Fukuyama city is known for its craftsmanship, for example, carpentry and textiles. Quite a few companies based in Fukuyama have top market shares in Japan or possess unique techniques. The steel industry especially played a significant role in supporting the industry of Fukuyama. One of the responsible steel manufacturers called Chitose is based in Tsuneishi, which is famous for shipbuilding. You need a staggering amount of parts to build a ship and the shipbuilding company assembles the parts to make the final ship form. A steel manufacturer like Chitose makes the framework and other small parts made of steel. Whenever you need to ‘cut, bend or weld’ steel into ship parts, that is when steel manufacturers like Chitose comes in.
It bends, melts and becomes thinner or thicker when you apply heat to it. It can change its shape into anything you desire and it is far from being brittle. We all know that today’s industrial development and modernization couldn’t have happened without the durable and malleable steel. Furthermore, steel is widely used in interior design to achieve that ‘industrial look’ given its unique rough texture and durability. As steel is sometimes even used in living spaces and stores as the main feature, Chitose decided to delve into the ‘architecture, furniture, and interior design field. They are embarking on a new challenge as they utilize their expertise in steel manufacturing.
“Since we are a steel manufacturing company, friends ask ‘I want some display goods made out of steel. Can you make it for me?’ Thankfully, I have always liked furniture so I started to create fixtures, stairs and display goods,” says Mr. Inoue. “Once I receive a request to create something, I first go see the client in person and ask for specific details. We share the final complete image as we take measurements and carefully formulate a plan. I believe in the importance of on-site visits and this leads to original and unique products. Some jobs in Fukuyama I undertook include making tables and counters for cafes, kitchen counters, and original ladders to reach higher places. You can cut, bend and attach with steel so as long as the final image is set then you can make anything out of steel. I even made a steel ‘Oyashiro’, a small shrine for the client’s backyard,” says Mr. Inoue laughing.
ANCHOR HOTEL incorporated steel from Chitose, especially in the ANCHOR BAR. For example, it’s used in the frames of the doors and windows and the eye-catching counter. The matte and textured look gives that calm and classy look. “We used this certain type of black steel. It’s black because a black oxide coating is made by treating the surface layer of the steel. Marks and rust can even give an additional charm to it but we are careful not to damage the surface. It’s actually difficult to weld and is not the easiest material to handle,” says Mr. Inoue as he laughs. But it’s the experts who can handle delicate materials with great control. The frame of the windows and doors of the ANCHOR BAR were finished just like we wanted and quickly as well! This is due to the rich technology of Chitose and the passion Mr. Inoue brought to the table. “I feel like it’s my duty to complete projects that clients were refused from others or something unprecedented. Even if it’s a difficult project, I can’t leave passionate clients out to dry!” Behind Mr. Inoue’s effortless smile you can sense his fiery passion. It’s the pride of craftsmen like Mr. Inoue that fuels the development of craftsmanship techniques.
988-5,Tsuneishi,Tsuneishicho,Fukuyama-city, Hiroshima,720-0313, JAPAN / TEL.084-987-2732
In 1973, ‘‘Chitose’’is steel processing, and the manufacturing industry and it was founded in the Tsuneishi district, an area where the shipbuilding industry is particularly thriving in Fukuyama City. While Chitose Ironworks focus on the manufacture of ship frameworks and parts, in recent years they have also responded to full-custom orders for manufacturing furnishings made of iron, such as interior decorations and furniture.
Their motto is “To respond with artisan’s passion”.