Company History

History

Since 1912

MeijiPeriod (1868–1912)

Founding of SEIBUNDO in 1912
by Kikumatsu Ogawa at Age 26

Company founder Kikumatsu Ogawa was born in Kawane-mura Village, Higashiibaraki-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture in 1888. He moved to Tokyo in 1902 where he worked at the Taiyodo and Shiseido before going independent and founding SEIBUNDO on June 1, 1912 as a book brokering agent 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 Games of the V Olympiad in Stockholm, and the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower was completed in Osaka, among other major events.

TaishoPeriod (1912–1926)

Founding of Three Magazines That Continue to This Day

While continuing with brokering operations, SEIBUNDO carried out its first-ever publication with the 1913 book Selfish (Wagamama) by Yabuno Mukuju (Genji Shibukawa). This was followed by their release of Sea Romance (Umi no Romansu) by Tachio Yonekubo (Mitsusuke Yonekubo), which became a bestseller and is said to have encouraged numerous people to apply for enrollment in merchant vessel training and naval schools.

In 1918, SEIBUNDO released the first in The Essentials One Should Learn (Kore Dake wa Kokoroe-okubeshi) series of lifestyle and social etiquette books in response to the spread of democratic ideas throughout society. This series would go on to include 16 volumes that together sold 1.2 million copies, helping to lay the foundations for future lifestyle, hobby and practical guide books and magazines later published by the Company.

Then, on September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo and the wider Kanto area. SEIBUNDO’s office building was burnt down in the resulting fires, yet the Company still managed to achieve a speedy release of their Field Survey of the Great Quakes and Fires in Tokyo (Jicchi Chosa Taishin Taika no Tokyo), which sold out all 28,000 copies within the month. Kikumatsu Ogawa, thinking back on this event, 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.”

As post-quake recovery efforts continued in 1924, the Company released the first issue of Science for Kids (Kodomo no Kagaku), which was created to teach children the scientific and technological knowledge required for rebuilding. Furthermore, because public and commercial radio broadcasts were set to commence soon in Japan, SEIBUNDO launched their MJ Wireless Radio and Experiments (Musen to Jikken) magazine that same year in order to further disseminate information on wireless radio technology.

Around the same time, the Company released its first issue of Practical Horticulture (Jissai Engei), which was renamed Agriculture and Horticulture (Noko to Engei) in the post–World War II period. This along with the other two magazines mentioned, which contributed to post-disaster recovery, are still published today and continue to serve as sources of information for society in their respective fields.

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

From the start of Japan’s Showa Period, SEIBUNDO adopted a more proactive attitude toward advertising based on the believe that one must not shy away from advertising and promotion expenses if one wants to effectively sell products. For one year, they even became the leader in their industry in terms of newspaper ad spending. Furthermore, the Company founded new magazines one after the next including Games and Sports, further strengthening the organization’s presence in the magazine market.

SEIBUNDO released their Desktop Dictionary (Kijo Jiten) in 1932, which was a Japanese dictionary with accompanying English entries and handwritten script. Thanks to these unique features, it met with widespread praise and later follow-up editions were released, making it a popular buy on the market for years to come.

In 1935, SEIBUNDO absorbed SHINKOSHA through a merger and took on the current company name, SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd..

Their 1940 book Tetsu Ka Niku Ka (Steel or Flesh) by Minetaro Yamanaka, which depicted the Nomonhan Incident conflict in Manchukuo between the Soviet Union and Japan, became a bestseller. In addition to publishing activities, the Company actively hosted a wide range of events, including a model and diorama exhibition at the Mitsukoshi Main Store (it would be held every other year following the first incarnation), an Alexander Graham Bell science exhibition at the Toho Theater, a model airplane competition, an airborne battle competition (held in a Army Hall), and various others.

1932

Released in 1932

Desktop Dictionary

Kijo Jiten

1940

Released in 1940

Steel or Flesh

Tetsu Ka Niku Ka

Publication of the Monumental Postwar Bestseller Anglo-Japanese Conversation Manual

World War II ended for Japan in August 1945, Tokyo a charred wasteland following the Allied bombings. Just a month and a half later, in October, SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing shocked the world by releasing their Anglo-Japanese Conversation Manual (Nichibei Kaiwa Techo). This book sold 3.6 million copies within the year, making it a historic postwar bestseller put out with unbelievable haste and selling at an unheard-of pace.

During the decade starting from 1945, the Company released Astronomy Yearbook (Tenmon Nenkan), Pet Dog Guide (Aiken no Tomo) and Idea, kicking off numerous series that continue to be published to this day. The Company also published the Unabridged Tamagawa Encyclopedia (Tamagawa Hyakka Daijiten) series in cooperation with Tamagawa University, which prompted the later publication in 1967 of the Tamagawa Children’s Encyclopedia (Tamagawa Jido Hyakka Jiten).

The company founded Brain (now published by another company) in 1961 and launched Monthly Astronomy Guide (Gekkan Tenmon Gaido) in 1965, with the latter (together with Astronomy Yearbook) helping to establish astronomy as a central theme of works published by SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing.

The latter part of the Showa era saw the debuts of other popular publications, including Collection of Swift-flying Paper Airplanes (Yoku Tobu Kamihikoki-shu) by Yasuaki Ninomiya, a longtime bestseller that moved millions of copies throughout its series publication, as well as the Collection of Common Test Questions: Complete Memorization Style Amateur MJ Wireless Radio Textbook (Kanzen Maru-anki Shokyu Amachua Musen Yosomondai-shu) which became a go-to study guide for amateur wireless radio exam hopefuls. Finally, 1984 saw the first issue of Florist, completing nearly all of the Company’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

Continuing societal and cultural diversification in Japan encouraged the Company to publish in an increasingly wide range of genres. Their Design Note, debuted in 2004, was a “mook” (a format combining the styles of a book and a magazine) yet saw multiple reprints, bringing greater attention by society to the work of designers.

In 2012, SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing celebrated the 100th anniversary of their founding. Pursuing efforts toward a more diverse range of publications, the Company launched their G-NOVELS brand of translated entertainment works and kicked things off with the Mad Max: Fury Road visual novel. They went on to translate other works tied in with films, foreign TV shows and video games, as well as American comic books. They also launched the online magazine Yomimono.com, which offers personal-development-focused feature articles, essays, and other reading materials published as standalone pieces.

In more recent years, the Company 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 unique works. Furthermore, the Company’s read-aloud series, including Raising Your Child to Love Cooking: 365 Fascinating Stories (Ryori Suki na Ko ni Sodatsu Fushigi no Ohanashi 365), have sold a combined total of more than 160,000 copies.

In these ways, SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing has produced bestsellers in new genres geared toward contemporary times while sustaining their 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)

As SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing embarks on the Reiwa era,

As SEIBUNDO SHINKOSHA Publishing embarks on the Reiwa era, they remain in steadfast pursuit of their corporate philosophy: “Contributing to people’s lifestyles, culture, science and technology.” To this end, the Company puts out magazines and books in a wide range of fields while also hosting events and selling products.

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