Here are some stories about the Konosuke Matsushita Museum. These anecdotes, descriptions and photographs will give you a better appreciation of the exhibits.
We hope that these stories help to make your visit to the museum more interesting.
Konosuke had this to say about this museum: "Have you seen our museum? We created it to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our company. I gave many instructions about the design of the building. It's rather attractive, don't you think? When the building was completed, many people praised it as an elegant structure in the Southern European style."
Panasonic opened this museum on March 7 in the 50th anniversary year of 1968. Originally, it was called the Matsushita Electric House of History. Its external appearance mirrored that of the Panasonic head office in 1933. Since its establishment, the museum has been visited and appreciated by many people as a place where they can learn about Panasonic's history and traditional spirit, and gain insight into the future direction of the company.
Visiting the museum after its renovation in the year of the 65th anniversary, Konosuke commented: "The museum not only tells me of the company's history but also traces my personal history over half a century. That said, the company could not have grown solely through my own efforts. It owes much to the support and goodwill of many people, including its employees and others. Each item displayed in the museum brings back memories of people I met in those days. Once again, I hear the exuberant buzz and bustle of young employees. My heart is overwhelmed by this experience. This museum is a place for arriving at something new by remembering the past."
The Konosuke Matsushita Museum is visited by many Panasonic employees and members of the public. Here, they can learn not only about Konosuke's management philosophy but also about history itself as exemplified by the display of products that are of historical value.
If you looking up at the museum building, you will notice a ship's steering wheel on the roof. This wheel was originally installed on the roof of the new head office building in Kadoma when Panasonic moved there in 1933.
While the new head office was being built, Konosuke heard that a ship was being dismantled in Kobe. He went to see it. On his return, he said with a smile, "I have made some good purchases". He had bought a large steering wheel and tables and chairs from the ship's dining hall. The tables and chairs went into the canteen of the new head office, while the steering wheel was installed on the roof. Konosuke said, "The head office is like the bridge on a ship, where one sets and steers the course for the whole company." The ship's wheel added a classic look to the building and became a popular attraction.
In the front courtyard of the Konosuke Matsushita Museum, you will see a bronze statue of Konosuke.
This statue was commissioned by the Panasonic labor union as a gift to Konosuke on the occasion of the union's 40th anniversary. It was a token of appreciation for his efforts to improve labor conditions and welfare based on his philosophy of developing people before making products, and for his work in helping to forge a sound labor-management relationship based on his insight into the dynamism of opposition and harmony. The bronze statue, therefore, represents the company's determination to continue into the future the sound labor-management relationship that has been fostered throughout the company's history.
On November 27, 1986, Konosuke's 92nd birthday, a ceremony to formally present this gift took place in the grounds of this museum. In the presence of Konosuke himself and about 150 participants including senior members of the labor union, Masaharu Matsushita, then Chairman of the company, and Tomihisa Maekawa, representing some 80,000 labor union members, unveiled the bronze statue. It was decided that this full-length statue made by bronze, 3.5 meters in height and weighing 320 kilograms, would stand permanently on this site.
Looking at the unveiled bronze statue, Konosuke responded:
"I am deeply grateful. In this likeness, I appear to be a little younger than I really am. I take this as a warm message from you, encouraging me to stay young at heart and to keep on going without being troubled by my physical age. I am reminded of a day in January 1946, when I congratulated employees on the formation of a labor union at Matsushita Electric. The development of Matsushita Electric up to this day owes much to the cooperative support of its labor union."
In the museum, you will see the House of the Foundation, a reproduction of the house that Konosuke used as a workshop when he founded Panasonic.
Inside can be found pots, pedal-driven machinery and molding equipment that were actually used by Konosuke at that time for making attachment plugs and other products.
Outside, in the courtyard, you will see good-luck roof tiles (like gargoyles) and stone lanterns from the head office that Konosuke built in Ohiraki-cho. The roof tiles are from the original building and the stone lanterns are from the courtyard.
On March 7, 1918, at the age of 23, Konosuke established Panasonic (then Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works) in Ohiraki-cho, Osaka City. Then, he invented the company's early products such as improved attachment plugs and double cluster sockets.
