Osaka's Business Founders, Who Turned New Inventions Into New Industries

Creating a new culinary culture on a pharmaceutical knowledge base

Osaka is home to numerous food manufacturers. Building on the knowledge and techniques concerning aromas and flavors accumulated by the pharmaceutical industry, the Westernization of the dinner table from the second half of the 19th century onwards generated a whole new business.

Mr. Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, had worked for an Osaka wholesale merchant dealing in medicines. In 1907, he launched Akadama Port Wine, a port wine that suited the Japanese palate based on Spanish wines. Mr. Seisuke Urakami, who established House Foods Corporation, started researching how to make curry from the spices used in medicines, and introduced instant curry powder in 1926. Mr. Riichi Ezaki, founder of Ezaki Glico, had the idea of using glycogen in snacks. Glycogen is a substance found in oysters, which are highly nutritious. After much hard work, in 1921 he created Glico, a nutritious caramel-flavored candy.

These business entrepreneurs started from the desire to enliven the Japanese diet, and for this purpose they proactively adopted new technologies. Mr. Komakichi Torii, who founded Asahi Breweries, set up a brewery by importing the latest technologies from Germany, and launched a Japanese-made beer to suit the Japanese palate in 1892.

Mr. Momofuku Ando, who established Nissin Food Products, began research on noodles that could be stored for long periods and easily cooked. In 1958 he created the world's first instant noodles (“Chicken Ramen”), which only needed hot water poured over them to be ready to eat.


Shinjiro Torii (1879-1962)
Mr. Torii refined his aesthetic sensibilities by working at a pharmaceutical wholesaler that also handled overseas products.


A poster for Akadama Port Wine produced in 1922. It drew great attention as Japan's first nude poster.


An early House Curry wrapper


Seisuke Urakami (1892-1966)
Mr. Urakami took the then unusual steps of carrying out demonstrations and offering samples on the street, with the aim of making curry a household dish.


Riichi Ezaki (1882-1980)
Mr. Ezaki created new products through original ideas such as developing nutritious candies and selling snacks in sets with small toys.

Glico Neon

The Ezaki Glico neon sign set up by Osaka's Ebisubashi bridge in 1935 has changed its form several times over the years, but remains a symbol of Osaka.

World's First Instant Noodles

The world's first instant noodles, launched almost 50 years ago. Today, 85.7 billion servings of instant noodles are consumed worldwide every year.


Momofuku Ando (1910-2007)
Mr. Ando developed Cup Noodles after watching an American putting Chicken Ramen into a paper cup, pouring on hot water, and eating it.


Komakichi Torii (1853-1909)
Mr. Torii had been engaged in making sake in the town of Sakai, south of Osaka, but he focused his attention on the future potential of beer and established a brewery.


A newspaper advertisement for Asahi Beer published in 1892. The building in the foreground is the brick-built brewery, while famous Osaka landmarks are depicted in the background.

From: Brand-New Osaka vol.6 (2007.9.)