Nearly a century of craftsmanship
Bunkoya Oozeki got its start 94 years ago in the bustling, working-class Tokyo neighborhood of Mukojima. It is now 2021, and we have remained a leatherworking shop in the many generations since our founding.
Since our founding in 1927, we have remained utterly steadfast in our traditional methods. We still start with pure white cow leather, which we emboss, hand-color brushstroke by brushstroke, antique with lacquer and a botanical powder made from wild rice spores, and then finish by hand.
Over the years, these rigorous standards have allowed us to develop countless loyal customers and Bunkoya Oozeki fans. We are proud to offer authentic Japanese handicrafts that feature elaborate patterns as well as an extensive product selection and attentive aftercare service.Image: Appearance of the current workshop
Beginning with Himeji leather work
Bunko leather got its start in the early 1800s as a type of local leatherworking developed by the artisans of the Banshu-Himeji area.
Records indicate that this type of leatherworking started back in the days of the samurai as a way to help revitalize the economy of the Himeji domain.
It is likely that leather handicrafts took hold in the Himeji area because it was already known for its thriving leather-tanning industry.
The founder of Bunkoya Oozeki, Usaburo Oozeki, learned his craft in Yokohama during the first decades of the 1900s. After surviving the Great Kanto Earthquake, he relocated in 1927 and set up a workshop in the Mukojima area of Sumida, Tokyo--still home to the company today.
The Kanto area had several bunko leather workshops prior to the Great Kanto Earthquake, but only one survived the disaster.
Usaburo Oozeki came up with many different designs that are still used at the company today. He even cultivated overseas sales channels. During the air raids of World War II, Oozeki moved its embossing equipment--one of its primary assets--into an air raid shelter to protect it.
Bunkoya Oozeki opened its Asakusa location in 2012, followed by the Ginza shop in 2018. Being able to directly interact with customers has allowed us to communicate the wonderful qualities of bunko leather to an even wider audience in Japan.
Today, we sell nearly 90% of the products we make directly to consumers. In 2021, we launched our English website in the hopes of sharing the amazing features of bunko leather with customers outside Japan as well.
Nearly a century since our founding, our unique bunko leathermaking techniques continue to evolve. We add fresh new ideas each year, always expanding the variety of our designs and patterns, and offer more than thirty different types of items to choose from.
People all over the world are sure to love our products as much as our Japanese customers have.Image: Workshop around the early Showa period
Why we don’t engrave the Oozeki brand name
on our products
People buy things when they discover an item that they love and that captures their heart in some way.
If that item is marked with a logo or symbol of some kind indicating the brand, they’ll tend to look for that image again when selecting things they like. Over time, it becomes the brand name or symbol itself that compels people to make their selections.
That is brand power, or the power of branding.
Of course, this relationship can only develop if a brand is able to establish strong bonds of trust with its customers. But what started as a fun and exciting purchase can gradually become an unthinking choice--because the trust is there. The same customers who once selected items because of joy and anticipation gradually start looking for those that offer comfort, safety, or status.
You will never see us putting a brand name, logo, or symbol on our Bunkoya Oozeki products. There are probably very few brands that would do this.
I’ve had many customers and more experienced people in the craft and manufacturing business ask me why we don’t put a logo on our products.
I always give them the same answer.
“What matters is not that people pick bunko leather because of the Bunkoya Oozeki name, but that what they pick ends up being bunko leather from Bunkoya Oozeki.”
We believe in it so strongly that you won’t find the Bunkoya Oozeki name engraved anywhere on our products.
Whether you’re a first-time customer or a dedicated fan, we want you to feel the same level of joy and excitement every time you encounter a new bunko leather product. To achieve that, we’re constantly driven to defy customer expectations in a delightful way in our approach to manufacturing and sales.
Takeshi Tanaka – President
Tanaka Shoten Co., Ltd.