Image: Boston Rubber Shoe Company, 1853. 1904. Photograph. Malden Evening News.

On August 5, 1872, the delegation left the city of Boston to visit factories in nearby towns. From the time of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan had sought to emulate the advancing technology of Western nations. Hoping to get a better understanding of American manufacturing, the delegates divided into two groups in order to visit three factories in one day. The first group, led by Vice-Ambassadors Kido Takayoshi (1833-1877) and Itō Hirobumi (1841-1909), toured a shoe factory and a clothing factory in Hudson, Massachusetts. The second group, led by Vice-Ambassadors Masuka Yamaguchi (1839-1894) and Ōkubo Toshimichi (1830-1878), visited a factory that produced gold and silver utensils in Providence Rhode Island. Upon their return to Japan the delegation imparted their knowledge from these factory visits, and in the following years the country made rapid developments to its iron, steel, shipbuilding, and coal mining industries.


Kume, Kunitake. “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” In Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 103. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining.” https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1484/.