• July 30, 2021
    • October 13, 2022

    Marketing Tips: A Stragety for the Weak to Compete Against Discount Giants

    How to define non-essential things I went to the seaside to fish last week, passing by many electric signboards on the road saying “Let’s avoid non-essential outings!” I know fishing is definitely thought to be a non-essential activity. As I may sound like trying to justify myself, let me say. What would be left in us if all the non-essential activities are taken away? Only by eating, excreting, and sleeping, we can keep our hearts beating, but I think we will be dead inside. Work seems to be believed to be essential, but actually is essential only for each of us workers to make a living. As we’ve seen so far, the world kept moving around even when most of us stayed at home. What makes us human is non-essential things, I believe. IKEA, NITORI, they are essential IKEA is the biggest furniture company in the world, though it has […]

    • July 27, 2021
    • October 21, 2022

    Business Tips: Return to Local Wood Consumption due to Wood Shock

    We are still dependent on wood The “wood shock” has still cast a big shadow over our industry. As many of you know, it’s one of the social problems caused by the COVID. As more people tend to work remotely at home, the demand of housing and renovation rises abruptly. The trend is so abrupt that the supply of wood can’t keep up. Accordingly, the price of wood is going up sky-high. This knockabout reminds us of a simple and powerful truth: we are still dependent a lot on this old material (wood), even in the time when carbon, rare metals, nanofibers, etc. are hailed as future materials. We choose to coexist with nature Another thing coming up to my mind during the wood shock is the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is the oldest epic prepared in Mesopotamia about 5000 years ago. King Gilgamesh went to the forest of Lebanon […]

    • July 22, 2021
    • October 14, 2022

    Japan Tips from Locals: Hokkaido Is the Mecca of Wooden Furniture

    Did you know Haagen-Dazs was originated in the US? I thought it came from somewhere in North Europe, which, I assume, would be exactly what the brand founder intended. Let me tell you another example. In Japan, canned coffee is one of the profitable items in the canned-drink market. A Japanese beverage company launched a canned coffee named with “WEST” about 20 years ago, but it didn’t sell at all. They just changed the name to “BOSS,” and it became a big hit and still sells very well. The lesson we can learn here is names are important, sometimes more important than the contents. In that sense, the name of our hometown (ASAHIKAWA) is at a disadvantage outside Japan because it’s not easy for non-Japanese people to pronounce. In fact, even most of our overseas business partners may not remember the name correctly, I guess. Today, I’d like to show […]

    • July 19, 2021
    • December 6, 2022

    Which Is Better, Leather, Suede, or Alcantara?

    Once fabric was more luxurious than leather Once upon a time, when the nobility used to use a horse carriage, leather was used for the coachman seat; fabric for the passenger seat inside the coach. Time passed, in the modern period when the main means of transportation was replaced by cars, the situation changed 180 degrees. Genuine leather is thought to be standard for luxury car seats across the world. In this current situation, I think the only option alternative to genuine leather would be Alcantara. Car lovers especially Ferrari fans highly coveted it. Alcantara is almost a synonym for luxury artificial leather. In fact, it is a name of a brand and also a company in Italy. The company is a joint venture with a Japanese major chemical company, TORAY. It was a Japanese scientist that invented the artificial leather. Alcantara, artificial but eco-friendly material Some people may be […]

    • July 16, 2021
    • October 21, 2022

    Business Tips: Counterfeit Production Is Really a Good Business?

