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Surging Ahead from Railway Construction to Civil Engineering

Undertaking the Construction of Japan's First Railway

Japan's rapid modernization during the Meiji era brought about numerous major changes. The country's first railway, between Tokyo's Shinbashi district and Yokohama, began operating in 1872, 32 years after Kajima first set up shop. The government built this railway, although Kajima supplied gravel and other materials, marking the Company's first participation in what would become its principal business field. Japan soon experienced a nationwide railway building boom that was encouraged by the government, and Kajima began focusing on railway construction business from the 1880s. Subsequently, the Company built railways in Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria.

The Tanna Tunnel

Kajima greatly increased its renown for railway-related activities with its work on the Tanna Tunnel, in Shizuoka Prefecture. The Company constructed the western half of the 7.8 kilometer, double-track tunnel (1918-1934).

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Managing Rental Villas in the Resort of Karuizawa

From 1891, Kajima built tunnels and handled other construction work for the Yokokawa-Karuizawa portion of the Shinetsu-Honsen line of Japan National Railways. Because of this activity, Iwazo Kajima, who was then the head of Kajima, became acquainted with the owner of the Kameya Inn (currently the Mampei Hotel), who encouraged him to purchase land in Karuizawa. Iwazo did so and used this land as the site for the construction of his own villa as well as six fully furnished rental villas for foreigners. He undertook the management of these rental villas as a side business and also planted trees on a large plot of land. These trees have grown up to form what is now known as Kajima Forest.

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Advancing from Railway Construction to Civil Engineering

Japanese demand for electric power began surging from the early 1900s, spurring a nationwide boom in the construction of dams and hydroelectric power plants. In the 1930s, demand for civil engineering services related to railways and hydroelectric facilities was supplemented by considerable demand for such work as the creation of harbors, water and sewage systems, river embankments, and roads. Kajima aggressively advanced into these fields and accumulated broad expertise in civil engineering construction. From the 1950s, aiming for rapid economic revival after World War II, large national development and urban development projects were organized throughout Japan. A large portion of these projects involved electric power systems, principally hydroelectric power facilities, and Kajima was given the task of building many huge dams around the country.

The Ohmine Dam

Japan's first high concrete dam, the Ohmine Dam in Kuze, Kyoto, is 31 meters tall and 91 meters long (1920-1924).

The Meishin Highway

Kajima handled the Yamashina portion of Japan's first superhighway, the Meishin Highway (1958-1960).

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Infrastructure Projects prior to the Tokyo Olympics

It is said that Japan's postwar reconstruction programs culminated with the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, and great efforts were made to ensure that a high-speed Shinkansen (bullet train) service between Tokyo and Osaka was begun by the opening of the event. Kajima handled numerous difficult portions of the Shinkansen route's construction, including the New Tanna Tunnel and a bridge spanning the Fuji river. Thus, the Company's superlative expertise in railway and civil engineering work made a momentous contribution to Japan's infrastructure development.

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Tokyo's monorail

Tokyo's monorail service was begun at the time of the 1964 Olympic Games. Kajima installed approximately 40% of the monorail track and was responsible for other related work, including the construction of concrete bridges in 21 locations.

Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)

Kajima participated in the expansion of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), another project scheduled for completion before the start of the 1964 Olympic Games (1958-1964).

The Keiyo sea berth

Kajima was involved with the expansion of the Keiyo sea berth in Chiba Prefecture to allow increasingly large oil tankers to pump their cargoes to nearby refineries (1967-1968).

New Tanna Tunnel

Kajima built the western 4.3 kilometers of the 7.9-kilometer New Tanna Tunnel in Shizuoka Prefecture. Based on its experience creating the Tanna Tunnel, the Company was able to shrink the construction period approximately 75% (1959-1964).

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