Those who enjoy and are familiar with Japanese sweets should be familiar with Glico, the producer of such popular delights are Pocky, Pretz, etc. The company is headquartered in Nishiyodogawa-ku, Osaka and their illuminated sign of the running man is a famous landmark in Osaka’s downtown Dotonbori District. But did you know that Glico also has a museum? Known as the Ezaki Memorial Hall, the museum opened in 1970 and features exhibits highlighting the history of Glico and the various Glico give-away toys from the Taisho Period.
Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd. was founded by Riichi Ezaki (1882-1980) in 1921 after the launch of Glico Caramel at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Osaka. Glico is short for glycogen, a nutrient that stores energy. This nutrient was used in the manufacture of the caramel candies. In 1927, the company began giving away free toys including medals placed in a small box attached to the distinctive red running man packages. The first electric signboard was erected in Dotonbori in 1935 and was 1.5 times the size of the current illuminated sign (six generation sign). The production of Glico Caramels was halted in 1942 as the company was unable to procure materials to produce the confections as Japan became more deeply embroiled in WWII. The original signboard was dismantled in 1943 and used for scrap metal in the war effort.
Following the war, the Glico product was fully revived in 1949. The company developed over 30,000 kinds of give-away gifts, including miniature dolls, vehicles and household appliances, 4,000 of which it displays in the museum at its head office in Osaka. Today, the company’s Pocky product is sold in over 30 countries and the company hopes to expand further to rival Nestle’s Kit Kat product which brings in $1 billion on sales annually.
The museum is limited to the second floor of the Utajima location and admission is free of charge. (Please note that advance reservations are required which can be made via the web page or by phone.) Upon entering the museum, visitors are obliged to watch a 12-minute founder’s video. After the video, there are various exhibits highlighting the company’s history and the history of its trademark. The museum also has various examples of machines that were used in the manufacturing process of the confections, vending machines and even the original delivery cart for the product. Lastly, there is a display of the company’s myriad of products including curry, ice cream and yogurt, just to name a few.
Ezaki Memorial Hall is just 16 minutes of foot from the Tsukamoto Station of the JR Kobe line or 18 minutes on foot from the Mitejima Station of JR Tozai line. It does not take long to tour the museum (approximately 30 minutes) so do plan to combine your visit with other activities in Osaka.
Address: 4-6-5 Utajima, Nishiyodogawa-ku, Osaka 555-0021