Japanese company seattle-based Japanese stationery company ‘Aqua Studio’ creates bespoke pieces
Seating a crowd is the key to a great experience for any Japanese stationer, and Aqua Studio, whose flagship product is the Aqua Pro line, has perfected that.
“I really feel that I’m making a difference,” says Aqua Studio founder and CEO Kazuki Kogawa.
“If I can bring people together in a way that is a bit more pleasant, that makes the experience better, then I think that I can achieve the goal.”
For his company, Aqua Studio’s Japanese product line has a rich history of innovation.
“Our main focus has been on the Japanese market,” says Kogawas.
“The company’s roots go back to the ’60s and ’70s, when Japanese stationers made their first products in Japan and shipped them out.
The ’70 to the present day has been an exciting time for the Japanese stationering market.”
The company’s Aqua Pro lines have been sold in more than 30 countries, including the UK, Germany, France, Japan and China.
The Aqua Pro series’ first product, the Aqua Classic line, is sold in Japan only, but the brand has grown to include a number of other products, including a line of bespoke handbags, handbags with a high quality finish and other handmade products.
Kogaws team has also been working on a line for China, with designs that can be applied to any size and style of handbag.
“It is something that we’re very proud of, but we think it’s really important that it be seen for what it is,” he says.
Aqua Studio has also created a line called Aqua Pro-Yoga, which was recently launched in Japan.
“This is the first line that we have in Japan,” says the company’s CEO.
“We have two other Japanese products on the way.
I can’t wait to get them out there.”
The Aqua Studio line is an ideal platform for Aqua Studio to explore new markets.
“Japan is a very small market, so we really have to build something here,” says Kazuki.
“In order to do this, we need to have the right scale.
We need to know that we can create products that will be used by people in Japan, so that we don’t have to start from scratch.
That’s where Aqua Studio comes in.”
The Japanese stationercare industry is a huge market in Japan – the country has more than 2.4 million stations per 100,000 people.
The market is also growing rapidly.
According to the Japan Institute of Tourism and Tourism Research (JITTR), the number of Japanese households who were surveyed by the Tourism Agency for 2017 was 5.1 million, up from 4.6 million in 2016.
Japan’s booming tourism industry is one of the reasons the Japanese government has made a concerted effort to attract visitors.
“When you talk about Japanese tourism, it’s something that’s been around for a very long time,” says Shigehiro Yamaguchi, a senior researcher at the Japanese Tourism Institute, which has been studying the country’s economy and tourism for many years.
“One of the things that we found is that there’s a very strong demand for Japanese culture, especially in the tourism industry.”
In Japan, Japan’s government and tourism have developed a strong presence in the country.
Japan is one the top 10 tourist destinations in the world, according to Tourism Japan.
The government has also invested heavily in cultural events, with a number featuring Japanese actors.
“Many Japanese tourists, especially Japanese people in their 40s, are interested in cultural tourism and want to experience the culture of Japan,” explains Yamaguch.
“That is the main reason why we’ve been able to attract so many visitors to Japan in the past few years.”
The number of Japan’s foreign visitors has also grown significantly, with the country now home to more than 11 million people, up slightly from 9.2 million in the year 2020.
Japanese visitors to the US, the UK and Australia are also a growing part of Japan-bound travel.
“Visiting Japan has become a much bigger thing in recent years,” says Yamagukas team.
“As more Japanese people move to the West, it has become much more difficult for them to avoid the travel problems they’ve had for a long time.”
Japan has also become a hub for online shopping, with many shops and restaurants offering products directly to Japanese customers.
As the number and popularity of Japanese brands grows, Aqua Studios is taking advantage of that trend.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve done a lot of research to understand the Japanese culture,” says Koichi Ikeda, a Japanese stationing company owner and Aqua Studios owner.
“But we have to understand that this is an Asian market, and we have no way of knowing how Japanese people will react to our product.”
Ikedas family is a well-known Japanese brand