[Column 1] Sweden, the match country that actively pursued the world market share

Iwaya's cigarette labels of Tengu (legendary mountain creature with tall nose)

Arrival of Red Tengu, King of advertisement

A special exhibition named "King of advertisement, Red Tengu - King of cigarettes in Meiji era, Matsuhei Iwaya" was held at the Cigarette & Salt Museum in Shibuya from January to March, 2006. At the exhibition hall, the red jackets that Matsuhei Iwaya wore, his desk, reproduced reception room of his Ginza house were shown with various cigarettes, posters, and valuable items in Meiji, and visitors enjoyed Meiji era's colorful and prosperous atmosphere.

The special exhibition: " Arrival of Red Tengu, King of advertisement | Meiji erafs king of cigarettes, Matsuhei Iwaya " The special exhibition: "Arrival of Red Tengu, King of advertisement | Meiji erafs king of cigarettes, Matsuhei Iwaya"

Iwaya Tengu appears in Ginza town.


  • [Column 1] Sweden, the match country that actively pursued the world market share
  • [Column02] Cherry flowers, the symbol of Japan, were the first design of Shinsuisha Co., Ltd.
  • [Column03] No. 1 label made in Japan
  • [Column04] Iwaya's cigarette labels of Tengu
  • [Column 05] The Match Museum in Sweden; the only match museum in the world
  • [Column06] | Memoir of "Match Wonderland Exhibition" at the Tomakomai City Museum
  • [Column07] | Kobe University's Auxiliary Library: Explore the source of modern Kobe, Suzuki Shop and 'rise and fall' of match industry
Tengu match label - red print Tengu match label - black print Tengu match label - red print / Tengu match label - black print Matsuhei Iwaya was born in 1849 (Kaei 2) in Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture) and inherited the house of Iwaya in 1869 (Meiji 2). But since the household goods were burnt down at the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 (Meiji 10,) Matsuhei went to Tokyo and opened a store "Satsumaya" in 1878 (Meiji 11) in the Ginza 3 Street to sell kimono fabrics and specialty goods of Satsuma.
From the beginning of Meiji, the paper rolled cigarette, which was a symbol of sophistication at that time, was becoming popular replacing pipe tobacco in big cities like Tokyo; Iwaya started manufacturing cigarettes from 1884 (Meiji 17) and sold "Tengu cigarette," the paper-roll cigarette with a mouthpiece. Iwaya himself promoted the advertisement of cigarettes vigorously, and created his original advertising strategy that was hardly seen in Japan those days: it was newspaper advertisement of paper cigarettes to sell them with premium, which was not common yet in Japan.
His company name was "Iwaya Shokai," and the brand name of cigarette was "Tengu Cigarette": the character was "red tengu," and letters on the package were designed similar with the insignia of Shimazu family, then everything was red as the corporate color was red, and coats Iwaya wore were red, too. He called himself, "Captain of discounters," and rode on a red wagon in Ginza area as if the wagon were an advertising car.
His promotional phrase was "King of cigarette in the Orient," and "Boss of national benefit," and he also publicized his company's prosperity saying, "Don't be surprised; our tax is only 500,000 yen and 30,000 charity men are working in the company!" (500,000 yen was large sum of money in the beginning of 1897's.) He was trying to dominate the industry with provocative advertisement.
Tengu cigarette match/ red print Tengu cigarette match/ black print Tengu cigarette match: red print / Tengu cigarette match: black print

Advertising battle of Iwaya in the east and Murai in the west

Around that time, Kichibei Murai in Kyoto, who was also quick to be aware of the trend, began production of paper cigarettes knowing Iwaya's reputation, and founded a company with the name, "Murai Brothers Shokai" in 1892 (Meiji 25,) and opened a branch in Nihonbashi Ward Muromachi 2. From then on, a violent sales battle started between Iwaya, a Kyushu man who used only Japanese tobacco leaves, and a Westernized man, Murai who united with foreign capitals and used some American tobacco leaves.

Murai named his company's cigarettes in sophisticated foreign-style such as "Sunrise" (first sold in 1891) and "Hero" (first sold in 1894), and his company's package designs that were imitations of Western style designs won popularity in Japan.

