One of the well know snacks in Japan is from Fujiya Food Service and has chain of confectionery shops and restaurants throughout Japan.
And while this blog is about the Fujiya Nakano Broadway, I have to write a little bit about the company’s history.
Created in 1910 (Meiji 43) by Rinemon Fujii, he opened a sweets shop at the Motomachi store in Yokohama and many would come to the store for their December Christmas cakes.
But why create a company named Fujiya when his last name has two i’s? It was because most foreigners knew about Mt. Fuji and felt that it was a name that would resonate strongly with people.
In 1912, Rinemon Fujii wanted to know more about pastries and went to America to learn about how pastries thrive in a different country and he would return in 1914 (Taisho 3). Fujii learned how America would thrive on having a modern cash register, a soda fountain and what best than to bring what he saw in America to Japan.
And by 1922, he would open another store in Yokohama at Isezakicho and he would sell shortcakes and cream puffs which become a huge hit.
In 1923 (Taisho 12), he opened a store in Ginza at 6-chome but a month later, the Great Kanto Earthquake would lead to fires that would burn the store down but also many stores and factories lost employees due to the earthquake.
While the Motomachi store would close, Rinemon Fujii would rebuild once again in Ginza in 1924 (Taisho 13) and its factory would be completed in 1931. A new Fujiya Omori branch would open in 1930 (Showa 5) and a new president, Hayashiemon Fujii would pave the way for growing the company.
And in May 1930, he opened a Shinjuku branch with an underground factory, a store room on the first floor and a cafe and a 2nd floor with a dining room. And in 1931, a store in Shinsaibashi would open. And in 1934, the company would open a Kyoto Shijo branch. That same year, the company released its popular “France Caramel” chocolate bar and the following year, their popular “Heart Chocolate”.
And in 1937, a new building in Isezakicho in Yokohama would open and would house the new Fujiya store.
In 1950 (Showa 25), Fujiya would create a mascot character named “Peko-Chan” and in 1951, they created a boy friend for Peko-chan named Poko-chan. They would add a dog friend in 1995. And Peko-chan would have a new rival named “Pekola-chan” in 2015 (Heisei 20) and a kitten named “Lovely Catie” in 2016.
And in 1951, they would release their chocolates known as Milky, which would become one of their top selling chocolate products to this day. And the company would start selling beverages in 1959.
In 1961, Fujiya would establish their family “F” floral logo which the F would mean Familiar (friendly), Flower, Fantasy (dream), Fresh, Fancy (both would mean “high quality”) and was created by American-based French industrial designer Raymond Lowey.
But in 1968, the company that Rinemon Fujii created would miss its owner as he passed away in 1968. But through his business, Fujiya would exceed sales of 30 billion yen.
But in 2007, the company had its first major scandal. The company admitted to using old milk and filling in its products and Japanese retailers pulled all candy and chocolate from store shelves. So bad was the scandal that the stores had its shutters down, the popular mascot life-size dolls of Peko-chan were removed. This would lead President Rintaro Fujii to step down and take responsibility for the scandal.
Considering the 2000 scandal that Japan had experienced when Snow Brand Milk Products Co., one of the largest dairy companies in Japan, sold old milk contaminated with the staphylococcus aureus bacteria and led to 14,000 people getting sick. The fact that an old, well-known brand such as Fujiya would have this type of scandal shocked Japan.
With a black eye and loss sales of 6.7 billion yen, Fujiya was fortunate when the popular Yamazaki Baking Co., purchased a 35% stake in the company for about 15 billion yen. Yamazaki Baking Co., hoped to tap into the confectionery business and this was a good chance. But most importantly, to bring Fujiya profitablity and rebuild the brand. And this would lead to global expansion to Thailand, Taiwan and other locations.
The company held is 100th Anniversary in 2010 at the Fujiya Ginza building with a “Ginza Peko-Chan Museum” for a limited time.
And the company would donate many goods to victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Rinemon Fujii’s original goal was to spread pastry confectionery to Japan and make the world happy with sweets and there is no doubt that the company had gone through so much. Positive and negative, a decade after the scandal and over 107-years old, the company continues to thrive not just in Japan but also in Asia.
While you can find Fujiya stores and restaurants all throughout Japan, for those visiting Nakano Broadway, you will quickly see the Fujiya Nakano Broadway store and see the Peko-chan mascot dressing up for the season. One can try their delicious cakes, beverages and also purchase the a Peko-doll and more.
If you have the opportunity to visit Nakano Broadway, Fujiya opens up from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., seven days a week.
And don’t forget to pick up a “Milky”!