The main shop in Kofu is crowded every day with visitors from abroad. The inden they are holding in their hands is a bag with a modern design. At the shop’s wholly-owned outlets in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, female shoppers are enjoying choosing items from a wide range of product lines. At the retailers where Inden-ya products are distributed, accessories have become popular among young, fashion-conscious women.

 

During the Edo period, kinchaku (drawstring pouches) and tobacco pouches made of Koshu Inden were much-loved by fashion enthusiasts. Shingen bukuro (drawstring bags) caught on during the Meiji period, as they were believed to go well with kimono attire. However, the demand suddenly changed along with the changing times. Inden-ya would not have prospered and would not be what it is today through its inheritance of tradition alone. For half a century, Uehara continued to take on bold challenges, developing products and opening wholly-owned outlets.

 

Before Uehara assumed the title of the 13th-generation owner, Inden-ya was placed under the control of the government during World War II, and the shop’s artisans were drafted to fight in the war. Furthermore, Kofu was devastated by the air raid of July 1945. Ten years later, Uehara embarked on his journey as a young entrepreneur at the age of 22. It is hard to imagine that he did not face any obstacles, but he does not utter a single word about his hardships. The lesson that Uehara’s grandmother had drilled into him from an early age was the importance of the head of the family to have tolerance. When Uehara speaks, he does not complain or criticize people. Rather, he expresses his gratitude toward his employees and the people around him. The shop’s goodwill has been protected by this gratitude and the spirit of selflessness which have been inherited continuously along with the techniques that have been handed down from father to son. Uehara has even shared his secret techniques with the public without any hesitation. What Uehara is focused on is the future of his hometown. He wants to nurture and develop its precious culture as well as the people in its industrial circles.

Yushichi Uehara

Became President of Indenya Ueharayushichi Co., Ltd. in 1955. Became Chairman in 2004, Yushichi’s eldest son Shigeki became President, and global expansion efforts commenced. Served as Head of Kofu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Chair of Yamanashi Prefectural Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Cooperation: Kajiwara Tetsuo, Vice-Chair of Yamanashi RINRI Hojinkai

Translation: Media Research, Inc.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

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