Updated 23-XII-2018

Ichisuke Fujioka

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

Ichisuke Fujioka

The subject of this writing is credited with starting the lighting, as well as the electrical, industry in Japan. In the year 1884 Ichisuke Fujioka (1857 - 1918) visited the United States in order to become acquainted with the emerging lighting and electrical industry. Quoting from a Toshiba web site3:
"Toshiba's other founder, Ichisuke Fujioka, was born in 1857, the eldest son of a samurai. At eighteen he began studying under Professor William Ayrton, an expert in telegraphy and electric lighting. Later, he switched on Japan's first arc lamp, at a location in Ginza. In 1884, on a tour of the United States, Ichisuke met Thomas Edison, the “King of Inventors,” and reportedly pledged to devote himself to establishing a Japanese electric power industry. After returning home, Ichisuke started to manufacture prototypes of incandescent light bulbs, and, he set up his own firm, Hakunetsu-sha, in 1890.

"After intense effort, he succeeded in developing an economical, durable light bulb, and went on to lay the foundations for a domestic electric power industry that could hold its own against the Europeans and Americans. He was also involved in constructing an electric railway and the introduction of electric power to the nation. Ichisuke was true to his word to Edison: he took Japan into the age of electricity."
The following information was extracted from another web site4:
"It was with Shoichi Miyoshi that Fujioka established the manufacturing concern of Hakunetsu-sha & Company, Limited, in Kyobashi, Japan. In that plant the first electric light bulbs were manufactured in Japan.

"The first electric light used for illumination purposes in Japan was lit on March 25, 1878. It was a Duboscq arc lamp, switched on at a banquet held in celebration of the opening of the central office of Tokyo Central Telegraph Station (Now, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications).

"The engineers of this event were Professor W. E. Aryton of Imperial College of Engineering (Faculty of Engineering, Tokyo University), and his colleague Mr. Ichisuke Fujioka who would later go on to establish Hakunetu-Sha & Co. Ltd.

"The very first lighting of an incandescent light took place on June 25, 1884 at the commencement ceremony of the railroad line running from Ueno to Takasaki.

"Twenty four incandescent lights with one arc light placed in the center were lit to welcome the Japanese Emperor and Empress, who made an appearance. Professor Ichisuke Fujioka is the person credited for the development of the incandescent bulb in Japan.

"In order to develop an incandescent bulb domestically, he was appointed Chief Engineer at Tokyo Electric Illumination Company (Now, Tokyo Electric Power Company). On April 1, 1890, Professor Fujioka in cooperation with Masakazu Miyoshi, one of the most successful electric appliance manufacturers at that time, established Hakunetu-Sha & Co.Ltd. in Tokyo. The result of this merger was the official production of incandescent bulbs in Japan.

"Hakunetu-Sha is now called TOSHIBA LIGHTING & TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION which today is a leader in lighting technology."

Shown above is the lamp developed in Japan in the 1890s.

References & Bibliography
  1. "Ichisuke Fujioka" Obituary, Transactions of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan (JIEE), Vol.57, 1919.
  2. Internet email message from Shigesuke Fujioka, grandson of Ichisuke Fujioka, 27 Feb 2000, to the writer.
  3. http://www.toshiba.co.jp/spirit/en/ichisuke/index.html
  4. Toshiba Lighting & Technology Corporation - About Us