The first factory manager of Tomioka Silk Mill
Odaka was the cousin of Eiichi Shibusawa, and taught him the Analects of Confucius when he was a young boy. He was born into a family who served as myoshu, or village headmen. He excelled at academics from a young age, and opened an academy in the house where he was born, built by his great grandfather in the late Edo period.
In 1869, Odaka protested changes made by local authorities regarding water supply for agricultural purposes and resolved the issue by petitioning to the government. This action brought him to the attention of high-ranking government officials, and he was subsequently recruited to serve the new government.
Odaka was involved in establishing Tomioka Silk Mill from the stage of site selection, and in order to materialize the peculiar “wood frame, brick construction” structure at the time of building, he entrusted Naojiro Nirazuka with brick manufacturing. When the silk mill started operations, Odaka became the first factory manager. Guided by the principle “a sincere man has the insight of the gods,” he devoted himself diligently to management. In addition to maintaining discipline at the silk mill, he was concerned with the training of the “factory girls,” undertaking to improve not only their skills, but also their general education.
Odaka’s daughter Yu was the first “factory girl,” and although there were previously no candidates, he succeeded in getting together a number of “factory girls.”