Traditional and modern techniques are often compared, but Japanese blades and cutting tools brand Suwada proved that both can be combined to produce the best products for consumers.
Started as a company producing ‘kuikiri’ or end-cut pliers for carpenters responding to surging demand for new housing in the wake of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Suwada has now grown into a company known overseas for world-class quality produced nail clippers, bonsai shears, and kitchen tools.
Established in 1926 in Ichinokido, Sanjo (Niigata Prefecture), a town in Japan famous for its esteemed blacksmiths and known worldwide as one of the leading production centers for high-end cutlery, Suwada boasts of keeping the traditional way of crafting blades and cutting tools done in a meticulous way, and delivered with high aesthetics. Each product passes on the hands of several talented craftsmen who check the quality of the products, from forging, grinding, down to its finishing.
Tomoyuki Kobayashi, grandson of Suwada founder Shukusaburo Kobayashi, is leading Suwada today. Image Source: Suwada London
Suwada’s pursuit of aesthetic perfection in its products has been recognized numerous times. In 2014, Suwada Bookmarker won an IDS Award at the IDS Design Competition. In 2009 and 2013, Suwada won a Good Design Award from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP) for its cuticle nipper and nail nipper, respectively. And in 2007, its nail nipper received a Jury’s Special Mention at IDS Design Competition. That same year, the company was recognized with a Design Excellent Award from the JDP.
Aside from adapting select modern machinery, Suwada also made a drastic change in its factory layout. Far from the usually enclosed factories, in 2011, Suwada has transformed and relaunched their plant into Suwada Open Factory. They have now opened their grounds to people who would like to discover or rediscover the rich history of blacksmithing in Sanjo, and those who are curious about the process of how their products are made.
During the tour in the Suwada Open Factory, visitors may witness the day-to-day operations of their plant. The forging of the materials usually happens in the afternoon, so those who wish to witness this may visit during the afternoon. Minimal number of visitors may walk in to visit the factory, while group visitors of 10 people or more should book in advance through their website.
The Suwada Open Factory is located at 1332 Koanji, Sanjo, Niigata, and is open every Tuesday to Saturday from 10:10-12:10 and 13:00-17:00. They are closed on Sundays, Mondays, national holidays, the year-end, and New Year holidays.
For more details about Suwada Open Factory tours and their products, visit https://www.suwada.co.jp.