In 1904, a peddler of theatrical makeup tools opened a store named "Kunieda Shoten" to the south of the Sanjo Gokomachi area.
The store dealt in theatrical makeup like rouge and face powder, making it widely beloved in Kyoto's thriving entertainment culture. Eventually, it was moved to Shinkyogoku, Kyoto's top shopping district, and renamed "Yojiya."
In the early Taisho era (1910s), awareness of dental hygiene began to take roots and so the founder of Yojiya decided to focus on selling toothbrushes.
Because toothbrushes at that time were called "yoji," the store became popularly known as the "yoji-ya" (toothbrush store). This nickname eventually became the store's official name.
In the 1920s, inspired by the needs of Kyoto locals, Yojiya began to sell oil-blotting facial paper called "aburatorigami". The product was a hit and became Yojiya's flagship product.
As the aburatorigami gained popularity, the Yojiya name gradually began to make itself known throughout Japan.
As the era of Japan has transitioned from Meiji to Taisho to Showa to Heisei to Reiwa, Yojiya has been unwavering in its commitment to authenticity and the aesthetic ideals of Kyoto — ideals that we have upheld for over 100 years. We intend to continue marching boldly and proudly on that path.
Yojiya had its beginnings in one of the streets of Kyoto, where the performance arts were flourishing, as a seller of stage makeup. It became a specialist store for toothbrushes at one point, which is also what gave the store its current name, and afterwards Yojiya gained widespread popularity as a vendor of original and made-to-order products.
Founder Shigeo Kunieda once set off from his place of apprenticeship and began to sell stage makeup. He travelled around with his wares loaded on a cart, hawking his goods and visiting regular customers. In August 1904, he then established the "Kunieda Shoten" store to the south of the Sanjo Gokomachi area.
The store was moved to Shinkyogoku, where it still stands now.
People were beginning to pay attention to dental hygiene, and founder Shigeo Kunieda quickly took notice of the rising demand. He proceeded to open a toothbrush shop the next year in Shinkyogoku.
"Aburatorigami" was devised after performers at a customer's film studio sought advice.
The paper were originally four times their present size. Later, an improved version with palm-sized paper in a notebook-like format was put on the market for five sen per booklet. The new version became an instant hit.
Nobuo Kunieda, who succeeded Shigeo Kunieda to become the store's second president, drew this clown-inspired logo for use on products, signage, and advertisements. He formed partnerships with manufacturers like Shiseido, Kobayashi Unlimited Partnership (the predecessor of Kosé) and Mitsuyoshi. At the time, made-to-order products were Yojiya's main line of business.
The motif of this logo is a hand mirror drawn by Nobuo Kunieda, the company's second president. The striking design features a beautiful Kyoto woman reflected in a hand mirror, an indispensable tool for any woman's personal grooming. It has become widely known as the "face of Yojiya."
A second store was opened on Hanamikoji Street, which leads into Kyoto's Gion district. The Gion store was managed by Yojiya's second president Nobuo Kunieda, while his wife Tsukiyo managed the main store. With its chandeliers and stylish art deco interior design, the new location quickly became popular with younger customers. Its wares included cosmetics, imported compacts and perfume, handkerchiefs, and bags.
Tsutomu Minakami's novel, Safflower Story, was published in a magazine called Housewife's Friend. The novel conveys the charm of Kyobeni rouges based on interviews with Yojiya's Kyobeni artisan, Yasutaro Tokuda. The novel was adapted for the stage by the Haiyuza Theatre Company in 1983. A new performance was thereafter given at the Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre in 2006.
The establishment of a Development Department by Yasuhiro Kunieda, the company's the fourth president, marked a new chapter in Yojiya's history. The move spurred bold innovation on the company's business model, including mail order sales and overseas expansion.
We dropped other brands and began to sell our own products exclusively, laying the foundations for the Yojiya you see today.
