Norio Araki

Year: 1885-1976

Norio Araki was born in May 1885 in Iiyama, Nagano, the eldest son of the first retainer of the Iiyama clan. At the age of 15, he moved to Tokyo and became a student at the Takayama Kisai Dental Clinic in Ginza, Tokyo. In 1903 Araki entered the Tokyo Dental Academy. However, when the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, Araki decided to go to the United States to avoid the draft and pursue a career in dentistry. In 1905, he arrived in San Francisco via Hawaii. While staying at the home of Mr. Townsend, a professor at the University of Southern California, Araki met a researcher of high-solubility porcelain and received guidance from him. Shortly after, to avoid discrimination against Japanese Americans in California, he moved to New York City with the help of Tsurukichi Okumura, a medical doctor and bacteriologist. Okumura studied at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and was friends with Hideyo Noguchi of the Rockefeller Institute and Mitsuru Okada, a dentist.

Araki joined Stowe & Eddy Co., one of the largest dental laboratories in New York. Through an introduction by Okumura, Araki rented a room in Hideyo Noguchi‘s apartment. Noguchi and Araki lived together in an apartment on Lexington Avenue for three years until Noguchi married Mary and moved to Manhattan. At this time, he consults with Tsurukichi Okumura, Hideyo Noguchi, Mitsuru Okada, and others about his career path. They point out that becoming a dentist takes time and money, so he sets his sights on becoming a dental technician.

Araki worked in the porcelain department of Stowe & Eddy Co. and served as deputy director before retiring and opening the ARAKI DENTAL LABORATORY in 1915. Araki became more involved in the social circle of the Japanese community in New York as his laboratory progressed. He met Kajo Shofu, who had come to the U.S. to participate in the International Labor Conference in New York. Kajo was the president of Shofu Kogyo Co., established in the Meiji era as an export porcelain ceramic manufacturer of insulators and chemical porcelain in Kyoto. Shofu commissioned Araki to conduct research for the first production of artificial ceramic teeth in Japan.

In December 1918, Araki returned to Japan with his wife, Catherine. He joined Shofu Kogyo Co. in Kyoto as technical director and helped establish Shofu Porcelain Tooth Manufacturing Co. in 1922. In 1924, Araki introduced a ceramic tooth with a nickel pin, and in 1937 launched the Shofu Bio-Pottery. In 1945, Araki successfully produced the first resin tooth in Japan. Furthermore, at the request of Assistant Professor Yasuharu Kuwahara of the Department of Ophthalmology at Keio University Hospital, he also helped innovate acrylic resin artificial eyes for American soldiers injured in the Korean War. In 1976, he passed away at the age of 89.

Source: Dr. Teruo and Miyako Araki
Added Date: 07/13/2023