【Matsukan】”Katsujin” 5mm Orizashi Tare (Youth)
2 Dan Kazari
About the Brand
Shingo Ando, President of Matsukan Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Shingo Ando, born in 1974, studied abroad in the United States for two years before joining ASICS corporation upon graduation. His main job during his time at ASICS included the planning and marketing of shoe related products. Shingo joined Matsukan Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 2003 and was promoted to the title of president in 2009.
Please share with us some of your ideas and core values at Matsukan
Ando : As a Bogu maker, we at Matsukan differentiate ourselves from others through our unique and innovative business model. Building close relationships with the Japanese police is an essential part of what we do. We offer our completed products to them, and in return, we gain valuable feedback which allows us to create better products in the future.
You saw taking advice from high level Kendoka as a short cut to your vision
Ando :I also wanted to take advantage of Matsukan's brand image, which has been around for over 111 years. We aim for quality without compromise and we never attempt to be cheap, at least that is something I have always been aiming for. In essence, I want people to associate our brand with unique products that are convenient and easy to use.
In the past 10 years, Matsukan has gained popularity among the younger generation through sub-brands such as "Kanmuri", "Katsujin", and "Hirameki".
Do you and your staff also do kendo yourselves?
Ando :There are a number of staffs at Matsukan that do either kendo or baseball themselves. Since Matsukan also produces jersey clothing for a neighboring school, martial arts supplies, baseballs, and school supplies are our three main forms of business.
What kind of experience did you gain from manufacturing baseballs for schools?
Ando:An example of my experiences can be seen in the design of our "Kanmuri" backpack released back in 2016. Around three years before the release, I noticed that many students who participated in Koshien (famous Japanese high school baseball tournament) were using backpack-like bags as opposed to traditional shoulder sling bags. I predicted the same trend happening in the Budo industry, so I developed a backpack inspired Kendo bag.
Ando : Our main strength lies in our ability to predict trends. Whenever we finish developing a product, our competitors will always try to copy what we did immediately. But I believe that because we were the pioneers, our products will remain superior.
Our products are always evolving, and we are always making minor improvements to existing products. For example, when a product is released we will immediately start to fix faulty or fragile components brought to our attention through our customers' feedback. If you only attempt to copy products, you will end up one step behind in everything. This is why you have to be fast in this industry, it's a battle of speed.
Your company stands out in your ability to create a brand new product from scratch in an efficient manner. With such an open mind, the possibilities seem endless. I look forward to the new products currently in development!