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The History of the Made in Hiroshima Manufacturing Industry

Discover the fascinating history of Hiroshima as a vibrant industrial hub and the center for manufacturing in Japan, as well as its many "Made in Hiroshima" brands.
The History of the Made in Hiroshima Manufacturing Industry

Hiroshima Prefecture is located in the southwestern part of the Japanese archipelago, facing the Seto Inland Sea (SETOUCHI), known as Japan's Aegean Sea. Hiroshima Prefecture is blessed with a mild and temperate climate as well as with rich natural treasures such as the sea and mountains. With its warmer weather, the prefecture is famous for its specialty produce foods such as citrus fruits and potatoes. Since Hiroshima is most famous for its fruits and vegetables, it has been likened to the southern Italy of Japan. 

Historically, the manufacturing industry has always flourished in Hiroshima. In addition to heavy and advanced industries, traditional industries such as textile, woodworking, and writing brush industries, which are rooted in the local climate, are still continuing to adapt to the times. But a whole new lifestyle from Japan and the Seto Inland Sea is also being introduced into the world. 

This article will dive into the history of Hiroshima's manufacturing while also introducing you to some of the best "Made in Hiroshima" brands that you need to check out.

A brief history of Hiroshima's dynamic manufacturing industry

A brief history of Hiroshima's dynamic manufacturing industry

Despite its traumatic past, Hiroshima is the most populated city in this region of Japan. It is also the largest economic hub because it is home to many manufacturing industries. Although centered around the automotive industry (Mazda), Hiroshima is also a commercial hub for shipbuilding, aerospace innovation, industrial equipment design, and everything in between. 

Before the wars

Unfortunately, Hiroshima is most famous as the first city to be devastated by an atomic bomb during World War II. Still, it had a rich history as a vibrant industrial city before this occurred. Hiroshima, which means "wide island," was officially founded as a castle town situated on the banks of the Ōta River delta in 1598. It quickly became a thriving castle town which attracted many workers and shopkeepers from other parts of Japan. Moreover, because it was the largest town on the inland shipping route, Hiroshima became a lively commerce hub. 

An abundance of natural resources

An abundance of natural resources

Hiroshima and its surroundings also have an abundance of natural resources which means that plenty of items was produced locally. For example, cotton from the coastal farms, hemp jute, paper, bamboo wares, vegetables from the Ota River basin as well as seaweed, oysters, and more marine products came from Hiroshima Bay. All of this contributed to the growth and expansion of this town and ultimately led to its success as an industrial, manufacturing, and economic hub. Plus, after these resources were collected or made, they could easily be shipped to other Japanese centers such as Kyoto and Osaka.

A major urban center

A major urban center

Over time Hiroshima transformed into a major urban center. The area also served as a base for military forces due to the First Sino-Japanese War (1894) and the subsequent completion of the Hiroshima-Ujina railroad line. These factors made Hiroshima an attractive choice for bombing during World War II. However, since that fateful day, the city has risen from the ashes and rebuilt itself into a flourishing city. Hiroshima now provides opportunities for those in many different industries. 

Made in Hiroshima: Japanese skincare brushes, canvas tote bags & furniture

Made in Hiroshima: Japanese skincare brushes, canvas tote bags & furniture

Let's take a look at the more contemporary Japanese brands based in Hiroshima, many of which combine traditional and historical techniques to create high-quality modern products.

SHAQUDA brushes

SHAQUDA brushes

SHAQUDA is an award-winning Japanese brand that is made in a workshop in Kumano town of Hiroshima prefecture that is called “Land of Brushes.” The local brand creates unique hand-finished brushes that are used for makeup and body care brushes. These innovative brushes are simply designed and incredibly soft on the skin. This is because it is a new style blend of the traditional Kumano craftsmanship with a contemporary design. The Edo-period technique combined with modern styles has resulted in an exemplary product that is used and loved worldwide.

Each and every one of these lovely sleek brushes is hand-made by local artisans who carefully select the best natural and synthetic hairs for each item. Traditional wooden tools called "Koma" are used to shape the tips, and the hair bundles are carefully trimmed by craftsmen's connoisseurs, recipes, and traditional manufacturing methods.

With traditional techniques and modern design, SHAQUDA's brush collection promotes blood flow and restores the original beauty of the skin in make-up and body care, just like a gentle massage of the skin.

