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  4. Our 150-year History

Our 150-year History

"Shikon Shosai"

Samurai spirit & business acumen

"Shikon" signifies the mindset of a samurai, while "Shosai" represents the insight of a merchant.
It means always possessing both the aspect of a visionary who considers the greater good and the dynamic drive of an entrepreneur who never misses an opportunity.

  • 1869

    From inception to the establishment of NOSAWA

    The founder, Unokichi Nosawa, opened a retail store for foreign miscellaneous goods and curiosities in Kyobashi, Tokyo at our inception.
    Later, upon its incorporation, the business was named "NOSAWA".
    Unokichi Nosawa directly imported various items such as woolen and cotton textiles, glass products and more from foreign countries. He also directly exported Japanese agricultural products and wheat straw mats, breaking new ground as a pioneer in free trade that defied the norms of the time's treaty port commerce.
  • 1897

    The commencement of silk textile exports

    Textile Department

    The Yokohama branch established a silk weaving department and began exporting silk textiles, primarily focusing on "Habutae" silk fabric.
    We secured exclusive access to silk textiles from major spinning companies and exported them in large quantities to countries such as the United States and Australia.
    During this period, the fabric produced in Japan had limited applications overseas. To overcome this limitation, we continuously improved the product and increased the export volume.
  • 1900

    Established London branch

    Established as the first overseas forward operating base.
  • 1900

    Commencement of thoroughbred horse imports

    Livestock & Machinery

    With the opening of the London branch, thoroughbred stallions from the United Kingdom were imported and delivered to the Imperial Household Ministry. This marked the beginning of NOSAWA's live animal import business, specifically its livestock department.
    After the Russo-Japanese War, the importation of stallions for the improvement and expansion of military horses was also undertaken. In 1933, breeding bulls were imported from the United States.
    Through live animal imports, NOSAWA played a significant role in shaping the history of livestock farming in Japan.
  • 1911

    Established New York branch

    In an effort to boost silk textile sales in the United States, our New York branch was established. This self-sustaining operation stationed representatives locally with inventory on hand, replenishing silk textiles as they were sold, thus pioneering the American market.
  • 1915

    Developed and sold vacation properties in Karuizawa

    As the business expanded, a real estate division was established to mitigate unforeseen losses due to trade risks. Later, with the aim of creating 'internationally recognized ideal resort areas', property in Atami and Karuizawa was acquired. Activities included hot spring exploration, resort development, as well as road construction and environmental improvement projects.
    The development was carried out in accordance with a 'Win-Win' approach, not only for one's own benefit but also ensuring that the other party also benefited, thus benefiting the local residents.
  • 1918

    Established Sydney branch

    In line with the government's national policy to secure wool resources, the importation of sheep began this year.
  • 1931

    The importation of cheese began from FRICO (currently FrieslandCampina) in the Netherlands

    At the request of a dairy manufacturer in Hokkaido that was setting up a cheese-dedicated factory for full-scale production, NOSAWA contracted with the Dutch company FRICO to commence the import of Gouda cheese and Edam cheese.
    Even after more than 90 years, we continue our business relationship with FRICO.
  • 1933~34

    Imported breeding bulls from the United States

  • 1951

    Opened Okinawa branch office

    Being granted permission to establish a presence in Okinawa, which was under U.S. administration, marked NOSAWA as the first trading company to do so.
  • 1951

    Started exporting household items such as Western-style tableware

    Exporting household items such as Western-style tableware to the United States began.
    In 1961, a tableware export base was established in Tsubame City, Niigata Prefecture. The household goods department became the largest division within NOSAWA, reaching its peak.
  • 1955

    Commenced the import of lactic acid bacteria from Chr. Hansen (Denmark)

    Livestock & Machinery

  • 1956

    Started importing cheese from Manor Dairy (Denmark, currently Arla Foods)

    Foodstuff Department

  • 1956

    Popularized pizza in Japan by using Gouda cheese

    The first pizza restaurant opened in Japan, and due to the difficulty of importing mozzarella cheese at the time, NOSAWA actively recommended Gouda cheese as an alternative.
    Established processing facilities within the group and advanced product development, including sliced cheese.
  • 1958

    Started importing cheese from New Zealand

  • 1965

    Established Hamburg liaison office

  • 1967

    Established Taipei liasion office

  • 1968

    Established Melbourne office

  • 1968

    President Kihachiro Nosawa (at the time) was honored by the Prime Minister for his outstanding contributions to export promotion

  • 1970

    Started importing cheese from Probst (Switzerland, currently Emmy)

  • 1972

    Established NOSAWA Hokkaido Farm

    Livestock & Machinery

    The initial purpose was to establish an animal quarantine inspection facility for cattle in Chitose, Hokkaido.
    Subsequently, as expectations for imported cattle in Hokkaido grew, NOSAWA actively utilized this farm to distribute the imported dairy cattle to dairy farmers.
    It facilitated the import of approximately 2,000 head of breeding cattle annually.
  • 1980

    Signed an exclusive sales contract with IMV (France) for various technologies and equipment related to artificial insemination and embryo transfer (ET) for the Japanese market

    Entered into an exclusive sales contract for artificial insemination and embryo transfer (ET) related technologies and equipment for dairy cattle.
    This enabled the implementation of a world-standard frozen semen production system, making it possible to inseminate thousands of female cattle from a single bull.
  • 1984

    Commenced the importation of frozen semen

    Livestock & Machinery

    A comprehensive agency contract for the importation of frozen cattle semen with World Wide Sires (USA) and SEMEX (Canada) was successfully secured, leading to the commencement of frozen semen imports.
  • 1985

    Commenced importing cheese from Ambrosi (Italy)

  • 1987

    Established 'Food Fashion' as a wholesale company and 'FFC' as a manufacturing and processing company

  • 1995

    Started importing cheese from MGC (Australia, now Saputo Dairy Australia)

  • 1997

    The production base for jeans-related products shifted to the Yantai and Weihai regions in Shandong Province, China.

    In the 1970s, as part of the Japanese expansion of national brands, NOSAWA was involved in importing and selling jeans fashion.
    However, it later established a factory network in Hiroshima and Okayama and shifted towards domestic production. From here, production transitioned to factories in China.
  • 1997

    In partnership with China's Weihai Corporation and Iyo Apparel, established Weihai Deshang Okamoto Co., Ltd.

    The first joint venture company for NOSAWA, and the beginning of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) operations
  • 1998

    Importation of cheese and dairy products from Sachsenmilch (Germany) has commenced

  • 2007

    The proprietary knife brand "TAMAHAGANE" has been born

    In collaboration with a tableware manufacturer in Tsubame City, Niigata Prefecture, NOSAWA developed its own original brand.
    With a desire to spread Japanese craftsmanship to the world, NOSAWA supported the manufacturer in overseas production, giving birth to the unique knife brand "TAMAHAGANE".
  • 2009

    Established NOSAWA Amsterdam office in Amstelveen, Netherlands

  • 2013

    Sapporo branch office has been closed and relocated to the support center established in Obihiro the previous year, transitioning to the Hokkaido Sales Headquarters

    Consolidated Hokkaido facilities
  • 2014

    Japanese food export project was initiated in October

    Business Development Department

  • 2018

    A new corporate philosophy has been created and 'Junior Board' has been established

  • 2023

    Relocated Tokyo headquarters


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