Foundation of the Bunmeisha Printing Company.
Burning down of the head office plant due to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.
Immediate business restoration at a temporary plant.
Reconstruction and restart of operations at the head office plant.
Receipt of an order for foreign-language textbooks.
Changing of Kato Bunmeisha Co., Ltd., into a printing office.
Automatic casting machinebr
Before joining the company, the first president’s previous job was at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, but on the advice of a friend, he took over the company and started a printing office. In those days, the workers had it very rough, and the salary system was set up to be paid daily, thus some worker didn't show up on subsequent days. In addition, although the daily struggles at the factory continued to persist, the first president (from the police station), walked about the factory with a wooden sword and kept the workers in order.
In the beginning, it was felt by some that more focus should be placed on products. Even if a proof sheet was made, the type of glue used caused the printing quality of the movable type characters to be inconsistent. Thus, effort was made to raise quality by working on casted movable type characters. These seemed to stick well. This was the starting point.
During wartime, both mother molds and casting machines for movable type characters were evacuated to Yamanashi Prefecture to be protected. After the war, upon returning to the head office plant, it was discovered that it was burned to the ground, and lead was littered all over the area. In order to rebuild as soon as possible, even as efforts for one day, the lead was melted, purified, and reworked into type characters. It was due to these efforts that the company was able to resume printing operations quickly at the beginning of the post-war period.
In the printing, the final image is always a reverse of the movable type character. Initially, it is very difficult to get used to these types of operations, and it takes substantial time, but when a skilled person gets in a rhythm, they can work with more than 1,000 movable type characters per hour. In the wooden box that contains the movable type characters, the types that are used the most are placed in the middle for easy access.
Each character in Japanese has its own “heart”. Depending on the content that is to be conveyed, such as poetry, novels, postal letters, etc., and depending on the person that will be reading the finished product, the letter sizes and line spacing, etc., are changed. When in pairs, everything has meaning. Through this, both the pages and words themselves are able to “speak”. We never forget the “heart” of this matter.
In the days of wheeled operation, when printing 32 pages of printed matter for one book, it took over 18 hours to adjust the printed surface for consistency. Later, the Shinjuku Production Center introduced an off-wheel single-color machine, while the Adachi Production Center introduced an off-wheel two-color machine, resulting in a dramatic improvement in productivity. The job was to maximize the capacity of the printing press on-site. Technicians at that time felt that, for printing, the movable type press caused the characters to appear soft, while there was the impression that the offset came out too sharp and stiff.
We have the advantage of knowing what analog formatting operations were like. Even if the tool to be handled changes, the basics of typography operations do not change. Thus, it is possible for us to imagine the intended results at all times and to perform the work correctly.
While the company has continued operations for 100 years, it is necessary for us and for each subsequent generation to be able to change with the times, and to keep pace with society and technology, as they evolve. Thanks to the company's corporate philosophy of "First-class dignity, first-class credit, and first-class products", we can safely commit to the next generation.