Discover the story of Japan’s modernisation and see how pioneering feudal lord Shimadzu Nariakira changed the course of history
In the late 19th century Japan faced pressure from the outside world to open its borders, shaking the feudal society of the Edo period to its core. In response to this pressure Shimadzu Nariakira, lord of Satsuma, started a series of projects to bring modern industrial technology to Japan. Collectively known as the Shuseikan, these modernisation initiatives began with the construction of a Reverberatory Furnace to produce iron cannon next to Nariakira’s residence at Sengan-en.
Find out why Kagoshima was among the first regions of Japan to modernise and the reason why Nariakira chose to build a factory complex next to Sengan-en at the Kagoshima World Heritage Orientation Centre. Learn how the Satsuma samurai modified designs from a Dutch textbook to successfully reproduce complex industrial technology without outside help.
See a model of the Reverberatory Furnace and discover how the samurai of Kagoshima innovated on the original designs by combining traditional Japanese craftsmanship and western technology to produce a working structure before visiting the site of the furnace.
Find out how Nariakira motivated his samurai to keep trying despite repeated failures, resulting in the only example of unassisted industrialisation outside of Europe.
The Shuseikan was recognised as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site related to Japan’s Meiji Period Industrialisation in 2015 as a result of this incredible achievement.
Shoko Shuseikan Museum
Follow the course of the Shimadzu family over 800 years, and see how the international relations they forged led to the development of industrialisation in modern Japan. The Shoko Shuseikan Museum is housed in the oldest stone factory building in Japan, built in 1865 by pioneering lord Shimadzu Nariakira.