The team in Brussels
Ena is a local in Sanjo, where Suwada is from. She studied in the UK and worked for Suwada in Japan for many years, attending numerous exhibitions and taking care of various events and customers in the Factory Shop, in Sanjo, Niigata. She was trained in Genba for a year. She moved to the new Brussels office to develop the value of Japanese craftsmanship and make Japanese craftsmanship in all the corners of the continent. She is in charge of marketing and communications, as well as managing ''Suwada Select'', which are products chosen for their craftsmanship and great design. Her favourite products by Suwada are the Original Nipper and Toki cuticle nipper.
Georgios studied physics and received an MBA with full scholarship while working in Japan. He was managing coffee shops before packing his suitcase in London to go for an adventure in Japan and join Suwada. For two years he worked in the Open Factory learning how craft products are made and helping increase the company's exports. He went through a light training in Genba, the factory production floor. After being mind blown by the detailed craftsmanship of the artisans, he started sharpening knives for fun at home and made good friends with bladesmiths in Tsubame Sanjo. Sharpening is now part of his activities in the Brussels' Shop. You can find him in the shop, helping customers, sharpening kitchen knives and offering coffees to everybody. His favourite products by Suwada are damascus cufflinks and the gyuto knife.
In total Suwada has about 75 employees worldwide.
Since 1926, producing the very best cutting tools
Since its establishment in the town of Sanjo, famous for the craft of blacksmithery, Suwada have been making “cutting tools” and are known today for our professional quality manicure and pedicure instruments, bonsai shears and kitchen tools.
Suwada enjoys an excellent reputation both within Japan and abroad for producing the very best in blades and cutting tools.
Aesthetically perfect cutting instruments
All of Suwada’s products are completely handmade by skilled craftsmen always striving to achieve unparalleled sharpness. Renowned for the quality of the materials used, Suwada is proud to present their latest collection of professional standard cutting instruments.
Our pursuit of functionality and aesthetic perfection has led to Suwada being awarded the Good Design Award on many occasions.
Fashioned from distinctively Japanese punctuation marks, ten (comma) and maru (period), our corporate identity symbolises how we at Suwada Blacksmith Works offer products that only Japanese craftspeople can make, or rather, that only we at Suwada can fabricate, drawing on the long tradition of outstanding Japanese craftsmanship.
This corporate identity expresses our thoughts and passion, with Suwada Bright Red representing the colour of fire, which is indispensable for blacksmiths.
Since the beginning of human existence, tools have supported and enriched people’s lives, helping to create human culture, and edged tools have been the most basic of all the tools essential to human life. The reason we are so particular about edged tools is that we consider them the baton of human wisdom and activity, which has been handed down to us and should be passed on to future generations. Our mission is to continue to produce quality edged tools that will be valued and used by people today and tomorrow.
Pride unchanged since foundation, products changing towards the future.
Suwada Blacksmith Works is located in the city of Sanjo, Niigata Prefecture, a place long known as one of the world’s leading production centres for high-end cutlery. The company’s history dates back to 1926, when its founder, Shukusaburo Kobayashi, began manufacturing kuikiri, or end-cut pliers, for carpenters in response to surging demand for new housing in the wake of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.
Ever since then, Suwada has specialised in particular in nipper-cutters that sever an object between a pair of perfectly joined blades, all the while insisting on a meticulous approach to consistency in manufacturing, from carefully selecting raw materials to applying the final touches by hand to finish every product. Although more than a few other enterprises in our industry have fallen by the wayside over the decades, we have not only successfully maintained traditional techniques but also continued to innovate here in the city of Sanjo, where quality materials and skilled craftspeople are in plentiful supply.
|1926||Started production of kuikiri, or end-cut pliers, in Ichinokido, Sanjo, Niigata Prefecture.|
|1950||Developed gourd-shaped nail nipper.|
|1956||Moved to Suwada, Sanjo and started production of edged tools for pruning plants and bonsai.|
|1973||Moved to a newly built factory in Koanji, Sakae, Minami-kanbara, Niigata Prefecture.|
|1974||Incorporated as Suwada Blacksmith Works Inc., with Shukusaburo Kobayashi’s son Kiichi assuming the post of president.|
|1989||Built a second factory in Kanekoshinden, Sanjo and moved the head office there.
Developed Kurikuri Bozu chestnut peeler.
|1993||Built a new office building and a main factory behind the existing factory in Koanji and moved head office into the new office building.|
|1994||Built a new second factory adjacent to the main factory in Koanji.|
|1995||Kurikuri Bozu II chestnut peeler won a Good Design Award from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, now the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, or METI).|
|1996||Suwada Nail Nipper won a Good Design Award from MITI.|
|1997||Kiichi’s son Tomoyuki Kobayashi became representative director.
Mirror-finish Hanaeda-basami garden shears won a Good Design Award from MITI.
|1998||Suwada Nail Nipper Lady won a Good Design Award from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP).|
|2002||Suwada Nail Nipper Soft and Nail Pusher Duo both won Good Design Awards from the JDP.|
|2005||Built and opened a new showroom in front of the main factory in Koanji.
Address changed from Koanji, Sakae, Minami-kanbara to Koanji, Sanjo due to a merger of municipalities.
|2007||All-new nail nipper received Jury’s Special Mention at IDS Design Competition.
