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Itoh Aeroplane Research Studio / ltoh Hikoki Kenkyusho 
 
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Otojiro Itoh
 
Itô was born in in southern Osaka. While employed as a young man by the Sadoshima Copper and Iron Company in his hometown of Osaka, Otojiro Itoh (伊藤音次郎, Itô Otojirô) (June 3, 1891 – December 26, 1971) became inspired with flight when seeing the Wright brothers' success in a film.
 
In September 1909, after reading an article about the new biplane developed by Sanji Narahara, Itô wrote a letter to Narahara pleading to be employed as a pilot. At Narahara’s urging, Itô began taking night classes on mechanical engineering at the Kôshu Gakko (now Kogakuin University). He continued to maintain a correspondence with Narahara for many years.
At the age of 19, in 1910, ltoh left home and moved to Tokyo where he worked as a mechanic at the Narahara aeroplane company. Impressed with his eagerness and interest in aviation, Narahara made ltoh an assistant to Einosuke Shirato, who had worked exclusively for Narahara as a pilot. This association was interrupted when Itoh reached the age of 20 because, like all other young Japanese men, he was conscripted for a one year term of service in the military. Upon returning to Narahara in 1912, he assisted in the manufacture of the aeroplanes and accompanied demonstration flights around Japan as a ground crewman.
 
In February 1915, following Narahara Sanji’s departure from the aviation community, Itô established the Itô Aircraft Research Center in present day Mihama Ward of Chiba City.
 
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As spare-time employment, ltoh assisted Shigesaburo Torigai with the manufacture of the Torigai Hayabusa-go Aeroplane which eventually crashed in September 1913. ltoh borrowed this aeroplane, quit his job and moved with the aeroplane to Inage, on Tokyo Bay just north of Chiba City. There he made repairs and modifications to the aeroplane, and began to learn to fly with the help of two others. The sandy beach there proved an excellent runway, but its availability was dependent upon the height of the tide. After three months of flying training, maintaining and repairing his own aircraft, he had accumulated a total of a mere 3 hours of flying.
 
Pilot licences, or, for that matter, any regulations concerning flying and aeroplanes were yet to come. Therefore, Itoh established a flying school on the beach at Inage in February 1915, and called it the ltoh Kyodo Hiko Renshusho (Itoh Co-operative Flight Training Ground). The ltoh Aeroplane Research Studio and Training Ground were both known to the public as ltoh Airfield. For flying training, he used the Torigai Hayabusa-go Aeroplane after it had been modified. To supplement his income, Itoh joined part time with Shirato, formerly with the Narahara company, who now was building his own aeroplanes. This added income allowed ltoh to begin his commercial construction of aircraft and by the autumn of 1915 he completed his first; the Itoh Emi I.
 
In November 1915, Itô finished construction of an airplane named after himself and his hometown, the “Itô-Emi Type 1.” On January 8, 1916, Itô flew his aircraft over Tokyo, making him famous among Japanese aviators. After Itô’s aircraft facility suffered severe damage from winds and flooding in late September 1917, he moved his operation to Tsunanuma-chô (now Naraishino City), and reestablished his business under the name “Itô Aircraft Manufacturing.” Among the pilots that Itô trained was Tadashi Hyōdō, the first Japanese woman to earn her pilot’s license, and Inoue Chôichi, who established the Japan Air Freight Corporation.
 
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Ito-Emi type 1
 
When the Asahi News Corporation established the Tôsai Teiki Airlines in 1923, Itô Aircraft Manufacturing provided both aircraft and pilots, thereby contributing to civil aviation transportation. In 1930, Itô established the Japan Light Aircraft Club and appointed Sanji Narahara as club president, which contributed to the spread of lighter-than-air aircraft in Japan.
Although Itô was one of the few successful aviators to come from a purely civil aviation background, he withdrew from the world of aviation following the ban on all aviation activities from the GHQ after the Occupation of Japan. Itô established a farming cooperative with volunteers drawn from the former workers at his factory in 1948, and moved to Tôyama Village in Chiba Prefecture (now Tôhô, Narita City) to open up new farmland as part of the post-war land reclamation project.
Despite the great effort expended by Itô’s group to cultivate land that had once been bamboo forest, their farm was eventually included in the area designated for the Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport). The sudden announcement of this plan was devastating for many local residents, some of whom participated in the Sanrizuka Struggle, but it was said that Itô alone of all the area’s residents welcomed the arrival of the airport. Although he had put his energy into farming, Itô willingly agreed to sell his land, and was among the first to sign a contract with the airport organization.
 
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Memorial to the birthplace of civil aviation
 
Afterwards, Itô put his energy into the establishment of the Civil Aviation Memorial in Inage Seaside Park. The journals and written records that Itô left behind were eventually used by author Hiragi Kunio. On December 26, 1971, Itô died at the age of 80.
 
 
 
 
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