    Impossible to copy our products cheaply The structure of a chair consists of a backrest, seat, arm rests, and legs, just simple and easy to copy. As it’s so simple, every time launching a new product, we are concerned if there are any other similar products. I’ve sometimes seen some copies of our chairs at furniture exhibitions. Were we mad? Not really. Of course, we’re not happy at all with such copies but believe it’s almost impossible to copy our products with the same quality in the same price range. In fact, the copies I’ve seen so far were cheaper, and their quality was worth the cheap price. Difference between innovation and imitation There are pros and cons on the subject of imitation. It seems difficult to simply condemn that imitation is bad. Even a genius scientist, Einstein said “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” […]

    • July 13, 2021
    • January 28, 2023

    Japanese History Guide: The Differences between Japanese and European Castles

    Differences of Japanese and European castles I believe many of you have seen the above image. It’s the fortress of Carcassonne, one of UNESCO world heritage sites. According to what I learned on the Internet, it is now the second most popular sightseeing spot in France after Mont Saint-Michel. It becomes more popular in Japan nowadays because the fortress city serves as the stage of a big-hit Japanese film. I’m ashamed to say, but I had not seen European fortresses and castles much (including Carcassonne). The film made me interested (though I’ve not watched it), and I found some differences from Japanese castles. I imagine anyone would immediately notice the difference in material: stone in Europe and wood in Japan, but that is not what attracted my attention most. The fortress of Carcassonne has a residence area inside and high walls, different from Japanese castles. The reasons of the differences […]

    • July 9, 2021
    • October 6, 2022

    Japanese History Guide: The Quality of Nails in the Best Samurai Period

    Kamakura samurais, strongest and bravest Samurai governed Japan for about 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. The age of samurai is divided into some periods. According to a popular theory, samurais in the first period (the Kamakura period, from 1185 to 1333) are believed to be strongest and bravest. It is said that “You look like a Kamakura samurai” was the best praising words for samurais even in the last days of the samurai age. The same as samurais, the quality of nails in the Kamakura period is said to be best. In the age of samurai, the best quality steel (high-carbon steel) was used for sword crafting as I wrote before. In the Kamakura period, nails were made of the second best quality steel. Building structures and nails in the Kamakura period Japanese old buildings, like temples and shrines built several hundred years ago, didn’t use any nails. This […]

    • July 6, 2021
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese Working Culture: What Is Life in a Humane Manner?

    The COVID, the one-way time machine The COVID is sometimes called “a time machine.” Remote work is a good example. I think most of the companies at least in Japan just pretended to take a positive attitude but actually were not so serious about it before the COVID. In the peak season of 2020, however, the proportion of companies adopting remote work exceeded 50%. For better or worse, the time seems to change quickly and greatly due to the COVID. Relationships become exclusive Do you think things will go back to the way we used to be? I don’t think so especially about the changes due to the COVID. Many people have tasted the comfort to avoid personal relationship problems. Due to the rapid rise of the online communication, we can easily communicate with people who we like and also avoid communication with people who we dislike. I think this […]

    • July 5, 2021
    • June 7, 2022

    The Way Home

    When working in Tokyo, I always left the office after dark and rushed back home. After getting back to Hokkaido, I’ve noticed the busy city made me forget to pay attention to the beauty around my life. Hokkaido has been covered with snow and ice for nearly half a year. When the snow melts in spring, all the flowers and plants burst into bloom. They seem to try to show their beauty that has been frozen for a long time. Now, I leave the office earlier, and always enjoy the view and take pictures of the flowers and plants on the way back home. Although I don’t know their names, their beauty remains in my heart. The world is full of beauty, but we sometimes rush too much to miss it. Why don’t we get some rest and pay more attention to things around us, like flowers on the roadside. […]

    • July 1, 2021
    • October 7, 2022

    Penfield Homunculus: How Do We Sense the World?

    Developing precise body control is not easy Move your right hand up and down while moving your left hand back and forth. You must be a genius of body control if you can do this smoothly and easily. To the guests of our factory tour, I always ask to do this, but I’ve never seen anyone who can do it right. Our craftspeople move like this when surface-finishing a table top board with a wide belt sander. Precise body control makes a smooth surface A wide belt sander is a machine rotating a sanding belt on a platform that can slide back and forth. The craftspeople press the sanding belt to a table top board with their right hand while moving back and forth with their left hand the platform on which the table top board is placed. The sanding power is strong. If you apply too much pressure or […]