Mackenzie Reed
APORTA Shop ambassador, writer, maker

If you’ve been into APORTA Shop, you know that we carry an extensive array of high quality goods from around the world. One of our favorite places to source from is Japan. We love the craftsmanship, durability, and intention that is so apparent in the goods we source. Noelle, the owner of APORTA Shop, has developed a deep love for Japanese culture and tradition in her yearly trips to meet our makers and has fostered a community that spans miles. Finding Japanese goods and getting them to America isn’t easy, but one of our favorite wholesale relationships is with IFJ Tradings, a one stop shop for Japanese makers. We have worked with IFJ Tradings for a number of years and wanted to sit down and chat with Takuya Matsuo, the owner and operator of IFJ Tradings to talk about his work. While Taku is not a maker himself, he helps facilitate the trade between Japanese makers and a worldwide audience. Stop in to see some of the amazing makers that Taku has helped us bring to our little oasis in Missoula. 

Photo credit: DAIYO

APORTA Shop: How do you find the makers you represent and sell?

Takuya Matsuo: We at IFJ Tradings represent Japanese makers of industrial crafts of medium-scale production. The products are hand-made by our craftsmen all over Japan from scratch using traditional crafting techniques and modern machinery.

AS: What has been the response to your collection of goods in the US market? Do you think that they have had a positive reception?

TM: Our goods have been accepted by the US market at a slow pace but steadily over the past ten years. They have certainly have had a positive reception. It takes a lot of user education because the kinds of items or the way they are finished or produced are new to the market. The Japanese candles make a good example. It started very slow, but it is now being accepted, appreciated, and picking up significantly in the past several years. It requires the maker and the communicators (IFJ Tradings and its trading partners like APORTA) a lot of time and passion for introducing them into the communities that scatter geographically all over the US.

"I am a kind of bridge between the world of design/beauty and the business domain."

Pictured left: Takuya Matsuo Photo credit: DAIYO

AS: Are you a designer yourself? Do you ever want to design or are you content managing the makers and artists you represent?

TM: No, I am not a designer and am content managing the makers and designers I represent. I don’t design but understand and appreciate the beauty and functionality expressed both explicitly and implicitly in the products I market. In this sense, I am a kind of bridge between the world of design/beauty and the business domain. I am proud of being one of the communicators in the ecosystem or supply chain of the industrial crafts and their lovers.

AS: What are your goals for the future of IFJ Tradings?

TM: The ultimate goal for the future of IFJ Tradings is to pass the ecosystem, products, traditions, techniques, people (makers, communicators, and users) of the Japanese industrial crafts onto the next generation.

AS: What has been the best part of representing all the different makers on your site?

TM: It is a rare one-stop supplier of beautiful but functional Japanese industrial crafts that can never be found elsewhere. We work side-by-side with the designers, Masanori OJI and others, and the makers in an effort to reach the said goal step-by-step.