Company History

History

Since 1912

MeijiPeriod (1868–1912)

Founded in 1912 by Kikumatsu Ogawa

Kikumatsu Ogawa was born in Kawane Village, Ibaraki Prefecture in 1888. He moved to Tokyo in 1902, where he worked at Taiyodo and Shiseido before going independent and founding Seibundo on June 1, 1912 at the age of 26 as a literary agency in the city’s Kandanishiki-cho district. This was the same year that the Titanic sunk, Japan participated in the Summer Olympics for the first time at the Olympic Games held in Stockholm, and Osaka’s landmark Tsutenkaku Tower was completed.

TaishoPeriod (1912–1926)

Founded Three Magazines Still in Circulation

While still operating as a literary agency, in 1913 Seibundo published its first book, Selfish (Wagamama) by Yabuno Mukuju (real name: Genji Shibukawa). This was followed by the release of Sea Romance (Umi no romansu) by Tachio Yonekubo (real name: Mitsusuke Yonekubo), a bestseller said to have inspired people to enroll in merchant vessel training and naval schools.

In 1918, Seibundo released the first volume of The Essentials One Should Learn (Kore dake wa kokoroe-okubeshi) series of lifestyle and etiquette books in response to the spread of democratic ideas in society. This series would go on to include 16 volumes that together sold 1.2 million copies, helping to lay the foundation for Seibundo’s future publications in the lifestyle, hobby and practical guide genres.

Then on September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo and the wider Kanto area. Seibundo’s office building burnt down in the resulting fires, yet it still managed to quickly release Field Survey of the Great Quakes and Fires in Tokyo (Jicchi chosa taishin taika no tokyo), which sold out its print run of 28,000 copies in less than a month. Kikumatsu Ogawa later reflected, “Thanks to the cooperation of the various parties involved, we were able to publish that work with incredible haste. It was the proudest moment of my life.”

Amid the post-quake recovery in 1924, Seibundo released the first issue of Science for Kids (Kodomo no kagaku), a magazine designed to teach children the scientific and technological knowledge required for rebuilding. With public and commercial radio broadcasts set to commence in Japan, that same year Seibundo launched the magazine MJ Wireless Radio and Experiments (Musen to jikken) to communicate developments in wireless radio technology.

Around the same time, Seibundo released its first issue of Practical Horticulture (Jissai engei), which was renamed Agriculture and Horticulture (Noko to engei) after World War II. These three magazines contributed to post-disaster recovery and are still published today.

1913

Released in 1913

Wagamama

Wagamama

1923

Released in 1923

Field Survey of the Great Quakes and Fires in Tokyo

Jicchi Chosa Taishin Taika no Tokyo

1924

Released in 1924

MJ Wireless Radio and Experiments

Musen to Jikken

Released in 1924

Science for Kids

Kodomo no Kagaku

1926

Released in 1926

Practical Horticulture

Practical Horticulture (Jissai Engei), later renamed Agriculture and Horticulture (Noko to Engei)

ShowaPeriod (1926–1989)

Company Name Changed to Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing

Around the start of the Showa Period (1926–1989), Seibundo began focusing more on advertising. For one year, it was even the industry leader in newspaper ad spending. Seibundo also founded a number of new magazines including Games and Sports, further strengthening its presence in the magazine market.

Seibundo released Desktop Dictionary (Kijo jiten) in 1932, which was a Japanese dictionary with accompanying English entries and handwritten script. These unique features were met with widespread praise and later follow-up editions were released, making Desktop Dictionary a popular seller in the market for years afterward.

In 1935, Seibundo merged with Shinkosha and was renamed its current name, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing Co., Ltd.

The 1940 book Steel or Flesh (Tetsu ka niku ka) by Minetaro Yamanaka, which depicted the Nomonhan Incident between the Soviet Union and Japan in Manchuria, became a bestseller. In addition to publishing activities, Seibundo hosted a number of events, including a model and diorama exhibition at the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store of the Mitsukoshi department store chain, which was subsequently held every other year, an Alexander Graham Bell science exhibition at the Toho Theater, a model airplane competition, and an airborne battle competition, held in a military officer club.

