JINS President Hitoshi TanakaJINS President Hitoshi Tanaka

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Japanese executive interview

2021.10.26

Hitoshi Tanaka, Representative Director and CEO of Jins Holdings, which continues to enhance creativity and innovate existing concepts


We will be featuring executives from companies with unique brand stories.Premium JapanExecutive interview by representative Mio Shimamura. Through the products and services they create, as well as their corporate philosophy, we will unravel the essence of the ``Japanese sensibilities'' and ``Japanese aesthetic sense'' that their brands express. This time, we will introduce Hitoshi Tanaka, CEO of JINS Holdings, which is revolutionizing the industry by democratizing glasses and adding high functionality.CEOI spoke to him.



Breakthrough power and planning ability that fundamentally overturns common sense in the industry


this year
20Glasses brand celebrating its anniversaryGENDER. "
In an era when it was common for eyeglasses to be expensive, we overturned the conventional wisdom of eyeglasses by offering a low price with a clearly defined amount that could be completed on the same day.GENDERIt is.


``Before starting the company, I happened to visit South Korea and learned that glasses were sold at reasonable prices.
3In Korea, things that cost more than 10,000 yen3,000Finished in a yen quickly. Why is there such a huge price difference? That question was the start.”


We realized that the reason for this was the industry's complicated distribution channels, and by conducting everything from planning to production and sales in-house, we drastically cut costs. By leveraging economies of scale through mass sales, the company has built a business model that offers low prices and high quality.


JINS Hitoshi Tanaka JINS Hitoshi Tanaka

After gaining experience at a financial institution, he started his own business in his hometown of Maebashi. Initially, the company manufactured and sold fashion accessories.



GENDERIts strength is also its planning ability. It is also stimulating new demand for products such as blue light blocking glasses and pollen blocking glasses.2015In 2017, glasses equipped with sensors that measure blinking, eye movements, and body movements were introduced.JINS MEME(jeans Meme)” is released. this year10New product released in FebruaryJINS MEMEnot only visualizes the state of the body and mind using a dedicated app based on data captured by sensors, but also suggests maintenance methods and timing for exercise and rest.

 

"Ordinary glasses are just like clothes, you just sell them. But with a subscription service linked to an app, you can use glasses not only to correct your vision, but also to understand and improve your own condition. I wanted it to be an item that would lead to well-being."



JINS glasses jins meme JINS glasses jins meme

The frame has a built-in sensor in the area between the eyebrows and the nose.JINS MEME(jeans Meme)”. It's surprisingly lightweight.



JINS Meme JINS Meme

JINS MEMEHe showed us how the data measured by the camera is linked with a dedicated app.You can understand and care for your own physical and mental state.



A store that doesn't just sell things, but grows together with the community

 

This style of overturning common sense is reflected not only in the products but also in the sales environment. The company has been setting up stores with cafes since shortly after opening. Brand launch20This year marks the milestone of our anniversary, and we have set up a spacious space with a bakery cafe and a plaza that anyone can use as a facility that provides glasses, food, and social interaction.JINS PARK” opened in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture. In addition, the store opened in Aeon Mall in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture is equipped with shelves and benches made from locally made wooden boxes, allowing people to read freely.1,500Books are displayed along with glasses. We have created a space where you can feel free to stop by and relax without having to buy glasses.


JINS PARK JINS PARK Maebashi JINS PARK JINS PARK Maebashi

The company aims to become a hub for the local community in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture, where it was founded.JINS PARK(jeans Park).



JINS Aeon Mall Okazaki store JINS Aeon Mall Okazaki store

GENDERAeon Mall Okazaki store. in the store1,500By installing books and movable community spaces, we aim to create a new place for local coexistence that takes advantage of the characteristics of a shopping mall. Unique stores are being created one after another.



“With the online world evolving so much, I wondered what offline, so-called brick-and-mortar stores should be like."create an experience"thing. As a result, I think these efforts are having a major impact on the sales of eyeglasses."

 

However, even though it transcends the framework of a traditional glasses store in many ways, its core focus remains on glasses.

 

“There are also new experiences.GENDERThere has to be a sense of individuality. I would like to challenge myself to do whatever I can, focusing on glasses."


Overcoming various barriers and turning a declining city into an advanced city


There is another thing Mr. Tanaka is focusing his efforts on. SoThis is the town development of Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture. He established a foundation with the aim of creating attractive cities and enriching local communities in Gunma Prefecture, including his hometown of Maebashi City.

 

``Several years ago, when I was thinking about how I could contribute to society as an entrepreneur, I thought that I could use the power of entrepreneurship to increase the appeal of Gunma Prefecture, which had always been at the bottom of the attractiveness rankings. We have also started the ``Gunma Innovation Award'' and ``Gunma Innovation School'' to discover and support the next generation of Gunma entrepreneurs.

 

I began to often go to Maebashi City, the base of these activities, but what I saw there was a desolate appearance of the town where I had once lived.

``When I saw the city's decline, I honestly thought at the time that it might be no more.However, there are young people working hard in the city, so I wanted to do something to help them.'' It is.”



Hitoshi Tanaka Foundation Innovation School Hitoshi Tanaka Foundation Innovation School

An innovation school supported by the Hitoshi Tanaka Foundation. The aim is to revitalize Gunma through entrepreneurship and innovation.2021In the year8period.



However, the closed nature of local cities makes it difficult to accept new winds, and it has been a constant struggle.

