Japan from the inside out

Pitching a new kind of tent in Japan

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, February 14, 2008

BUILD A BETTER MOUSETRAP, they say, and people will beat a path to your door. That might be easier said than done—the basic mousetrap model is still cheap and works very well.

But what if you’re in the business of making tents and canvas sheets? The textile industry once flourished in Nagoya and its environs, and many companies in that sector are still based there, but these days most of their revenue comes from producing awnings for shop exteriors and dividers for factory interiors. Their assessment of overall growth? Business is not booming.

That’s why a local college professor joined forces with representatives from the industry and officials in the Nagoya municipal government to form the Tent Research Association and come up with designs for new products. Their version of the better mousetrap was a tent designed with Japanese motifs for use at outdoor events and ceremonies.

The photo shows their first prototype model, which was tried out earlier this week at the Yagoto Kosho-ji in Nagoya. (That’s a Buddhist temple whose Japanese-only website is here.) The Association is pleased with the results of their brainstorming sessions. They said, “It’s a perfect match for the mood at Shinto or Buddhist events. This is Nagoya’s first new product, and we want to sell it throughout the country.”

The tent is made using navy blue material and wooden poles, and features an upper ridge that resembles the roof of a Shinto shrine. It has an aluminum frame, making it light and easy to assemble and take down. The association developed two models: a large one that is 4.6 meters wide and 2.4 meters deep, and a smaller one that is 3.6 meters wide and 1.8 meters deep. Both are two meters tall.

Most of the conventional tents used for functions at schools and other locations are white, but the Association chose to create tents that are navy blue, green, and brown, and decorated with a Japanese crest. They hope it will become the tent of choice for Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, funeral homes, and tea parties, as well as the usual sites. 

The chairman of the association said he thinks the tent’s wide range of potential uses and unique Japanese design will make it a popular item. He didn’t say how much it would cost, but did say the price would drop if demand grew. If you want one, give him a call at 0563-56-0881.

I like the looks of it myself, but I’m not sure if it qualifies as a better mousetrap. I wonder how comfortable those dark colors will be in Japan’s sauna-like summers.

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