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Home > Hamamatsu Ijinden-(Stories of great figures in Hamamatsu) > Sakichi Toyoda

Sakichi Toyoda

the great inventor who created world-class automatic looms, and guided Japan  towards becoming a nation of technology.

Sakichi Toyoda

When Sakichi was 18 years old, the Patent Monopoly Act was passed in Japan. Young Sakichi was hoping to do something for his country, so he decided this was his future. “I shall work at inventions as my lifework.” His will and passion pushed him to invent not only the automatic loom but also expand the development of Japanese industry, including the automobile industry.

出身地:敷知郡山口村

Hamamatsu’s development as a city of textile manufacture was strongly influenced by him. It is Sakichi Toyoda who invented the first automatic loom in the country and who was the founder of the Toyota Group. Sakichi hoped to work and contribute to society. He put his heart and soul into development of the loom. After he overcame many difficulties, he at last completed an automatic loom of the highest quality.
Sakichi, who was worried about the future of Japanese industry, found a way with his original ideas and efforts. The patriotic inventor’s will extended not only toward inventing an automatic loom but also toward Japan’s general industrial development, including automobiles.

“Working for Society”

“Working for Society”Sakichi decided to invent a loom. In 1867, just before the Meiji Restoration, Sakichi was born in Yamaguchi-mura, Fuchi-no-gori (now Kosai City). He seemed to have the desire to work for society from a very young age. After seeing his mother weaving with an inefficient hand loom, he wanted to improve it. The villagers sneered at him saying, “He is such an odd boy, playing with a loom.” but his purpose was more serious than that. His thoughts were like this: “Clothing, food, and shelter are all important and weaving cloth is also necessary. But we will be in trouble some day if we only continue like this. It’s necessary to make progress and improve the loom.”

The house where Sakichi was born (restored in Heisei 2)

The house where Ikichi, Sakichi’s father lived and led the Toyoda family. Sakichi, his younger brother Heikichi, Sasuke, and his younger sister Han were born here. Later Kiichiro, Sakichi’s first son who created Toyota Motor Corporation, was also born here.

photo:The house where Sakichi was born (restored in Heisei 2)

Sakichi looked closely at the weft threading that goes between the warp threads when you weave cloth. The weft goes right to left and left to right, guided by the “hi”, or shuttle, which is shaped like a small boat. He thought that if it was possible to move it not by hand, but by machine, the efficiency of the loom would improve remarkably.
Meanwhile, in 1890 the National Industrial Exhibition was held in Tokyo. He went to Tokyo with bright eyes, and almost every day he went to the machine pavilion. He was moved by the shining metal of the machines. At the same time he couldn’t help feeling small. Because none of the machines displayed there were made in Japan. He felt so worried about the future of Japan. A guard man was suspicious of Sakichi daily visits to the fair and banned him from coming anymore. Sakichi replied to the guard man. “Don’t you think it’s a pity that the machines are all foreign products?” This episode shows his embarrassment on behalf of his country.

試行錯誤の末に

After that, Sakichi became absorbed in his work. But it was not at all easy to make what he wished. He shut himself up in a store house and after deep thought he completed a loom, but after all it was a failure. However he never gave up. Finally he drew a plan without the earlier flaws he had before, and then constructed a loom. This time he was able to complete a loom that moved the way he wanted.
Sakichi showed it to the villagers. His demonstration resulted in a big success. The villagers were amazed by the strange machine which wove cloth so beautifully. And the performer who wove the cloth with the loom invented by Sakichi was his mother.

Toyoda method wooden hand loom

The first loom invented by Sakichi. It could weave 40% or 50% faster than the old style. People used to weave cloth with both hands. He improved it so that the shuttle could move right to left when you moved a reed back and forth with one hand.

photo:Toyota method wooden hand loom

In this way in 1890 the Toyoda method wooden hand loom was born. The loom greatly improved the quality of the products and the productivity of western made looms (called battan-looms) which were widely used.
The next year he got his first patent. But he wasn’t content just with that and started to study to develop a power loom. From human power to machine power, his long-cherished dream was beginning to come true.
And in 1896 Sakichi finally succeeded in completing the first power loom in Japan, the Toyoda method power loom. After that he tried to improve the design with experimental looms and tests. He took out various patents for improvements. Furthermore, he decided to start a textile industry in China in 1918. No one around him agreed, but he persuaded them by saying “Open your mind, and look at the great world outside.”

Developing the world’s best automatic loom

In 1924 his dream bore fruit. He developed a non-stop shuttle change automatic loom (Type G), the world’s first.
This automatic loom could attach more weft thread automatically without cutting the weaving speed at all. And it also had other various advantages and epoch-making improvements,
So it was called the “Magic Loom” by western technologists. They admired it and evaluated it highly. In 1929, the patent for the automatic loom was transferred to Platt Brothers & Co., Ltd. in England for a million yen, an extremely large amount of money at the time. With this invention, the Japanese spinning and textile industry had made a great leap to worldwide levels.

Non-stop Shuttle Change Automatic Loom(Type G)

Sakichi completed this automatic loom for the first time in the world.
It became possible to supply more weft automatically without stopping the loom. It was highly praised by industry experts.

photo:Non-stop Shuttle Change Automatic Loom(Type G)

“I don’t want to be defeated by foreign countries,”

“I don’t want to be defeated by foreign countries,” he said, so Sakichi completed a perfect automatic loom with his great determination. He entrusted the money from the patent rights from Platt Brothers & Co., Ltd. to his first son Kiichiro and ordered him to study automobiles. In this way the automobile industry in our country began to develop. This was in 1929.
The next year, in 1930 Sakichi passed away from illness. Sakichi spent his life of 63 years hoping Japan would become a technological country and worked hard to realize his dreams.

These patents and decorations show Sakichi’s achievements.

【References】
Hamamatsu Monozukuri Jinbutsu-den
(Board of Education of Hamamatsu City )