Begin with goal of helping Japan achieve economic independence
In the early Meiji Era, Japan was Westernizing rapidly to catch up with developed countries. When the government built the Rokumeikan, hats became popular among the public as a symbol of the cultural enlightenment. In those days, however, the hats that were available in Japan were mostly expensive items imported from Britain or France. Believing that the domestic production of hats would stop excessive imports and enable industrialization and economic independence of Japan, Eiichi Shibusawa and the other founders of our company funded and established Nippon Hat Manufacturing Company in 1889.
A factory was built in Koishikawa, Tokyo, and manufacturing of hats was started by inviting an engineer from overseas. However, despite the painstaking efforts of the company, the business struggled, due in part to a fire that ravaged a factory. Shibusawa, who led the reconstruction of the company, dissolved Nippon Hat Manufacturing Company and established the new company Tokyo Hat K.K. on December 12, 1892. He served as the principal director of the company. Though the company endured hardships such as the Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War, Shibusawa took the bold step to expand the factory by acquiring a hat wholesaler. Just two years of that expansion sales of the company reached a record high.