How We Met Inoue-san from TCB

The journey started a year ago where we made our way to Kojima. It was a freezing morning and we just got off the train after an hour's ride from Osaka station. Everything about the station tells you that you have arrived in Denim City, the home of Momotaro, Kapital, Blueblue and.. TCB. To some denim heads, this is the mecca, the place you pay pilgrimage to see the denim gods. And we are headed to meet one of them!!!

And so with our teeth chattering from the cold, we jumped into a taxi for a brief 15 minutes ride to the home of TCB. Japan's taxi drivers are precise, and when he dropped us at our destination, we were a little reluctant to exit the vehicle. Is this really the place? This unassuming building, with hardly a signage to indicate that a factory is housed within. Our eyes were searching frantically around the premises for a sign, and then Fahmy's eyes rested on a piece of cardboard with the word TCB on it, carelessly scribbled with a marker. As we gingerly stepped into the premises, Yoko-san kept calling out "Sumimasen! Sumimasen!" for a good 10 minutes before a lumbering figure came out - it was Inoue-san.

It was almost like seeing an apparition. Uncertain of the decorum, we heeded Yoko-san's instruction to take off our shoes and arrange it neatly at the entrance (as opposed to kicking them off carelessly as we normally would), and climbed a few steps to surface to the factory floor. There were union special machines, everywhere.

Union special machines are the hallmark of every piece of denim jeans ever made. These machines are no longer manufactured, and hence, highly treasured by denim makers. Each machine is dedicated to making a section of a pair of jeans. We were indeed incredibly lucky to have him guide us through each part of the manufacturing process, proudly showing us each component, and demonstrating how each gadget worked.

And that, was how we met with Inoue-san, founder of TCB. After the tour, he kindly and enthusiastically took us for a walk around the area, showing us around the town and taking us to a wonderfully warm and welcoming family restaurant for a hot meal.

It was Japanese hospitality at its finest, and we couldn't be happier to have been given this opportunity to meet a denim maker so humble and open to share his craft.


© 2016 by FIN