Section 3. Kiichiro Toyoda Invents the Automatic Loom

Item 1. Kiichiro Toyoda Starts Working for Toyoda Boshoku

Learning about spinning technology on the shop floor

Kiichiro graduated from university in July 1920 and returned to Nagoya with the intention of helping out Toyoda Boshoku.1

Kiichiro wanted to take over the business from his father, Sakichi, but at the time Kiichiro's brother-in-law, Risaburo (who had married Kiichiro's younger sister Aiko in 1915) held a senior position at Toyoda Boshoku. Risaburo had been appointed as a managing director and was charged with running the company while Sakichi was abroad in Shanghai overseeing the construction of a new plant there. Having just finished his studies, the timing wasn't right for Kiichiro to make a play for the company's reins.

Instead, Kiichiro decided to return to university to study law and social systems with respect to business management, enrolling in the Faculty of Law in September 1920.2 However, Kiichiro's time at the Faculty of Law ended much sooner than he had expected, at the end of March 1921. Sakichi and Toyoda Boshoku's chief engineer Akiji Nishikawa were tied up with the construction of the spinning mill in Shanghai, which meant that there was no one in charge of engineering in Nagoya. Kiichiro's recall to Nagoya was in all likelihood due to the fact that Toyoda Boshoku didn't have an engineer at the time who was sufficiently versed in spinning technology.

The entry in Kiichiro's diary for Friday, April 8, 1921, reads: "Leave for Kikui at midday. Take gear to Nakamura plant; will stay there several days." This entry indicates that within a few days of returning from university Kiichiro was already fully engaged in the company's plant operations.

The "Kikui" in Kiichiro's diary entry refers to the Kikui Boshoku, where at the time an engineer from the U.S. company Whitin Machine Works was installing a number of new spinning machines. Kiichiro probably visited the Kikui plant to learn what he could from the engineer.

Kiichiro referred to the Toyoda Boshoku plant in Nakamura, Aichi-gun, as the Nakamura plant. He would stay overnight there, learning how to spin thread and weave cloth, as well as studying the workings of automatic looms.

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