Since its foundation in 1911 as an eyeglass lens making business in Osaka, YAMAMOTO KOGAKU has been continuously pursuing safety and comfort beyond the status quo. Read about more than a century of YAMAMOTO KOGAKU history.
Start of business to the post-war era Starting out as a family business making lenses
Mr. Haruji Yamamoto established the “Yamamoto Eyeglass Lens Mfg.” In Osaka City.
The mark shows a stylized Y and H, which are the initials of the founder, Haruji Yamamoto. It was used as a corporate emblem until 1980.
The factory was relocated from downtown Osaka to a new facility in Higashi-Osaka City, where the current head office lies. The factory started a comprehensive production of dust-proof lenses and eyewear as a general partnership company organization.
Under the wartime regime, the company manufactured military use dust-proof eyewear and aviator goggles as a military munitions subcontractor factory.
Young Kenji Yamamoto, as he watched the huge crates being loaded onto vessels one by one at the port, aspired to manufacture and sell products salable to abroad like that, when he grew up. What left a lasting impression on his mind was the mark of a swan stamped on the crates. With that thought, amid the time of post-war shortages, Kenji Yamamoto used the materials that survived the disasters and started the manufacture and sale of swimming goggles in 1945. The newspaper ad for “Swan Mark Swimming Goggles” derives from his childhood memory.
The war came to an end during this year. While Yamamoto lost his office and home to the air raids, the celluloid materials he had hidden in the well escaped damage and loss. During the following year, in 1946, Yamamoto produced swimming goggles at the factory that survived fire, using the materials. Initially they did not sell, but eventually sold widely nationwide after advertisement for Swan Mark Swimming Goggles were published in March.
Second start in business
Technological innovation after the war
Logo of Yamamoto Optical Lens Factory used at the time
Yamamoto Optical Lens Factory was reorganized to a joint-stock corporation and resumed the production of protective eyewear and anti-reflective eyewear.
The company became a Japan Defense Agency’s designated factory and delivered aviator goggles, dust-proof goggles, and anti-reflective eyewear.
Exports increased, and the company stylized the swan mark.
Adding “SWAN” in English, the new swan mark became a brand logo.
The company was granted the permission to use the JIS mark on the sunglasses.
Upon establishing a high in-house test standard, the company sold reinforced glass lenses under the product name “Temperglass” that met the standard. Their strength was demonstrated in impact tests given at storefronts. Temperglass was provided with an eye accident insurance worth 100,000 yen.
Tamenobu Yamamoto (current advisor) traveled to London during his school days. There, he found a pub by the name of “SWANS”, which left an impression on him. After returning to Japan, he changed the word of the logo to its plural form “SWANS”, in hope that the company would become an organic complex through the cooperation of each and every employee.
A factory was established in Higashiura on Awaji Island.
Establishing core technologies and brands A step towards a company with a global presence
SWANS transformed from an all-inclusive brand that encompassed industrial safety supplies to a brand dedicated to sports products.
During August this year, Yamamoto signs an exclusive contract for anti-fog HYDRON lenses with Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Ltd. With NO.900-H safety goggles that use Hydron lenses, Yamamoto paves a new path for the safety industry.
The company entered into an exclusive contract with Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Ltd for the exclusive production of HYDRON lenses.
The company developed No.S-115 goggles equipped with HYDRON lenses, which feature the world’s first full-fledged anti-fog function. This model became YAMAMOTO KOGAKU’S pioneering entry into the anti-fog eyewear business.
Winter Olympics was held in Sapporo.
The company was registered as a member of the American National Safety Council.
The optical division entered into a business partnership with Spalding International Inc. Eyevan Inc. was established.
The company started the manufacture of SW-1 swimming goggles. While swimming goggles did not catch on with the swimmers in the early stage of entering the business, the market expanded rapidly along with the coming of the swimming school boom. As a result, SWANS established a stable year-round sports business―skiing during the winter and swimming during the summer.
No.S-115 skiing goggles launched this year adopted the HYDRON lens, which feature an innovative capacity to absorb moisture from the surface of the lenses, eliminating the cause of fogging. This model embodied the world’s first fully-functional anti-fog function. The phenomenal performance draws the attention of the world. YAMAMOTO KOGAKU’s history of anti-fogging technology started here.
English logotype at this time
The company commenced the production of the super-hard PETROID lens.
The permission to use the JIS mark on the protective eyewear with the hard plastic lenses was granted.
First PETROID-type eyeglasses (S-225)
The production of the super-hard PETROID lens started in March. The eyeglasses adopting the PETROID lens were launched in January 1977 after being qualified for the JIS standard for protective eyewear with a hard plastic lens (JIST8147) in December the previous year.
Using the textbook titled “Knowledge of Protective Gear for Eyes and Face”, the company conducted educational activities on the topic of industry safety.
The company was certified by the United States Ski Association as an official ski equipment supplier.
The company was certified as the official supplier for the Japan Ski Association and the official supplier for the Canada Ski Team.
The company developed 710 ED snow goggles, which eliminated fogging in the lenses using an electrically heated wire.
