Hundreds of sweltering men are filling cylinders with gunpowder. They greet Mr. Shozo Oguchi with a polite bow. This fireworks entrepreneur offers a preparation site, as well as gunpowder, and safe-handling training to the participants of the Enshu Arai Hand-made Cylinder Fireworks Festival, an event that has continued for 300 years. He grew up as the son of a pyrotechnist in Shinshu (Nagano Prefecture). Since his older brother succeeded in the family business, he aimed to become a technician and was employed at another company. However, the plant was shut down due to a labor dispute. He decided to open his own fireworks factory on the west side of Lake Hamana in Shizuoka Prefecture. It was difficult to start a business without any acquaintances or achievements. With the backing of an executive of a local newspaper who was keen on fireworks, Oguchi managed to have opportunities for displays. It was his fireworks themselves which largely opened his path. His creative firework “Magic Peonies” won the first prize at the Oomagari(*2) National Competition of Fireworks when he was 39 years old, after repeated trials and errors. A pyrotechnic trick involving disappearance and reappearance received an ovation from the audience and left colleagues and competitors speechless. Since then, this signature product that made his business prosperous has never been completely imitated by anyone. The company name stands for both Mikawa and Enshu.1 The company has been supporting many fireworks festivals in the area. Now with Mr. Oguchi’s grandson, who recently began to participate in the family business, they continue with the challenge to develop new work. For sixty years since founding his business, Mr. Oguchi has been proving worthy of people’s trust as a leader in this local city far from his hometown.

*1. The company name “San-en” was taken from the initial Chinese characters of Mikawa (mi, pronounced san) and Enshu (en).
*2. Oomagari is a city in Akita prefecture.

Shozo Oguchi

Born in Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture, in 1928. Graduated from Okaya Technical High School. Started his firework business in Kosai City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Founded San-en Fireworks Co., Ltd., in 1954. Recognized as a “Contemporary Master Craftsman (excellent technical expert)” in 2006. Awarded the Ojuhosho (Medal with a Yellow Ribbon for industriousness) in 2007. Former president of the Kosai City Tourism Association. Advisor to the Japan Fireworks Association.
Cooperation: The Enshu Arai Hand-made Firework Preservation Society, Mr. Shigeru Utsuyama, Hamamatsu-Nishi Rinri Corporation, and Mr. Takehiro Naito, Hamamatsu-Nishi Rinri Corporation.

Spirit and Spine

created by

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)