Japan's history of paint dates back to ancient times, the best-known example being traditional lacquer. The use of Western paint began in 1881, when Moteki brothers, Haruta and Jujiro, succeeded in producing zinc oxide and developing an original paste-type paint. With the efforts of Heikichi Nakagawa, chief paint engineer of the Imperial Navy, the brothers founded Komyosha. The company was incorporated and renamed Nippon Paint in 1898, marking the birth of a full-scale modern paint industry in Japan. Nippon Paint has led the industry ever since, conducting R&D, accumulating technical expertise, and supplying excellent paint products and coating systems for broad uses in all fields.
Drawing on its wealth of paint technologies, Nippon Paint continues to diversify, expanding into new business fields such as fine chemicals and electronics.
The Nippon Paint Company Museum, on the first floor of our head office building, replicates this history with a collection of documents and artifacts. Visitors are invited to survey the past, experience the present, and glimpse the future of Nippon Paint's business activities as well as Japan's paint industry.
Marine paint samples on partition screen
Japan's oldest paint samples were applied on a partition screen in 1881 by Heikichi Nakagawa, chief paint engineer of the Imperial Navy. He viewed his role in the founding of Komyosha as a project of national significance.
The Komyosha section replicates the company's early paint production process with a display of facilities complete with machinery and equipment.
Hand-operated roll mill
A hand-operated roll mill was used for kneading color paints from 1881 to 1897.
It took three workers to produce 60 kilograms of paint in one day.
Cartoons (Appearance of Komyosha)
A set of 15 cartoons depicts the early days of Komyosha. Seiken Fujiwara, a popular cartoonist in the 1920s and '30s, interviewed workers from the company's founding to produce the series.
The Komyosha signboard was designed in 1885 by calligrapher Gochiku Nakabayashi. He had returned from China, where he mastered calligraphy.
Zinc oxide production permit
The permit to produce zinc oxide was granted in 1879 by Secretary of Internal Affairs Hirobumi Ito. Through the dry distillation of zinc, Komyosha succeeded in producing zinc oxide with the world's highest degree of purity. The product was sold at drug stores for use as face powder and burn ointment.