It was 1946, soon after the end of World War II, Yotsukawa Seisakusho was founded in Kanaya-machi, Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, which was famous for its metal-casting industry. The company’s founder, Yoshiro, began producing flower vases under the trade name “喜泉 – Kisen,” and in its early years the company manufactured brass and iron castings in large quantities. As the country’s economic growth took off in the latter half of the 1970s, the public’s attention turned to products of high artistic value. In response to these circumstances, it began developing meticulously designed tea ceremony utensils and incense burners.
In 1982, the company ceased its manufacturing operations and became a “fabless” business specializing in designing and marketing, but it never lost its pride as a manufacturer and its philosophy of craftsmanship. The company’s spirit of “making beautiful and high quality products with ingenuity” has been passed down to today’s third generation president, Motomasa, and his brother Susumu, the senior managing director, leading to the birth of the current “KISEN” brand.
KISEN is a brand of Takaoka copperware that is dedicated to fit comfortably into the lives of modern people. As housing conditions and lifestyles changed after the bursting of the bubble economy, Yotsukawa explored the use of Takaoka copperware not just as ornamentation but for everyday use, and set out to launch a new brand to share that vision. Taking advantage of KISEN’s unique position as a fabless company, but with a strong foundation in and familiarity with local technology and manufacturers, and a deep understanding of the characteristics of metals, Motomasa and Susumu took the lead in this project, and Susumu personally designed the new product. The result is the “Guinomi Sake Cup,” which remains one of the KISEN’s flagships today.
The KISEN-branded Guinomi Sake Cup is a series of guinomi sake cups that combines metalworking techniques from Takaoka with wood grinding techniques known as Kijibiki from Yamanaka in Ishikawa Prefecture, in which wood is turned on a potter’s wheel or lathe, and shaped with a blade to produce a vessel. The Guinomi Sake Cup has won numerous awards and has been highly praised internationally, and in 2019, the company announced the release of “AROWIRL,” a wine glass that combines Takaoka copperware and Edo glass. Both products are quintessential examples of Yotsukawa’s dedication to manufacturing with a flexible, innovative mindset that looks beyond any single material or technique.
At the same time, the products of “喜泉堂- Kisendo”, a long-established Yotsukawa brand with a strong traditional flavor, are also very popular overseas. One of the major admirable qualities of Yotsukawa is that even after passing through difficult times, and achieving great success with the new brand, the company has not abandoned the traditions of the Kisendo brand but has continued to pass on its craftsmanship.
KISEN and Kisendo, innovation and tradition. These two brands, old and new, might appear to be at odds with each other, but in fact have a complementary relationship. What will the future hold for Yotsukawa Seisakusho, which started with a single flower vase a long time ago? It will be exciting to see what they do next.