Message from President

Akira Mizuno, President

In November 2020, Iwata celebrates its centennial anniversary.
This historic milestone would never have been accomplished without your continued support and patronage.

Over a hundred years, Iwata has undergone many ups and downs not only due to technological shifts in writing and printing but also because of difficult circumstances, including earthquake disasters, war, oil crisis, the asset-inflated economy collapse.
However, each time facing a difficult challenge, our people managed to find a way to overcome it with their forward-looking idea, technological innovation, relentless efforts and passion.

Bearing in mind that all the fonts Iwata has produced are the crystallization of such forward-looking efforts, we will together continue to put our utmost effort into font production.
Iwata still has a lot on its plate, including collaboration with clients, revival of analog typefaces through digitalization, incorporation of new font technologies, further increase in font variations, and creation of ideal fonts that no one has ever seen.
To make these ambitious ideas a reality, we will progress together hand-in-hand with our present and future clients in the coming century as well.

Thank you very much for your continuing support and guidance.

History of Iwata

  • May: The first May Day rally in Japan
1920Taisho 9
In November, Hyakuzo Iwata founded Iwata Matrix Co., Ltd. in Kyobashi Kobiki-cho of Tokyo and began production of type matrices.
  • September: Great Kanto Earthquake
1923Taisho 12
1924Taisho 13
Placed a half-page advertisement on the New Year edition of Insatsu Zasshi (Printing Magazine), attracting more clients.
Advertisement around that time (Toppan Printing Museum collection)
1928Showa 3
Received a large order of electroforming matrices from Chinese Daily News and China Times newspapers in Shanghai. Each set of Mincho and Gothic type matrices in different sizes from 7 point to 63 point.
  • March: The establishment of Manchurian State was declared.
1932Showa 7
Received orders of over one million matrices in total from Manchurian State. Most printed materials in Manchurian State were pressed with letters cast from matrices made by Iwata Matrix Co.
1933Showa 8

Developed and produced matrices for the universal casting machine made by Nippon Typewriter.

Morikawa Ryobundo cut punches of a new Socho typeface and named it Ryusotai. Its matrices were made by Iwata Matrix Co., Ltd.

  • March: Tokyo Tsukiji Kappan Seizosho (Tokyo Tsukiji Type Foundry) was dissolved.
1938Showa 13
1939Showa 14
Kenichi Morikawa of Ryobundo (who later became Osaka branch manager of Iwata Matrix Works) developed No. 5 horizontally expanded type for newspaper body text. Its matrices were made by Iwata Matrix Co., Ltd.
  • December: Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, triggering the Pacific War.
1941Showa 16
The Asahi Shimbun adopted new horizontally expanded Small Pica type and appointed Iwata Matrix Co., Ltd as a matrix producer. As the type was well-received, other newspaper publishers across Japan also adopted it. The Company put a mass production system in place to meet orders from more than 100 publishers, each consisting of a set of 20,000 pieces combining Mincho and Gothic type matrices and those with kana readings .
Old: square type, New: horizontally expanded type
  • May: The Ordinance of Re-establishing Business Enterprises, based on Article 6 of the National Mobilization Law, was issued.
1942Showa 17
  • Many matrix foundries were out of business by the end of the year.
1943Showa 18
In November, became a designated foundry of the Imperial Japanese Navy Technical Department, and produced matrices used to enciphered communications under their direction.
  • March: Great Tokyo Air Raid
  • September: Signing of Instrument of Surrender, ending the Pacific War.
1945Showa 20
  • May: The Constitution of Japan went into effect.
  • In November, the List of Kanji for Interim Use was officially announced.
1946Showa 21
Brochure describing the matrix production process (around 1946).
1947Showa 22

Built its new factory in Omori, Tokyo and hired more employees.

In October, got incorporated as Iwata Matrix Works Corporation.

Portraits of Hyakuzo Iwata and officers
Iwata Matrix Works
All employees of Iwata Matrix Works
1948Showa 23
Acquired punches and matrices of Kodoken-Seicho type of four sizes ranging from Double Small Pica to Bourgeois from Mr. Masasuke Kanzaki, the head of the Kanzaki family and a grandson of Masayoshi Kanzaki who invented the type.
  • The number of horizontal columns per newspaper page was changed to 15, each of which includes 15 characters. In response to this change, horizontally expanded type of 0.088 inch high and 0.110 inch wide was adopted.
1950Showa 25

In March, introduced two Benton engravers made by Tsugami Mfg., Co., Ltd., for the first time as a Japanese matrix manufacturer foundry.

Engraved a new horizontally expanded type for newspapers and supplied electroforming matrices to major newspapers, including the Asahi Shimbun head office in Tokyo. Released new type for katakana, hiragana and the most frequently used kanji characters, such as Chinese numerals, with Benton-engraved matrices.