1932

Released in 1932

Desktop Dictionary

Kijo Jiten

1940

Released in 1940

Steel or Flesh

Tetsu Ka Niku Ka

Publication of Postwar Bestseller Anglo-Japanese Conversation Manual

World War II ended in August 1945, with Tokyo a charred wasteland following the Allied firebombings. Just a month and a half later in October, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing released the Anglo-Japanese Conversation Manual (Nichibei kaiwa techo). The book sold 3.6 million copies the first year, making it a historic postwar bestseller.

During the decade after 1945, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing released Astronomy Yearbook (Tenmon nenkan), Pet Dog Guide (Aiken no tomo) and Idea, part of a series of works that continue to be published today. It also published the Unabridged Tamagawa Encyclopedia (Tamagawa hyakka daijiten) series in cooperation with Tamagawa University, which prompted the 1967 publication of Tamagawa Children’s Encyclopedia (Tamagawa jido hyakka jiten).

Brain (now published by another company) was founded in 1961 and Monthly Astronomy Guide (Gekkan tenmon gaido) was launched in 1965, with the latter (together with Astronomy Yearbook) helping to establish astronomy as a central genre of Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing.

The latter part of the Showa era saw the debut of other popular publications, including Collection of Swift-flying Paper Airplanes (Yoku tobu kamihikoki-shu) by Yasuaki Ninomiya, a longtime bestseller series that sold millions of copies, as well as Collection of Common Test Questions: Complete Memorization Style Amateur MJ Wireless Radio Textbook (Kanzen maru-anki shokyu amachua musen yosomondai-shu), which became the go-to study guide for amateur wireless radio exam hopefuls. Finally, 1984 saw the first issue of Florist, largely completing Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing’s current lineup of magazine offerings.

1945

Released in 1945

Anglo-Japanese Conversation Manual

Nichibei Kaiwa Techo

1949

Released in 1949

Astronomy Yearbook

Tenmon Nenkan

1952

Released in 1952

Pet Dog Guide

Aiken no Tomo

Released in 1952

Idea

Idea

1965

Released in 1965

Monthly Astronomy Guide

Gekkan Tenmon Gaido

1984

Released in 1984

Florist

Florist

HeiseiPeriod (1989–2019)

New Bestsellers in a Wide Range of Genres

Ongoing social and cultural diversification in Japan spurred Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing to publish works in a wider range of genres. Design Note, debuting in 2004, was a mook (a combination of book and magazine formats) that spawned multiple reprints and shined a light on the work of designers.

In 2012, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing celebrated its 100th anniversary. Pursuing a more diverse range of publications, it launched the G-Novels imprint of translated entertainment works that kicked off with a Mad Max: Fury Road visual novel. Other works with ties to films, foreign TV shows and video games as well as American comic books were subsequently translated. Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing also launched the online magazine Yomimono.com, which focuses on personal development topics with articles, essays and other works published as standalone pieces.

More recently, Seibundo has released handicraft books such as Pom Pom Animals (Dobutsu ponpon) by trikotri, bestselling cookbooks including Staub Waterless Cooking (Sutoubu de musui chori) by Yuka Ohashi, and other noteworthy works. A read-aloud series, which includes Raising Your Child to Love Cooking: 365 Fascinating Stories (Ryori suki na ko ni sodatsu fushigi no ohanashi 365), has sold a combined total of more than 160,000 copies.

These are some of the new bestsellers in contemporary genres that Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing has produced while sustaining its long-established series and works.

2004

Released in 2004

Design Note

Design Note

2015

Released in 2015

Raising Your Child to Love Science: 365 Fascinating Stories

Rika Suki na Ko ni Sodatsu Fushigi no Ohanashi 365

2016

Released in 2016

Pom Pom Animals

Dobutsu Ponpon

2017

Released in 2017

Staub Waterless Cooking

Sutaubu de Musui Chori

ReiwaPeriod (2019–Present)

Embarking on the Reiwa Era

As Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing embarks on the Reiwa era (2019–), it continues to pursue its corporate philosophy of “Contributing to people’s lifestyles, culture, science and technology” by publishing magazines and books in wide-ranging fields, organizing various events and selling related merchandise.