On November 27, 2004, to mark the 110th anniversary of Konosuke's birth, a monument commemorating "the place where Konosuke Matsushita founded his business" was set up in Ohiraki-cho. This gesture was part of community building activities, supported by donations from about 9,300 persons, including local volunteers, Panasonic employees and ex-employees, who regretted that there had been nothing in Ohiraki-cho to recognize this town as the place where Konosuke founded his business.
The monument is 1.8 meters high and 2 meters wide. It bears an inscription of a Chinese character representing the Way (道), replicating Konosuke's own calligraphy.
Besides this monument, you will find in Ohiraki-cho nameplates showing the House of the Foundation and the place where Konosuke's factory used to stand.
In the courtyard of the museum, you can see the main shell of the time capsule that Panasonic displayed at the 1970 Japan World Exposition (EXPO '70), which was held in Japan. Inside the museum building, you will find a display booth that presents the theme of "EXPO '70 and Time Capsules" using films and printed materials.
Time capsules like this were prepared by Panasonic and The Mainichi Newspapers to commemorate EXPO' 70 in Japan, in the hope of transmitting aspects of the present culture to those living in the future, some five thousand years on. With this aim of preserving the culture as of 1970 over a five thousand-year period for the interest of future generations, 2,098 thoughtfully selected articles and archives were placed in capsules. Two capsules were buried in a park area in front of Osaka Castle; one at a depth of 10 meters for opening every 100 years, and the other at a depth of 15 meters for opening after 5,000 years.
The first of these time capsules was actually opened early on March 15, 2000, just 30 years from the burial date. Of the 2,098 items in the capsule, 173 were inspected. Even though bacteria in some containers were found to be dead, most items had retained their original performance and states. Products such as a rice cooker and a TV set functioned normally, and testing of plant seeds found that they were still capable of germinating. Following these inspection activities, the time capsule was reburied on November 23 of the same year.
On March 15, 2003, three seedlings of Japanese red pine that grew from seeds extracted from the time capsule during the inspection were planted in the Expo Memorial Park as "trees from the time capsule." These trees tell people of the dignity of life. As living witnesses of EXPO' 70, these strong-growing pine trees evoke in us the desire to sustain and expand the dreams contained in the time capsules.
The three young pine trees represent three wishes: a wish for the germination of life, a wish for the Earth, and a wish for carrying dreams into the future.
Two young Japanese red pine trees of the same origin were planted in the grounds of the Konosuke Matsushita Museum on March 14, 2005.
As you enter the Konosuke Matsushita Museum, you will quickly come across a place where the early life of Konosuke, from his birth to the foundation of Panasonic, is presented on film.
The images you will see in the film are from a collection of paintings entitled "Gaden Matsusita Konosuke Michi" which was delivered as a memorial gift to Konosuke by his employees on November 27, 1978.
This collection, produced by Shigetaka Sawada, painter and former Panasonic employee, depicted the life of Konosuke Matsushita in 162 illustrations.
Upon receiving this pictorial biography, Konosuke responded: "Each piece superbly reproduces a scene from my life. Seeing it, I am overwhelmed by vivid memories of those days."
A special exhibition of photographic reproductions of these pictures in May 1979 impressed so many visitors that we decided to compile them into a book. The books were distributed to employees, partner companies and selected customers on May 5, 1981, when Panasonic celebrated its 50th anniversary.
In 1994, as Panasonic celebrated the 100th year after the birth of Konosuke Matsushita, these pictures were combined with others depicting the life of the Founder in his later years to produce a film entitled "The Road of an Industrialist - A Pictorial Biography of Konosuke Matsushita." The footage you will see at the Konosuke Matsushita Museum is part of that film.
Konosuke prepared the first trademark for his company in February 1920.
One day, Konosuke visited the shrine of Iwashimizu Hachimangu in Kyoto and brought back an arrow that was said to dispel evil. Looking at it, he was inspired to design a trademark that combined the letter "M" for "Matsushita" with an arrow.
Thus was Panasonic's first trademark conceived. To Konosuke, this symbol represented powerful movement toward the target and a determination to break through all barriers.
The trademark was printed on products, appeared in catalogues and advertisements, and was also used as the company logo.
Many of the products on display at the museum carry this historic trademark.
In September 12, 1978, Konosuke Matsushita announced that he would found the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management (MIGM) with himself as Director and Principal. Its purpose was to develop leaders in political and other fields with a view to make Japan an ideal country in the 21st century. He funded the institution with an outlay of 7 billion yen from his own pocket.
