History of SHOWEN
1948Noboru and Misao Kaji, husband and wife, founded "Kaji Kumihimo Factory" in Uji, Kyoto. At the time, Kumihimo was very popular as a braided belt accessory for traditional kimono gowns and fashion. Noboru and Misao learned their braiding methods from relatives in Iga, where "Iga Kumihimo" originated. As western fashion had become more prevalent in Japan, the kumihimo business began losing its popularity. Though demands work gloves, socks, and other textiles increased, Noboru and Misao Kaji decided to dedicate their life's work to the preservation and refinement of the kuhimiho craft.
1958As the kuhimiho industry developed machinery like other industries, Noboru and Misao adopted the new era of mass production. Yet, they emphasized the tradition of handmade techniques to furnish the finished products.
1970Noboru and Misao established the "Kuhimiho Handcraft School" and expanded their school to the Tohoku, Hokuriku, and Kyushu areas. Along with the schools' expansion, braid materials and braiding tools sales also grew.
1977Both Noboru and Misao obtained the prestigious title of "Certified Traditional Craftsman for Kumihimo" from Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry. They also both received certification of "Best Craftsmanship" from the Kyoto Traditional Industry Association and Japan's National Superior Craftsmanship.
1990Misao obtained the civic "Skill Contributor Award" from Uji City.
1992Tsutomu Kaji succeeded business from Noboru, who passed away, and began working with his mother and company co-founder, Misao Kaji.
1995With 2 major clients, business began to grow rapidly. The company responded by expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet the demands from its consumers.
2000Japan's textile industry had been severely damaged due to the rapid decline of demand from its consumers. In order to grow his business, Tsutumo decided to establish the brand "SHOWEN" and to start selling directly to the consumer market. Meanwhile, Tsutomu became the chairman of the Kyoto Junior Traditional Craftsman Association, where he continued to approach the public segments, as well as, establish strong business relationships with professionals in Kyoto.
2001Showen's best selling product, the "Silk Strap," began selling this year. The company also began selling its products online, which was a first for this industry.
2003Tsutomu obtained the title "Certified Traditional Craftsman for Kumihimo" from Japan's Ministry of Economics.
2006The company opened its first shop near its factory, where it began selling SHOWEN products and allowing consumer's to experience traditional kumihimo braiding. Along with its growing popularity, the company became a focal point of media coverage from television, radio, and magazines.
2010In order to promote the traditional craft of kumihimo worldwide, the company spent two years preparing a textile piece to participate in the international OIDFA World Bobbin Lace Congress.
2011Misao Kaji received the highest civil award, the "Medal of Honor," from the Emperor of Japan for her lifetime dedication for being an ambassador of traditional kumihimo to the rest of the world.
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