Prospectus of the Foundation

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The modernization of Kyoto and the role of printing

The start of “civilization and enlightenment” (bunmei kaika) and industrial development in Japan in the Meiji period (1868-1912) was greatly dependent on printing technology for conveying information, and in that sense printing can be said to be the base of Japan’s current culture and civilization.

The editions of the daily newspaper Saikyo Shimbun published in February 1877 heralded the beginning of modern printing in Kyoto, with the shift from hand-carved woodcuts to a metal type. And Saikyo Shimbun’s extras about the funeral of the Emperor Meiji in 1912 included photos, a first in Japan marking the replacing of woodprint illustrations with photographic prints. Furthermore, the use of a multicolor photographic printing system by the Kyoto Hinode Shimbunsha company for printing craft items and paintings made Kyoto paramount in Japan for photographic printing technology.

As mentioned above, the printing industry has not only played a role as a vehicle of industrial development but has also been instrumental in fields such as culture, art, and academia, furthering their development. Kyoto is still the center of painting and calligraphy in Japan, and the center of art printing, photographic printing, decoration, and restoration technology, which underlines how close the relationship is between cultural heritage and printing as a technology for the dissemination, maintenance and furtherance of cultural activities.

設立者 鈴木正三

Founder Shozo Suzuki

Innovation in printing technology and information technology (IT)

The rapid progress of printing technology since the 1990s is remarkable and electronics and digitization in particular now set the direction of the printing industry. Printed information (content) accumulated in computers is digitally processed and modified to be written to various recording media, including printing on paper. Furthermore, with the advent of high-speed communication networks such as the Internet, information and data can now be transmitted and viewed instantaneously. The impact of such technological innovations is altering the traditional business framework. In particular, much research and technological mobilization has been undertaken for the purpose of accumulating and storing information on Kyoto’s historical heritage in the form of digital data. These efforts have attracted worldwide attention, underlining the importance of support for such fields.

Our mission

Modern day Kyoto is a treasury of various antique objects and records of printing-related equipment, materials, and techniques from the past times. This living evidence can be used to gain insights into what culture and science of the future should look like. These objects and records do not easily decay or get lost, yet they should be permanently and systematically preserved and exhibited to make them useful for future generations. We recognize that facilitating such preservation and exhibitions is the social responsibility and mission of enterprises and individuals who, as citizens, count on Kyoto for their livelihood.

Change is rapid these days. We believe that such an environment provides opportunities to look at the relationship between society and printing by studying the history of printing technologies. This, in turn, can generate new ideas and creativity in Kyoto while also encouraging a spirit of venture and promoting start-ups. Furthermore, Kyoto’s children will be responsible for the city’s future development; so, educating them about printing technology is also essential for the long-term development of the local economy. It is therefore important to provide both material and moral support to children and their education.

Smooth facilitation of such projects is difficult for one company or individuals; rather, they should be carried out under the auspices of national law and the supervision of competent government agencies, and therefore we believe that a general incorporated foundation is required.

For this reason, we have established NISSHA FOUNDATION, a general incorporated foundation, in Kyoto, the center of traditional and advanced technology in Japan, that aims to contribute to the improvement and development of printing culture and technology in Kyoto and consequently the development of the industry and economy of Kyoto. To this end, the Foundation collects, preserves and publishes materials related to printing culture and technology, holds workshops and lectures about printing culture and technology and supports and subsidizes related study and research.