Eitaro Akai, Head of Creative Company (and Manager of Planning Sales Department), GOTO INC
GOTO INC (Fuchu City)
GOTO INC, which orignally kicked off in Sangenjaya, Tokyo in 1926, is a comprehensive manufacturer covering the manufacuring of planetariums as well as the construction of planetarium domes. Only five companies in the world, including GOTO INC, manufacture and develop optical planetariums. Three of those five companies are located in Japan, and among them, GOTO INC boasts a track record of delivering over 1,000 planetariums in Japan and abroad. We asked Eitaro Akai, Head of Creative Company (an in-house company of GOTO INC), about the company’s history, marking its 90th anniversary this year (2016), his passion in manufacturing planetariums, and recent efforts.
GOTO INC not only manufactures and develops planetariums, but also produces related events and TV programs, and even constructs and maintains domes that accommodate planetariums.
“We started off as the only manufacturer in Japan specializing in astronomical telescopes, and succeeded in developing the first made-in-Japan planetarium in 1959. In 1984, we developed GSS I, the world’s first space planetarium offering views from outer space by separating the planet projector from the machine body, and applying computer-based arithmetic control. In 2010, we developed CHIRON, which enables projecting over 140 million stars, and in 2014, CHIRON Ⅲ, which applies colors to some 9,500 stars that can be seen with the human eye, to replicate their accurate brightness and color. Both technologies were invented by us, and CHIRON Ⅲ won the Special Prize at the 2015 Tokyo Venture Technology Awards.”
Many of us are familiar with the planeterium, but what mechanism is used to reproduce outer space?
“The planetarium machine contains a LED light source, and stars are projected through what is called a star plate, a very thin glass plate with holes. To display the stars exquisitely, it is necessary to open extremely small micron-sized holes that will be projected as dots through a wide lens. Therefore, we need to use sophisticated technology. Also, reducing environmental load has become an important factor in our industry. We have developed LED light source and reduced the sound of cooling fans with less heat generation, and consequently succeeded in reducing power consumption to less than one third.”
CHIRON Ⅲ, developed in 2014. It can reproduce the Milky Way containing over 100 million stars, and the Large Magellanic Cloud in the southern hemisphere, based on the latest observation data. (Photo provided by GOTO INC)
GOTO INC is also actively entering into overseas markets.
“In western countries, Carl Zeiss, a prestigious German company, and Spitz, inc., a US company, are most commonly used. However, our products have gained high reputation recently, and we succeeded in delivering our product to Germany, the origin of planetariums. Also, our presence is rising in Asia, including South East Asia, the Middle East, India, South Korea and China.”
Sendai Astronomical Observatory, where GOTO INC has been undertaking operational management since 2008 (Photo provided by Sendai Astronomical Observatory)
Recently, the government is promoting the designated manager system, in which private companies, non-profit organizations or citizen groups manage and operate public facilities that used to be managed by local governments or affiliated organizations. GOTO INC is a designated manager for several planetariums, drawing on its expertise.
“We are the only manufacturer that is a designated manager consigned with the operational management of planetariums. Starting with Sendai Astronomical Observatory in 2008, we are currently managing five faciliteis nationwide.”
GOTO INC has a long history in Fuchu City ever since moving to its current location in 1963. What are the advantages of being in Tokyo?
“Firstly, it boosts the corporate image. The brand image of the capital city is especially effective overseas. Secondly, it is easier to sustain good relationships with business partners and affiliates. Many of our business partners have their headquarters in Tokyo, allowing for swift communication. It also goes without saying that it is easier to access both domestic and overseas locations.”
Many museums, including science museums, were established throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and children who visited planetariums at museums during those times are now in their 30s and 40s. The generation familiar with space and astronomy from their childhood are now core members of society, and astronomy-related topics have been gaining more public attention in the news. GOTO INC has definitely contributed largely to this trend.
“We use kenkyusho=laboratory in our Japanese company name based on our founder, Seizo Goto’s wish: ‘even if the company is small, I want to preserve a corporate culture where all employees sustain an investigative stance, and constantly take on work with the will to investigate.’ This year (2016) marks the 90th anniversary since our founding. We are committed to continue conveying the fascination of astronomy and space, and pursuing the possibilities of space. “
The perfect spherical image system developed for the Earth Room of the Japan Pavilion Nagakute, a popular exhibit at EXPO 2005 AICHI, JAPAN. In 2006, it was moved to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo and renamed to Theater 360. It still continues to astonish and captivate visitors. (Photo provided by GOTO INC)