Benton engraver
1951Showa 26
Shimbun Katsuji Bokei (newspaper type matrix) (1951)
1952Showa 27

While mainly producing electroforming matrices, started developing Iwata original type in each size used for Benton-engraved matrices.

Received orders from Hitachi Printing of a total of 20,000 Benton-engraved matrices of Mincho and Gothic types in 8, 9 and 10 point each.point.

Received an order from Tosho Printing Co., Ltd. which planned to equip its Hara factory in Numazu, Shizuoka, with type in all point sizes. The order totaled 200,000 Benton-engraved matrices of Mincho, Gothic and textbook typefaces as well as Latin typefaces in 17 point-sizes ranging from Points 3.5 to 28.

Started keeping a log of orders for each client of Benton matrices, which records the order processing from an order placement from a newspaper publisher to a delivery.
1953Showa 28
Ryusotai Katsuji Hyohon (Ryuso typeface specimen) (1953)
1955Showa 30
Entered the office equipment sector by selling type used for typewriters and super hard types.
Katsuji Bokei Shotai Hyohon (specimen book for type matrices) (1955)
1959Showa 34
Iwata Bokei Katsuji Shotai Mihon (type specimen of Iwata Matrix Co. Ltd.) (1959)
Moji-No-Yomikata (name of characters) (around 1959)
Hanagatakatsuji Mihon (ornament type specimen) (around 1959)
1960Showa 35
Type specimen leaflet (1960)
Iroirona-Shotai (a variety of typefaces) (1960)
  • October: Tokyo Olympic Games
1964Showa 39
Seikaisyo Katsuji Hyohon (specimen of Seikaisho type) (1964)
1966Showa 41
Developed the original form of Iwata textbook typeface in reference to notices from the Ministry of Education. It was designated as the standard type in the industry.
A list of frequent kanji characters (1966)
List of 4,000 charactors (1966)
1967Showa 42
List of 10,000 charactors (1967)
1969Showa 44
Began manufacturing and selling molds for type heads and special types used for office equipment, accounting machines, adders and kanji teletypewriters, and iron types for western typewriters, etc.
  • Oil crisis
1973Showa 48
1979Showa 54
Developed type for digital text based on the drawings for original Benton typefaces, for which the Company received an order of a set of 48-dot Gothic JIS code type from Hitachi, Ltd. (design laboratory of Central Research Laboratory). This marked our first digital data sales.
Katsuji Shotai (Typefaces) (around 1979)
Comprehensive Catalogue of Iwata Matrices (around 1979)
  • October: Announcement of the List of Kanji for Common Use
1981Showa 56
Seikaisyo Katsuji Hyo (printed style type sample) (1981)
The Company's brochure (1985)
  • JIS X 0208:1983
1983Showa 58
Typeface booklet
Catalog of dotted fonts and outline fonts
  • March: Opening of the Seikan Tunnel
1988Showa 63
In April, by spinning off its Digital Font Division, established Iwata Engineering Corporation in Tendo, Yamagata. The Company introduced Ikarus typography software made by URW (Germany) and started producing outline fonts and dotted fonts.
Production room of Yamagata Division
  • Windows3.1
1992Heisei 4
  • Windows 95
  • Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
1995Heisei 7
Developed Iwata semilight-narrow Mincho for the family registration system, which was adopted by many government agencies and municipalities. Afterwards, in addition to regular JIS character set, digitized more than 30,000 characters into IK data format for each of two styles, Mincho and Gothic, including JIS X 0212 supplementary character set and extended characters of JEF (Fujitsu), JIPS (NEC) and KEIS (Hitachi) sets.
1996Heisei 8
Iwata Type Library - PostScript font package was released. Subsequently, CID font and TrueType font packages were launched.
Iwata Type Library catalog of PS Ver2.1 which lists Iwata Shimbun Mincho, a main typeface since the time of letterprinting
Jointly developed with EAST Co. Ltd. Brush Font with 1,500 Extended Characters, TrueType outline font set, which was adopted for many addressers and software to type names and addresses, such as calligraphy printers.
Brush Font with 1,500 Extended Characters
1997Heisei 9
Four Iwata TrueType fonts with extended characters were added to FontGallery family released by Canon Inc. which became popular among Windows 95 DTP users.
Brochure of FontGallery
1998Heisei 10
Iwata Engineering Corporation became a sales agency for the Ikarus system of URW (Germany), engaging in sales and support targeting major newspaper publishers and printing companies. Around that time, the Company contributed to the enlargement of text size in newspapers, by helping the Yomiuri Shimbun, the Asahi Shimbun, the Chunichi Shimbun and other newspapers with digitalization of newspaper text.
Typeface catalog of PS CID Ver3.0
Font editing with Ikarus system
1999Heisei 11
In a joint press conference, Iwata Engineering Corporation, Digix Inc. and Morisawa Inc. announced that each company would convert their original fonts into Gakusan Font (G font) that supports the Ministry of Education's guidelines.
Iwata Type Library Catalog which lists
Gakusan Font supporting the Education Ministry guidelines
Catalog of Gakusan Font
  • Mac OS X v10.0
2001Heisei 13
Iwata Engineering Corporation and Iwata Matrix Works merged to form a new company, Iwata Corporation.
Iwata Type Library Catalog (fifth edition) which lists
Iwata Mincho Old, a main typeface since the time of letterprinting
Catalog of Mincho Old and Gothic Old Fonts
Head office building
2003Heisei 15
Iwata Newspaper Mincho was adopted as the reference font of U-PRESS character set for news feed, which was newly designated by Kyodo News. By adding its original extended characters, Iwata released fonts with Iwata U-PRESS extended character set.
Brochure of Iwata Newspaper Font
  • JIS X 0213:2004
2004Heisei 16
Iwata Type Library Catalog (eighth edition) which lists
revived matrices of types, Kodoken-Seicho and Iwata Socho with Iwata Antique
Brochure of Kodoken-Seicho
Brochure of Iwata Socho
2006Heisei 18
Jointly developed Iwata UD (universal design) Font with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (now Panasonic Corporation) from the viewpoint of universal design. The font is used for text on all Panasonic products as its corporate font. Iwata also released the font under the name of Iwata UD Font, making it the first commercially available universal design font in the world.
Brochure of Iwata UD Font
Application example of Iwata UD Font
2009Heisei 21

