Gamagori city in Aichi prefecture faces Mikawa Bay and is situated between Atsumi and Chita peninsulas. It is blessed with mild weather and the delicacies of both mountain and ocean. The founder, Chozaburo Takemoto established TAKEMOTO OIL & FAT (TAKEMOTO OIL at establishment) in Goyu town in Higashi-Mikawa in 1725 (the 10th year of the Kyoho period). It is the oldest operating oil extraction company in Japan.

In the Edo era at the time of establishment, oil wasn’t used for cooking but for lanterns. TAKEMOTO OIL & FAT used to extract oil mainly from cottonseed. The company first began to extract oil from sesame in the early Taisho era.

Why extracting oil for a living? Because cotton cultivation in the Mikawa region had flourished since the Azuchi-Momoyama era and Mikawa cotton was a prosperous industry. Cottonseed oil is a by-product of cotton production. The fluffy fiber was separated from the raw cotton seeds in the center and the fiber used for cloth. The cotton seeds were ground by water mill to extract the oil and the cottonseed meal that remained was shipped for livestock feed or fertilizer.

Times changed. In the 29th year of the Meiji era, the import tariff on raw cotton was abolished, putting a cloud over the cotton industry, but the spread of electricity made lighting oil redundant. When World War I started and it became possible to cheaply import sesame from China which had previously been exported to Europe, TAKEMOTO OIL & FAT switched to extracting oil from sesame instead of cottonseed and moved the factory to Gamagori, the next town.

At present, the factory of TAKEMOTO OIL & FAT is alongside the Gamagori seashore. Daily production of TAIHAKU sesame oil, TAIKOU sesame oil and commercial oil totals approximately 70 tons. The factory operates continuously from Monday morning until Sunday morning. The fragrance tickling your nose when you alight at the station will become more aromatic the closer you draw to the factory.