Tsubame-Sanjo is a manufacturing town centered on metal processing. In recent years, however, demand has been declining due to mechanization, lower product prices, and changes in distribution. As a result, the company faced various problems, such as a lack of successors to the craftsmen and closure of the business. In order to improve this situation, we have opened our factory to the public and since 2013 we have held the Tsubamesanjo Factory Festival, a factory tour event where customers can experience the manufacturing site as it is. Like an art festival, with a map in one hand, each person goes around KOUBA in their own way.
Initially, there were 54 participating business establishments, but in 2019, the seventh time, the number more than doubled to 113. The total number of visitors reached 56,000, and sales at KOUBA are doing well. However, mobilization and sales are not the only results. The "Tsubamesanjo Factory Festival" has attracted young people from outside the area who want to become craftsmen, which has also led to the education of local children. In addition, craftsmen have taken the initiative in contacting customers, and the number of companies that open their factories to the public even outside of the event period has gradually increased.
In 2018, the exhibition “Tsubamesanjo Evolution and Differentiation of Metals” systematically covering the history of Tsubamesanjo was held for two months at Japan House in London. There, we will learn the words of composer Gustav Mahler from Mr. Simon Wright, director of the museum's planning department.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the keeping of the fire."
The history of metalworking in Tsubame-Sanjo is one aspect of the history of changing products, and the history of responding to new demands. And it was not created by a handful of powerful craftsmen, but by countless individual creators who leave no records and are rarely talked about. In order to pass on the traditional fire to the next generation, it is our role to live in the present while thinking about the countless unknown craftsmen. We hope that by conveying the background and depth of manufacturing on site throughout the year, we hope to connect this to the future of manufacturing.