Sumitomo family business

. Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

The Sumitomo family 住友家
and doozan 銅山 Dozan copper mines in Japan

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The Sumitomo Group, of which Sumitomo Corporation is a key member, dates to the 17th century establishment of a book and medicine shop in Kyoto by 小次郎政友 Masatomo Sumitomo. Sumitomo's brother-in-law 蘇我理右衛門 Riemon Soga developed a technology to extract silver from copper, and Soga's son (who married Sumitomo's daughter) 住友友以 Tomomochi Sumitomo expanded this smelting business to Osaka.
From this start, the Sumitomo family expanded its business into copper mining (the Besshi copper mine), followed by textiles, sugar and medicine trading.
Its 家号 Yago house name was 泉屋 Izumiya.

The Sumitomo family was close to the Tokugawa shogunate throughout the Edo period. During the 1860s, this relationship became a liability for the firm as the Tokugawa clan warred with rivals in western Japan. Following the Tokugawas' defeat, Sumitomo was almost ruined and under pressure to sell the Besshi mine, which by that point was nearly unworkable. However, Sumitomo kept the mine and improved its output through adoption of new Western techniques.
During the rapid westernization of Japan in ensuing decades, Sumitomo started various new trading, manufacturing and financing businesses, becoming one of the major zaibatsu of early 20th century Japan.

Sumitomo Corporation (住友商事株式会社 Sumitomo Shōji Kabushiki-gaisha)
is one of the largest worldwide Sogo shosha general trading companies, and is a diversified corporation. The company was incorporated in 1919, it is a member company of the Sumitomo Group.
- source : wikipedia

Sumitomo Corporation
- source : sumitomocorp.co.jp -


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住友家の起源 - 始祖・家祖・業祖

- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


- - - - - H A I K U and S E N R Y U - - - - -


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The Besshi copper mine (別子銅山 Besshi dōzan) was a rich source of copper in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture.
The deposits were discovered in 1690, and mining began in the following year. From then until the closing of the mine in 1973, Besshi produced about 700,000 tons of copper, and contributed to Japan's trade and modernization. The Sumitomo family managed the mine, which helped build the Sumitomo zaibatsu. The Dōzan River was named after the copper mine.
The Minetopia Besshi theme park uses some of the mine's facilities.
- source : wikipedia -

During the Edo period, the copper had to be carried from the high mountain down to the beach at Niihama. Male porters with 45 kg in a backpack and female porters with 30 kg had to go down a very small and dangerous mountain path of about 12 kilometers with this load.
In a recent re-creation some male porters made it for just a few meters and than had to give up because it was too dangerous.
Hirose Saihei 広瀬宰平 (1828 - 1914)
was the first 初代住友総理人 Director-General.
- source : Rules Governing the House of Sumitomo -
At the beginning of the Meiji period, modern equipment was introduced by Hirose as much as possible, with mountain railroads and ropeways to carry the burden.
But the immense smoke produced during the melting process caused damage to the local crops 煙害問題.
Iba Teigo 伊庭貞剛 (1847 - 1926) - second director genera.
Even a re-location of the ovens and a huge chimney on an uninhabited island off Niihama 四阪島 could not solve the problem and only caused further damage to a large part of the surrounding farms. Finally special filters were developed to contain the poisonous smoke.
The history of Besshi Copper Mine was taken up in a very instructive TV infotainment in january 2016.

Hyakunen no Kei, Watashi ni Ari
Shirarezaru Meiji SangyouIshin Leader Den
Cast: Enoki Takaaki, Ishiguro Ken,
Asari Yosuke, Asaka Mayumi, Hiki Rie, Yamada Kinuo, Patrick Lample
Sumitomo’s first director general was Hirose Saihei (Enoki Takaaki) who grew up at the Besshi Copper Mine run by the house of Sumitomo in Shiga Prefecture from young. He convinces Sumitomo to embark on modernising its mine “for the sake of Japan 100 years into the future”.
Persistent and particular about modernisation at the hands of the Japanese, he was an active proponent of transferring Western technology. He made his subordinate Shiono Monnosuke (Asari Yosuke) study in France and learn mining technology. This is how the copper mine was rapidly modernised.
But on the other hand, the smoke emissions from smelting mill caused environmental problems. It was Hirose’s nephew Iba Teigo (Ishiguro Ken) who volunteered to tackle this difficult situation. In order to solve the root of the problem, Iba proposed an incredible plan to move the modern smelting mill, which was completed less than 10 years ago, to another place just like the current. A furious Hirose was absolutely against this reckless plan. But Iba talked him into it and even carried out a huge reforestation plan to restore nature at the mountains of Besshi that had been devastated by mining and smelting that spanned 200 years. Iba would go on to become Sumitomo’s second director general.
How far did the reforms of Hirose and Iba get?
- source : jdramas.wordpress.com -

kuzugakure bakufu goyoo no doo no michi

hidden in Kuzu
the copper road
of the Bakufu

品川鈴子 Shinagawa Suzuko

Besshi doozan noboreba kikyoo mata kikyoo

Besshi copper mine
climbing up there are Chinese bellflowers
and more bellflowers

