"Reiwa" means "beautiful harmony".

written by Masako Inkyo

Master calligrapher, Masako Inkyo, writes "Reiwa" in calligraphy, the name of the new era started on May 1st.

The new era started on May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne a day after the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, brought to an end the 31-year Heisei era.

The name, or "gengo", figures in daily life on coins, drivers' licenses and official paperwork, as well as in counting years, though many Japanese also use the Western calendar.

But Reiwa's meaning has generated confusion and controversy. The first character, "rei," is often used to mean "command" or "order," imparting an authoritarian nuance that offends some. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government prefer "good" or "beautiful", a less widely known sense. The second character, "wa," is defined as "peace" or "harmony", and together they mean "beautiful harmony," Japan's consulate in New York said in a bid to dispel confusion. "It does not mean 'order and harmony' as has been reported in the press," the consulate said in a statement.

History of Kumanofude and Our Company

The history of our company has a close relation with the history of Kumanofude-making (brush-making) in Kumano Town.

About 180 years ago (the end of the Edo-period), the young villagers, who were the pioneers of fude- making in Kumano Town, learned the skills from fude craftsmen in Kinki area in Japan. At the same time, Hiroshima clan encouraged selling fude as one of Hiroshima’s crafts toward all over the country. Then both fude-making and selling toward the other area was established in Kumano Town.

Mr. Yasubei Shiromoto (great-great-grandfather of the current President) became a brush craftsman in 1868 (Meiji 2) and started fude-making in Kumano Town.
Mr. Shodai Joichi Shiromoto (Joichi Shiromoto I (First)) received the license from Hiroshima Prefecture as "Fude Yui (making and selling brushes)" first in Kumano Town in January 1881 (Meiji 14), and we, as a company named “Shiromoto Shouten,” started brush manufacturing and selling, officially. Therefore, January 1881 is the official foundation year of our company.

Mr. Nidai Jouichi Shiromoto (Jouichi Shiromoto II (Second)) worked with the other manufacturers in Kumano Town to establish Kumanofude Cooperative (so called “Fude Kumiai”) in order to achieve manufacturers’ and craftsmen’s technological improvement and joint buying of raw materials of Kumanofude in 1947 and appointed as First Chairman of Kumanofude Cooperative. He and his son, Mr. Katsushi Shiromoto (Second Chairman of Kumanofude Cooperative) had endeavored for development of Kumanofude.

We built a small Temple dedicated to the Kannon, who protects people in the town, on the premises of the company in appreciation of the ancestor and/or senior fude craftsman's achievement in 1869 (Meiji 3). Although Houto, stone lantern, remained with that time, the temple was rebuilt in 1964 (Showa 39).

We promise and respect tomorrow's prosperity of the town and the company.