Diversification and Convergence: The Development of Locomotive Technology in Meiji Japan

  • Naofumi NakamuraEmail author
Part of the Studies in Economic History book series (SEH)


This chapter offers a reconsideration of the process of Japan’s railway technology development during the Meiji period while focusing on the role of railway engineers and their technical imitation. It is true that underlying Japan’s advancement from imitation to original design were the formation of a cadre of Japanese engineers in both the government railway and private railway companies and the manufacturing know-how cultivated through the copying of a wide variety of model locomotives . In the context of the first wave of globalization occurring around the transition from the 19th to the 20th century, the ability to freely choose from among the most advanced railway materials offered by UK, US, and Germany contributed to the diversification of technology and concomitant accumulation of experience. It was the convergence of this technology and know-how that bore fruit in the development original technology.


Railway engineers Locomotive technology Design skill Japan UK US Germany First globalization 



This research was supported by funding from the research grant of Japan Center for Economic Research.

Primary Sources

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  • Nasmyth Papers. Locomotive specifications. Salford City Archives.

  • Nasmyth Papers. Reference book 2. Salford City Archives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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