1. Early Years
Tadaka Kainosho, the founder of Takasago Perfumery Company (predecessor company of Takasago International Corporation), was born in May 1880 in Kyoto, Japan. During the Edo period (17th to 19th century), the Kainosho family was a samurai family, serving as hatamoto (direct retainers of shogun). In 1887, Tadaka entered the elementary school attached to Kyoto Normal School. After graduating, he attended Kyoto Prefectural Daiichi Junior High School. At that time, only a few students could go on to junior high school in Japan. Since Tadaka’s ties with fellow alumni were strong, a good number of them from Kyoto Prefectural Daiichi Junior High School later became involved with Takasago Perfumery Company. During junior high school, Tadaka was a strong, athletic student who played baseball. He was also good at judo and a fast runner.
After graduating from junior high school and then the Third High School of Kyoto, Tadaka entered the Department of Pure Chemistry, Kyoto Imperial University College of Science and Engineering in 1901. Kyoto Imperial University was the second university established in Japan. There, he majored in organic chemistry and remained at the laboratory after graduating in 1904. In 1906, he became an associate professor under Professor Mitsuru Kuhara, and while continuing his research, he gradually became fascinated in fragrances. Tadaka then became interested in studying in Europe, the center of the fragrances industry.
2. Departure to Europe
In September 1910, Tadaka set off for Europe from Kobe. After arriving in London a few months later in November, he went to Brussels and then left for Berlin on January 4, 1911. At the train station in Berlin, he found Dr. Shozaemon Keimatsu, who was Tadaka’s senior at Kyoto Prefectural Daiichi Junior High School, and other seniors waiting for his arrival. These young chemists would later become active in the pharmaceutical academia in Japan.
Tadaka talked about his desire to study fragrances with his seniors who were majoring in pharmaceutical science, a closely related field, and asked for their advice. They all agreed that the only way to study fragrances was to go to France. This convinced him to go to France. As a result, Tadaka immediately headed back to Brussels and then went to Dijon, France, where he focused on learning French. He was thinking of going to Grasse (France), the center of the fragrance industry, and sent a letter to a company in Grasse asking if he could visit. However, he received a reply in the form of a rejection letter saying that there was no company that would accept a Japanese who may steal France's fragrance production technology. Although disappointed, Tadaka was committed to his goal. He was determined to go to Grasse even if he could not find a suitable company. In the meantime, he decided to concentrate on his language studies and prepared for the future by reading books on perfumery written in French.
3. Experience in Grasse
Tadaka arrived in Grasse in May 1911. At that time, many women in Grasse worked in fragrance companies during the flowering season. The wife of the owner of the inn where Tadaka stayed was also involved in the production of fragrances. When she found that he had come to study and learn fragrances, she shared some of her experiences with him and gave him some information about fragrance companies.
In late May, Tadaka was allowed to visit a small fragrance company, J.B. Selin, as a “tour.” It was at a time when they were producing orange flower absolute. Since the plant was busy, he ended up helping in production tasks. The workers warmly welcomed him knowing that he had come all the way from Japan.
From the end of May to the middle of June, Tadaka worked diligently and gained a lot of knowledge about fragrances. At the end of June, he told the president of the company about his purpose of coming to Grasse and expressed his desire to learn about fragrances ingredients. The president listened and decided to allow Tadaka to study fragrances.
In the fall, he found a job with help from Professor Kuhara, his mentor at university. The company was called Marumiya which sold Mitsuwa Soap. Recognizing the future importance of fragrances, it was decided that Tadaka would be hired to work at Marumiya.
4. Experience in Geneva
After learning about natural aromatic ingredients in Grasse, Tadaka decided to look for a place where he could receive training in synthetic aroma ingredients. After consulting with the president of J.B. Selin, he wrote Tadaka a letter recommending him to a fragrance company based in Geneva.
In March 1912, he set foot for the first in a fragrance company located in a suburb of Geneva. After taking a tour of the plant, he was introduced to the chief engineer and would begin his training the next day. This is what led him to start refining and synthesizing synthetic aroma ingredients as he originally intended.
There was also one more thing that Tadaka really wanted to do, which was fragrance creation. From the latter half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the production and consumption of synthetic aroma ingredients had developed dramatically, and they were becoming the mainstream raw materials for fragrance compounds. Having witnessed the development and production of synthetic aroma ingredients, it was natural for him to shift his interest to the use of synthetic aroma ingredients.
At the end of 1912, Tadaka consulted with the company’s chief engineer who agreed to prepare a perfume blending room for him. In that blending room, he worked hard to create fragrances under the instruction of an experienced perfumer. Some of the formulas were left in old notebooks written by Tadaka at that time. Considering his job after returning to Japan, he also compounded fragrances for soaps.
5. Years at the Soap Company
After returning to Japan at the end of 1913, Tadaka settled in Tokyo and started working at Marumiya. In the beginning, his main work was creating fragrances. However, in July 1914, the World War I broke out and the effects of the war spread to the Japanese industrial world. While exports increased and the economy boomed, the chemical industry, which had depended on imports of raw materials from Europe, faced a difficult time due to the disruption of imports and the soaring prices. As a result, there was a demand for producing major raw materials domestically, and it was during this period that the chemical industry finally took off in Japan.
The fragrance industry was also dependent on imports from Europe, not only for synthetic aroma ingredients but also for essential oils and blended fragrances, so there was a demand for domestic products. Under Tadaka’s guidance, who came back from Europe at the perfect time, Marumiya started manufacturing synthetic aroma ingredients. He worked hard at the company to make use of what he had learned in Europe.
However, things took a turn when armistice negotiations began in 1918. As European industries recovered and imports resumed, the Japanese fragrances industry was unable to compete with the prices and quality of imported products. Due to the drop in sales of synthetic aroma ingredients, Marumiya decided to drastically downsize its aroma chemical division.
6. The Birth of Takasago
In July 1919, Tadaka resigned from Marumiya. The reason is that the company decided to downsize its synthetic aroma ingredients production business, forcing Tadaka and other employees in charge of fragrances to resign. More than 30 employees left Marumiya along with Tadaka.
Yoshinori Kishi, a senior of Tadaka who was a fellow student at Kyoto Imperial University that had also resigned from Marumiya, enthusiastically suggested that Tadaka establish a fragrance company. Although hesitant at first, he felt Kishi’s passion and finally decided to establish a full-fledged fragrance industry in Japan with the young engineers he had trained at Marumiya.
To meet the growing demand for fragrances, Tadaka prepared a prospectus for the establishment of a Japanese fragrances company that would utilize the fragrances resources of Asia without depending on imports and thereby contribute to the development of the nation. Tadaka worked hard to raise funds from his school friends and acquaintances. Fortunately, he obtained many investors and partners that were fellow graduates from Kyoto Imperial University and Kyoto Prefectural Daiichi Junior High School, and the establishment of a fragrance company by a group of engineers was realized.
As a result, Takasago was established on February 9, 1920 which consisted of a plant in Kamata, Tokyo, where the company's current headquarters is located. This led to the start of Takasago, a company that focuses on the production of synthetic aroma ingredients.