The Mitsubishi Group was founded back in the late 19th century. The company's forefather, Yataro Iwasaki, initially founded the shipping company Tsukumo Shokai with three chartered steamships in 1870, which was already known as Mitsubishi Shokai in 1873. Yataro Iwasaki started his career as a sales representative for the Yamanouchi family from the Tosa clan and very successfully managed various trading companies. After the Tosa clan withdrew from the region's trading activities, the Yataro family surrendered company shares, from which the Mitsubishi group was later to be founded.
After the death of the founder in 1885, the company was continuously developed by Yataro descendants and diversified into a wide variety of industries. Although many Mitsubishi Group companies were broken up by the occupying powers after the end of the Second World War and had to discard company names and the famous logo, the Mitsubishi Group still has more than 300 companies around the world that are based in a wide variety of industries. This also includes Mitsubishi Motors, which built the first automobiles as early as 1917 and in the same year brought Japan's first mass-produced automobile onto the market, the “Model A”. To this day, the group works according to the three principles established by the company's fourth president: “Shoki Hoko”, responsibility towards society, “Shoji Komei”, decency and justice, and “Ritsugyo Boeki”, international understanding through trade.
But what does the Mitsubishi logo mean?
The origin of the logo can be found in two Japanese family crests that are fused together. The establishment and inheritance of family crests has been in use in Japan for centuries, initially probably as a symbol of identification in armed conflicts. The family coat of arms of the company's founder, Yataro Iwasaki, contains three water chestnuts, represented by three diamonds lying on top of one another. The Japanese word “hishi” for water chestnut also includes the meaning “diamond-shaped” in Japanese usage. Yataro initially used this family crest from 1870 as the company logo for the ships of his newly founded company Tsukumo Shokai.
The family coat of arms of the Yamanouchi family, in whose trading business Yataro Iwasaki laid the foundation stone for his career, consists of three oak leaves arranged in a star shape. This arrangement was adopted and the oak leaves were replaced with the rhombuses typical of Iwasaki's coat of arms. In this way, the two coats of arms merged and formed the company logo, which has not changed significantly over the decades. The creation of the logo resulted in the original naming of today's large corporation, which is composed of the Japanese words “mitsu” for three and “hishi” for diamond shape. Since the “h” in the middle is pronounced like a “b” in Japanese usage, the name Mitsubishi established itself.