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2011年6月17日 (金)

Okamoto Bicycle Company

次回、新しい記事を日本語で投稿します。

I receive quite a few emails from vintage bicycle fans both inside and outside of Japan.  Recently I was contacted by "S" from overseas who was asking for information on Okamoto Bicycle Company.

I visited the Bicycle Culture Center in Tokyo which has a well stocked library and the friendly staff quickly produced a book entitled "Hurray for the Bicycle, 88 Year History of Noritsu". Noritsu it turns out was the name of the bicycle brand produced by Okamoto Bicycle Company.
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Okamoto Bicycle Company not ony played a large role in Japan's bicycle production, but shared the honor of having produced the first all Japanese manufactured automobile.   Not having time to read the entire book, I copied the company history, which lasted just under 100  years!

MEIJI-ERA
1885 Matsuzo Okamoto begins manufacturing bicycle parts.
1898 Starts manufacturing bicycles.
1903 Completed the first all Japanese manufactured bicycle.
1909 Company president travels to Germany and United Kingdom to collect information on bicycle manufacturing technology and purchase tooling equipment.
1910 The Okamoto brothers establish Okamoto Brothers Company and set up a factory in Nagoya to produce "The Empire" bicycle for export.

TAISHO-ERA
1919  Okamoto Cycle & Automobile Industries is established. Manufacturer of complete bicycles and airplane parts.
1920  Completed production of the first all Japanese manufactured airplane wheel rims. Designated as airplane wheel rim supplier for military.
1921 Construction of Shigei Factory in Gifu Prefecture is completed.
1923 Production reaches 10,000 bicycles per month for a single brand.
1925 Designated as official supplier of bicycles for the Japanese Navy.

SHOWA-ERA
1927 Emperor Showa selects "The Noritsu" brand bicycle for his own.。
      Designated the official supplier of bicycles for The Ministry of Communications.
1933 Okamoto Cycle & Automobile Industries, in a joint venture with three other companies, produces the first all Japanese manufactured automobile, " The ATSUTA".
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1934 Supplies sidecar equipped motorcycles to the Japanese Army。
1935 Company divided into Bicycle Production and Weaponry Production. Shigei Factory in Gifu is expanded and devoted entirely to bicycle manufacturing. In the same year, changed the company name to Okamoto Industries and completed construction of the Ogaki Factory in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture.
1937 Established Okamoto Airplane Industries and the Kasadera Factory in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture.
1939 Purchased factory in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture and built another factory in Hitoyoshi City, Kumamoto Prefecture.
1940 Established the Shibata Factory in Shibata City, Niigata Prefecture.
1941 Okamoto Industries absorbed by Okamoto Airplane Industries and becomes the countries largest manufacturer of landing gears and wheel rims comprised of seven factories.  The Shigei Factory is designated as a munitions factory and becomes the sole manufacturer of bicycles for the Japanese military.
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Photo of fighter plane funded by Okamoto Industries for the war effort.

1943 Constructed a top secret factory in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture.  Factory is designated as communications factory.
1945 Following the end of WWII all factories with the exception of three (Headquarters in Nagoya City, the Kasadera Factory and Shigei Factory) closed as they are designated as factories for war reparations.
1946 Okamoto Cycle Company reestablished.
1948 The Noritsu bicycle receives Ministry of Industry Award.
1949 Designated as the official supplier for the Postal Ministry.
1952 The Noritsu bicycle receives Ministry of Trade & Commerce Award.
1955 Company is restructured factories devoted solely to bicycle production.
1956 Company changes to Okamoto Noritsu Cycle Company.
1962 Factories receive JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) approval from Ministry of Trade and Industry.
1971 Company name changed to Noritsu Cycle Company.
1972 Tie-up with Toyota Automobiles Sales Company, Toyota Noritsu Cycle established. Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute, Japanese Bicycle Manufacturing Association and other organizations formed.
1973 Company closes its network of 84 sales offices, continues production but sales done through Toyota Automobile Sales Company.
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1983  Company goes out of business. 

I have only a few parts manufactured by Okamoto Bicycle Company.

First is a leather hammock saddle
P1100878P1100877

Second is a guarantee medal from 1950.
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Third is a transparent celluloid chaincase.
P1070526P1070529
P1070528P1070527

Fourth is a steel chaincase with transparent chainwheel cover.Img_6764 Img_6778 

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