Aiming to make an improved anti-fog lens, the company developed a dual-structure lens, applying the bullet train window structure.
The company changed its name to YAMAMOTO KOGAKU Co., Ltd. and worked on CI. The 70th anniversary commemoration event was held in Tokyo and Osaka. A new head office building was completed. The Technology Laboratory was completed.
YG-504 cover goggles (explosion-proof type) with mask and the YF300 protective goggles with mask were launched as products designed to prevent shifting of protective eyewear when used with a dust-proof mask.
YAMAMOTO KOGAKU Co., Ltd. The emblem, Japanese logotype, and English logotype
725-TB goggles equipped with a turbo fan hit the market.
The company was certified as the official supplier for the Switzerland Ski Team.
The company positioned SWANS as the international strategic product brand when it changed the company name.
Company products pass the qualification test for the Ministry of Labour’s industrial health protective gear (dust-proof mask).
SW-AF1 released this year became the first model to adopt the anti-fog lens for swimming developed using SWANS original technology. This relieved wearers of the need to apply anti-fogging agent on swimming goggles before use. It was indeed the emergence of the holy grail of goggles for swimmers.
Prescription swimming goggles SW-7 was launched, featuring a high lens precision based on the lens standard used for eyeglasses. To provide proper vision, this model came in a wide variation of lens power for wearers to choose from, with 9 levels of diopters in 0.5 intervals from S-2.00 to S-6.00. In 1986, prescription anti-fog lens eyewear was released as SW-AF7. This innovative product became the first in the world to combine SWANS’ dominant anti-fogging technology and lens power. (Photo shows SW-AF7)
Around this time, designs tended to be based on hydrodynamics and ergonomics―a perfect fit into helmets and three-dimensional capture of shapes around the face were pursued.
The laser beam-shielding cover goggle YL-100 was launched. This model was developed to protect the eyes from laser beams, which were increasingly being used in a wide range of industrial applications such as from welding and cutting to telecommunications and medical care.
Ski goggles: SWANS 921-PH
747MX was released this year.
This model adopts the center ventilation mechanism that expels the air inside the goggles, humid with perspiration, and takes in dry air to prevent the lens from fogging.
Shinji Kazama reaches the North Pole on motorcycle.
Adventure rider Shinji Kazama rode about 780 kilometers on a motorcycle from Ward Hunt Island in Canada to the North Pole over 44 days of strenuous travel. He became the first one to reach a pole successfully on a motorcycle. In the bitter cold that can even drop to 43 deg C below zero, his vision was protected by a specially made 747MX, which used an electrically heated anti-fogging device on flexible double lenses with PETROID coating, custom-made to Mr. Kazama’s specifications.
The company acquired permission to use the JIS mark on vehicle helmets.
SW-AF70M won the Good Design Award in Japan.
The company commenced triathlon-related activities―a racing service for world’s top triathletes at IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii.
Released this year was 765TB-S sensor-type anti-fog fan goggle. When the humidity inside the goggles reaches 70%, the sensor automatically triggers the fan switch driven by an ultra-compact motor, preventing fogging in the lens by forcing exchange of air inside the goggles. The fan automatically stops when the humidity drops. The motor, battery, and humidity sensor are all built into a single unit, which caters to light weight and small size.
Tokushima Factory was completed.
LS-500H Full-face Life Saver was released.
This product was developed to prevent the problems associated with working with asbestos.
767MX TB-ED technical goggles was launched this year. This model employs a dual anti-fog system: ventilation to clear the fogging in the lens (the sensor automatically detects a rise in humidity inside the goggles and triggers the rotation of the compact fan, starting the ventilation) and an electrically heated nichrome wire embedded in glass like the heating wires inside the rear window of an automobile.
Around this time, the snow market in Japan hit its prime―the company provided poles and gloves in addition to goggles, which were favorably received.
The company celebrated its 80th anniversary with a full participation of employees at the commemorative ceremony in Kobe.
The dynamic expansion phase in the 21st century
Establishment of “Protecting For You”
Logo of GULL WING series, a popular product line at the time
Type C (multi-wavelength supporting type) was additionally launched in the laser beam full-absorption type lineup. This innovative product supports protection from multiple laser lights with one lens.
Yuko Arimori wore GULL WING at the Barcelona Olympics and won the silver medal. She is currently partnered with us as an advisory staff.
Kenji Ogiwara won a gold medal in the Nordic Combined group event in the Lillehammer Olympics.
YAMAMOTO KOGAKU’s new corporate philosophy was announced.
The Tokushima Factory was awarded the Director of the Shikoku Bureau of International Trade and Industry Award as an excellent factory demonstrating industrial standardization.
SNIPER: Titanium model of glasses for fishing
ALLFIT SN-700 was launched. Not to mention performance, its fashionable design made it a popular item.
Established the film insert technology (FIT), where the polarizing film is inserted during the lens forming process. Mass production started the following year, to be used in sunglasses.
SWANS Sports Vision Center was opened in the Tokyo Branch as an 85th anniversary commemorative project.
Released SR-1, the first competitive swimming goggles in Japan, a non-cushion type model with significantly reduced flow resistance. This product later grew into a series, consisting of long-selling models SR-1N, SR-1NC, and SR-1M.
