Overview of producing areas Household goods
The household goods industry of Wakayama developed with the city of Kainan and the Nokamidani region at its center. This was primarily because the area produced Shuro (windmill palm) , the raw material for the rope, tawashi (scouring brushes) and brooms that are the origin of the industry’s history). Shuro is a plant in the palm family. It has a long history of cultivation, and according to one story, was brought from China by the monk Kobo Daishi and planted in this region. Shuro (windmill palm) excels in water resistance, resistance to rot, and elasticity. Many Shuro products were produced during the Edo period (1603-1868). In recent years, raw materials have shifted from natural to chemical materials, which can withstand complex processing. The result has been the development of a wide range of products.
Sites of craftsmanship
As many household goods manufacturers in Kainan began by manufacturing Shuro products, they offer a particularly large lineup of products used in the kitchen, bath, toilet, laundry, and elsewhere around water. The companies develop sponges containing antibacterial agents, proprietary materials that remove dirt without scratching, and more; the types of sponge materials handled by even a single company can number in the dozens. Sales channels include distribution to general households through home centers, household goods stores, and 100-yen shops. Through the development of new materials, the channels are also expanding into the medical industry and overseas distribution. At the same time, companies that hand-make Shuro-based products remain even now, and products such as body brushes that feature the pleasant feel of Shuro are gaining new fans.
The appeal of manufacturing in Wakayama, in 90 seconds
As the times change and the quality and design of household goods take on increasing importance both domestically and internationally, household goods manufacturers continue to innovate in both areas. Future prospects lie in the development of materials that are thoughtful of the global environment. Companies are advancing research into materials that excel in durability, do not pollute water, and effectively remove dirt – and yet return completely to nature. Curiously, these are characteristics of Shuro, the starting point of the industry. The companies contribute to the construction of a recycling-oriented society by returning to their origins to discover new possibilities and by developing products that are friendly to people and to the earth, under a motto of peace of mind and safety.