It is not easy to take on outsourcing companies that have gone out of business and focus on passing on their skills. It must be expensive, of course, and it is amazing just to imagine.
That’s right. The reason why we are able to do this is because we have real estate as a business. So we are doing this business while making good use of that real estate. In fact, we did not want to go in-house because it would have been very costly in terms of capital investment and labor costs. However, once the technology was gone, we knew we could never get it back. As a business, it is normal to create a supply system to meet demand, but since this is a traditional craft, skills are transferred from one person to another, so for now, we are starting by passing on the skills.
What made you decide to take over the company, or rather, what made you decide to take on the responsibility of the next generation in the face of declining demand?
Before I joined the company, I was a regular office worker and worked in fuel sales. I was in that kind of sales throughout my working life, for about seven years.
When you were asked if you wanted to take over the company, did you have any doubts?
It’s not that I didn’t have my doubts. I mentioned earlier that there is a real estate business, but the real estate business does not require a lot of people, so there was an option, for example, to continue working as a salaried worker and just take over the assets of the company. But when I saw the people working at this company, I thought, after all, this is where I was born for a reason or a mission.
I knew that there are people who love cloisonne enamel ware. I feel that I must continue to offer cloisonne enamel ware because there are people who need it. The other thing is to pass on the techniques. The next generation of young people are working at the site and want to learn this technique, so I feel that I must not take away their workplaces and must maintain them.
In the history of your company, what is the significance of creating new products for Europe through this project in Nagoya?
I have strong feelings about this. Our company was originally a kisser shop. Smoking implements were also a craft, but as time went by and paper cigarettes became the mainstream, and kissel was not selling well, we decided to create a store specializing in cloisonne enamel techniques, which were used in some smoking implements, with an eye to the future.
Since then, cloisonne enamel ware has received recognition overseas and has come to be known as the flower of world expositions, and has a history of development. During the war years, there were difficult times when luxury goods and overseas trade were closed, but during the subsequent period of rapid economic growth, we achieved new forms of business and sales, such as gift-giving. However, we have been in decline for the past several decades, haven’t we?
My ancestors sensed the future at a time when most Japanese had never been abroad, and they had the courage to venture out and succeed. I would like to go abroad one more time in the same way as my ancestors, but in a different way to suit this time period, and convey the charm of cloisonne enamel ware in the same way.
Also, the pride of the people who are involved in the project is also an important factor. I would like everyone who has been involved in our company to regain that kind of pride.
In order to do so, we need to develop new demand. The industry is going out of business and sales are declining, and although we want to preserve the cloisonne enamel art, what we want to produce does not necessarily mean what will sell. In order to create a new innovation, we need to look at it from an outside perspective, because if we do it on our own, we are stuck with common sense. That is why we decided to join Creation as DIALOGUE.