 

``The more we tried, the stronger the headwinds became.We faced opposition from city council members, and at times we had heated arguments with city leaders.But in order to move forward, we had to overcome such obstacles.'' I'm proud of the fact that I've spent a lot of time and mental energy breaking down various walls.I found myself getting addicted to it while fighting against various things.()

 

Currently, artificial intelligence (AI), Maebashi City aims to become a "super city" using cutting-edge technology, and has been appointed as a member of the "architect" who oversees the design and operation of the city. It is possible to directly convey the voices of citizens"MaebashiID”It plays an important role in creating an individually optimized educational system that allows students to learn and advance according to their proficiency level, regardless of grade or age.


Opening a hotel recognized around the world based on the concept of art

 

Among the projects in Maebashi, one that Mr. Tanaka himself worked on and attracted a lot of attention was the revitalization of the long-established hotel ``Shirai-ya Hotel.'' Maebashi once flourished with its silk industry.300The inn "Shirai-ya", which boasts a history of more than 20 years, has been renovated as a place for disseminating art and food culture. The world-renowned artists and architects, including architect Sou Fujimoto, Michele De Lucchi, Jasper Morrison, Leandro Erlich, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, are participating in the design of guest rooms and art inside the hotel.

 

``I've always liked architecture, but I wasn't really interested in art.However, every time I went overseas for work, my company's advisor at the time took me to art museums. At the same time that I began to understand this and became more familiar with art, we started talking about this hotel, and all of a sudden the idea of ​​art became a concept."



Shiraiya Hotel Shiraiya Hotel

On the left of the photo, in the atrium of the lounge is a work by Leandro Erlich that makes use of the concrete beams of the former Shiraiya building.© ️Katsumasa Tanaka Photo on the right: Shiraiya Hotel designed by Sou Fujimoto.© ️Shinya Kigure



Not only the design, but also the initiatives that involve the local community have attracted attention both domestically and internationally, and the National Geographic "2021Best hotels in the world39” was selected as the only one in Japan. It has become one of the world's recognized destinations.

 

"Ever since its opening, we have continued to conduct interviews.The town is becoming more and more lively with this hotel as a hub.The town, which is the most deserted of the prefectural capitals with no people in the city, is now definitely regaining its vitality. "I'm here"

 

A new gallery is also scheduled to open in Maebashi in the near future, and artis considered one of the important tools for revitalizing the city.

 

``I think it would be a good idea to buy art and put it in various shops in Maebashi, rather than storing it in a warehouse.I think it would be a good idea to have first-class art as an extension of everyday life, and people can naturally interact with it.'' I'm starting to see an image of turning the city into a museum that you can touch."


A Japanese way of thinking that loves simplicity and has an eye for looking inside.

 

Mr. Tanaka is working on projects with artists from around the world and promoting Japan's charms from the countryside, but what does he think Japan's aesthetic sense lies in?

 

``When it comes to architecture, I think that compared to European and American designs, it has a sense of simplicity and lightness rather than a sense of solidity because of the texture of wood and paper.Decorative glasses are also popular overseas. However, in Japan, basic Wellingtons and square types that have been around for a long time, as well as black and tortoiseshell patterns, are overwhelmingly popular.

 

Mr. Tanaka points out that there is also a difference in the functionality desired in glasses.

 

"GoogleAs exemplified by glasses, I think Western companies often make things that allow you to see things outside or that incorporate smartphones into the glasses. However, we,JINS MEMEWe are focusing on using glasses to take care of our bodies and learn about our inner self. Maybe that's a Japanese way of thinking."



JINS Tokyo Head Office JINS Tokyo Head Office

Tokyo headquarters overlooking Tokyo. Art works by up-and-coming artists are also displayed in the lounge.



Break the existing framework and move forward. Creating new value with glasses

 

Glasses enrich people's lives, not just fashion or vision correction tools. Moreover, because it is a regional city, it is possible to realize new experiments that cannot be imitated in large cities. What drives Mr. Tanaka?

 

“I want to break down old frameworks that no longer fit the times and create new value. Of course, not everything will be successful, but by trying things that others have not done, I want to create new value. I think this will create new value.”

 

Creating new value, that isGENDERIt must be the source of our success and the key to our future.


Hitoshi Tanaka

Born in Gunma Prefecture in 1963. In 1988, he established JIN Ltd. (currently JINS Holdings Co., Ltd.) and in 2001 started the eyewear business "JINS." Listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2013. In 2014, he established the "Hitoshi Tanaka Foundation" to support regional revitalization in Gunma Prefecture, and started the entrepreneur support projects "Gunma Innovation Award" and "Gunma Innovation School." Currently involved in the revitalization of Maebashi city center. Completed master's program at Keio University Graduate School of Policy and Media Studies.

 

Mio Shimamura

Representative and publisher of Premium Japan. After working at a foreign advertising agency, he held positions in charge of marketing and PR at top brands such as Walt Disney, Harry Winston, and Tiffany & Co. In 2013, he founded Russo Co., Ltd. He handles PR for various top brands. Because his parents' home was an environment that taught Japanese culture such as tea ceremony and kimono dressing, he acquired the business rights to Premium Japan in 2017 and established Premium Japan Co., Ltd. in 2018. Appointed to current position in 2019 due to business alliance with Amana Co., Ltd.

 


Text by Yukiko Ushimaru
Photography by Toshiyuki Furuya

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