Since 1919 ...
We have been meeting the challenges set by our founder,
In 2019 FUJITAKA TOWEL is celebrating 100 years in the business. This makes us the oldest towel manufacturer currently located in Imabari. The company started in 1919. Towels were first made in Imabari in the Meiji period and the industry was finally becoming established when our first president, Toyosaku Fujitaka, founded the company. Toyosaku was born in 1885.Overcoming resistance from his adoptive father, he went on to university and proved to be a real entrepreneur who was always ready to meet a challenge; indeed he started out selling cider (a carbonated soft drink) which was a rarity at the time.
It was Toyosaku's determination to "dedicate his life's work to making the perfect towel" and the challenges he undertook in building his factory that allowed FUJITAKA to grow in an exceptionally short space of time and become a manufacturer synonymous with the "Imabari towel" - a specialty of the area.In addition, Toyosaku's wife, Tsurue, was also an important force behind his success.
Tsurue had been friends with Toyosaku since childhood and as well as raising his four children, she also helped him by making evening meals for his employees and so on. Indeed Fujitaka's pre-war, headline brand "SEKAI TSURU" was named after Tsurue.
After the war the company, along with the rest of Imabari, was forced to start again from nothing.
By 1926, when the Showa period began, towel making in Imabari had become a key industry, with more than 70 companies; but it was thrown into major crisis with World War II. Output fell by a third during the war due to the curtailment of business operations.
Moreover, the massive air raid on Imabari in 1945 burnt 80% of the city to the ground, with the FUJITAKA TOWEL factory also completely destroyed by fire. And it was none other than the founder Toyosaku Fujitaka who rebuilt the company from scratch. He started all over again at the age of 60.Known for its technical prowess, FUJITAKA continued to improve its manufacturing technology and took on successive challenges in Japan's high period of growth that started from the postwar reconstruction era; challenges that included achievements such as becoming the first company in Imabari to manufacture toweling blankets etc. From his conviction that "there can be no development at FUJITAKA unless there is development in Imabari" Toyosaku also worked tirelessly to develop an "association of towel makers" - with the focus on Imabari. In 1966 he donated 10 million yen to the prefecture to "construct a bridge connecting Honshu and Shikoku as soon as possible." In today's money the donation amounted to tens of million of yen and it came from a strong desire to "help Imabari's development."
By the Heisei period (1989 - 2019), FUJITAKA was the pride of Japan's manufacturing sector.
Contributing to the revival of the Imabari towel industry.
Upon his death, Toyosaku's sons inherited the FUJITAKA TOWEL business; and it was his grandson, Toyofumi, who took over with the dawn of the Heisei period. At that time the towel industry was in trouble, as the collapse of the economic bubble saw a fall in demand for towels to be given as gifts, along with an increase in imported towels.
One after another, Japanese towel plants tried to cut costs by moving production overseas. However, having inspected sites in various other Asian countries, Toyofumi reached the conclusion that "I cannot make the towel I want anywhere other than in Japan - and even then it has to be in Imabari." However, having inspected sites in various other Asian countries, Toyofumi reached the conclusion that "I cannot make the towel I want anywhere other than in Japan - and even then it has to be in Imabari."
He was particularly fastidious about manufacturing being carried out in Japan, using his own company's technology. In 2006, Toyofumi was appointed as chairman of the board for the Shikoku Towel Industrial Association where he became a key member involved in the "Imabari Towel Branding Project" as part of Imabari's reconstruction.
The efforts of those within the area and those from outside were combined, as the people of Imabari City and officials from the Chamber of Commerce etc., felt the need to "convey the good points of Imabari towels." And these efforts succeeded in reviving the fortunes of Imabari towels.
And as FUJITAKA looks forward to the next 100 years ... We intend to keep making the same high quality towels in the Imabari area, as we move forward.