[From February Issue 2015]
Noritake Co., Limited
Noritake Co., Ltd. (Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of ceramic ware. Much of the tableware used in hotels and restaurants is manufactured by Noritake. The company is also known as a manufacturer of ornaments, such as vases, and dolls. The Noritake company name comes from the name of the place where the business was established.
The founder MORIMURA Ichizaemon set up a trading company called Morimura-gumi (today’s Morimura Bros., Inc.) in Ginza, Tokyo and sent his younger brother, Toyo to New York to open a Morimura Brothers general store there. At first, they imported Japanese curios and various Japanese-style products, but they eventually switched to mainly dealing in ceramic ware. In order to manufacture ceramic ware to sell in the store, in 1904 Morimura established Nihon Touki Goumei, Ltd. – the predecessor of Noritake Company.
Before that, Morimura visited the Paris Exposition of 1889 and, impressed by beautiful European porcelain, was determined to create his own. After returning to Japan, he and his business partner OKURA Magobe took up the challenge of developing European-style tableware out of local resources. After overcoming various difficulties, they managed to create Japan’s first dinner set in the company’s tenth year. The Noritake tableware they exported created a sensation. “Noritake China” became known throughout the world.
Companies founded by Nihon Touki that have since become independent, include Oriental Pottery (today’s TOTO), NGK Insulators, Ltd., and NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd. Morimura entrusted the management of these companies to Okura’s son, Kazuchika. The four companies are all frontrunners in their respective fields in Japan.
There are various stages involved in the production of ceramic ware, including blending raw materials, casting, printing, firing and finishing. Having developed the necessary technology to complete each of these stages, Noritake Company’s subsidiaries have capitalized on their knowhow. For example: pigment developed for applying colored patterns is employed on electronic material used in solar batteries; kilns are also used to make materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries; and finishing technology helped develop a grindstone business.
Noritake Company is thus not only known for being a world-class manufacturer of tableware, but is also involved in various other industries. Since tableware was no longer their core business, the company name was changed in 1981 from Nihon Touki to Noritake Co., Limited. In 2001, a project to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary led to the creation of the Noritake Garden on the grounds of the company’s head office.
Open to the public, the Noritake Garden has become a place for city dwellers to relax in. Besides having over 6,000 trees, it also has a museum and art gallery. In addition it can be used as a temporary shelter in the event of a disaster. When he founded his first company, Morimura made a vow to “contribute to society through business.” It appears that his spirit lives on in the Noritake Garden.
Text: ITO Koichi