Marusan is one of the oldest toy companies in Japan whose products have endured over time. The roots of the company began in 1923, when Naokichi Ishida founded Ishida Manufacturing, based in Asakusa, Tokyo. Their primary business was selling optical toys like toy binoculars and telescopes.
In 1947 Naokichi Ishida's sons, Haruyasu and younger brother Minoru and brother in law, Yasuo Arai founded MARUSAN, whose primary business was also selling tin toys and optical toys.
In 1950, the company was formally incorporated as MARUSAN SHOTEN LTD. At the time of incorporation, Haruyasu Ishida was President; Minoru was listed as Managing Director and Yasuo Arai was a Director.
Initially, their business was a wholesale sales, but they eventually began to design and market their own line of toys.
In 1960 President Haruyasu retired and Minoru Ishida was appointed president. The 1960s saw Marusan venture into die-cast miniature cars called 'Toyo Ace' and plastic model kits of small airplanes.
1968 brought the unexpected bankruptcy of Marusan. However, the bankruptcy of Marusan eventually led to the establishment of two companies and in 1969 Minoru Ishida and Maruzan Co. Ltd. rebuilt Marusan as Marusan Co., Ltd. At the same time, Koutaro Ishida, who was a director of these companies and a nephew of Minoru, built a new company named Bullmark along with two other ex-employees of Marusan. Bullmark was a major producer of plastic kits and vinyl monster character toys until the late 70s when it closed its doors.
Marusan was very active in vinyl toys and created their own MARUSAN original monster series in the 70s and the 'Ultraman Ace' series of mini toys in 1972. During the 70s, Marusan eventually moved primarily into the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture) business of producing toys and parts for other companies.
Marusan founder, Minour Ishida died on December 3, 1987 at the age of 72 and Aiko Ishida was appointed president.
Today, Marusan is still in business, their most famous toys being that of models of the Godzilla.
Using the services of Masouzou Kosuge, a talented tool maker, Marusan began their post WWII business by launching a large tinplate model of a 1951 Cadillac, that became a classic. By the late 1950s, Marusan was making not only tinplate toys but also die-cast vehicles inspired by the British Dinky Toys line, as well as producing plastic model kits of Japanese WWII aircraft and navy ships. In 1964, they jumped onto the slotcar racing bandwagon and eventually produced a fair amount of kits in collaboration with Atlas in the USA.