Kyoto’s Global Companies: Then & Now
The Top Company Supporting the World’s Electrical Appliances! The High Tech of Murata Manufacturing
In 1994, in a rented dye factory in Kyoto, a small factory was established to manufacture insulators, and electronic components (capacitors) that store and release electricity. This company would go on to become the major global company, Murata Manufacturing.
The father of the founder, Akira Murata, was a potter making kiyomizu-yaki, a traditional pottery craft home to Kyoto. When Akira suggested to his father that they expand the business, he was admonished with the words, “Don’t just do what others do.” It seemed his father thought it would cause trouble amongst their competitors if they tried to expand their business in the small world of kiyomizu-yaki pottery-making.
This led Akira Murata to look for other possibilities for their ceramics, eventually leading him to the idea of a ceramic condenser. At that time, Japan was still in turmoil following WWII, and the radio was one of few sources of fun. It was for these radios that Murata Manufacturing began producing ceramic capacitors. Later, when television became king, Murata Manufacturing produced the corresponding components for televisions, and again in the age of the car, the computer, the cell phone, and so on, the company continued to create the electric parts necessary for the times. Today, the company has a 40% share of the global ceramic capacitor market, making it a leading company supporting other electronic products around the world.
What is kiyomizu-yaki pottery?
When Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the finest craftspeople from across the country would gather here. Kiyomizu-yaki is one of the ceramic arts that developed with the support of temples, shrines, and aristocrats for the artisans. There is no special style or technique that typifies it, but because the pieces are created in Kyoto, the ceramics are known as Kyo-yaki or Kiyomizu-yaki. Kiyomizu-yaki is characterized by its bright colors, and as its name suggests, it was originally made in kilns near the famous Kiyomizu Temple. There is a rich spring that flows from Mt. Kiyomizu, the mountain behind the temple, and it is because the earth there is well suited for pottery, and also because Kyoto was the center of tea ceremony, that kiyomizu-yaki developed here.
>Learn more about kiyomizu-yaki pottery with this article from Study Kyoto: Warming up to the old and learning the new: International students visit one of Kyoto’s kiyomizu-yaki pottery kilns!
Some 150 years have passed since Japan’s capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. While many companies have their headquarters in Tokyo, there are some unique companies that remain headquartered in Kyoto, and some that are just newly starting up here.
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