Section 1. The Inventions and Ideas of Sakichi Toyoda

Item 1. Sakichi Toyoda

Kiichiro Toyoda was the founder of Toyota Motor Corporation and the automotive centered Toyota Group. Kiichiro used the spirit of invention and the business base inherited from his father Sakichi Toyoda to expand into the automotive business and build the foundation of today's Toyota Group. To understand the spirit of Toyota Motor Corporation’s foundation, therefore, it is necessary to go back to the ideas of Kiichiro, the company’s founder, and Sakichi, his father, and to trace the path of business prior to automobiles.

Sakichi Toyoda was born on February 14, 1867 in the village of Yamaguchi (now part of the city of Kosai) in Shizuoka Prefecture. This year also marked the birth of modern Japan. On October 14, 1867, Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the 15th and final shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate submitted his resignation and handed the reins of government to the imperial court, a change which was effected on December 9. This marked the establishment of the new Meiji government, and the first year of the Meiji era began on September 8, 1868.

Sakichi was greatly inspired by the book Saigoku risshi hen, published in 1870. The book was a Japanese version of Samuel Smiles' English Self-Help, translated by Professor Masanao Nakamura of Shizuoka Gakumonsho, and was a bestseller in the Meiji era, selling over one million copies. The work, which described an inventor who designed textile machinery such as spinning machines and power looms, sparked Sakichi's desire to learn. Furthermore, the Patent Monopoly Act of April 1885 encouraged and protected invention. It is said that these factors drew Sakichi's interest and inspired him to embark on loom invention.1

While assisting with his father's carpentry business, Sakichi struck upon the idea of improving the batten-equipped tall loom2, and began devoting all of his time to the project.

In 1890, Sakichi moved to the home of a hometown acquaintance who lived in Yokohama in order to submit a patent for his improved hand loom design, traveling to the patent office in Tokyo to file the necessary application.3 The patent application for this wooden hand loom was accepted in November that year, and was awarded patent No. 1195, "Loom", the following year on May 14, 1891. Sakichi's address stated on the patent was 5-20 Kaigandori, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, residing temporarily at the residence of Tanizo Sahara.

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