Shimadzu’s Relationship to Storage Batteries
Origin of the Name GS Yuasa Battery
The GS Yuasa battery brand is famous for being widely used in automobiles and motorcycles. The GS actually comes from the initials of Genzo Shimadzu (Jr.), the son of the founder of Shimadzu Corporation and its first president.
Japan’s Edison: Genzo Shimadzu Jr.
Born in 1869, Genzo Shimadzu Jr. (hereafter Genzo) invented many things in his 82 years and has been called Japan's Edison. He managed to teach himself a great deal about physics and chemistry, even though he only completed three years of elementary school to help with his family's business. Driven by curiosity and a passion for science and technology, he developed and manufactured physics and chemistry equipment, and was recognized as one of Japan’s top ten inventors in 1930.
Genzo Shimadzu Jr.
Batteries Named after his Initials
In the Meiji period, the production of electrical products increased in line with industrial development. At the same time, however, the supply of electric power was insufficient, which increased the demand for storage batteries. Genzo realized the importance of domestic production of storage batteries and began to produce them, using overseas products as a reference.
In 1897, he completed a small lead-acid battery with a capacity of 10 amperes. This was the first industrially manufactured storage battery in Japan. It was later named "GS Battery" after his initials.
The storage battery business was subsequently separated from Shimadzu and became independent with the establishment of Japan Storage Battery Co., Ltd. in 1917. This technology and the spirit behind its creation live on in today's GS Yuasa International Ltd.
Electric Vehicle on the Streets of Kyoto in the Taisho Period
At present, electric vehicles are attracting attention. However, in the Taisho period, Genzo preferred to drive a Detroit electric car imported from the U.S. about 100 years ago.
He equipped this Detroit vehicle with his GS battery and used it to commute to work. Known as Genzo's silk hat because of its shape, it was the focus of interest for the people of Kyoto.
Genzo Shimadzu Jr. and his Detroit Vehicle
(Photo provided by: GS Yuasa International Ltd. ）
After Genzo's death, his Detroit vehicle was carefully stored. In 2008, GS Yuasa established its Detroit Electric Vehicle Restoration Project and managed to get it running again in 8 months. Currently, the Detroit is on display in the company's lobby.
Today, there are many electric vehicles cruising the streets. I wonder if Genzo envisioned such a future when he drove his Detroit car around Kyoto.
Shimadzu’s relationship to storage batteries is introduced in The dream of "Made in Japan" in the “Visionary” section of our website.