People

Keiji Niimoto×Chisako Takashima

GINZA CONNECTIVE VOL.38

Keiji Niimoto×Chisako Takashima

2014.11.05

An interview series featuring Ginza people in conversation with violinist Chisako Takashima. With a special fondness for Ginza, where she has many memories both from her professional and private life, Takashima explores Ginza from various dimensions with her guests. In this volume, she welcomes Mr. Keiji Niimoto, CEO of TENSHODO, a renowned retailer of precious metals and railroad models established in the Meiji era.

Tenshodo’s wide line of merchandise ranging from luxury brand watches to railroad models.

Takashima
How many years has Tenshodo been in business?
Niimoto
Tenshodo was established in 1879, so we have been in business for 135 years. We started as a carved name seal retailer but eventually came to sell jewelry and import watches. We were the first to introduce Omega (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer established in 1848) watches to Japan.
Takashima
So you have always been ahead of the times.
Niimoto
We were also the first company to put price tags on merchandise back when sales were basically made person-to-person and prices were not shown.
Takashima
What fascinates me is that you also manufacture and sell railroad models. How did that come about?
Niimoto
It was my grandfather, a railfan, who launched our railway model business. In his days, our brass railroad models were all handmade by artisan workers. Plastic models have become popular now, but many older railroad model fans prefer brass models.
Takashima
I have heard that Tenshodo’s railroad models are referred to as the “Rolls-Royce of railroad models”.
Niimoto
Yes, they are. We were the only company manufacturing models completely handcrafted in detail.
Takashima
Tenshodo also has a division responsible for working with corporate clients. We have, for example, manufactured an uncountable number of commemorative gifts, plaques and trophies for our corporate clients. The golden bats presented to Hideki Matsui and Shigeo Nagashima in commemoration of their receipt of the People’s Honor Award were also manufactured by Tenshodo. They were custom fabricated by coating sterling silver bats with gold.
Niimoto
That is amazing!
Takashima
We actually do business in a variety of fields.(laughs). We also made the championship rings for the WBC.
Niimoto
How wonderful!

Irresistible watch brands for the connoisseur

Takashima
I, in fact, absolutely love watches!
Niimoto
Really!? Unfortunately, we don’t have a large collection of women’s watches…
Takashima
I am not that interested in women’s watches. I am more into men’s watches, like Jaeger-LeCoultre (Swiss luxury watch manufacuturer established in 1833) and Girard-Perregaux (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer established in 1791).
Niimoto
I see! We basically do not sell watches manufactured by apparel brands and are more focused on brands that exclusively manufacture watches. Our customers are inevitably mostly men.
Takashima
I often give my husband watches as gifts. I once gave him a very stylish Pierre Kunz (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer founded in 2002)… Asked by a friend which brand it was, he answered, “Pierre Hermé” (renowned pastry chef) (laughs). My husband likes collecting watches too, but perhaps he was not so interested in that particular watch because it was not one that he had selected and bought himself. (laughs bitterly)
Niimoto
I guess their names are similar (laughs).
Takashima
During the economic bubble, a luxury watch meant a Rolex (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer established in 1905) or an Omega, but nowadays, we have a wide variety of brands to choose from.
Niimoto
That is true. We have an increasing number of low-profile brands, which actually have long histories but just were not widely known.
Takashima
I agree. Officine Panerai (Italian luxury watch manufacturer established in 1860) was little known until only recently….
Niimoto
Officine Panerai has become very popular these past few years. Which are your favorite watchmakers?
Takashima
I love Breitlings (Swiss luxury watch manufacturer established in 1884).
Niimoto
Breitlings are also very popular now. Their advertising strategy is impressive and their catalogs show their commitment to style.
Takashima
It must be so exciting to be surrounded with watches every day. I would love to see Baselworld (the world’s largest watch and jewelry show held in Basel, Switzerland) one day.

All List

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

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