|Birth Place||Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture|
He was born as the fourth child of Seizō and Iso in Heguri-mura Ikoma-gun Nara Prefecture on September 11, 1888. His father was a farmer, charcoal banner, and charcoal broker. The family moved to Osaka shortly after his birth.
He was an impish child. Since he was in elementary school, he liked to watch ironsmiths working. He quit the school and became an apprentice for an iron factory at the age of 11 in 1898. He self educated himself about drafting techniques to get even with his senior pupils. In 1907, he began working at an iron factory called Teramoto Tekkōjō. He moved to Nagoya to work at a bigger factory to learn more skills on December 12, 1908. He did so without telling to his friends, coworkers, and family. In several years, he worked and acquired many skills at various factories that produced ordnances, raising machines, boat motors and engines.
At some point, he went to Maisaka to fix a boat motor. Since there weren’t any maintained iron factory, locals donated money for him to start one. In 1913, he opened Nishikwa Tekkōjō (Nishikawa Iron Works) at a factory in Sunayama-cho where used to be a factory. The company did not only sell products to local area but also to Kantō and Tōhoku area. In order to raise capital, the company became a kabushikigaisha (joint stock company) in 1914. Matsumoto Heijirō, a big landlord in Terajima-chō, was the first president of the company, and Nishikawa was the factory director. During WWI, the company shifted to producing military hardware. When he was 27, Nishikawa married to Kyō in 1914.
In 1917, he left the company and established Nishikawa Kyōdai Tekkōjō (Nishikawa Brothers Iron Works) in Matsue-cho. After he left, Nishikawa Iron Works renamed to Hamamatsu Tekkōjō (Hamamatsu Iron Works). The company closed after several years.
He studies the mechanism of diesel engine at an iron factory in Niigata Iron and through his friends. The diesel engine he produced earned good reputations. The Mukden Incident began in 1931 led to the growth of demands for military goods, and the company became busy. China Incident occurred in 1937.
He established an association called Enshū Tekkō Kikai Kōgyō Kumiai (Enshū Iron Machinery Industry Association) and joined in an association called Nihon Tekkō Kikai Hōkō Kumiai (Japan Iron Machinery Service Association). The company moved to Nakajima-cho and changed its name to Kabushikigaisha Nishikawa Tekkōjō (Nishikawa Iron Works Corporation). It stopped producing diesel engines and focused on manufacturing heavy goods. Nishikawa purchased a site and established Enshū Jyūkōgyō Kabushikigaisha (Enshū Heavy Indusry Corporation) to produce anti-aircraft warfare ordered by the Japanese Army in 1939. The premise was later used by Sumikura Industrial Co., Ltd..
Ashikaga Shizan, the head priest of Hōkōji Temple, and Miyamoto Jinshichi asked Nishikawa for donation. He donated 1,000 yen. Nishikawa made friends with the priest and dedicated him a house built inside the temple. The house is called Kanunsō. He also made many donations to the schools in Hamamatsu which includes the gift of the statue of Ninomiya Sontoku, a figure who contributed greatly to Japanese agriculture, to a school in Maisaka. He appealed to the Prefecture to open a mechanic training school in around 1940. The school was built in Mukojyuku-cho with donations from locals.
In 1945, he sold half of the rights of his factory to Asano zaibatsu (family-run conglomerates). Enshū Heavy Industry and Nishikawa Iron Works merged, and Nishikawa became the vice president of the company. Later on, he sold all the company's rights to Asano zaibatsu, and stepped aside from heavy industry.
He donated the fortune earned by the deal to the Japanese Army, Navy, public organizations, and etc. In 1941, he moved to a house in Hirosawa-cho, which Ashikaga named as Hirosawa-sō (literally, house of Hirosawa). The floodgate in Tenryu River was completed with support from Nishikawa in 1944. His first son died by an air attack in 1945. During WWII, he welcomed victims to his house and fed them. Suzuki Jin’ichirō, the president of Teikoku Seibō, and Suzuki Jin’ichi, the president of Sankyō Kikai Seisakujō also stayed there.
Nishikawa became the chairman of the community association of Hirosawa-cho with the persuasion of Ashikaga after the war. He became an auditor of Matsubishi Co.,Ltd in 1946. Later, he also became an auditor of Toyohashi Marubutsu Department Store.
With the aim to make Mikatahara region an industrial district, Nishikawa asked Hamamatsu Light Railways to electrified and expand its lines. The company hesitated to accept the plan. He held the company’s presidency in 1946. The company merged with Enshu Railways in 1947. As a director of this company, he kept working for its development. Nishikawa obtained a hotel license since his house was huge and many visited every day. Empress dowager stayed there in 1947. It is said that she wore plain dress with tears mended. Prince Takamatsu also stayed there later.
In postwar years, he donated money and gathered more donations from others to recover public facilities in Hamamatsu. In addition, he donated to the Hamamatsu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a child-support institution in Kanzanji (Kanzanji Kodomo no Ie), and more. In 1948, he was elected as a committee of Shizuoka Prefectural Board of Education. He worked on founding new schools and enlarging schools facilities. He was also associated with raising contributions for and recovery of many schools such as Shizuoka University - Faculty of Education, Hamamatsu Kita High Schools, and many other schools. As the chairman of reconstruction supporting group of Hamamatsu Industrial High School (present Shizuoka University Hamamatsu Campus), he gathered donations. The recovery of schools in Shizuoka was faster than other prefectures.
He became a director of Shoda Iron Works Co.,Ltd and worked on improvement of the management. The company succeeded as a woodworking machine manufacturer later.
People loved his lectures since they were funny and easily understandable.
In order to build sanmon (temple gate) at Hōkōji Temple, he raised contributions. The gate constructed after two years in 1954. Moreover, he also devoted a year to install fire protection devices, repair kuromon (black gate), arrange inside sanmon, and receive statues of the Sixteen Arhats from Ehime Prefecture. Prince Takamatsu wrote the gate’s kakegaku (framed motto hung on a gate), which says gogoku (literally, defence of one’s country). Nishikawa asked the price when he visited him on behalf of Ashikaga.
The celebration of the gate’s completion was held in 1955.
He was also associated with the foundation of Okuyama Nursing Home and Hamamatsu Lions Club, a voluntary organization.
He died of a heart attack on July 1, 1959. His funeral was held at Seiraiin Temple. His tomb was prepared before his death in Hōkōji Temple. The tomb of Ashikaga, who died shortly after Nishikawa’s death, stands next to his.
His height was 158cm.
“One may be hated, but should never hate anyone”
“Try to remember what you might have forgotten (be a memorist)”
He loves birds and goldfishs.
He filled his garden with his favorite flower, satsuki azalea.
Shoga (a style of Japanese painting) and collecting curios were his hobbies.
He was also good at duck hunting.
Even though he loved to go out and sometime stayed out until three in the morning, he would wake up at five and start working.
Not only he liked to donate, but also he was excellent at and liked collecting donations from others.
“Enshū Ijinden Daisankkan” (Stories of Great Figures of Enshū vol.3)
“Enshū Kikai Kinzoku Kōgyō Hattenshi” (History of Enshū’s Machinery and Metal Industry)
“Ahō Rokujyūyonen no Ashiato - Ishikawa Kumasaburō Jiden” (Sixty Years History of an Idiot – Nishikawa Kumasaburō’s Autobiography)