People

Shinichi Tanizawa×Chisako Takashima

GINZA CONNECTIVE VOL.26

Shinichi Tanizawa×Chisako Takashima

2013.11.01

A talk series with the violinist Chisako Takashima and the Ginza people. Ginza holds many personal and professional memories for Takashima. In this talk series, she thoroughly explores various aspects of the Ginza culture with her guests. Today’s guest is Mr. Shinichi Tanizawa, the 4th generation president of Ginza Tanizawa, a veteran bag shop.

The history of Ginza Tanizawa, the originator of the character for bag, 鞄

Takashima
When was the shop founded?
Tanizawa
It was founded in 1874. Next year will be its 140th year.
Takashima
Was it always a bag shop?
Tanizawa
The founder, Teizo Tanizawa, came from Tochigi prefecture in 1874 and became involved in bag-making in what is currently Nihonbashi 3-Chome, back before the current word and character for a handbag existed The shop moved to its current location in 1890.
Takashima
I heard that it was Tanizawa that first proposed the character for bag, 鞄.
Tanizawa
Yes. There was no word for bag/briefcase at the time. Teizo submitted a bag with a carrying handle to the first national industrial exhibition in 1877 and received an award for it, but the word for the product on the certificate was 提嚢 (=teino, meaning “bag with a carrying handle”). When it came time to sell the product at the first Tokyo prefectural bazaar, that was a place with a similar function to a modern department store, there was some debate about what to call it and it ended up being written with the two characters, 革 (=kawa, meaning “leather”) and 包 (=hou, meaning ““wrap””). Then, Teizo proposed merging the two characters into one character, 鞄, and reading it as kaban. This is supposedly the start of that character and word in Japan.
Takashima
Wow, that’s amazing!
Tanizawa
That character already existed in China and was even in use at the time, but it was not added to the dictionary in Japan until 12 years after that.

Birth of the Dulles bag – Tanizawa’s long-cherished signature bag

Takashima
When I think of Tanizawa, I think of the famous Dulles bag.
Tanizawa
Some customers have kept theirs in the family for two generations and many customers have used theirs for many, many years, repairing it as needed. Even today, all the bags are handmade by craftspersons in Japan.
Takashima
Was the bag originally designed by Tanizawa?
Tanizawa
No, it was originally a Western product, a type of business bag. It’s the bag that was carried around by U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, when he came here to conclude the peace treaty with Japan. It captured the eye of Koshichi Tanizawa, the second shop president, who developed his own commercial version through trial and error and dubbed it the Dulles bag, selling it with the slogan, “Symbol of Peace” for the time period being just after the war ended.
Takashima
And it was a big hit?
Tanizawa
It sold very well despite having a 5000 yen price tag back then. At a time when the starting salary of a university graduate was 8000 yen, that was pretty formidable.
Takashima
That’s a really high-end product! It is testimony to how truly loved a bag it is that it continues to sell well even today in a different era despite being such a luxury bag.

Dulles bag

All List

GINZA(株)天賞堂/マロニエゲート銀座
Hatsuko西銀座駐車場/三笠会館本店/
ギンザのサヱグサ/銀座千疋屋/銀座 らん月/
三井住友銀行 銀座支店/みずほ銀行 銀座通支店/

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