Toyo Toki Company, Limited (now TOTO) was established as the first ceramic sanitary ware manufacturing company in Kokura, Kyushu in1917. Our Founder Kazuchika Okura poured his passion into Japanese ceramic sanitary ware.
In 1903, when he saw the cleanliness of pure white ceramic sanitary ware during a European inspection with his father, Magobe, Kazuchika Okura was convinced Japan was destined for a generation of ceramic sanitary ware. Toilets during that era were squat-style toilets which were placed outside. Kazuchika Okura began walking this path with a strong desire and a spirit of high resolve to always contribute to the growth of society by popularizing sanitary ceramic toilets.
Sanitary ware is ceramic that is used in plumbing equipment from bathtubs, drains, and toilet bowls to urinals and sinks. The decision to manufacture ceramic sanitary ware was immediate and bold when infrastructure such as sewers did not exist in each household for the installation of ceramic sanitary ware.
The creation of complex ceramic sanitary ware with large geometry was thought difficult. Starting research and manufacturing of ceramic sanitary ware which no one in Japan had ever attempted to tackle before did not earn the understanding of executives at Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha (current Noritake Co., Ltd.).
Magobe and Kazuchika Okura established the ceramic sanitary ware laboratory in 1912 as father and son with their own private funds. This started the research to open avenues into this new field.
A note about the state of prototypes written by the senior engineer at the time reads, "17,280 blends of bases and glazes have been test fired." Finally, after this massive undertaking of trial-and-error, Japan's first seated flush toilet was finally completed in 1914. When praised in test sales to have no inferiority to imported products, the decision to commercialize was made. Action to build a plant was set into motion.
Kokura was chosen as the place to construct our plant because raw material kaolin, Amakusa stone, and the charcoal for fuel were readily available. Moreover, Kokura provided good conditions close to Mojiko port, which was suitable for exports to Asia.
Toyo Toki Company, Limited was established in 1917.
The corporate name of Toyo, which incorporates the characters for east and west, demonstrates the strong will of Kazuchika to place emphasis not only on Europe and America but also on Eastern markets, such as Mainland China and Southeast Asia to reach out worldwide.
Founder Kazuchika vowed to be sincere in all things and was strongly determined to promote true commerce by outperforming European products and responding to worldwide supply and demand. TOTO was the first step as a ceramic sanitary ware manufacturer.
However, production and sales were not satisfactory at the time of our founding. We started to deepen understanding of restrooms, washrooms, and bathrooms by creating an enlightenment book for ceramic sanitary ware to help Japanese who had never seen ceramic sanitary ware comprehend its importance.
Kazuchika poured his passion into constructing a tunnel kiln for this plant as a way to innovate the fire kiln. In a letter written while observing processes in Europe in 1912, Kazuchika wrote, "After a detailed first-hand inspection of the porcelain firing tunnel kiln first found in Germany, I believe the temporary sacrifice to purchase and introduce this monopoly as soon as possible would contribute largely to profitability in the future. The tunnel kiln achieves a 45% reduction of coal, which is astonishing.” Kazuchika began negotiations to acquire the exclusive rights to use the tunnel kiln in Japan after his return home, but could not gain the approval of the executives. Kazuchika then took it upon himself with a private investment of his own money. Thereafter, Kazuchika entered into an agreement to acquire the exclusive rights with Dressler in the United Kingdom in 1918.
The tunnel kiln was introduced to allow continuous production, but almost the entire infrastructure, including sewers, had still not been built. Without orders for ceramic sanitary ware, the company was left waiting for the demand to grow while supporting management through the manufacture of tableware once production had begun.
One strategic move TOTO took to explore new avenues was opening a branch office in Tokyo. At the time, a wide range of western-style buildings had been built in Tokyo, but the ceramic sanitary ware to use was imported for these structures.
The Great Kanto Earthquake which struck In 1923 devastated roughly 40% of Tokyo and destroyed a number of these buildings. We received massive orders for TOTO's top-quality ceramic sanitary ware from luxury buildings with special recovery needs such as the reconstruction of the Marunouchi Building.
From 1926, our reconstruction business and the economic viability of the industry recovered due to the disaster. Demand for ceramic sanitary ware also exploded and TOTO grabbed a foothold to improve business thanks to sewer projects and construction of skyscrapers in Tokyo, which were becoming more modernized.
Kazuchika had had the idea to independently make fittings since our founding saying, "Ceramic sanitary ware is a product lead as a set with metal fittings, and I would therefore like to create our own superior fittings." The demand for fittings grew with varying performance while production increased. We began making our own fittings in 1946.
TOTO's core was formed with the ability to make its own fittings and it stepped into the industry as a full-fledged plumbing equipment manufacturer.
A broad range of new innovations came to fruition through the Japan Housing Corporation, which was established to resolve the housing shortage after the war, and greatly changed the residential landscape of Japan. The demand of plumbing equipment also grew together with other infrastructure from bullet trains and subways to sewer systems in 1964 for the Tokyo Olympics. The era started to evolve into a generation that saw plumbing equipment as a space.
TOTO actively worked in new fields to transition from single-piece products to composite products. Thereafter, TOTO leaped forward as a total housing equipment manufacturer.
We pursued customer satisfaction and always put in the effort to become closer to our customers in order to deepen our bonds. TOTO used an approach to provide satisfaction by surpassing the expectations of our customers. Our Company Mottos to "Take pride in your work and strive to do your best", "Quality and Uniformity", "Service and Trust", and "Cooperation and Prosperity" follow the spirit of our founder in business education. This spirit remains unchanged as it is passed down without fail to our employees even today.
TOTO has roots in many countries and regions as a global brand, and the company has established a presence for satisfying the needs of our customers living there. We are establishing a brand in each country and each region to promote further global expansion.