Release | Takako Chiba
“Ojisan Hanko” - Hokkaido’s new souvenir created from the collaboration with Mitsu-uma, Sapporo City University, and Hokkaido Research Organization
The long-established rubber boots manufacturer Mitsu-uma with 100 years history, Sapporo City University, and Hokkaido Research Organization collaborated to create a new souvenir of Hokkaido. That is “Local Ojisan Hanko.” Can a seal become a Hokkaido souvenir? Ojisan (an old man)? I can’t understand what that is!
Table of Contents- What is “Ojisan Hanko”?
- Mitsu-uma is a long-established rubber boots manufacturer with a 100 years history
- “Ojisan Hanko” was adopted from the presentation from Sapporo City University’s students
- Is it the limit of Mitsu-uma’s technology? Then, a savior appeared
- Let’s look at “Ojisan Hanko” in depth!
- I found Otaru’s Ojisan at Shin-Nantaru Market!
- How to use “Ojisan Hanko”
What is “Ojisan Hanko”?Hokkaido’s new souvenir “Ojisan Hanko” came out on March 1, 2019!
“Ojisan Hanko” is a series of rubber seals with faces of famous Ojisan (old man) from 12 cities and towns in Hokkaido. The seals are available limitedly at areas where Ojisans live.
“Ojisan Hanko” was created with the collaboration of a rubber boots manufacturer with 100 years history Mitsu-uma, Sapporo City University in Sapporo, and an independent administrative agency Hokkaido Research Organization which experiment, study, research, spread, develop technology, and support technology in Hokkaido’s agriculture, fishing industry, forestry, industry, food industry, environment, geology, and architecture. Which means it was a collaborative project between industry, government, and academia.
The abstract of the project is like this, but many people probably wonder why it became a souvenir of Hokkaido, who are Ojisans and still cannot imagine what Ojisan Hanko is. I visited Mitsu-uma, the manufacturer of Ojisan Hanko to discover everything about it.
Mitsu-uma is a long-established rubber boots manufacturer with 100 years historyMitsu-uma in Otaru City is a rubber boots manufacturer established in 1919. Many people know the name from Kuriyama, the baseball coach of Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, as he is a fan of Mitsu-uma’s rubber boots.
▲Above is the sign in front of the office building of Mitsu-uma in Otaru City. The logo with three horses had not changed since their establishment. People were talking about this company recently because it appeared in the morning TV drama. The main character got these boots as a present in Tokachi during the development periods.
I guess many people who are over the forties to fifties live in Sapporo or near Otaru might have visited the factory of Mitsu-uma for a school trip in elementary schools.
▲Hidetoshi Okada, the Deputy General of Asset Management Department and Manager of General Affairs Division, he is one of the “Ojisan Hanko” project team.
“In past 100 years, we had good times and bad times that we had to apply for the application of the Corporate Reorganization Act. Although in that situation, people in Hokkaido and fans of Mitsu-uma supported us.” Okada from Mitsu-uma told me.
▲They used Kanji “三馬” for the name in the past.
▲They manufactured 10,000 pairs of rubber boots in a day at the peak period.
However, although they have 100 years of history, the brand image of Mitsu-uma as a rubber boots manufacturer is well-known for people over fifty years old, they had a sense of danger that younger generations don’t even recognize their name Mitsu-uma.
And they felt that they should do something new. To celebrate their 100th anniversary on October 10, 2019, to give something back to people in Hokkaido who supported them, and to create a new brand image of Mitsu-uma.
The project began in 2017 when they talked to Sapporo City University to do something together.
“Ojisan Hanko” was adopted from the presentation from Sapporo City University’s studentsThey wanted to create a new souvenir from Hokkaido using rubbers that dedicates to Hokkaido and get noticed from young generations.
Answering to that challenge, three students from Sapporo City University’s design department brought the idea of “Ojisan Hanko” in September 2017. Students were afraid at first that Mitsu-uma will not like the idea and they’d be angry.
However, Okada and others thought the idea was super interesting. They brought back the idea to a meeting within the company.
“We were thinking that we should do something strange to make an impact on young generations. Then the idea of Ojisan Hanko appeared. Our boss agreed and supported us to create Ojisan Hanko. It was a quick decision.” Okada told.
The student thought the concept of “Ojisan Hanko” should dedicate to revitalize towns and cities. They wanted to make people visit various places because of “Ojisan Hanko.”
Therefore, they started to pick up towns and cities in Hokkaido with a population of approximately 3,000. They selected unique Ojisan living in those areas and began negotiations to be models of seals.
When Okada asked them if there were hesitations about becoming a model for seals which to become a signature face of towns and cities, most people were rather aggressive and cooperative if they can do something to revitalize their hometowns.
“Together with that, many people told me that if Mitsu-uma’s doing it, they are with us. We were really moved to hear voices like that.” Okada told.
It shows that Otaru’s long-established rubber boots manufacturer had been loved in many situations for 100 years: farms, dairy farms, fishing, removing snows in winter, etc.
Is it the limit of Mitsu-uma’s technology? Then, a savior appearedHowever, when they tried to manufacture seals, it was difficult for Mitsu-uma to turn designs made by students into rubber seals even with their technologies developed in the past 100 years.
