Since ancient times, woodworking craftsmen with excellent techniques has resided in Hida Takayama, Gifu Prefecture. They were called “Takumi of Hida” or “Master craftsmen of Hida”. The later generations then encountered western bentwood techniques which originated from Austria and subsequently, in 1920, Hida Sangyo a manufacturer of bentwood furniture was founded. Since its founding, Hida Sangyo has been producing the “Thonet” chair which is a western styled chair and exporting it to the United States. During the post war years, the company developed and produced their own products to meet the demands of Japan’s domestic market. However, their business suffered stagnation due to the domestic economic crisis. After Mr. Okada took over the company as president in 2000, various reforms were implemented, taking advantage of the strengths of the local industry, and it resulted in a succeessful V-shaped recovery.
One major success of his reforms was the development of “Words from the Forest”, a furniture series which utilized knotted timber materials which up till then was deemed unusable. “Furniture with knots cannot be sold”, was the norm in the furniture industry and the norm was totally broken by the success of the furniture range which became popular beyond expectations. Encouraged by the success, Mr. Okada went on to initiate and focus on the compression technology of Japanese cedar as a new business. There is an abundance of Japanese cedar in Hida Takayama but it is a low-density wood and not suitable for the manufacturing of furniture. Hida Sangyo was able to successfully produce strong cedar material by utilizing their bentwood technology. The use of technology in order to make the regional material usable thus became the new strength of the company.
Through these experiences, Hida Sangyo will continue to make attractive products. Along with the popular “Words from the Forest” series they have also created the “KISARAGI” series which was made using compressed Japanese cedar based on an improved compression technology which won them the Good Design Award. Currently, Hida Sangyo has more than 400 employees. In 2014, they launched the “Hida Craftsmen Training School” because they consider human resource development as one of the important strategies for next 100 years. Aiming to be the best wood furniture company in the world and nurturing the next generation of Master craftsmen of Hida through their school, Hida Sangyo is unlocking the future of furniture making.