Japanese

Chat About Matches

Contents

[vol.1] Collectors' Pastime
[vol.2] Your Fire For Your Use
[vol.3] Kobe Selection "2-ko Match"
[vol.4] Match, Label and Travel

Kobe has welcomed foreign goods and people since old time, and discerned the quality of high-tier items with penetrating eyes. Then Kobe people have added their unique essence to those goods to nurture the culture; now, the culture is complimented by many people in the world.

"Kobe Selection" invites the exhibition participants, and selects high quality goods among the products on the show that can represent Kobe Town. Then they are exhibited and sold at the biggest website market in Japan (Rakuten Ichiba) and department stores (Daimaru Kobe Store and Odakyu Shinjuku Store) aiming at the creation of Kobe's new brands.

"2-ko Match" made by Nakamura, Inc. has been selected, and it received praise from many people who visited the first Kobe Selection Exhibition, so Mr. Eizo Miyoshi, Sectional Manager, Business Development Department, Kobe City Industry Promotion Foundation and Mr. Kazuhiro Nakamura, Director of Board, Nakamura, Inc. were invited to our Match Museum to speak about it.

talk03_photos02.jpg(133783 byte) Kobe Selection

Kato:

Mr. Miyoshi and Mr. Nakamura, thank you for coming today. Kobe Selection Show was held from February 6 to 14th at the Odakyu Shinjuku Store, and I went to see it during the session and found many people were enjoying the show. First, I want to ask about Kobe Selection. Please tell me why the match of Nakamura, Inc. was chosen.

Miyoshi:

To begin with, the start was an invitation from Rakuten to join their seminar. However, only the seminar with Rakuten didn't seem to be so effective for our business, so I answered them that we could join if the project of seminar would be very beneficial to Kobe town. Then, Rakuten said, "Miyagi Prefecture sells local products in the Rakuten Ichiba, and if it is OK with you, we can do it for Kobe products, too." I thought the program seemed interesting, but it still was not fascinating enough for topic-making, so I was considering. Then, I reached the idea of "public participation" and "selection". And it could be more interesting if the theme is "Kobe brand"! For example, beef made in Tanba region is sold under the name "Kobe Beef." I thought Kobe town should wide open its door for any enterprises that would want to manufacture items under "Kobe brand" and then select superior quality items made by the public participating companies; that could be an interesting topic and those items could be sold at the Rakuten Ichiba.

Kato:

I see. First of all, it started from the talk with Rakuten about using the Internet market.

Miyoshi:

Yes. Of course, we are aware that municipal offices in various cities have been advertising local products and services to support development of business in the city, but I notice successful websites are only a few. In our case, I think it is right for us to tie up with Rakuten, because the company is aggressive of making business successful. Well, then I was thinking this method was still not strong enough for eye-catching, and the sub-manager of Kobe Daimaru, Sawada san one day came to see us and asked if we were interested in developing the plan with them. That was exactly what I was wishing, because I had realized that business done only in the website was not sufficient enough, and they should be sold at a real shop while they were advertised and sold at the web shop.

Kato:

Yes, I understand what you mean. Although I am interested in an item in the Internet, I feel uneasy to make a buying decision only with a rough photograph on the screen, and rather want to take it in my hand to confirm its quality.

Miyoshi:

It is so. I think it is more ideal that there are both a net shop and a real shop. And, after having decided the business with Kobe Daimaru Department Store, Odakyu Department Store contacted us to say that they wanted to try it, too. That was a delightful proposal for us, because Odakyu's headquarters is in Kanto area, so we could dispatch Kobe advertisement from the metropolitan.
Those allied work finally enabled us to start the "Kobe Selection" in more prospective way.

Kato:

I see Mr. Miyoshi started the project successfully in hop, step, and jump. As we talked a while ago, there are already items under Kobe brand such as "Kobe Beef" or "Kobe somethingノ" It is important to appeal Kobe brand again and again in this way so that people recognize it, isn't it?
Then, I understand that 33 items have been selected at the first "Kobe Selection" exhibition, and one of the items is the "2-ko Match" made by Nakamura, Inc. Could you tell us the details how the 2-ko Match was selected?

