Over two centuries ago in 1781, 32-year-old Chobei Takeda I started a business selling traditional Japanese and Chinese medicines in Doshomachi, Osaka, the center of the medicine trade in Japan. His small shop bought medicines from wholesalers, then divided them into smaller batches and sold them to local medicine merchants and doctors. This was the beginning of the present-day Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.
In April 1852, Chobei III demolished the old mansion in the southeast of Doshomachi Nakabashisuji and built a new home and a warehouse. These buildings lasted approximately 75 years until the construction of the head office building started in 1927.
Chobei Takeda IV led other medicine retailers in turning his attention to Western medicine. He formed a cooperative union for purchasing Western medicines in Yokohama and began transactions with foreign trading companies. Western medicines imported at the time included quinine, an anti-malaria drug, and phenol, an anti-cholera drug.
Takeda began direct imports from England, the U.S., Germany, Spain and other countries around 1895, and in 1907 obtained exclusive sales rights in Japan for products from the German company Bayer. Thus, the business that began as a shop selling old-fashioned Japanese and Chinese remedies steadily increased its selection of Western medicines, before shifting its basic orientation toward this kind of medicine.
In 1895, the Company acquired Uchibayashi Drug Works to establish its own factory in Osaka and became a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Products such as bismuth subgallate (an antidiarrheal agent) and quinine hydrochloride were produced at this factory. In 1907, the Company became the first company in Japan to produce saccharin.
In 1914, a research division is established. Around this time when the import from Germany has ended due to the World War I, Takeda began sales of its own products. Among these were Calmotin®(a sedative), Novoroform®(an analgesic) and Lodinon®(an injectable form of D-glucose). Takeda steadily expanded its pharmaceutical business and even began exports to the U.S., Russia and China.
Soon after starting producing its own products, the testing division was formed. The research division, which researched and developed new pharmaceutical products, was also formed in 1915. The R&D system formed during this period became the foundation which lead to the growth of Takeda.
In 1920, the eaves at the Takeda store were shortened. This photo shows the store prior to the changes being made.
In 1920, along with the shortening of the eaves, the roads in Doshomachi were also widened and wooden block pavements were laid. This photo shows the Takeda store after the changes were made.
Kusakabe Kasumimura’s drawing depicts the Takeda store that year in Doshomachi along with the Nakabashisuji street (the company is in the left center).
In 1925, the Company was incorporated as Chobei Takeda & Co., Ltd., with a capital of 5.3 million yen and Chobei Takeda V as president. The Company went from being an individually owned business to a modern corporate organization integrating R&D, manufacturing and marketing. The Company changed its name to Takeda Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. in 1943 (its English name was changed to Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd. in 1961).
In 1925, following the merger of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and Chobei Takeda & Co., Ltd, the Osaka factory became the main factory of the pharmaceutical division. Here is a birds-eye image of the factory drawn that year.
In 1933, Takeda Garden for Medicinal Plant Conservation was established. Herbs and other plants with medicinal value from around the world have been collected, grown and used at this conservation garden. Currently, the garden has more than 2,882 species of plants, including 104 endangered species. Although established as Kyoto Takeda Herbal Garden, the name was changed to Kyoto Experimental Garden in 1945 and changed again to its current name in 1994.
In 1944, the Institute for Fermentation was established in Osaka. For more than 60 years, this institute has been devoted to the preservation of microorganisms to support research. Today, it serves as a research foundation dedicated to the advancement of microbial science.