On April 1, 1980, during a ceremony for the admission of students of the inaugural class, Konosuke spoke as follows: "This is a place where students are expected to develop themselves by trying to find answers to questions through their own efforts. After attending this institute for the minimum period of three years, you will be equipped to put into practice a considerable body of learning about politics and economics. As we move into the future, we must always think about putting into practice whatever we have learned. For that, you need strong faith. Your major task at the institute is to develop that faith. After your three years at the institute, you will attain a certain degree of accomplishment. Then, you should spend the following two years preaching on the streets or preparing for the future by working in different milieus of society. So, over the course of five years, you are going to develop understanding of all aspects of human activities. You must attain such a level of understanding that, immediately after graduating from the institute, you would be ready to serve as Minister of Education if you were to be asked to assume that office."
Konosuke Matsushita passed away in April 1989. On July 23 of that year, a Gathering of Disciples was held to commemorate both the founder and the 10th anniversary of the institute. This included a ceremony for the unveiling of a bronze statue of Konosuke produced under the direction of the distinguished sculptor Denchu Hiragushi by his disciple, Taizo Hamada. The statue stands at 2.4 meters and weighs 300 kilograms.
You will find smaller bronze statues of Konosuke, approximately one third the size, at the Konosuke Matsushita Museum and at the Matsushita Memorial Library.
As a boy, Konosuke served an apprenticeship at the Godai Bicycle Shop. He once was heard to say, "I grew up in the bicycle industry. I was raised by the bicycle industry." One of his early inventions was a bullet-shaped bicycle lamp, and he was passionate about bicycles. In the early days, he would personally test-ride every model marketed by Panasonic.
There is an interesting anecdote from his time as an apprentice at the Godai Bicycle Shop. Konosuke was looking forward having a photo taken with others on the anniversary of the shop's opening. However, the photo session happened while he was out of the shop on an errand. Upon learning that he had been left out of the photo, Konosuke wept with regret. However, the sympathetic wife of the shop owner brought him to a photo studio where he had his picture taken with her. This picture is on display at the Konosuke Matsushita Museum.
Bicycle racing was very popular in those days. Racers frequented the Godai Bicycle Store because it also sold racing machines. Saying, "I would like to be a bicycle racer," Konosuke participated in racing competitions, and even won first prize in one event. But, after taking a fall during a race, he gave up training and would never race again.
During his apprenticeship at the Godai Bicycle Shop, Konosuke was taught to obey the strict disciplines of a merchant, which included how to greet customers and to bow. "This helped me greatly later in my life," commented Konosuke.
In the museum, you will see a bicycle with the bullet-shaped bicycle lamp.
You will find a commemorative plaque displayed in the President's Room that has been reproduced at the Konosuke Matsushita Museum. This plaque was affixed to the upper part of the structure when the new head office of Panasonic was being built in Kadoma, in 1933. It was revealed and retrieved when the building was demolished at the end of 1967.
On the commemorative plaque, you will read "Nakamura Komuten" as the name of the builder. In 1920, just as Konosuke was buying a site for his new factory, the president of Nakamura Komuten happened to purchase a neighboring site from the same landowner. So, he lived next-door to Konosuke's factory.
As a result, the two men got to know each other. The office and factory buildings occupied by the company during its early years, including those in Ohiraki-cho and the first ones in Kadoma, were built by Nakagawa Komuten.
One day, the president of Nakagawa Komuten asked Konosuke, "Which of your products are selling well, these days?" Konosuke replied: "Battery lamps are selling well at the moment. I am currently experimenting with wooden templates for molding the casings. Would you like to come to my home and help me to finish them?" Accepting the invitation, the president of Nakagawa Komuten made for Konosuke the wooden templates for molding the casings for bullet-shaped bicycle lamps.
By 1922, Konosuke's company was receiving so many orders that it became impossible to process them all at the existing workshop, despite Konosuke's many attempts to improve it. At that point, Konosuke decided to build a head office and a factory in Ohiraki-cho. He designed the factory layout himself, and had a stereographic drawing produced based on his design. Konosuke remembered how he felt when he first saw the drawing: "What a difference from our existing workshop! I began to find new meaning in what I was doing in my life." He was thrilled to see the progress of construction work: "I was so happy about the construction that I went every day to see how it was progressing, taking short breaks from my work, whenever I had the chance."