On the other side, Iwaya, a patriotic man, created packages mainly with Japanese style designs like tengu, hawk, Mt. Fuji, and family crests, applying national traits in naming cigarettes: in quality ranking the names were Golden Tengu and Silver Tengu, in cigarette size ranking names were Large Tengu and Medium Tengu: we can see thatIwaya had competed the cigarette-sales fiercely by learning his naming such as "Importation Eradicator Tengu," "Patriotic Tengu," "Country Benefit Tengu," and "Happy Nation Tengu."

Large Tengu Medium Tengu left:Large Tengu / Right:Medium Tengu Country Benefit Tengu Patriotic Tengu LO Sunrise - blown print Sunrise - red print yoshino Mt. Fuji

While the advertising battle of Iwaya Shokai and Murai Brothers' Shokai was provoking social problems, cigarette manufacturers like Matsubei Chiba {Tokyo, Chiba Shoten; his brand was "Botan Cigarette" (Peony cigarette)} were more than 5000, and brand designs were as many as 100,000 kinds in Meiji Era.
As the cigarette competition was influenced also by designs of packages which were needed to look very attractive to entice people to buy, printing technique was another important element to know the cigarette history.

[ List of Tengu Cigarettes ]

Product NameHow many in a boxPrice(sen)Kind
Iwaya Tengu203Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
White Tengu505Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Red Tengu505Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Blue Tengu506Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Black Tengu 1005Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Silver Tengu5010Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Golden Tengu5012Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Small Tengu507Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Medium Tengu508Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Large Tengu5010Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Sunrise Tengu203Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Moon Tengu5015Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Army Tengu101Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Navy Tengu102Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Royal Army Tengu202Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Seisei Tengu204Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Nippon Tengu5010Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Patriotic Tengu204Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
National Benefit Tengu205Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Importation Eradicator Tengu10---Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Japanese-England alliance Tengu105Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Pelri Tengu20---Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Gyokei Tengu------Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Hawk Tengu206Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Leaf Tengu1006Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Strong Tengu10028Paper-rolled cigarette w/mouthpiece
Hinoto Tengu50 monmes
(approx. 187.5g)
15cut tobacco
Hinoe Tengu50 monmes
(approx. 187.5g)
18cut tobacco
Kinoe Tengu50 monmes
(approx. 187.5g)
28cut tobacco

Murai established Toyo Printing Co., Ltd that employed the latest technology from foreign countries, while Iwaya united with the relief printing joint-stock company founded in 1900 (Meiji 33) by Enkichi Kimura, former general manager of the relief department, and Furuya Ginjiro, the sculpture department general manager of Ministry of Finance Printing Bureau, and succeeded to print exquisite packages and advertising items such as posters and brochures that were as beautiful as Murai's products. This is the antecedent company of present Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.

From private business to government-owned business

However, the private cigarette business by Iwaya and Murai, etc. in Meiji era ended in July of 1904 (Meiji 37) after 30 years of blossom by ratification of "Cigarette Monopoly Law" for the procurement of expenditure of Russo-Japanese War.
Murai's Toyo Printing Co., Ltd. became the Fushimi branch factory of the Government Monopoly Bureau, and it turned into the Kyoto Printing Factory of Japan Tobacco & Salt Public Corporation after the war.
Iwaya bought a large land in Shibuya after the "Cigarette Monopoly Law" was enforced, and spent his late years with the hog raising industry as "Pig Tengu."

The cigarette business seems similar to the match business in the sense that manufacturers devoted their energies to creativity of product packages.

Moreover, their common anxiety was that trademarks, designs, and brand names of foreign products as well as popular domestic designs were often copied; shameful acts were rampant.

Here, a lot of match labels of small advertisement matches of Tengu design, that the Iwaya company distributed as premium items are shown for your enjoyment, together with posters with the calendar of a showy Red Tengu of that time; we hope you'll find a part of ambience of Meiji era that is reminiscent of the age of civilization and enlightenment in Japan.

Orient king of cigarette, Tengu cigarette / poster attached with calendar Orient king of cigarette, Tengu cigarette / poster attached with calendar