According to Okada, designs by students were too detailed and could not create molds with traditional methods.
▲“Students seemed very particular about details as they are from the design department,” Okada said.
They were completely stuck. In July 2018, Sapporo City University participated in “Monozukuri Technology Fair” in Sapporo to show “Ojisan Hanko”’s project. On that day, the Hokkaido Research Organization had a booth across them.
▲They could curve exactly in the quality of pictures with a laser engraving machine.
Hokkaido Research Organization supports technology development in many industries. They might have a clue to create this seal. Mitsu-uma and students from Sapporo City University talked about their problem, and Hokkaido Research Organization agreed to provide help.
The collaborative project between industry, government, and academia; Mitsu-uma with a long established corporation with 100 years history, the technology of Hokkaido Research Organization, and young senses of Sapporo City University’s students, began from this day.
Let’s look at “Ojisan Hanko” in depth!They created seals of cities and towns below:
3. Tsurui Village
4. Nishi-Okoppe Village
5. Naka-Tonbetsu Village
6. Shosanbetsu Village
7. Shimukappu Village
8. Nakasatsunai Village
12. Otaru City
▲Bottom: 2.5 cm * 2.5 cm, height: 3.4 cm, material: rubber, shape: beard and rubber boots
The population of Otaru City is 116,515 (as of the end of December in 2018), so it does not fit in the concept of the population of approximately 3,000. However, they made an exception because Otaru is the hometown of Mitsu-uma.
- Profiles of Ojisan who became seals
And Ojisan who turned into seals is extremely unique!
▲A small paper to introduce profiles of Ojisan and cities and towns where Ojisan live comes with the box.
For example, Kawabata Ojisan from Rausu-Cho is an explorer and a video creator who walked on drift ice around Shiretoko Peninsula alone.
Fukase Ojisan from Nakasatsunai is an owner of a restaurant in Michi No Eki and a soccer lover who is called Ronaldinho in the north.
Other Ojisans have unique profiles as well. You can check out each man’s profile on the official website of “Ojisan Hanko.”
- Where can I buy “Ojisan Hanko”?
“Ojisan Hanko” is a concept to make people travel to cities and towns where Ojisans live. Therefore, you can’t purchase them without visiting each place.
Ojisan Hanko is sold in two pieces set (1,200 yen without tax); one seal is Ojisan Hanko of the cities or towns purchased, another one comes randomly. You can’t predict what another Ojisan Hanko is.
- How to collect all “Ojisan Hanko”
You can collect all 12 kinds if you visit 12 cities and towns. However, it is not easy to come and go to Hokkaido which is really big.
Since a set comes with two Hanko, you can complete 12 Hanko by just visiting 6 cities and towns. You have to be lucky that you get every different kind. It seems like a miracle, though…
- There is a thirteenth secret Ojisan!
There are officially 12 towns and cities, but there is a thirteenth secret Ojisan. I heard that the possibility to get this one is really low. If you find it, please post it to Mitsu-uma’ facebook page.
I found Otaru’s Ojisan at Shin-Nantaru Market!I visited one of the Hanko Ojisans to validate if Ojisans really exist.
I chose Otaru City, an exception because it was the hometown of Mitsu-uma.
Ojisan is in “Shin-Nantaru Market,” which is approx. 38 mins drive from Sapporo by Sapporo Expressway, approx. 12 mins walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station, and approx. 16 mins walk from JR Otaru Chikkou Station.
▲Is this the guy?
I found Otaru’s Ojisan at “Nagagutsuya,” the Mitsu-uma rubber boots specialized store in Shin-Nantaru Market.
▲Akira Kibo, the president of the Mitsu-uma rubber boots specialized store “Nagagutsuya.”
“Rubber boots are essential in ports and markets in Otaru. No shoes are useless except decent rubber boots such as Mitsu-uma’s rubber boots in frozen warehouses with -30 degrees temperature. There are many fruit farms and wineries near Otaru, and rubber boots are essential to those people in agriculture, too. So we have the largest varieties of Mitsu-uma’s rubber boots. We are a shop for professionals who need rubber boots in the neighborhood!” Kibo welcomed us with a casual conversation.
▲Mr. Kibo as “Ojisan Hanko.” looks really like him, of course.
I asked how it feels like to be a seal.
“I was surprised by the technology of Hokkaido Research Organization comparing to those seals we curve with chisels. I am considering to use this for company’s documents.”
He told me with a smile.
You can purchase “Ojisan Hanko” at “Nagagutsuya” in Otaru City.
How to use “Ojisan Hanko”I would like to talk about how to use “Ojisan Hanko” in the end. As it is a new souvenir of Hokkaido, the correct way to use this is to give someone as a present from the place where you went. However, since this is a unique product, use it in a creative way.
You don’t have to think difficultly how to use or when to use.
Choose your favorite color of ink and stamp it to the letter, postcards, sticky notes to colleagues, or put in a collection case to display in your room.
How would you have fun with “Ojisan Hanko”?
Related Links- Ojisan Hanko
- Mitsu-uma Co., Ltd.
- Mitsu-uma’s Facebook page
- Sapporo City University
- Hokkaido Research Organization
- Mitsu-uma specialized store Nagagutsuya
Hokkaido Likers writer Takako Chiba
Photo: Tomoya Suwa
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