Shaken (Type foundry)

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Shaken (Type foundry)
Native name
  • Font design
  • Phototypesetting
Founded1925; 99 years ago (1925) (as Phototypesetting machine research establishment Co. Ltd.)
Saitama Prefecture
Key people
  • Toya Minamura (president)
  • Shigeyoshi Ishii (founder)
  • Yuko Ishii
¥59 million (2007)

Shaken Co. Ltd. (Japanese: 株式会社写研 Kabushiki-gaisha Shaken or 写研 Shaken for short) is a Japanese type foundry and phototypesetting joint stock company headquartered in Saitama Prefecture, Tokyo.

The company's products boasted an overwhelming market share during the height of the Japanese phototype industry, thanks to their advanced proprietary systems and high quality typefaces. As the de-facto standard for typography and typefaces in the field of graphic design and publishing, Shaken's phototypesetting machinery became the standard for typesetting with them being widely used in many different fields, from print publications to signage and television. The company's dedicated typesetting system is also called the "Shaken system" (Japanese: 写研システム). Despite the company's early successes with phototypesetting, conflicts between employees and management resulted in Shaken opting to stay with its proprietary format and machines instead of joining other Japanese foundries, such as Morisawa, in the Desktop Publishing movement.

By 1999, Shaken had lost 40% of its market share to foundries which embraced DTP, and in the process also lost most of their skilled designers which went on to work at other type foundries including Fontworks, Iwata and Morisawa. During this time the company also suffered from a scandal when government tax raiders found several safes in the company basement filled with 10,000-yen bills; for about 13 years starting from around 1975, the current president at the time, Yuko Ishii, had sequestered some 15 million USD (¥15 billion) cash from sales, which was deducted and stored in a safe in an underground warehouse. After profits began to decline in 1992, the cash in the safe was returned to accounting and a fictitious profit was recorded[1].

At the 15th International e-Publishing Expo in 2011, it was announced that the company would be releasing an OpenType font library by the end of that year[2]. At the Shaken booth, there was a demonstration displaying Shaken fonts in Adobe InDesign and on the iPad. However, as of 2020, more than 9 years later, there is no prospect of an official release, likely due to a lack of designers and difficulties with converting fonts from their own proprietary format, but no official reason has been given.

In 2017, Shaken's Kawagoe factory was demolished. Since the death of Yuko Ishii in 2018 there has been no change in company policy, and as of February 2020, the company's Saitama factory opposite their main office is now also undergoing preparations for demolition[3]. Shaken's income is still primarily from royalty fees from organisations and other companies which still use its phototypesetting technology, but with the closure of Shaken's factories, their proprietary technology is set to be discontinued in 2024.


  1. 読売新聞『「写研」が150億円所得隠し 地下金庫に札束85億円 脱税と粉飾の20年』1999年1月1日付朝刊 39面
  2. "第15回国際電子出版EXPO:写研、OpenTypeフォントを年内リリースすると発表".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. "一時代を築いた『写研』の解体工事が始まりました。".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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