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1890s: Signature of Katsutaro Inabata, our founder
This is the signature of Katsutaro on a letter sent to a transaction partner in France shortly after our founding.
The name "Inabata" follows the initials "I. K."
The letter also included placement of an order to the Lumiere Brothers, who invented the cinematograph, the first motion-picture camera/projector which Katsutaro was trying to import from France.
1893 and 1895: Ads in industrial journals
In its early days, Inabata Senryoten (renamed to Inabata Shoten in1893) sold dyestuffs imported first from a major French dye manufacturer, "Société Anonyme des Matierès Clolorantes & Produits Chimiques de St. Denis," followed by many other manufacturers overseas. Katsutaro placed advertisements for his products in journals of related industries published in various regions. He also endeavored to enlighten industries about the products by contributing commentary on dyeing methods. The ads of the day had a design accented with the IK logo.
1894: Stage curtain sent to the Ichikawa Sadanji troupe
In cooperation with Nippon Orimono (Japan Textile Company), one of Japan's two leading weaving companies, Katsutaro Inabata succeeded in commercializing Orihime Shusu, a domestically-produced black satin product to replace the imported satin “Nanking-Shusu” then in vogue.
Along with the sales of Orihime, a troupe led by kabuki actor Ichikawa Sadanji staged Orihime no Shusu Enishi no Iroito, a play to publicize the product, at the Meiji-za theater in Tokyo. The stage curtain sent to the troupe by Inabata Shoten for this staging also bears the IK logo.
1897: “Happi” uniform at Inabata Dye House
In 1897, when the level of domestic dyeing technology was gradually rising, Katsutaro established Inabata Dye House which was dedicated to dyeing work. He introduced state-of-the-art dyeing machines and the latest dyes from overseas, and took a personal hand in cultivating the development of technicians and workers at the Dye House. Until it was handed over to Toyobo Co., Ltd. in 1935, Inabata Dye House devised and produced excellent goods including maroon dyes used for women's “hakama” style skirts and khaki dyes for military uniforms.
1897: Relocation to Osaka
In October 1897, Katsutaro moved Inabata Shoten to the Minami-Semba (where our head office is still located) in Osaka, Japan's biggest center of commerce at that time. He made the move so the company could achieve an additional leap, and used the new location as the headquarters of the business. In the photograph of the relocated store can be seen several boxes marked with the IK logo.
From 1897 to around 1917: Souvenir towel from the Osaka store of Inabata Shoten
The IK souvenir towel was presented to customers in this period.
1901: The new Tokyo branch in Horidome-cho
As the domestic economy rapidly developed, the company opened up an office in the Hongoku-cho district of Tokyo's Nihonbashi Ward in 1894. In 1901, the company opened the new Tokyo branch store in Horidome-cho. The IK logo is displayed high on the wall of the new building for all to see.
1918: Establishment of Inabata & Co., Ltd.
Reacting swiftly to the changing times, Katsutaro converted his privately-run store into a corporation to pave the way for further advancement of the business. The design of the stock certificates issued upon incorporation also bears the IK logo.
1923: Recovery and temporary store shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake
On September 1, 1923, the Tokyo branch was destroyed by the huge earthquake that shook the whole Kanto region. From its main store in Osaka, the company sent donations, apparel, and food to provide relief for the survivors. The company also set up a temporary office in Tokyo shortly after the quake, and opened a new store there in March 1924
Around 1925: Pamphlet for champagne
The list of products handled by Inabata & Co. was no longer confined to chemicals and dyestuffs; it had expanded to include machinery and even western-style alcoholic beverages. On the left is a pamphlet for champagne with the red IK logo.
Around 1926: The founder’s top hat
Our founder Katsutaro loved to wear this top hat on important occasions. On the inside is the IK logo.
Around 1936: Inabata’s employee baseball team
The baseball uniforms were emblazoned with the IK logo.
1937: At the Kyoto branch in Aburanokoji
The branch in Kyoto, where the first store was opened, was closed in February 1941 as wartime controls were tightened. The IK logo was also used on the lanterns in front of the store.
Around 1938: "Aikei (IK) Jiho"
When war broke out, Inabata employees were among the men who were drafted and sent to battlefields. The company showed its concern for its employees in uniform by sending them a bag of comforts every month. At the same time, the company published “Aikei (IK; meaning love and respect) Jiho,” a newsletter relating the activities of the soldiers and employees inside and outside Japan, to link the men in the field with the people back home.
1946: Dyestuff can label
The wartime controls were lifted, and the company resumed its handling of dyestuffs. In 1949, it became a special agent of Nissin Chemical Co., Ltd. (now Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.) In the year after, the company resumed its import based on preferred foreign currency and expanded its import of dyestuffs by becoming a special agent for many companies overseas. The IK logo was naturally on the labels of cans holding dyestuffs in this period.
1948: Aikei (IK) calligraphy by Katsutaro Inabata
Katsutaro Inabata, our founder, grounded the business in the spirit of love and respect (ai and kei in Japanese) and asserted that the company could win the trust of society only if it always retained its integrity.
1954: New building for the Osaka head office
Once the period of post-war disruption was over, the company erected a new building for its main store in Osaka in May 1954. The letters IK were displayed at the very top of the building. The company made the transition from postwar recovery and entered a new phase of booming economic growth.
1987: Reception area of Siam Inabata Co., Ltd.
The subsidiary Siam Inabata Co., Ltd. (now Inabata Thai Co., Ltd.) was established in Thailand, where many Japanese firms have sited. At the time of its founding, the reception area was also emblazoned with the IK logo.
2001: The IK mark and company logo today
In 2001, the company formulated the "Creative Guidelines of Inabata & Co., Ltd." and unified the logo type. It was at this time that IK acquired its current color and shape as a symbol of our resolve to carry on the tradition and trust we have accumulated over the preceding 110 years as well as of our vitality and uniqueness for blazing the future.