Match Day in Japan is May 12th. The day was stipulated since Makoto Shimizu, the originator of matches, left Japan from Yokohama Port for Europe to study Western technologies on May 12th, 1869. Also please note that memorial statue of Makoto Shimizu was built in the precincts of Kameido-Tenjin Shrine in Kotouku, Tokyo on May 12, 1975 (Showa 50).
Japan has the most numerous kinds of matches in the world. Since the match manufacturers in Japan can handle gsmall quantity, large variety,h they can accept international orders of production of premium matches. Currently, 20% of matches produced in Japan are exported, mainly to Europe and the U.S.A.
Match production has been decreased, but the industry has developed the business diversely while manufacturing commodities for home by utilizing previously acquired business resources like technologies, customers, and the lands once used for factories. For instance, the industry has evolved its technologies of printing match labels into printing of other items, production of paper goods, as well as customizing various products in our daily life taking advantage of printing techniques. As for the lands, they have developed them to tennis courts, sporting plaza and parking lots, etc.
After the Meiji Government was established, match factories were built to give economic assistance to samurais who lost jobs because of abolition of feudalism and to nourish Japanese economies. Companies such as Shukousha in Himeji and Jikeisha in Amagasaki were built, but they didnft last long. After that, entrepreneurs who had progress mind of business constructed match factories in Kobe and Osaka, and matches were exported by Kakyo (Chinese successful businessmen) from port of Kobe, one of the largest ports in Japan. Later other businesses like shipbuilding, manufacturing irons and rubber products had grown large in Kobe, the center of match production moved toward west. Presently 80% of matches are made in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture in Japan.
Reasons why match business developed big especially in Hyogo Prefecture are as follows:
- There is Kobe Port nearby, which is very convenient for importing materials and exporting matches to overseas.
- The region has less rain than other areas, and its mild weather of gSetonaikai-kiko (inland-sea weather) has been helpful for match production, since many of manufacturing procedures are drying process.
- Disposition of Hyogo Prefecturefs people is liking of new things; they were interested in manufacturing new product, matches.
- There were not many factories in the area, though many people wanted to work: the place was affluent with human resource.