Patent Office

Image: 「 合衆国褒巧院」。Patent Office. Source: Courtesy of the Kume Museum of Art. 

During the afternoon of April 2, 1872, the delegates made a trip to the U.S Patent Office. The group was impressed by the thousands of inventions listed and on display – everything from toys to steamship designs. Kume Kunitake, the avid diarist of the journey, translated the name of the building to, “the Institution for rewarding ingenious inventions” (褒巧院). Kume noted that the degree of recognition given to an invention was determined by its quality. According to him, Americans were most proud of their mechanical and machine-related achievements, most notably the steamship and the eclectic telegraph. Soon after the group returned to Japan, the Meiji government issued an ordinance to create a prototype for the country’s modern day Patent Office.

Image: 「同院内景」。Inside the Patent Office. Source: Courtesy of the Kume Museum of Art. 

Kume, Kunitake. “A Record of Washington, D.C., 2.” In Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 64-67. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

National Archives of Japan 国立公文書館. “公文書にみる 発明のチカラー明治期の產業技術と発明家たち” [Reading from archives: the Power of Invention—Industrial Technology and the Inventors Behind].