金曜日, 2月 3rd, 2012...6:48 am

Omiya Ogawa Studio

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Omiya Ogawa Studio
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We went to observe the Ogawa Studio that is the general party goods place that can be said to be the most famous in the world. This time Hara Yagi answered to our interview. And we were also able to observe inside of the factory.

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Founded in Meiji 38th year as a rubber factory. At the moment the rubber mask is famous, but balloons are handled the most. They seemed to have their hard times when rubber masks were not popular, but they succeeded in spreading their very own special masks all over the world at once. When they created president Obama’s masks there was much coverage requests from not only Japanese media but also the foreign media.

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The types of masks have a large range, from anime characters to celebrities, and characters from horror movies and many more.

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These white masks were originally made to be used in haunted houses, but can be used as a message board for graduations and birthdays. It is a very interesting idea.

■About Ogawa Studio

Ogawa Studio was the first to produce rubber masks, and succeeded in eliminating the demerits of “weird smells” and “expensive rental fees” that rentals had.
Also, masks are often imported from China, but the Ogawa Studio’s masks score higher in both terms of safety and quality.

For example the powder that is needed when the masks are taken off of the rubber shaper, usually stone powder are used but it is not safe for the body, therefore they use powder for food. In other cases, the alcohol that is used to rub off the powder and even the paint used to color the masks are all safe; these are the strengths of this company. Other than the latex used for the creating the rubber the other ingredients are all Japan-made and provided only with the safest material. Furthermore there seems to be an antibacterial effect in the latex.

The ST Mark that ensures safety is usually not something that is put on the rubber mask, but at Ogawa Studio this rubber mark is being used. It shows how safe their products are!

■Factory Observation
So now we go onto observing the factory.
Within the factory most of the creators were women. It seems to be that handling detailed material is done more smoothly by women.

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Here is the process in which the mold for creating the mask from its original shape is being created. The inside is an empty space in which sand is filled in, and after placing the jar-shaped container, plaster is poured around. Right before the plaster hardens, the artisan will continue to mix with their bare hands. There is need to be cautious, in making sure that no air bubbles are left in the mold; it is a very detailed and daring process.

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Here is, the process in which the rubber mask is being created. A large amount of liquides that include Amonia and Calcium are being poured into the mold. You may think that this place will smell like rubber, but there was a stingy smell of Amonia. This rubber is to be reused, however after pouring the liquid you have to keep an eye on the tank that sucks up the rubber with a pump because the rubber can pour onto the pump and break the machine. The producers not only pour rubber but have to keep an eye out for the machinery. A very techinical skill is needed.

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Here, is the process in which the air bubbles left in the masks are cleanly rubbed off. Here as well a producer is carefully yet fastly searching for air bubbles. It seems to be something that we cannot see.

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We discovered something during our observations. It may be the motto of the company, that is largely being displayed. Everyone in the factory must read this every day and proudly conduct their jobs.
You could feel the team work and the strong bonds.

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A mountain of plaster for the molds. 1 plaster lasts for 70 pieces, we felt that it was a lot less than we thought but this is perhaps for maintaining its high quality. It is a factory that becomes further deepened the more you observe.

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This is the place in which the masks are colored with air brushes. Unfortunately because it was under the process we were not able to observe it, but they explained to us the process in detail.
The machinery is in belt conveyor form, and the coloring process by putting the mask on a round disc like surface on a stick.

The coloring process is held by 2 people, and one round is 6 minutes, and within that round there is a certain process that calls the need for long term training. In order to express the deepness there are process in which many colors are used, there are ways in shortening the time by using 2 colors in one round as well. It really is a process in which concentration is necessary, and it is like moving to an upbeat tempo song like a dance.

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Here is the place in which the products are packaged. Surprisingly everything is done by hand. The product’s catch copy is also thought by the workers here, and all come up with bright ideas that make the customers laugh when holding the products. It may be that those who actually take part in the process can think of the ideas.

Yagihara-san that guided us today had said “Due to making each product by hand although he mass produce, we cannot take sudden mass requests”, in observing this factory that was very understandable.

Here the machiner is all produced so it is easier to use, but when the machinery breaks it can only be fixed within themselves. That also, is something that contributes in producing something of high quality.

Here after seeing all of the processes, we felt that the most important element was not only the high technical skills are necessary but also having pride and responsbility in your work.

Seeing those who pull through with having pride in each and every work they do, was in fact very like the artisan we admire. We want them to work harder and harder in producing unique products that will guide people in happiness!
Thank you very much Ogawa Studio.

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1 Comment

  • La Principessa Errante
    2月 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Wow – what an amazing place, what an amazingly interesting post. Thank you

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