津村芳水 Tsumura Hosui

. kikyoo 桔梗 Chinese bellflower - Platycodon grandiflorus. .
- kigo for autumn -


kusabue ni fuku yo Besshi no doozanbushi

blowing it
on a reed flute -
the Besshi Copper Mine Song

品川鈴子 Shinagawa Suzuko

別子銅山せっとう節 Besshi Dozan Settobushi
- reference -

. kusabue 草笛 "reed flute" .
- kigo for summer -


- - - - - There was one more important copper mine in Japan.

Ashio doozan 足尾銅山 Ashio Dozan, Ashio Copper Mine

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The Ashio Copper Mine, Ashio, Tochigi prefecture, became very significant from the end of the 19th century to the mid-20th century. It was the site of major pollution in the 1880s and the scene of the 1907 miners riots.

The Ashio mine has been in existence at least since 1600 when it belonged to the Tokugawa shogunate. At that time it produced about 1,500 tons annually, although this declined when the mine was closed in 1800. It became privately owned in 1871 following the industrialisation initiated by the Meiji restoration. By 1877 it became the property of Furukawa Ichibei, and by the 1880s production had increased dramatically, reaching 4,090 tons by 1885, 78 per cent of the total output of the Furukawa mines and 39 percent of Japan's copper production.

The Ashio mine was shut down in 1973.
The Ashio Copper Mine Incident is the name given to the environmental disaster that occurred as a result of the Ashio mining operations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

seiren no nioi kasoka ni natsu yamaji

the faint smell
of metal smelting
on the summer mountain road

上村占魚 Uemura Sengyo (下野足尾銅山)


Ashio doozan kareha ni omosa ari ni keri

Ashio copper mine
and the withered leaves
feel so heavy . . .

渡辺恭子 Watanabe Kyoko


. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

Akita 阿仁合村 Aniai - 阿仁銅山 Ani copper mine

gingitsune 銀狐 the silver fox
Once upon a time a rich merchant from Osaka found a silver fox in his garden, but when he woke up from this dream, his wife had turned into a silver fox. So the wife-fox left her husband, but he came after her, travelling around in Japan. One day his wife-fox appeared again and told him, if he climbed up this mountain he would find precious metal.
This is the beginning of the Ani doozan 阿仁銅山 copper mines in Ani .

阿仁鉱山 Ani Kozan mines for copper, gold and silver.
Copper was first found in 1716. Shut down in 1987.

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Originally developed as a gold mine in 1300s, Ani mine became one of the top three copper mines in Japan with the highest record copper production in 1716 when operated by the Satake clan.
German mining engineers were invited in the 19th century to further improve its production. Ijinkan is a western building that used to accommodate such engineers, including Adolf Meckel, and was later used as a guesthouse after they left. The building was designated a national cultural asset in 1990.
- source : akita-ecotown.com -

Akita 土川 Tsuchikawa - 杉沢銅山 Sugisawa copper mine

katame no sakana 片目の魚 fish with one eye
The stonefish (kajika 鰍) from Tsuchikawa village living below the copper mine lost one eye when the paths were hit by a landslide and the blood of the killed workers flowed down the river, filling one of the fish's eyes.

This mine for gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc in the 大仙市 Daisen town district was closed in 1972.

Gifu 洞戸村 Horado

hitokui Ebisu 人喰いエビス man-eating Ebisu
This man-eating Ebisu was hit by an arrow from 正之御前 Masa no Gozen at 弓保木, the blood of Ebisu flew down the river at 赤谷 Akadani and he finally fled to 恵比寿山 Mount Ebisusan to the copper mine grotto 銅山岩屋 (also called Ebisugura エベスグラ.)

There is a small shrine in honor of Masa no Gozen 正の御前, 正之御前社.
It is about 540 meter high on Ebisu mountain.

In the shrine is a deity and two bronze mirrors.
A warrior from Echizen who had lost his head in battle and his retainer Masa no Gozen burried it on the mountain.
- source : sankyoharinko -

- source : nichibun yokai database -


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. Japanese Architecture - Interior Design - The Japanese Home .

. Famous Places and Powerspots of Edo 江戸の名所 .

. Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

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