Timeline

1912SEIBUNDO founded by Kikumatsu Ogawa, age 26
1922First issues of Commercial Shop Business (Shoten-kai) and Science Illustrated (Kagaku Gaho) released
1923Field Survey of the Great Quakes and Fires in Tokyo (Jicchi Chosa Taishin Taika no Tokyo) published
1924First issues of MJ Wireless Radio and Experiments (Musen to Jikken) and Science for Kids (Kodomo no Kagaku) released
1925First issue of Advertising World (Kokoku-kai) released
1926First issue of Practical Horticulture (Jissai Engei), precursor to Agriculture and Horticulture (Noko to Engei), released
1931First issue of Games released
1932First issue of Sports released
1935SHINKOSHA absorbed by SEIBUNDO through a merger and company name changed to SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd.
1938First issue of Science for Elementary School Students (Shogakusei no Kagaku) released
1942First issue of Flight for Kids (Koku Shonen) published
1945Anglo-Japanese Conversation Manual (Nichibei Kaiwa Techo) published, setting a publishing-industry record through sales exceeding 3.6 million copies
1946Practical Horticulture (Jissai Engei) name changed, released anew as Agriculture and Horticulture (Noko to Engei)
1947First issue of Children’s Handicrafts (Shonen Kosaku) released
1948First issue of Introduction to Radio (Shoho no Rajio) released
1949First issues of Production Research (Seisan Kenkyu), Curriculum and Astronomy Yearbook (Tenmon Nenkan) released
1950First issue of Radio and Television released
1951First issue of The Game of Go (Igo) released
1952First issues of Pet Dog Guide (Aiken no Tomo) and Guide to the Game of Go (Igo no Tomo) released
1953First issues of Idea and Speed Life released
1957First issue of World of Hunting (Shuryo-kai) released
1959Overview of Japanese Geography, Manners and Customs (Nippon Chiri Fuzoku Taikei) published
1960Overview of World History (Sekaishi Taikei) series completed (17 volumes)
1961First issues of Brain and Science for Students (Gakusei no Kagaku) released; World of Hunting (Shuryo-kai) goes independent and Shuryokai Co., Ltd. is founded
1962First issue of Garden Life released; the Company celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding
1963Unabridged Tamagawa Encyclopedia (Tamagawa Hyakka Daijiten) series completed (31 volumes)
1964First issue of Electronic Prospects (Denshi Tenbo) released
1965First issue of Monthly Astronomy Guide (Gekkan Tenmon Gaido) released, Overview of World History, Manners and Customs (Sekai Chiri Fuzoku Taikei) series completed (23 volumes)
1966First issues of Kinki Region Business (Kinki Eigyo) and Season Display released
1967New edition of Unabridged Tamagawa Children’s Encyclopedia (Tamagawa Jido Hyakka Daijiten) series completed (21 volumes), Overview of Japanese Territory (Nippon Kokudo Taikei) released
1970Luxury book Encyclopedia of Japanese Bonsai (Nihon Bonsai Taikan) published
1971Ultra-luxury book Survey Drawings of Famous Japanese Landscape Gardens (Jissoku-zu Nihon no Meien) published
1972Cutout Book: Collection of Swift-flying Paper Airplanes (Kirinuku Hon: Yoku Tobu Kamihikoki-shu) released, Overview of Famous Go Players throughout History (Rekidai Meijin Utsugo Taikei) completed
1974Satsuki Bonsai Overview (Satsuki Bonsai Taikan) and Kyoto Landscape Garden Design (Kyoto no Zoen) released
1976New Unabridged Gardening Encyclopedia (Saishin Engei Daijiten) series completed (13 volumes)
1977Game of Go: The Unabridged Encyclopedia (Igo Daijiten) published
1980First issue of monthly magazine Bud (Me) released, Tamagawa Children’s Educational Encyclopedia (Tamagawa Kodomo Kyoiku Hyakka) published
1984First issue of Florist released
1985First issues of Device File, Portfolio and The Copywriters released
1986First issue of Chroma released, New Year’s Cards series released
1988First issue of Veggies (Vegeta) released
1990First issue of Theater Living released
1991First issue of Herb released
1992The Company celebrates the 80th anniversary of its founding
1993First issue of Cat Club (Neko Kurabu) released
1995First issue of Ink Painting School (Suiboku-ga Juku) released
1996First issue of Pottery Workshop (Tokobo) released
1998First issue of Woodcraft Workshop (Mokkobo) released
2000First issues of Audio Craft Magazine and DOGFAN released
2002The Company celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding
2004First issue of Design Note released
2006MJ Wireless Radio and Experiments (MJ Musen to Jikken) reaches its 1,000th issue
2009Pet Dog Guide (Aiken no Tomo) reaches its 700th issue
2012The Company celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding