Japan is home to a great number of world famous companies. You are bound to see Japanese products in your everyday life whether you are just at your local store or traveling the world. Japanese products tend to be of high quality, well designed, very functional and effective, and sometimes even delicious! If you live in or are planning on coming to Japan, learning about some of the best products might help make your life more convenient and comfortable. Here is our handy list of 10 of the largest and most popular Japanese companies and their best products that are worth knowing!
If you have ever played video games in your life, this name is sure to ring a bell! Nintendo is one of the biggest and most famous electronic and video game companies in the world. Established in 1889(originally as a playing cards company), Nintendo has been one of the leading companies in its industry for over a hundred years. Their headquarters are located in Kyoto, where they originally started out as a small company manufacturing Japanese playing cards called “Hanafuda” and later moved on to inventing legendary games and characters like Donkey Kong and Mario. Today, they have endless passionate fans around the world and are best known for their video game consoles such as the Game Boy and Switch.
Needless to say, Toyota is a world-famous Japanese automotive manufacturer which has ranked in the world’s top 10 automobile companies for years. Their headquarters are located in Toyota city, Aichi prefecture. At first thought, you may think the name “Toyota” comes from the name of the city, but actually it was named after the founder known as “Toyoda Sakichi”. The company started back in 1918 when Mr. Toyoda invented an automatic loom and established his weaving machine company, which later expanded into the automobile industry. They currently have a number of both domestic and overseas plants and branch offices. In 2020, they became the top-selling automobile company in the world with their global sales at $9.5 billion.
Canon is a Japanese electronics company that was established in 1937. They are probably best known for their high-quality digital devices that include their world famous digital cameras, printers, and scanners among other products. Their SLR cameras (Single-lens reflex cameras) are particularly popular around the world and have earned a respectable reputation for their high functionality and performance. As of 2021, the company has over 180,000 employees working both domestically and internationally at offices in more than 220 countries.
Sony is a giant electronics company headquartered in Minato-ku of Tokyo. They offer a wide range of electronic products that range from audio devices to video game consoles to smartphones. The company started out back in 1946 after WWII. Sony was first established as a small electronics shop with only about 20 employees and a small amount of capital. Since then, they have grown into one of the biggest electronics companies in the world with customers all over the globe.
Asics is a sportswear company with its headquarters in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture. They specialize in producing a wide range of sports equipment and accessories such as high-quality running shoes and clothing that is popular not only among sports enthusiasts but also among professional and Olympic athletes. The history of Asics dates back to 1949 when the founder Onitsuka Kihachiro started a small private company with just 4 employees manufacturing basketball shoes. Their business expanded rapidly from the 50’s onward and at the time they accounted for about 50% of Japan’s athletic shoe market! Asics believes that their philosophy, “Sound mind, sound body” is essential for everyone to achieve their goals and live a fulfilling and healthy life.
Japan is home to a great number of world renowned cosmetic brands. They produce high-quality cosmetics such as makeup, skincare and hair products to people all around the world. Shiseido is one of the most famous and popular cosmetic companies in Japan. They have a history of over 140 years which dates back to 1872, when the founder established Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy in Tokyo. Their beauty products are safe and made for all types of skin, so there is sure to be a product out there for you! Most of their products are sold widely at drugstores, discount shops and even at duty-free shops at airports which can be perfect as a souvenir for international travelers to bring back to their country.
7. Asahi Breweries
Do you love Japanese beverages? If the answer is “Yes”, you have probably tried Japanese beers loved by people all over! Asahi Breweries is one of Japan’s four biggest beer companies and manufactures a wide variety of high-quality alcoholic beverages. Their products include beer, Shochu, wine, whiskey, fruit cocktails and much more. Asahi started up back in 1889 when Osaka Brewing Company was established. At this time, the beer industry in Japan was growing rapidly along with an increasing number of newly-established beer companies throughout the country. Today, they dominate Japan’s beer market with a market share of more than 34%.
8. Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio founded in 1985. You have probably watched or at least heard of some of their world-famous movies which have countless fans around the globe. Some of their best works include Princess Mononoke (1997), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Spirited Away (2001), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Their movies have impressive storylines, fascinating and loveable characters and of course amazing music that is loved by people of all ages. If you watch their traditional movies from back in the 80s to early 2000s, you will be stunned by the beautiful scenes which were mostly hand-drawn by professional animators (the more recent films use some CG and 3D techniques)! They have a fun Ghibli Museum in Mitaka of Tokyo and will also be opening up their very own Ghibli Park in November 2022!
Calbee is a popular Japanese snack manufacturer whose headquarters are in Chiyoda-ku of Tokyo. They make a wide variety of snacks including chocolate, cookies, candies, and gummies. They are probably best known for their flavorful potato chips that are fairly rare in most countries but can be found at grocery stores and convenience stores all over Japan! Their first potato chip product was their “Lightly Salted Potato Chips” (called “Usushio-aji” in Japanese) which first came out in 1975. Since then, the simple yet addictive flavor has been loved by Japanese people along with the other new flavors they have come out with over the years. “Jagariko” is another popular product from Calbee that are basically crispy potato sticks!
Nissin is a Japanese food company that was established in 1948. They are widely known as the inventor of the world’s very first instant ramen noodles released in 1958. Since then, they have been a fan favorite around the world with their addictive instant noodles that are easy to cook and surprisingly very tasty. “CUP NOODLE” is probably their most well known instant noodle brand which has developed a lot of different flavors over the years including original soy source, salt, seafood, miso, and curry to name a few. They even have a CUP NOODLE MUSEUM in Yokohama that has a cool display of the brand’s history and you can even make your own personal instant noodles! Other than their instant noodles, they also manufacture a wide variety of other food products such as pasta, frozen meals, sweets and drinks. Their products are widely available at convenience stores and grocery stores all over Japan.
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Japanese companies are committed to making the world a better place by providing innovative products that help improve society. Even though Japanese products are readily available at many places throughout the world today, what you don’t see is that they have overcome endless challenges over the years in order to achieve this popularity and success. We hope you learned a thing or two about some of the largest and most popular Japanese companies and if you have the chance, we recommend you try some Japanese products because you never know, some of them might turn into your lifelong favorites!
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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