Hand Looms, Power Looms, and Changing Production Organizations: The Case of the Kiryū Weaving District in Early Twentieth‐Century Japan

20 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2013

See all articles by Tomoko Hashino

Tomoko Hashino

Kobe University

Keijiro Otsuka

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

Date Written: August 2013

Abstract

The Kiryū silk weaving district, located 200 kilometres north of Tokyo, has been one of the most advanced silk weaving districts since the Tokugawa period (1603–1868). In the 1870s, it was a pioneer in the export of silk products from Japan and the leading producer of traditional Japanese kimono and obi (sash belts) for domestic markets. This study finds that the developmental process of the Kiryū district from 1895 to 1930 can be divided into at least two phases, that is, one of gradual growth based on an inter‐firm division of labour using hand looms and one of dynamic development based on the factory system using power looms. Weaving manufacturers‐cum‐contractors pioneered gradual growth by sub‐contracting with rural village out‐weavers and with a number of specialized, supporting firms in Kiryū town, and grew faster than factory production systems. New joint‐stock firms played the role of genuine entrepreneurs by introducing power looms, thereby realizing significant economies of scale. During this new phase, the weaving manufacturers‐cum‐contractors survived and also introduced new production systems.

Suggested Citation

Hashino, Tomoko and Otsuka, Keijiro, Hand Looms, Power Looms, and Changing Production Organizations: The Case of the Kiryū Weaving District in Early Twentieth‐Century Japan (August 2013). The Economic History Review, Vol. 66, Issue 3, pp. 785-804, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2288463 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2012.00680.x

Tomoko Hashino (Contact Author)

Kobe University

No Address Available

Keijiro Otsuka

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) ( email )

7-22-1 Roppongi,Minato,
Tokyo 106-8677
Japan

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