusawa Sōko (Company quarterly online: Shibusawa Warehouse)." http://shikiho.jp/tk/stock/info/9304 (Accessed June 9, 2015).
30 Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. "Company information." http://www.shibusawa.co.jp/english/company/profile.html (Accessed June 9, 2015); Shibusawa Warehouse Co., Ltd. "Yūka shōken hōkoku-sho (Securities report)." http://www.shibusawa.co.jp/ir/pdf/20140701.pdf (PDF 954KB) (Accessed June 9, 2015).
31 Jun Inoue, "The Shibusawa Memorial Museum: Past, present, and future," trans. Sarah Ann Munton, in Rediscovering Shibusawa Eiichi in the 21st century, ed. Gil Latz. Tokyo: Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation, 2014, 68-71.
32 The "Tracing the origins of companies" exhibition series was planned as a series of special exhibitions with each special exhibition focusing on a different company. On April 7, 2012, the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation invited modern companies with connections to Shibusawa Eiichi who hold business records and archives, but do not have exhibition facilities, to a meeting at the museum to explain and discuss the exhibition series. At the meeting, Mr. Shizume, a curator at the Tobacco & Salt Museum, and Mr. Noaki, of the Office of Corporate History at Morinaga, shared their experiences. The title of Mr. Shizume's presentation translates as "From business archives to exhibition: Planning developments" and Mr. Noaki's as "The role of the Office of Corporate History: As a corporate archives". These two presentations provided all attendees with an idea of how a collaborative exhibition between institutions in different industries or between non-profit and for-profit institutions could be planned.
33 With Oji Paper (established in 1873): "Shibusawa Eiichi and Oji Paper Co., Ltd.: A venture for the good of the country", held from March 16 to May 26, 2013; with the Imperial Hotel (opened in 1890): "The hospitality of businessmen: Shibusawa Eiichi and the Imperial Hotel", held from May 15 to March 25, 2013; with the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (established in 1878): "Uniting the minds of merchants: Shibusawa Eiichi and the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce", from October 4 to November 30, 2014; and with Toyobo (established in 1880): "The advancement of modern spinning: Shibusawa Eiichi and Toyobo,' from March 14 to May 31, 2015.
35 Yuko Matsuzaki, "75 Years of Toyota: Toyota Motor Corporation's latest and trends in the writing of Japanese corporate history," in Crisis, credibility and corporate history, ed. Alexander Bieri, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2014, 128.
36 Katsuhiro Utada, "Messeji: Tokubetsu-ten 'Morinaga no okashibako: Enzeru kara no okurimono (Message on the holding of 'Morinaga candy box: A gift from the angel' special exhibition)," in Tokubetsu-ten Morinaga no okashibako: Enzeru kara no okurimono (Special exhibition Morinaga candy box: A gift from the angel). Tokyo: Tobacco & Salt Museum, 2011, 6.