Tsurukichi Hatano Founder of Gunze Silk Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Tsurukichi Hatano made a significant contribution to Japan's industrial development in the Meiji period (1868-1912). His life was full of dramatic events, yet he maintained a love for people and his hometown, which inspired him to establish Gunze.Tsurukichi Hatano made a significant contribution to Japan's industrial development in the Meiji period (1868-1912). His life was full of dramatic events, yet he maintained a love for people and his hometown, which inspired him to establish Gunze.

  • Returning to Ikaruga-gun after the disappointments of his younger years
  • The road from elementary school teacher to silk industry promoter
  • Hatano’s cherished word—“Sincerity”
  • Tsurukichi Hatano’s Personal History

Returning to Ikaruga-gun after the disappointments of his younger years

Gunze founder Tsurukichi Hatano was born as the second son of a village leader in Ayabe City (formerly Ikaruga-gun) in Kyoto Prefecture. At the age of 8, he was adopted by the Hatano family. After spending his school years studying in Kyoto, he tried his hand at various businesses, but each venture ended in failure. After exhausting his adoptive family’s assets, Tsurukichi Hatano returned brokenhearted to Ikaruga-gun.

  • Tsurukichi Hatano in his youthTsurukichi Hatano in his youth
  • Tsurukichi Hatano, FounderTsurukichi Hatano, Founder

The road from elementary school teacher to silk industry promoter

Making a new start as an elementary school teacher in his hometown, Hatano came face to face with the stark conditions in which the children of silk farmers lived.

Just around that time, Kyoto Prefecture’s silkworm cocoons and raw silk were judged to be the lowest quality at the evaluation exhibition in Ueno, Tokyo. Driven to improve the silk’s quality, the silk farmers in Ikaruga-gun formed an industrial association.

At the recommendation of Wasuke Umehara, one of the pioneers of Ikaruga-gun’s silk industry, Hatano was appointed head of the Ikaruga-gun Silk Industry Association. In his new position, Hatano worked to train specialists in silk farming and spinning. He sent trainees to study in Japan’s most advanced producing regions. He also opened up a school for developing and teaching silk farming techniques. Realizing that he was destined to promote the silk industry, Hatano established Gunze Silk Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

Hatano’s cherished word—“Sincerity”

Sincerity

Hatano once said that the most important thing in running a silk manufacturing business is not the silkworm cocoons or the amount of capital invested. He thought it was more important that “for me as the owner, to be a man of sincerity, worthy of the trust and confidence of both the public and my employees.” He often explained this way of thinking to his employees, and the word “sincerity” came to define Hatano’s philosophy of life.

Tsurukichi Hatano’s Personal History

Tsurukichi Hatano’s Personal History

  1. 1858
    Born into the Hamuro family.
  2. 1866
    Age 8: Adopted by the Hatano family.
  3. 1875
    Age 17: Entered Kyoto Junior High School (old Japanese school system).
  4. 1876
    Age 18: Married Hana, daughter of his adoptive family.
  5. 1881
    Age 23: Returned to Ikaruga-gun and became an elementary school teacher.
  6. 1886
    Age 28: Appointed head of the Ikaruga-gun Silk Industry Association.
  7. 1890
    Age 32: Baptized as a Christian.
  8. 1893
    Age 35: Established an institute for advanced training in silk farming.
  9. 1896
    Age 38: Established Gunze Silk Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
  10. 1901
    Age 43: Appointed president of Gunze Silk Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
  11. 1918
    Age 60: Died of a cerebral hemorrhage.