Hiyoshiya's history begins with the first-generation owner, Sumizo, who opened an Japanese umbrella shop in the late Edo period (1600-1868) in southern Kyoto City. He later moved the shop to the northern part of the city (present-day Kamigyo ward area). The second-generation head of Hiyoshiya moved the business to its present location, across from Hokyo-ji Temple, which has long had a strong connection with the imperial family. From the beginning, Hiyoshiya specialized in the production of the finest traditional Japanese umbrellas. Today, Hiyoshiya is the only producer of traditional Japanese umbrellas in Kyoto. The present fifth-generation head of the business, Kotaro, continues to produce the excellent umbrellas for which Hiyoshiya is well-known.
Japanese umbrellas have long played an important ceremonial and symbolic role in traditional forms of culture like the Japanese tea ceremony, and noh and kabuki theatre. Japanese umbrellas are also a popular and practical prop or accessory to display and promote the services of Japanese inns, high class Japanese restaurants, hotels and shops. And they continue to be a popular souvenir choice amongst the Japanese, and for foreign tourists.
Japanese umbrellas produced in Kyoto are known as Kyo Wagasa. These stunningly beautiful umbrellas, and the master craftspeople who make them, are among Kyoto's best known craft traditions. Today, Hiyoshiya is the only company in Japan that produces the traditional, large-size ceremonial nodate gasa umbrellas used by tea ceremony masters in outdoor tea ceremonies. We also specialize in the smaller, more delicate janome gasa umbrellas used by the maiko and geiko on rainy days.
When Queen Elizabeth and late-Princess Diana visited Kyoto, they both attended an outdoor tea ceremony in the gardens of the Katsura Imperial Villa that featured a picture perfect bright red, large HIyoshiyafs nodate gasa umbrella.
Though Hiyoshiyafs main customers have long been tea ceremony masters and other important practitioners of traditional Japanese culture, we began selling our products throughout Japan and worldwide via our website a few years ago.
Hiyoshiyafs traditional area of expertise the production of umbrellas is no longer in high demand due to the low cost and modern style of western umbrellas. However, we continue to remain active in this field in a number of ways. For example, we continue to maintain and repair old umbrellas purchased long ago by our clients, and we remain active as a producer of traditional umbrellas for stage and film productions and traditional festivals and events. We believe that tradition is a product of successive and endless innovation. Today we are actively designing and producing new, modern life-style products that are made with the materials and techniques our master craftsmen know best.