1. Tell us a little bit about the company.
We are primarily manufacturing and developed Japanese Bonsai and Gardening tools using traditional metal forging/blacksmith techniques since 1933.
2. How did Tanabe Co., Ltd. start?
Our founder, Fukoo Tanabe, started the company in Sanjo City Nigata — famous for its metal forging factory — as a distributor of Japanese Carpentry tools mainly in Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.
There are a lot of Japanese immigrants in Kamchatka peninsula back then, so the demand for Japanese carpentry tools was big and he was doing great business there. However, since the war started, everything got hauled so we started developing the original brand focusing on Bonsai and gardening tools with gardening scissors as our main product.
3. What inspires your craft and what kind of philosophy do you have?
Our philosophy exists within the product — simplicity of the form, sharpness, and how it fits inside your hand. How it feels and function tells our philosophy of product making. We use a wave-like pattern on the metal called Tsuchi-me pattern and we often talk about that wave pattern really represents us. As a brand, we have been going through major ups and downs, trials and errors and that pattern really represents who we are.
4. What do you hope to inspire in others with your products?
Like everyone, we have continued to struggle to perfect our craftsmanship for over 80 years. We hope our customers will feel the same value that we feel through our product, the true value of things, traditional craftsmanship, and our beautiful country Japan.
5. What is a typical day like for the blacksmiths of Tanabe Co., Ltd.?
Our production fully depends on the weather and season. The spring and fall are relatively easy and we start the fire at 6 am. We start the fire at 4 am in winter. Summer is very difficult and our product is only before noon as we are having record-breaking heat in recent years. We really work with the season and weather all year.
6. What’s the process for creating a piece of traditional hasami?
Check out their amazing step-by-step process here.
7. Tell us a bit about the traditional techniques used to create tanabe hasami, and why.
Sanjo city has been famous for Blacksmithing since Edo era (1600 to 1900) but the demand for blacksmiths has shifted oversea. Well-trained blacksmiths are diminishing and existing craftsmen are getting very old. We are seriously concerned about not being able to pass our techniques to the next generation.
We understand everything gets old and our technique and the way of producing our products are getting outdated and replaced by mass-produced products. But, we believe our traditional blacksmith technique is worth preserving and our product is truly the best and of the highest quality in the market. We came this far and it is our honor to continue to produce our product the same way we have been doing last 80 years.
8. How does sustainability fit into the work that you do?
Compare to when we started the business back in the 30s, Japan is over-saturated with products nowadays. But our philosophy of creating products that will last for a lifetime stayed with us. We provide free sharpening for all of our products in Japan.
9. Where do you hope to see the company in 10 years?
Tanabe Hasami is still in business after 80 years because of all the support we received from other blacksmith factories in Sanjo city. We will keep producing our scissors using the same traditional blacksmith technique and it is the only way we can show our respect.
Shop our Tanabe Hasami Collection here.