The Industries of Nagoya

Chapter Summary

Characteristics of the Economy and Industry of Nagoya
Industries in Nagoya City

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General Affairs Division
Nagoya Urban Industrial Promotion Corporation
 Tel : 052-735-2115

Chapter1 Roots of Industry in Nagoya

A look back on the history of industrial development in Nagoya, which is called “a hub of monozukuri (quality manufacturing) in the world”, reveals that industrial development of this region was underpinned by a combination of four major industrial technologies: woodcraft, yarn, clay and steel (machinery).

  1. Woodcraft: Industrial technologies related to woodcraft developed with good quality lumber available in abundance, highly skilled craftsmen, and managerial resources cultivated in the castle town from the Edo period (1603-1867). These technologies have in turn developed into modern industries manufacturing such products as clocks, train carriages and aircraft.

  2. Yarn: Back in the Edo period, the Owari, Chita and Mikawa areas were already the country's largest centers of cotton textile production, and later during the Meiji period (1868-1912), these areas were called "the textile kingdom" with flourishing cotton, wool and synthetic fiber industries. The yarn-making and textile industries developed in Nagoya and it was in 1890 that Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the current Toyota group, invented the first automatic loom in Japan. Using revenues earned from exporting this technology to England, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Kiichiro Toyoda, Sakichi's son, started R&D to build the first automobiles in Japan. Around 1930, the Mayor of Nagoya, Isao Oiwa (who was from a Toyota area called Sanage), proposed the "Detroit of the East" initiative to create an automobile industry based on earlier industries.

  3. Clay: Since antiquity, the pottery industry developed in various areas around Nagoya. The traditional industrial technology later evolved into the modern ceramics industry, which has expanded into fine ceramics, environment-related and many other industrial fields.

  4. Steel (Machinery): Around 1910, Momosuke Fukuzawa, later called the "King of Electric Power," started the development of electric power resources along the Kiso River, which helped the steel industry to progress through the use of electric furnaces. Meanwhile, the traditional technology for creating “wadokei” or Japanese clocks (sophisticated hand-made precision instruments) led to the development of elaborate “karakuri” automatons in the Edo period. This helped the steel-based machine industry to grow in the Meiji period. Later, the machine industry of Nagoya developed in concert with the woodcraft, yarn and clay industries to make the area one of the world's largest centers of production of machine tools and industrial robots.