“The Kyoto Commercial Museum (Shāhin chinretsu-kwan), a permanent institution (open daily, no fees) housed in a commodious structure (cost 182,000 yen) near the Zoo, in Okazaki Park, was opened in 1909. Its trefoil crest, symbolic of the manufacture , the merchant, and the consumer, indicates its aim.
“The varied and beautiful display of products manufactured in Kyoto is worth seeing. The new brick structure opposite is the home of the excellently equipped Public Library.”
– Terry’s Japanese Empire, T. Philip Terry, 1914
“Kyoto has so keen the centre of art that a general custom prevails among the upper and more extravagant classes of society to have clothes and furniture made in this city so that the fashion of the country along these lines may be said to originate here.
“Unfortunately these facts are not generally known to visitors, especially to our foreign guests whose number has increased perceptibly in recent years. This is mainly due to the lack of a proper medium for making the true condition known to the public. The lack has been most keenly felt of late in Kyoto where many foreign firms are trying to introduce their products.
“In order to remedy this state of affairs, to promote local industry and to establish closer business relations with other parts of the world, the Kyoto Commercial Museum has been established.
“A resolution was passed by [the] Industrial Committee of the city which met in May, 1905, to the effect that a commercial museum should be established in commemoration of our great victory in the war just ended [Russo-Japanese War]. The resolution was finally passed as a bill by the City Counsel and work on the building was begun in November of the following year in Okazaki Park close to the zoological garden. The work was completed in April, 1909 … With the installation completed by Keisuke Niwa, director, the Museum was opened to the public on May 15, 1909, with appropriate ceremony.
“Besides promoting local industry and establishing closer business relations with other parts of the world, the institution has still another function as symbolized in the Museum’s crest – three petals indicating the heart of the manufacturer, the merchant, and the consumer, respectively.
“… The exhibits displayed consist mainly of articles manufactured in Kyoto; being samples of specimens of commodities that can be supplied according to need.
“In order to provide opportunities for our manufacturers to improve their goods by comparison to others, the Museum collects and exhibits samples of articles produced in other parts of the world. Moreoever, lectures will be given from time to time for the public under the auspices of the Museum.
“Furthermore, horticulture as an out-door exhibit is one of the features of the Museum. There have been laid out in [the] Museum grounds genuine Japanese gardens designed and made by the Landscape Gardening Society of the city. The beautiful and artistic arrangement of the trees, ponds and bridges, and the variety of landscapes introduced, will surely be a wonderful surprise to visitors.”
– The Official Catalogue, issued by the Kyoto Commercial Museum, 1910