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 the 100 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 matrix.
  • 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 font matrices in different sizes from Point 7 to Point 63.
  • March: The establishment of Manchurian State was declared.
1932Showa 7
Received orders of over one million matrices in total from Manchrian State. Most printed materials in Manchrian State were pressed with letters formed by matrices made by Iwata Matrix Co.
1933Showa 8

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

Morikawa Ryobundo enclaved new Socho font and renamed it Ryusotai. Its matrices were made by Iwata Matrix Co., Ltd.

  • March: Tokyo Tsukiji Kappan Seizosho (Tokyo Tsukiji Typographical Foundry) was dissolved.
1938Showa 13
1939Showa 14
Kenichi Morikawa of Ryubundo (who later became Osaka branch manager of Iwata Matrix Works) developed No. 5 horizontally expanded font 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 No. 5 horizontally expanded font and appointed Iwata Matrix Co., Ltd as a matrix producer. As the font 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 font matrices and those with kana readings .
Old: Square type New: Horizontally expanded type
  • May: The Ordinance of Re-establishing Business Enterprises, 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 encipher communications.
  • 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 characters for general use was officially announced.
1946Showa 21
Brochure describing a 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
Succeeded punch matrices No.3 to No.6 for Kodoken-Seicho font from Mr. Masasuke Kanzaki, the head of the Kanzaki family and a grandson of Masayoshi Kanzaki who invented the font.
  • 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 font of 0.088 inch high and 0.110 inch wide was adopted.
1950Showa 25

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

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

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

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

Received orders from Hitachi Printing of a total of 20,000 Benton-enclaved matrices of Mincho and Gothic fonts in Points 8, 9 and 10.

Received an order from Tosho Printing Co., Ltd. which planned to equip its Hara factory in Numazu, Shizuoka, with fonts in all point sizes. The order totaled 200,000 Benton-engraved matrices of Mincho, Gothic and textbook typefaces as well as western 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 family sample) (1953)
1955Showa 30
Entered the office equipment sector by selling fonts used for typewriters and super hard types.
Katsuji Bokei Shotai Hyohon (Matrix font sample) (1955)
1959Showa 34
Iwata Bokei Katsuji Shotai Mihon (Iwata matrix font sample) (1959)
Moji-No-Yomikata (How to read text) (around 1959)
Hanagatakatsuji Mihon (Floral font sample) (around 1959)
1960Showa 35
Typeface Sample (1960)
Iroirona-Shotai (A variety of typefaces) (1960)
  • October: Tokyo Olympic Games
1964Showa 39
Seikaisyo Katsuji Hyohon (Printed style font sample) (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 font in the industry.
List of kanji characters for common use (1966)
List of 4,000 charactors (1966)
1967Showa 42
List of 10,000 charactors (1967)
1969Showa 44
Began manufacturing and selling molds for letters 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 fonts for digital text based on the original Benton typefaces, for which the Company received an order of a set of 48-dot Gothic JIS code fonts 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 kanji characters for common use
1981Showa 56
Seikaisyo Katsuji Hyo (Printed style font 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 medium-narrow Mincho for the family registration system, which was adopted by many government agencies and municipalities. Also digitized JIS X 0212 character set in addition to JIS standard character set, and JEF (Fujitsu), JIPS (NEC) and KEIS (Hitachi) character sets including extended outline characters, each of which consists of more than 30,000 characters, through conversion of both Mincho and Gothic fonts into IK data format.
1996Heisei 8
Iwata Font Library - PostScript font package was released. Subsequently, CID font and TrueType font packages were launched.
Typeface booklet Catalog of PS Ver2.1 which lists Iwata Shimbun Mincho, a main typeface since the time of letterprinting
Jointly developed with East Co., Ltd. "1500 Outline Brush Fonts," TrueType outline font set, which was adopted for many addressers and software to type names and addresses, such as calligraphy printers.
Brochure of 1500 Outline Brush Fonts
1997Heisei 9
4 Iwata TrueType fonts with outline fonts 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 booklet 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.
Typeface booklet
"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.
Typeface booklet
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 U-PRESS character set for news feed, which was newly designated by Kyodo News. By adding its original extended characters, Iwata released "Iwata U-PRESS extended character set."
Brochure of Newspaper Font
  • JIS X 0213:2004
2004Heisei 16
Typeface booklet
Revived matrices of types, "Kodoken-Seicho" and "Iwata Socho"
"Iwata Antique" most suitable for text in cartoon balloons
Catalog of "Kodoken-Seicho"
Catalog of "Iwata Socho"
2006Heisei 18
Jointly developed "Iwata UD (universal design) Font" with 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.
Brochures of Iwata UD Font
Universal design font Employment case
2009Heisei 21

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

Chairman Mizuno receiving the award
  • November: Announcement of the revised list of kanji characters for common use
2010Heisei 22
Typeface booklet
"Iwata UD Mincho Kana" family
Iwata Gakusan Font supporting the list of kanji characters for new common use
Brochure of New Textbook Typeface
2012Heisei 24
Released UD font "Minnano-Moji" used for ledgers.
"Minnano-Moji" is the font co-developed by UCDA, which promotes easy-to-understand standard setting, Dentsu Inc., working on the "Easy-to-Read Project," and Iwata under the supervision of 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
Iwata Mingo was developed to achieve high readability on a display required for electronic documents. The 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 Mizuno receiving the award
Koharu Ryodoku font was released.
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
We developed our first Kyokasho (textbook) typeface more than 50 years ago and have now created a new, updated version that takes into account modern writing styles and electronic devices. Relying on our long years of experience with textbook fonts, we succeeded in creating a new type that is not only elegant and beautiful, but, thanks to our expertise in UD fonts, also easy to see and read. Gakusan shin Kyokasho is perfectly suited to children’s education and is of course also easy for adults to read.
Brochure of Gakusan shin Kyokasho
2020Reiwa 2
100th anniversary
Typeface booklet
In commemoration of the Company's 100th anniversary, produced a memorial typeface booklet
"Iwata Fuku-Marugo," "Iwata Cho-Mincho" and "Iwata Yokofuto-Mincho-Old"
Iwata Fuku-Marugo
Iwata Cho-Mincho
Iwata Yokofuto-Mincho-Old
Toa Heavy Industries Font

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.