The Ikeuchi family has been in the cotton industry for most part of a century. As futons are made from 100% cotton, it seemed only logical to get into production of them. Construction of the factory started in 1952, and was opened by Tetsuyoshi Ikeuchi in 1953. This was his show case factory that he had dreamed of, since the rebuild after the war. In 1970 Mikio Ikeuchi took over control as his father retired. By 1980 Mikio opened a second factory as business was building fast. Around 1985 the first factory caught fire and resulted in a lot of damage to the factory. As the first factory was located in the center of town where houses were close by, they came to the decision to close the factory for the safety of the town. Therefore moving all operations to the new factory where they are currently made. In 2003 control was handed over to Sadufumi Ikeuchi who is the head of the company today. With 2 sons a daughter and now 1 grandson, the race has started to see who will be the successor.
There are other traditions with futons in Japan. Most of the patterns colours must reflect the seasons or the time of the year. Many people see in the New Year with the purchase of a new futon rather than other times in the year.
The Ikeuchi family has a number of traditions. Every year around the 29th of December production comes to a halt, it gives them 2 days to clean and prepare the factory for the coming year. By lunch on the 31st it’s all done. Every machine and every work table has a reef and muchi (rice cake) placed on them for thanks and good luck the following year. On the 1st of January Sadufumi and still to this day his father Mikio drive up a dirt road mountain pass, until they can’t drive no more and go on foot from there, high into the mountains to the family shrine. Here they will give praise and thanks for the year they had, and ask a blessing for the year they are about to start.
On the right you can see the Kamon Tachibana. A Kamon is like a family crest here in western Europe. It denotes your family and lineage. There are some 20,000 across Japan. This Kamon appears on the roof tiles on each corner of the factory and represents the Tachibana Sangyo company that is in the family.