Industry, Technology & Economy

Japan Inc.’s Tiny Giants小さな世界企業 II

  • 5 x 15 min.
  • EDC3S019-001~005
  • English, Spanish, French, Arabic, M/E, HD

©NHK Foundation

We turn a spotlight on Japanese companies which are small but have a global presence thanks to reliable technology and a focused philosophy.

1. Nakajima Jukyudo: Samurai Sword Pencil Sharpeners / 中島重久堂~日本刀のような鉛筆削り~

Nakajima Jukyudo is Japan's only exclusive manufacturer of small pencil sharpeners. With 19 staff it makes six million sharpeners a year. Each one has a blade as sharp as a samurai sword, thanks to the unique craftsmanship of the CEO. They're so sharp that the shavings of an entire pencil comes off in a single, unbroken coil. 500,000 of these astonishing sharpeners are exported every year to 24 countries and regions around the world.

2. KOWA Forceps Industry: Ultra-precision Forceps / 幸和ピンセット工業~超精密なピンセット~

Kowa Forceps Industry makes forceps and tweezers that are used and loved around the world. Each month ten artisans make over 30,000 pairs from 200-300 different types. They're exported all over the world. Adding elasticity to stainless steel has created top-quality items that respond with extraordinary delicacy. KFI's products are used by medical professionals, precision instrument manufacturers, and many other industries.

3. Nishikimi Chuzou: Fabulous Frying Pans / 錦見鋳造~魔法のフライパン~

Nishikimi Chuzou makes the world's thinnest cast-iron frying pans. Said to magically make food taste better, the pans are so popular that customers wait a year after ordering to receive a pan! They're a hit with chefs at top hotels and in regular homes. Cast iron has excellent heat storage but is fragile so pans are always very thick. But the company spent nine years developing a unique technology that creates a pan that's three times as thin but just as durable.

4. Saiei Orimono: The World’s Thinnest Silk Fabric / 齋栄織物~世界一薄い絹織物~

Saiei Orimono is a silk manufacturer established in 1952 and it now has 12 staff. Determined to revitalize the silk industry the firm developed the world's thinnest yarn-dyed silk fabric called 'Fairy Feather'. To achieve this the company bred special silkworms with its supplier. The hard work and honed skills of experienced artisans finally led to the world's thinnest silk. Today it's used in wedding dresses by an international designer.

5. Kaiho Sangyo: Turning Scrap Cars into Treasure / 会宝産業~がらくたの車を宝に変える~

Kaiho Sangyo removes parts from scrapped cars and sells them, mainly to foreign buyers. They deal with 14,000 cars each year and sell to 80 countries and regions around the world. They were the first in the industry to introduce a system that allows customers to check stock before ordering. Their most popular product is engines and the firm added an evaluation system to help value each item.