Representative Director Mr. Shin Nakamura
Applying to Buy TOKYO promotion activity support project
to realize the “showroom opening plan” we had been hoping for
Founded in 1923 in Kanda, Tokyo, Nakamura had been operating as a dyer that undertook kimono dyeing, washing, and tailoring. It had been dormant since 2006. However, the current president, Mr. Shin Nakamura revived it in 2014. Nakamura was reborn as a company that undertakes the production of noren. Mr. Nakamura shared that he wanted to create new value for the artisans' handiwork.
"There are different kinds of ways to make noren. When I looked at the market, I felt that there was a problem with communication. This is why I started this business with the idea that there should be someone who can connect shops and companies that want noren with artisans with diverse skills. We will be able to create new demand for noren and craftsmanship if we can make the most of the various skills of the artisans. Noren is interesting. It serves as an outdoor advertisement that has existed since the Edo Period and creates boundaries in space. The other side can be seen through as it sways in the wind. The detachable noren is regarded as a boundary, which is an idea not found in the West. Many people become interested in noren when I talk about it. Through the production of noren, I would like to convey the cultural appeal of noren."
Mr. Nakamura had long been thinking of opening a showroom to let people experience the attractive qualities of noren. The reason he applied for the Buy TOKYO promotion activity support project was to make this plan a reality.
"A business associate who knew that our company wanted to build a showroom introduced us to this support system. The company applied in 2021 and started receiving support in August. As the support period is about two years, in the first year, we prepared to open a showroom. In the second year, we prepared to participate in exhibitions and hold pop-up shops."
Touch the noren and go through it. See the craftsmanship up close.
The personal and authentic experience grabs your heart,
and expands the future of noren and traditional industries
Nakamura utilized the expenditure subsidies to open the showroom. The showroom opened on September 7th, 2022, with a beautifully simple design that reflects the company's special commitment. A pole is attached to the ceiling to hang the noren, and the lighting is a soft, gallery-like light. It conveys the delicacy of dyeing and embroidery every time the noren sways in the wind and the light shines through.
A sample noren produced by Nakamura is currently displayed in the showroom. It was produced in collaboration with creators who are active on the front line and craftsmen with various techniques such as dyeing, embroidery, and weaving. For Nakamura, artisans are like companions who sympathize with the fun and potential of noren, who build the future together.
"There are many ways to proceed with production. I would sometimes ask the creators this question. 'There are artisans who can create this kind of expression with this kind of technique. Can't you incorporate it into the design of the noren?' There were times when artists who were familiar with crafts suggested that they wanted to make this kind of noren. Artisans go through trial and error and develop new techniques to meet the high demands of creators. Nakamura's role as a director and producer is to expand the possibilities of traditional industries together with noren. The space of the showroom that was opened this time was able to fulfill its role. I believe that having a showroom will open up the future for us. "
Asking for instructions for digital communication for hands-on support
It became clear to us where we should focus
Nakamura asked a digital communications expert for help with hands-on support. The company opened a showroom website.
"We asked our advisor to give us advice from various perspectives, such as how to convey the beauty of noren and our services and how to get customers to empathize with us. We discussed how to use the website and how to put out advertisements. The advisor also taught us how to use Google Analytics and Google Ads. This is something that is different for each company and is something each company needs to know. I feel that I was able to learn efficiently because I received individual advice. As we are not in the retail business, we were told that we would be able to use the website more effectively than SNS. It was great that it became clear where we should focus our efforts."
Efficient means of digital communication are a concern for many companies. This is a particularly important issue for companies like Nakamura with limited human resources.
"I thought I knew the bare minimum because we used to have a corporate website. However, I was reminded that it can be used very effectively if you properly understand how to measure the effect and use it."
Planning a pop-up event as a business trip showroom
to reach new customers
This interview was conducted in October 2022. The showroom has only been in operation for about a month. Mr. Nakamura says that he realized the significance of having the experience of "seeing, touching, and passing through."
Some customers would place an order, saying, "I want this material and dyeing technique for the dressing room!” Some customers would imagine what they want, saying, “I was thinking about dyed noren, but when I saw the real thing, embroidery would be nice too...." Mr. Nakamura says that it's completely different from when you were looking at it on the desk in the office.
The next goal after opening the showroom is a business trip showroom. “Specifically, we are planning a pop-up event.” While showrooms are meant to reach existing customers, at pop-up events, they hope to meet people who don't know about noren and Nakamura.
"More than half of our business partners are design offices and design offices. I would like to hold a pop-up event to display noren in joint spaces of companies and joint trade fairs so that it will catch the eyes of such business partners. We are now preparing fixtures for noren that will be used at events."
The expenditure subsidies from the Buy TOKYO promotion activity support project are utilized in this way at Nakamura.
"We are working on market development with various approaches as the Buy TOKYO promotion activity support project can be used for a wide range of purposes. But the biggest thing was the realization of the showroom. There were requests from the customer, and it's something I've wanted to do for a long time. There were, of course, many benefits other than the expense assistance and hands-on support I talked about so far. For example, writing the application helped me to reflect on the business and vision. The process of writing the application helped me to organize my thoughts. I believe that Nakamura was able to transition to the next phase by receiving support from the Buy TOKYO promotion activity support project."