Sharpening a global need for Japanese products Nakajima Jukyudo Co., Ltd.

Website: Nakajima Jukyudo Co., Ltd.External site: a new window will open
Category: Japanese Design & Daily goods

Three generations

In 1930s Osaka, engineer Yukio Nakajima realized that certain in-demand everyday products in Japan were mostly imported. To seize the opportunity, he decided to start producing them himself. In 1933, Nakajima founded his workshop with pen shafts and cigarette holders first off the line, and pencil sharpeners following some ten years later. And in the 70 years since, Nakajima Jukyudo Co., Ltd. has been sharpening its craft to perfection. Junya Nakajima is the third Nakajima to take the company's helm. And he's not the kind of boss to sit in an office all day; he places his hands on the products every day, setting and running machinery himself. His and his team's expertise and dedication has made Nakajima Jukyudo the top pencil sharpener seller in the country.


Nakajima Jukyudo CEO Junya Nakajima


A factory worker checks blades for irregularities and sharpness

Made in Japan

Nakajima takes pride in the fact that his products are made in Osaka. In fact, almost everything is done on site, from setting the molds to sharpening the steel blades, from assembly to inspection and packaging. That's a different way of working from most other businesses in the sector; taking a piecemeal approach is the norm. By contrast, Nakajima Jukyudo's team of 13 employees has their hands and eyes on every step of the process.

Light as an apple peel, sharp as a samurai sword

Nakajima's sharpeners are already sold all over the world under different brand names, but in recent years their reputation for quality has allowed them to export under their own label. They've sold products in countries including France, Sweden, Canada, India and the U.S., and have exhibited at trade shows in cities like Hong Kong, Paris and Bangkok. Their products were especially popular at Cosmprof Asia, a prestigious and international beauty convention in Hong Kong, where Nakajima Jukyudo presented their line of cosmetic pencil sharpeners. At upcoming conventions in Hong Kong and Paris, the company plans to aggressively court international markets.


A line of cosmetic pencil sharpeners that come with a built-in cleaning tool


Long smooth curls of wood demonstrate the sharpness and utility of Nakajima's pencil sharpeners

Their slogan, "light as an apple peel, sharp as a samurai sword," has served them well. It may be a modest pleasure, but the long, smooth curls of wood shaved from a pencil by an expertly honed, properly constructed tool are satisfying indeed. Says Nakajima, "Our products are simple, but they are made by skilled craftspeople. Please, take one in your hand, try it and see what a well-made product feels like."