Iwata UD Font family won a special prize, the Good Design Life-Scape Design Award.

President Koichiro Mizuno receiving the award
  • November: Announcement of the revised List of Kanji for Common Use
2010Heisei 22
Brochure of Iwata Gakusan Font supporting the revised List of Kanji for Common Use
2012Heisei 24
Released UD font Minnano-Moji used for business form printing.
Minnano-Moji was co-developed by UCDA, which develops and promotes standards for easy-to-understand, and Iwata under the supervision of Dr. Hiroyuki Yaguchi, Associate Professor of Tokyo Denki University.
Brochure of Minnano-moji (universal font) Global
2013Heisei 25

Released Asahi Shimbun Font.
Renowned for being easy to read and sophisticated, Asahi Shimbun Font has had significant influence not only in the newspaper industry but also in the design world in general. However, the font was used only by the Asahi Shimbun and not available to the public. In response to a growing demand for the font among many publishers and designers, Iwata launched exclusive sales with the full cooperation of the Asahi Shimbun.

Brochure of Asahi Shimbun Font
2014Heisei 26
The Company joined as a partner the Adobe-Google joint development project of an open source Pan-CJK font family, Source Han Sans, and contributed to the extension of glyphs. In 2017, Source Han Serif was developed.
Brochure of Source Han Sans
2015Heisei 27
Developed Iwata Mingo for high readability of electronic documents. This universal design font won the 2015 Good Design Award in expectation for its use in a wide range of media.
Typeface booklet
Iwata Mingo
UD font family, Iwata Mingo
2017Heisei 29

Iwata UD Font family won the Good Design Award's Long-life Design Award.

Long-life Design Award
President Akira Mizuno receiving the award
Released Koharu Ryodokutai font.
Kyodo Printing Co.,Ltd. developed this font based on Iwata UD Gothic through a joint research to develop small but easy-to-read UD fonts with Professor Koichi Oda of Tokyo Woman's Christian University, who invented a testing method for readability.
Product jacket of Koharu Ryodoku
2018Heisei 30
Developed Iwata Gakusan shin Kyokasho (textbook) font with larger and clearer letterform to be more readable on digital devices.
Brochure of Gakusan shin Kyokasho font
2020Reiwa 2
100th anniversary
Iwata Type Library Catalog (19th Edition)
In commemoration of the Company's 100th anniversary, released a memorial issue of the catalog.
Which lists Iwata Fuku-Marugo, Cho-Mincho and Yokobuto Mincho Old typefaces
Iwata Fuku-Marugo
Iwata Cho-Mincho
Iwata Yokofuto-Mincho-Old
Toa Heavy Industries Font
Under the supervision of a renowned manga artist Tsutomu Nihei and based on his original design, Iwata developed and marketed the corporate type of a fictional company Toa Industries which appears in his multiple works.

Passion for a Single Letter

This film was made in 2001.

More than 300,000 matrices Iwata has produced over the past 100 years can be considered part of writing cultural heritage, and are still preserved in good condition by the company.
Going forward, Iwata will continue to explore new possibilities of fonts and offer unique products of good quality.