Born in Kumamoto city in 1884, Narita worked in the field of U.S.-Japan trade after graduating from DePauw University in the United States. At the age of 34, he returned to Japan and joined Oji Paper. There, utilizing English language skills, he was engaged in purchasing foreign products. After temporarily assigned to work for Chiyoda Corporation, he returned to the purchasing division, where there was no work due to the slump in the industry. At last he came up with the idea of exploring literature on Washi and Western-style paper, and took an editorial job.

Narita published his first book “General Survey of the Japanese Paper Industry” in 1937 and subsequently many books about Washi and Western-style paper. Secretly dreaming of establishing a museum, he organized the Archives of Paper-related Materials.

However, in 1945, the Oji area was devastated from carpet bombing by the U.S. Air Force, and the mill was mostly burned down. Collecting items that has been miraculously unaffected and renovating the electrical room which was the only remaining room in the mill, the “Paper Making Memorial Museum” (later the Paper Museum) was born.

His long-dreamed-of museum opened on June 8, 1950 as the “Paper Making Memorial Museum” (later the Paper Museum), and he became the first director of the museum. Narita became the honorary director in 1970 and devoted himself to activities including increasing collections, promoting the development of the paper industry, training researchers, and supporting international exchanges for the rest of his life.

June 1950)Paper Making Memorial Museum opens at 1-1-8 Horifune, Kita-ku, Tokyo.Soon after that, the museum is authorized as an incorporated foundation.

In November, the museum becomes a member of the Japanese Association of Museums.
1952The museum becomes a registered museum (No. 4) based on the Museum Act.
1953The museum is renamed the “Paper Making Museum”.
1965The museum is renamed the “Paper Museum”.
1998The museum moves to the new building in Asukayama Park and reopens as one of the “Three Museums in Asukayama”.
2007From the museum’s collection, eight items from the plans and drawings for Shoshi Kaisha are designated as “recommended industrial heritage” by the Japan Industrial Archaeology Society.

The whole collection in the museum is designated as “Heritage of Industrial Modernization” by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
2009The museum is authorized as a public interest incorporated foundation.
2020The museum marks its 70th anniversary.

The Building

Building structure: Reinforced concrete

Number of stories: 1 floor below ground, 4 floors above ground

Site area: 492.13 square meters

Gross floor space: 2267.74 square meters

Completion: February 1997

In 1999, the building was awarded the “Tokyo Architecture Prize” in the non-residential category (from the Tokyo Association of Architectural Firms). (The prize went to the three museums in Asukayama, “Kita City Asukayama Museum”, “Shibusawa Memorial Museum”, and “Paper Museum”.)

Management

The Paper Museum is run as a public interest incorporated foundation, sponsored by about 140 corporate supporters – mainly paper companies.