Reasons we focus on domestic furniture
1. Revitalization of local industry
More manufacturers in Japan are moving their factories overseas in recent years to cut costs. Although it can raise profit by saving on labor expenses, we understand that this will just end with exporting job opportunities and manufacturing technology in exchange for profit.
Of course, when shifting the manufacturing to overseas, the manufacturing work will be done by the local people overseas. Manufacturing overseas means we need to train the local people overseas to manufacture with our technology.
Providing training overseas leads to deindustrialization, with fewer craftsmen available in Japan, and those remaining will ultimately lose their place of work.
Not only in the furniture industry, we see more electronic products manufactured in China and Southeast Asia as well. Even if great Japanese craftsmen produce great products, if those products are made overseas, there is no need for factories in Japan.
In this way, the number of small factories with craftsmen is decreasing.
The town where I was born and raised, Okawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture, used to be a bustling center of the furniture industry. 20 years ago, there were approximately 580 furniture-related businesses in the city.
Today, however, there are only about 100 companies.
(According to data from the Okawa Interior Promotion Center)
Craftsmen have lost their places to work, and there are fewer places where they can put their skills to use.
“Okawa Furniture” is a traditional industry which existed since the Muromachi period.
In order to pass on this traditional culture and technology to the next generation, we only deal in domestic furniture made in Japan. We hope to be of some help in preventing the hollowing out of the Japanese industry.
[We at Okawa Furniture value and care about our craftsmen and support local factories.]
2. Building homes where small children can live safely
Are you aware of the term “Sick House”?
A while back, it became widely known that children living in new homes suffer atopic dermatitis or experience coughing. These symptoms are triggered when people come in contact by touch or breath in the formaldehyde (chemical material used in new homes) in the air.
We have fewer incidents today as safety regulations for building materials and ventilation have since been revised, but we do not have specific guidelines on the furniture.
Like homes, the glue used on furniture contains materials such as formaldehyde which can trigger similar symptoms as in “Sick House”. In Japan, building materials used in homes are regulated by JIS/JAS standards, but the glues used on furniture are not.
While there is no regulation, people can still experience the same “sick house” symptoms when the chemical substance level is high. Inexpensive furniture, especially from overseas, has not taken this factor into consideration to cut costs, and many of them have a strong odor.
We at Okawa Furniture voluntarily established our regulations and ensure our furniture products with formaldehyde emission grade F☆☆☆ or higher.
[We want to ensure a healthy future for Japan by dealing only in safe, domestically produced furniture.]
3. Environmental Safety
The global environmental issue has been discussed often in recent years, and furniture made of wood cannot stay indifferent to this topic. As you know, trees absorb carbon dioxide to grow, and we can consider them as storage for carbon dioxide.
Because the tree is valuable, we avoid furniture made in places where trees are cut without proper planning. Our furniture made with “walnut” and “black cherry” is mostly from places like North America, a country with logging plans in place.
Nevertheless, the fact is we have illegally logged lumbers in circulation. In the forests of Southeast Asia, the logging vendors are chasing the natives away to clear the forest and proceed with forest destruction.
(Please look up “Sarawak timber”.)
Because of the rise in inexpensive lumber imports, our timber industry is dwindling. Without proper care of the forest, plants and trees will not grow on the ground, sediment will run off, leaving us with a dry and bare landscape.
We hope to help Japan's forestry industry, which actively uses domestic timber and tends to its mountains, to create a safe place for us downstream to live.
The photo was taken during a visit to a forestry site in Hita City, Oita Prefecture, in October 2006.
We want to ensure a healthy future for Japan by handling only safe, domestically produced furniture.
[We hope to raise people's awareness of the environment even more by using domestic timber such as cedar and cypress.]