For those of us who "only use the best" in our kitchens (regardless of how much cooking actually goes on in there), "Tsubamesanjo" is your new word for the day. Tsubamesanjo is a rail station located exactly on the border of two cities, Tsubame and Sanjo, in Niigata Prefecture in the Northwestern region of Japan. While the Niigata region is known within Japan for its high quality agriculture (famous for its top grade rice and consequentially, great sake), the region around Tsubamesanjo, oddly enough, is actually known for its high quality metalwork.
Back in the early 17th century, there was frequent flooding of the river, which caused major problems for the farming industry. In response, the local magistrate invited nail makers from Edo (present day Tokyo) to teach the farmers the craft of nail making, which is how the tradition of metalwork began.
Today, there are numerous manufacturers within a 30km area of Tsubamesanjo that carry on this tradition of high quality metalwork that grew from nails to kitchen knives, hand tools, and other household and industrial wares.
While tradition and craftsmanship is venerable, it can also go out of style. That's exactly where FD Style (founded by Mitsunobu Hagino) fills the gap. Hagino's FD Style blends the traditional craftsmanship of the Tsubamesanjo region with a modern design aesthetic with their stylishly designed stainless black kitchenware.
As a result of the high quality of craftsmanship, the kitchenware is light and comfortable in your hand—plus black means you won't have to worry (or at least won't notice) all the stains from your finest recipes. FD maintains a simple credo of through their products: good design and a love for stainless steel.
Actually, there's another simple but important point that FD maintains, which is showing the quality of Japanese manufacturing in their products by producing locally in the Tsubamesanjo region. The reason for keeping things local isn't a fear of "the outside world"—it's simply about close communication and the quality it produces. FD Style regards "communication" as the source of making a high quality product. They cherish the relationship between those who design, and those who make, allowing the designers and craftsmen to have a face-to-face dialogue that is essential in creating a high quality product.
How does your kitchenware stack up?
Producing the "MAGIP ZERO" Pick-Up Tongs, recipient of a Good Design Award. Each tong is carefully pressed, section-by-section, under the careful eye of factory staff. (Eizuka Works. Ltd)
Hagino with Nobuo Takano, Manager of Prince Kogyo Co., Ltd. They've known each other for over 20 years.
After the pressing process, factory workers assemble each part carefully (Prince Kogyo., Ltd.)
In the final stage, the manager of Kabasawa CO. Ltd. checks the products with his own eyes.
Kai Mitsushio is the co-founder of wakumi, a business-to-business marketplace that brings together the companies behind the finest products and services from Japan with businesses from around the world. Special thanks to Tomoko Miyake for coordinating.