Where to purchase SHAQUDA brushes

Where to purchase SHAQUDA brushes

Travelers can visit a SHAQUDA store at Mizuho Brush Kumano Japan in downtown Hiroshima. If you're traveling by car, it will take about 30 minutes to drive from Hiroshima Airport or JR Hiroshima Station to SHAQUDA. However, if you need to travel via public transport, you can take the Hiroshima Airport Limousine Bus to Hiroshima Station Shinkansen Entrance. From there, take the JR Kure Line, and you’ll get to Yano Station and take the bus bound for Kumano Hagiwara Shako Mae from Yano Station, and get off at the Kumano Hoikusho Mae bus stop for about 35 minutes. The shop is a 3-minute walk from the bus stop.

SHAQUDA Gallery shop (Attn: Mizuho Brush Co., Ltd.)

Address: 2-7-35, Hagiwara, Kumano Town, Aki Gun, 731-4213, Hiroshima Prefecture

Business hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Contact information: (+81)-82-854-1137

SILVER canvas tote bags

SILVER canvas tote bags

SILVER Tools is another well-known and revolutionary Hiroshima maker's brand. SILVER Tools is located in Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima, and produces extraordinarily good quality tote bags from canvas materials. The company creates lifestyle products with innovative features, securing its reputation as a fine goods maker in Hiroshima.

These tool bags, tote bags, and rucksacks have been made from a durable canvas material which makes them sturdy and long-lasting. The designer uses sailcloth canvas—a natural undyed material. Their philosophy is "LIFE IS A CANVAS." The idea is that these canvas totes are durable enough for lifetime use but are also biodegradable and able to return to the earth as a natural material, making it an eco-friendly alternative to other bags. 

Where to purchase SILVER tote bags

Where to purchase SILVER tote bags

These canvas totes are created in a small studio with limited quantities. You can visit the maker's studio in Onomichi-shi while in Hiroshima. When traveling by car from Hiroshima Airport, the drive will take about 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can also take public transport. Take the airport shuttle bus, Neopolis Kita, from Hiroshima Airport station. Once you reach Shirachi Station, get off. Then board the Local Itozaki bus on the San-yo Line until you reach Itozaki Station. Get off and then take the local Okayama bus that is also on the San-yo Line until Onomichi Station. From there, get on the bus heading to Nagaeguchi Station. The studio is a 1-minute walk from there.

SILVER FACTORY AND SHOP

Address: 1-5-7, Nagae, Onomichi City, 722-0046, Hiroshima Prefecture

Business hours: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM Closed on Thursday

Contact information: (+81)-90-9492-4522

Maruni armchairs

Maruni armchairs

The pioneering Maruni Wood Industry Inc. founder spent his childhood years at Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture, which is known for its traditional woodcrafts heritage. Utilizing the special characteristics of the factory, Maruni creates the most beautiful wooden furniture.

The company was established in 1928 and has set the standard for mass-producing wood furniture. Following the motto of “Industrialized Craftsmanship,” Maruni has been seeking to find the right balance between artisans' handwork and machining and has been continually producing wooden furniture for over 90 years in order to create affordable furniture that reflects the beauty of such craft skills.

Maruni launched their HIROSHIMA series in 2008, and the Japanese aesthetic combined with excellent manufacturing standards has caught the attention of buyers worldwide. These chairs are specially made to endure and last a lifetime while maintaining a new and modern look.

Where to purchase Maruni armchairs

Where to purchase Maruni armchairs

Travelers can visit the Maruni Hiroshima flagship shop to purchase the furniture themselves. The drive from Hiroshima airport to the Lect shopping mall, an upscale indoor shopping complex, takes about 45 minutes. You could also opt for public transport by taking the airport shuttle bus from Hiroshima Airport until you reach Hiroshima Station Shinkansen Entrance. From there, get on the Local Iwakuni bus towards Shin-Inokuchi Station. Get off there and take the bus to Lect from Alpark. 

Maruni Hiroshima

・Address: 2nd Floor, Building No.2, Hiroshima T-SITE, 2-1-45, Ogi, Nishi-ku, Hiroshima City, 733-8509, Hiroshima Prefecure

・Business hours: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM (Applies to Hiroshima T-SITE business hours)

・Contact information: (+81)-82-533-7836

Buy a piece of Hiroshima history during your trip

The varied history of Hiroshima comes alive in the hands of the various modern makers mentioned in this article. If you're interested in learning more or securing your very own piece of Hiroshima history, make sure to visit the city. For the travelers arriving in Tokyo, it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to Hiroshima Airport by flying with JAL Japan Explorer Pass.

Getting There