Nakamura:

 

As you know, the demand for the matches has decreased for some time, and the major match buyers are not end users anymore. Matches were mainly sold to companies that used them for advertisement. However, with the reason that matches might allure people smoking a cigarette, match demand further decreased in this no-smoking atmosphere, and even companies stopped buying matches from us. Therefore, we were looking for some other ways of appealing and using matches. They say that match industry was once the typical industry in Kobe, so we were wondering if there was any way of increasing the match sales; for instance selling in a souvenir shop in this sight-seeing town Kobe. And when we were almost reaching the solution that it could be possible to use the Kobe mark or brand to name our match "Kobe's match," we saw the advertisement of "Kobe Selection" in the newspaper.
At that time, the concept of Kobe Selection was exactly what we had in our minds, but we didn't have any item or even the design for the match we could offer. However, the deadline date for application was already near in 4 ミ 5 days according to the advertisement in the newspaper. Then, we wrote only the concept of our match without any actual ones, and applied. (Smile)

Kato:

It is surprising that 2-ko Match was selected with only the concept. (Smile)

Miyoshi:

There is a behind-curtain story in this. Well, let me explain. The selection of items for Kobe Selection was not done by me, but a tidy selection committee did the job. Moreover, the selection committee's members are mostly culture magnates such as famous men and women in the media and art. When we talked about this matter about the match made by Nakamura to the committee members, they were all interested in it.
I think there were two reasons. The first was the opinion of Mr. Shigeru Uchida, a committee member and a popular interior designer, as he said, "That is interesting. I want to do it with the match. Let's do it by all means even if there is no match yet." His opinion weighted heavily. I think "match" is a thing that touches the sensibility of creators.
Another reason was because match industry was once thriving in Kobe and representing the town and Japan. Additionally, committee members became aware of the fact that Kobe town owed its development to exporting of matches from Kobe port, and members' heart was touched by the story. So, there was intellectual empathy to bolster match business that once flourished in Kobe.
Therefore, matches of Nakamura, Inc. have been selected for "Kobe Selection" at the early stage though it was an application with the concept only.

Kato:

I see. As I am a graphic designer myself, I understand well that matches grabbed creators' heart. (Smile) And, it is meaningful that matches that have contributed to "Kobe" were selected for the Kobe Selection from the historical viewpoint.
Then, Mr. Nakamura, what process did you take to create matches after you were selected?

Nakamura:

This arrangement was first planned to make matches appealing to end users as "matches of Kobe," therefore, we reinforced designing of matches in this project. We were not able to come up with good ideas though our concept was solid in using a motif of Kobe, but we wanted to avoid using only sightseeing spot' photographs because we knew it was not interesting at all. Then, I was introduced to an illustrator named Mr. Yamazaki.

Miyoshi:

Mr. Yamazaki is the illustrator who made the character called "Waketon" for Kobe City's garbage separation campaign. The campaign has been carried out by the Kobe Environmental Bureau and the character is very popular among children.

 

Nakamura:

I discussed the plan with Mr. Yamazaki, and he happily accepted our request. Originally, he was promoting two series of animation named "2-koma anime." A match box suits his concept as there are two sides of front and back, and he can draw 2-koma (2-series) animation on the match box. Also, he was very delighted to think matches are friendly to the environment on earth and matches are Eco Item. We were excited with the idea and he created matches with us. The notion of our product is "the match that describes Kobe Town through two series of animation," so we called it "2-koma match" or "2-ko Match." At the same time, we made "Waketon Match" using the character of Waketon.

Miyoshi:

Yes, I remember Mr. Nakamura and Mr. Yamazaki collaborated in match manufacturing.

Kato:

I think 2-ko Match depicts Kobe heartwarmingly and interestingly as the 2 series come with a quiz style. Moreover, "Waketon" match's heads (burning heads of the match) are colored consistently with the design color of the matchbox. This colorfulness attracts people. Usually match heads are considered to be red or white only. (Smile)

Nakamura:

It is so. Many customers who visited the exhibition said, "It is lovely!" and bought matches. If we try to sell an item as a souvenir item, not as a daily-use goods, "little surprise and fun" need to be added to the goods.

Miyoshi:

At the both department stores, and the exhibition hall, I noticed matches caught eyes of young people remarkably, but they did not sell well. What I thought then was because matches needed to change from a daily use commodity to a hobby item that has function of creating fun and pleasure. For that, we need to change our notion boldly to act for creating from different angles. We might be able to come up with absolutely new ideas if we see things from outside world other than the match industry.
I hope we can arrange such a match label exhibition that can go around the country like the one Mr. Kato's project on the other day, "Original Match Label & Matchbox Art Exhibition, Vol. 7; It is the small world of 100 people where match designs are illustrated colorfully."

Nakamura:

I have strongly realized one thing this time at the exhibition of Kobe Selection; it is the advertising power, and I noticed it was not possible by one company to make effective advertisement as the appealing power to the user was not sufficient. For this reason, we, match makers, are now discussing to tie up for collaboration when we want to make a project successful.

Kato:

Then, I hope some wonderful ideas will be offered to the "Kobe Selection" through cooperation of match manufacturers next year. We look forward to seeing it!

 

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