The Shimadzu clan survived hundreds of years of turmoil and change for one major reason – their connection to the sea. Southern Kyushu was historically important in trading, connecting Japan with mainland Asia and the world beyond. During the Edo period, the Tokugawa Shogunate closed the country off to the outside world, breaking many of the links between Southern Kyushu and Asia. The Shimadzu however continued trading with China through the Okinawan islands, and were able to procure goods, information, technological skills and culture from the outside world throughout the Edo period.
The Roots of
The modernisation project at the Shuseikan consisted of ironworking, cotton spinning, and glassmaking among other enterprises, and innovation took place at a stunning rate. One of the greatest successes was the manufacture of a functional reverberatory furnace, with only a drawing from a Dutch textbook as reference. By combining Japanese traditional craftsmanship and Western scientific learning, the samurai of Satsuma managed to bring modernisation to Japan. Nariakira unfortunately passed away suddenly, but his legacy was continued by the 29th head of the Shimadzu, Tadayoshi, and his father Hisamitsu.
World Heritage Site and
The former Shuseikan and the Shuseikan Project were major factors in explaining why Japan was the only non-Western country to successfully industrialise, and the method by which this was achieved. The vision and foresight of leaders like Shimadzu Nariakira were the key factor in this success, and we remain immensely proud of their contribution to the development of modern Japan.
Our Mission for
The historical influence of the Shimadzu can be seen throughout Kagoshima, and one of our major missions is to protect and promote this legacy. One such location is the house and gardens of the Shimadzu family, Sengan-en.
Sengan-en is a stately home and landscape garden built in 1658 as one of the residences of the Shimadzu clan. The garden’s most striking feature is its use of active volcano Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay as borrowed scenery. The gardens cover over 12 acres and include calming ponds, gently bubbling streams, mysterious shrines, a bamboo grove, and a mountain hiking trail. The crane lantern, which was Japan’s first gas light, is a reminder of when Nariakira would have walked around the gardens, dreaming of the bright future waiting for his country. The Bogakuro Pavillion, a gift from the king of Okinawa, is a symbol of the gateway to trade with the outside world. High on the mountainside, the huge characters carved into the cliff face show the influence of Chinese culture on the Shimadzu. At the center of the gardens is the house that was cherished by generations of the Shimadzu family. Visits to the house made by members of Western royalty affirm the status that Japan achieved through its industrial endeavours.
A Brief History of the Shimadzu Clan
The History of Shimadzu Limited
Origin of the Company Logo
Cross in a Circle
The logo for Shimadzu Limited is famous as the crest of the Shimadzu family. The cross in a circle crest was adopted by the Shimadzu towards the end of the Sengoku period. Prior to this the crest was simply a cross, a fact that was noted by Saint Francis Xavier when he arrived in Satsuma in 1549. It is not known why the family crest was changed, however it is thought that as the country entered peacetime a more ornamental design was chosen.