As an apprentice at his tofu store, he hoped that he could learn the art of tofu making from his mother, but she didn’t teach her son anything. Day by day, he had to carefully observe his mother working.
Mr. Hirata was desperate, as he was an ambitious entrepreneur with his dream to grow his company to be something bigger than a local tofu store.
A few years later, as he gained his confidence in his new role, he build a new factory and expanded the shopping space at the store. With a new range of newly developed products, he also started a delivery service to private homes.
He said, “I had a hard time building a new market because Hirata tofu wasn’t well-known outside of Higashikawa.
"No matter how good our tofu is, it doesn’t make a customer buy it if there’s no information provided. That’s why I put my effort in letting people know about our products.”
Gradually Hirata tofu built its reputation in wider areas.
He said, “It’s not my intention to highlight only our tofu, but I want people to know more about other things in Higashikawa too. In the past few years, there was a noticeable increase in the number of cafes and restaurants in Higashikawa. In his vision, what Higashikawa needs now is a collaboration of people from different industries, and to build a platform to initiate a combined PR strategy. Those who are involved in this collaboration will bring in their best products, and together they commit to the future development of the town. Mr. Hirata is now writing a blue print to make his vision come true.
After several years of successful business, he turned his store into a registered company.
He asked a designer to make a new logo and a mascot character. The company was named ”KENMEI”, derived from a famous Japanese saying “ISSYOH-KENMEI” which means “lifetime devotion”. The name shows his devotion, passion and love to the tofu he makes.
The company slogan “ITCHO-KENMEI” is his humorous word play. In Japan, we count tofu as “1cho (Itcho), 2cho (Nicho)…” so “Itcho” means 1 tofu. Together with “Kenmei”, the slogan tells us each tofu is made with care and love.
Establishing a company was a major turning point, but it was only the beginning of his dream.
- 9-1-5 Kitamachi, Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
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