Opened a showroom and retail shop in London on a one-year contract.
Company won a Design Excellent Company Award from the JDP.
Company named one of 300 Active Small/Medium Manufacturers by METI’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Agency.
New nail nipper received an Honourable Mention from the Director-General of the SME Agency at the Good Design Awards.
|2009||Cuticle Nipper won a Good Design Award from the JDP.|
|2010||Suwada Nail Nipper won a Design for Asia Award.|
|2011||Damascus Cufflinks given a Jury’s Award at the IDS Design Competition.
Local subsidiaries established in London and Hong Kong.
Main factory fully redesigned to become Suwada Open Factory.
Cuticle Nipper Toki won a Bronze Award at the Design for Asia Awards.
|2012||Company won a Special Award of the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare in a competition to promote the employment of senior citizens.|
|2013||Suwada Nail Nipper’s New Soft model won a Good Design Award from the JDP.|
|2014||Suwada Bookmarker won an IDS Award at the IDS Design Competition.|
|2021||Established a third subsidiary office in Brussels, Belgium and the first boutique shop in the same area. This is the webpage of this branch office.|
Current CEO: Mr Kobayashi, 3rd Generation Blacksmith
You can see him walking around the factory, the Ambiente exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany and at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, UK, talking to customers and enjoying tea or coffee.
He is largely credited for revolutionising not just Suwada, but the entire concept of a Japanese small and medium craft company.
He designed and introduced the concept of Suwada Open Factory, allowing anyone, even competitors to come in the factory without appointment or guides, and observe the production floor. This is to this day Suwada's promise to transparency about superb working conditions, and the fact that the products are genuinely handmade by Japanese artisans.
He helped other companies make this transition, and lead the way to organise Open Factory Events, most notably the ''Kouba no Saiten'', or Open Factory Festival, every October in Tsubame-Sanjo, Niigata.
He is known for infusing modern design into traditional craftsmanship, and for modernising working conditions to surpass any known standard in the industry. Suwada's new factory opened in 2020 and beyond the modern construction, it offers to all employees free fresh lunch in an in-house restaurant with 3 chefs, a world-class cafeteria, various relaxation rooms for quite breaks, fitness rooms, showers, a small hillside park behind the factory for relaxation and contemplation (as well as a nice view) and a free nursery for the artisan's young kids.
''We improve the good, remove the worries and work hard. A happy craftsman will make a great product that looks good and works perfectly for a long time. That will make the visitor a happy customer. This can lead to a happy society. This is Suwada.''
Throughout each stage of the production process, as the product is passed from the hands of one artisan to the next, the SUWADA team have one vision: that of creating products of perfection.
Making cutting tools at the pinnacle of quality is not something that automated machines can do. It requires master craftspeople, whose experience and skills have taken years to develop, in a constant relay between imagination, heart and knowledge.
This is what SUWADA is about.
This constant relay within and between each and every master craftsperson runs like a thread through the SUWADA story.
1995: Chestnut Peeler won a Good Design Award from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
1996: Nail Nipper won a Good Design Award from MITI (now METI), Link
1997: Mirror-finish Hanaeda-basami garden shears won a Good Design Award from MITI, link
1998: Suwada Nail Nipper Lady won a Good Design Award from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP), link
2002: Suwada Nail Nipper Soft and Nail Pusher Duo, both won a Good Design Award from the JDP, link
2005: Good Design Award for ALSTICK, a walking stick for the elderly, link
2006: Good Design Award for Nail Nippers,
2007: New Nail Nipper received Jury’s Special Mention at IDS Design Competition. Design Excellent Company Award from the JDP. Named one of 300 Active Small/Medium Manufacturers by METI’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Agency. Good Design Award in Health care and beauty care products by small and medium enterprises for Nail nippers.
2009: Cuticle Nipper won a Good Design Award from the JDP.
2010: Suwada Nail Nipper won a Design for Asia Award.
2011: Damascus Cufflinks given a Jury’s Award at the IDS Design Competition. Cuticle Nipper Toki won a Bronze Award at the Design for Asia Awards.
2012: Company won a Special Award of the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare in a competition to promote the employment of senior citizens. Suwada Nail Nipper New Soft model won a Good Design Award from the JDP. A new design of Suwada Cuticle Nippers won another Good Design Award.
2014: Suwada Bookmarker won an IDS Award at the IDS Design Competition.
2015: Design Award from METI. Selected for the WONDER 500 Japanese products of the year.
2016: The nail nipper Soft Slim won the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Good Design Award. Suwada also received a "Regional Brand Award".
2017: Suwada's Classic Nipper won the Gold Prize in the Crafts Section of the East Japan Rail Souvenir Grand Prix. Selected by the METI as the 2017 Regional Future Leader.
2018: Damascus Folding Knife won the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Good Design Award.
2019: Two Good Design Awards (Best100 and Good Focus on Technique and Tradition) and an IDS Niigata Award for the new design of a nail clipper. One more Good Design Award for Suwada's Classic Nail Nipper.
2020: Good Design Award for bottle opener.
2021: Good Design Award and IDS Bronze Award for the New Petit Nail Nipper.