Silk production, c. 1920
“At the start of the 20th century, silk was Japan’s main export product (mainly to Europe and the US). As the quality of raw silk is difficult to measure, absorbs much moisture and was largely sold by weight, this government-run institution was inaugurated in August, 1896, to test silk for weight and quality.
“Designed by Oto Endo, a pioneer in reinforced-concrete design, the Silk Conditioning House was completed in 1926. It still stands today and is used as the Yokohama No. 2 Joint Government Office Building.”
“It had been recognised for some time both by the public and the Government that, as a means of promoting the export of the raw silk produced in the country, an official silk conditioning house should be established to undertake the condition weighing of silk and determine its quality, but it was not until 1894 that the arrangements for the foundation of such an institution were finally made.
“Instruments similar to those employed in the most modern conditioning houses were imported, and two establishments modelled on those in use in Europe and America were opened in 1896, one in Yokohama and the other in Kobe. The latter however was obliged to close its doors in 1901 owing to the fact that it had not sufficient business to justify its existence. On the other hand, the work at the Yokohama establishment increased rapidly and to-day it is regarded as an important adjunct to the silk industry.
“… The examination is conducted free on the application of either the buyer or seller. As a matter of fact, however, the merchants in Yokohama when purchasing silk usually submit the material to an examination on their own premises where they keep instruments similar to those used in several of the tests applied in the conditioning house.”
– Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Miscellaneous Series, No. 672, edited at the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade, 1909