The Japanese concept of monozukuri can be literally translated as “the making of things,” but this simple translation belies a much deeper and broader meaning. The term came to prominence in the late 1990s, when it was used by the government to reaffirm Japan’s manufacturing prowess in a shifting global economy. Japanese firms have turned manufacturing into a precise science, and monozukuri encompasses dedication, innovation and the pursuit of excellence in production. 

However, while monozukuri may seem like a relatively new concept, the underlying principles have been inherent in Japanese culture for centuries: a healthy respect for tools and materials; pride in mastering and executing the correct techniques; a genuine desire to please the customer and a continuous search for ways to improve performance. If monozukuri defines the process, then craftsmanship of the highest level is the result. And as more people seek sustainable solutions in daily life, monozukuri fits in perfectly with consumer demand for function, form and beauty through products that can be used and enjoyed year after year. 

Throughout Japan, there are countless companies that proudly and intentionally incorporate monozukuri into their products, creating everything from traditional clothing to modern homewares. Here are some Tokyo businesses to visit for a firsthand look at quality products informed by this design philosophy, all located in the Nihonbashi area.

Nihonbashi Kiya

As the age of the samurai due to a close, sword makers turned to knife-making, so it’s no surprise that Japanese knives have developed a world-wide reputation for excellence. Kiya is a knife and cutlery specialist dating back to 1792. From beginners to professional chefs, the store offers a wide range of top-quality knives to suit every skill level and purpose, along with other cooking tools, tableware and household accessories. The knowledgeable staff will gladly share their expertise on the care and maintenance of their knives and other products, too.


The city of Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture is known throughout Japan for its metal casting industry, whereby molten metal is poured into a mold to form objects of various shapes; the high-quality items produced there were sought after by the ruling families in the region for decades. Founded in Takaoka in 1916, Nousaku initially manufactured objects for Buddhist rituals, as well as tea sets and vases. Today Nousaku combines time-honored traditions with contemporary design aesthetics to create beautiful tableware and decorative items to grace any home.

Nihonbashi Nishikawa 

In recent years health experts have been emphasizing sleep quality as an important part of overall health. The sleep professionals at Nishikawa want to help each customer find the perfect goods to achieve a great night’s sleep. With more than 450 years in the business of helping people sleep well, this interactive store incorporates the latest technology in their sleep solutions, including made-to-order pillows and high-quality mattresses, crafted with incredible care and consideration.


Imabari towels are regarded as the finest in Japan and are famed for their soft texture and high absorbency. They are named for the city of Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, where they have been produced for 120 years. As an Imabari towel specialty store, Iori offers a full-range of fine quality towels to suit every taste and need, with a staff that’s deeply knowledgeable on the subject. Because towels are something you use every day, let Iori show you why you deserve to use the best.


Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten

Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten carries an extensive range of clothing, accessories and tableware based on Japanese crafts — truly something for everyone. Drawing on 300 years in business, Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten has mixed functionality and form, with items that will enhance daily life by being both useful and beautiful. With an emphasis on quality and attention to detail, their products are designed to be enjoyed for many years.

Nippon Department Store

The selection at Nippon Department Store is at once eclectic and cohesive — their guiding principle is to make Japanese traditional goods fun for everyone, honoring the people, techniques, culture and ultimately the spirit that goes into each. As such, they offer a huge variety of products and local specialties from all around the country, including traditional food and drinks, clothing, accessories, home goods and much more. The main thing that unites all their wares, other than being made in Japan, is the care and precision that goes into creating each; the store proudly bills itself as monozukuri-oriented. It’s a great place to see all that Japan has to offer without ever setting foot outside of Tokyo.