Tokushima Logistics Center started operation.
A new logo, with a color added to the right and left sides of the previous logo, started being used.
NCG-003: Nippon Challenge Limited Glasses
The sunglasses used by the Americas Cup Nippon Challenge Team went on sale.
Snowboard brand “DICE” was created.
Entered into advisory staff contract with professional bass angler Shinichi Fukae.
SWANS SFZ-998-ZPH ski goggles was developed for the Nagano Olympics. The model earned popularity among alpine skiers as ski goggles that fit into the helmet.
Nagano Olympics was held.
This logo was used between 1998 and 2007 to bring a new perspective to the snow sports scene. Introducing the SIN mark, this logo was applied to action sports.
This new logo was used between 2000 and 2017 to create appeal for the YAMAMOTO brand to the world.
2200 Memory Mask, a disposable dust mask that passed the national tests, was released as a product conforming to the new standard (Category DS2). It was marketed along with a more compact model, NO.2601N, which adopted the hook-type band.
FO-X1P: Polarized Swimming Goggles
Established the technology to insert the polarizing sheet into the lenses of swimming goggles during its forming process as an applied use of the FIT lens development.
The new helmet HSR-60 was developed as a snow helmet that conforms to CE marking standards.
SN-717 overglasses was released, featuring a new dust-proof cushion bar and a soft temple, as a new product in the ALL FIT series. The unprecedented style earned favorable response.
Developed the ultra-water repellent coating CLARITEX COAT to be used for lenses in snow goggles.
Snow goggles SWANS and RISING SUN won the Good Design Award and the Officer-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Agency Award.
Developed e-noxα, which adopts the under temple in order to lower the center of gravity of glasses.
Mizuki Noguchi wore the e-noxα eyewear at the Athens Olympics and won a gold medal.
Participated in the Good Design 50th Anniversary Presentation Exhibition, and GULL WING was selected as one of the 100 Designs for the 50th Anniversary.
PETROID RX, a polycarbonate prescription lens, was released to deliver safe vision to the sports scene.
Entered into advisory staff contract with professional golfer Ryo Ishikawa.
SWANS Communication Center Osaka was opened.
The company acquired certifications for the new JIS standards T-841 (Light shielding protective gear) and T-8147 (Protective goggles).
SWANS HMR-70: Ski competition helmet
SWANS Communication Center Tokyo was opened.
SOU was developed for the Beijing Olympics marathon event. This model adopts CLARITEX, a water-repelling coating that prevents perspiration from adhering to the lens.
Sniper: Competitive swimming goggles developed based on the concept of reducing flow resistance
L-fit: Supports both safety and comfort
This model was used in a wide range of applications, including at work sites, medical care settings, pollen-proofing, and sports.
SWANS Communication Center Kandaogawamachi was opened.
The Hokudan Factory was completed.
SWANS eye guard SVS-700N became a product conforming to the ASTM F803-11 standard.
Launched the C2N snow goggles that feature easy locking-type lens replacement.
Naoyuki Yamamoto assumed the position of President & CEO.
The company celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Announced the Ice Blue Lens, a type of high visibility lens (basis of the subsequent ULTRA lens series).
SWANS STORE OSAKA opened inside ALBi in JR Osaka Station.
Launched the Premium Anti Fog model, which has enhanced anti-fog performance compared to conventional products.
The new line earned favorable response in the market.
Advisor Tamenobu Yamamoto received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.
[ROV]O snow goggles received the ISPO Award in Germany for two consecutive years, 2016 and 2017, after the awarding of the Good Design Award 2015.
Updated its logo for the corporation and the YAMAMOTO brand.
New guidelines for SWANS and other brand logos were formulated and applied.
New eye guard series GUARDIAN received the Good Design 2017, Kids Design Award, and the Japan Glasses Grand Award and Grand Prix in the kids section at the International Optical Fair Tokyo (IOFT).
[ROV]O-MIT specification goggles won the Encouragement Prize at the SME New Excellent Technologies and New Products Award (Resona SME Promotion Foundation).
Won the General Technology and Director-General for Industrial Safety Policy Prize at the 11th Product Safety Measures Excellent Enterprise Commendation held by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The high visibility lenses of all sections were consolidated into the ULTRA lens series.
Entered into an official supplier contract with the Japan GoalBall Association. The company stepped up the support for sports events through the development of dedicated eye shades.
E-NOX NEWRON eyewear for runners won the Good Design 2018 and the Good Focus Award in the Technological & Traditional designs (Director-General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Agency).
Developed and announced 930XED, which is a model of protective goggles designed for industrial safety that incorporate heat generating lenses. It has been covered in many media as the anti-fog goggles.
Announced the Versatile VT-850.770 smart glasses.
Test operations started in entertainment settings and work assistance fields.
Entered into advisory staff contract with marathon runner Honami Maeda and professional golfer Minami Katsu.
YAMAMOTO KOGAKU will continue to protect an environment safe and healthy to live in for the next 100 years and another 100 years to come. So we can enjoy new lifestyles together on our field―the Earth.