Following the sudden passing of Yojiya’s second president, Nobuo Kunieda, his wife Tsukiyo became the third president. Later that year, his son Yasuhiro took the helm to become the company's fourth president. He established a Development Department with the goal of renewing and bringing back the company's brand as a cosmetics manufacturer—something his father was unable to achieve. The company began to focus on the development of new products, expansion of sales channels, manufacturing, and brand building.
The company began planning special events at department stores in order to establish the Yojiya brand. Development and sale of original products, which had been suspended due to the war and other reasons, was resumed. The memorable first new product of that initiative was a pair of coupled mirrors, now depicted in the company's logo. President Yasuhiro Kunieda personally took part in its development.
A sales event was held in a department store for the first time. President Yasuhiro Kunieda personally attended the memorable event at the Hankyu Umeda Main Store.
Yojiya had had taken orders from distant customers before by telephone and fax, but in response to rising demand for shipments all across the country, as well as to allow customers who had attended events to continue using our products, we launched a full-fledged mail order service. In those days, mail order services were not widespread. Nonetheless, the company challenged itself to innovate its business model, creating a catalog, setting up and maintaining an operational system, and handling everything from packing to shipping with consistency.
A Sanjo store (Sanjo Tominokoji; moved to Teramachi Sanjo in 2018) and Pontocho store (to the north of Shijo Street in Pontocho; closed in May 2008) were simultaneously opened as the company's first brand-exclusive shops, dealing only in Yojiya products. As the first stores to be set up by the Development Department established by President Yasuhiro Kunieda, their opening was an important first step in shaping the company into what it is today.
The company's official website was launched. In addition to providing the latest information and a platform for online orders, it also provided a point of contact for customer feedback.
The company began to actively promote its brand overseas, participating in the 1998 and 1999 Los Angeles Nisei Week Japanese Festivals. It also took part in the Japan Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center and sent carts of products to shopping centers like Fashion Island and the Westside Pavilion.
We launched our first overseas street-facing store in Torrance, Los Angeles (closed in July 2005) to survey the opinions of overseas customers in anticipation of further global expansion. Afterwards, we contracted with the Regent Hotel's Regent Spa in Summerlin, Las Vegas and introduced our products at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Hawaii. Operations expanded into the United States, including the establishment of a US-wide mail order system.
Our first store inside a hotel was opened at the Kyoto Hotel (now the Kyoto Hotel Okura).
With the turn of the millennium, we launched the "Year 2000 Project" to revitalize our business in preparation for the next 100 years.
We challenged ourselves to expand the scope of our business with newly developed cosmetic products, cafés, beauty salons and more.
We are determined to keep growing while delivering products that that will be deeply loved by our customers.
The Yojiya Corner (closed in August 2018), the company's first duty-free shop, was set up in Kansai Airport's south wing duty-free shop. Initially, it was a 75 cm square fixture where a special overseas-only version of our "aburatorigami" were sold. Later, shops were also set up at Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport.
The essential skincare product line Uruoi Plus (Moisture Plus) was launched. The products were well-received when they were tested at the Isetan Shinjuku Store the previous year. In 2001, an event was held to promote the launch on the first floor of Hankyu Umeda Main Store. Development began of a full line of skincare products, and as part of that the Pontocho store was renewed as a cosmetics specialty store.
We launched the Yojiya Shogu line on the second floor of our Gion store, featuring traditional makeup tools such as brushes. In addition to meeting the needs of geisha and performers on the stage and screen, the launch aimed to carry the charms of traditional makeup culture into the future. In 2003, we released lipsticks and face colors featuring traditional hues from Japan's past in an attempt to incorporate the beauty of Japanese culture into everyday cosmetics.
The first Yojiya Café opened along the Philosopher's Walk, a famous path. Even when the shop is busy, you can enjoy a drink while you wait.
We opened a cosmetics specialty store on the first floor of Daimaru Kyoto—our first location inside a shopping center.
In November, we participated in the first international travel fair to be held in Taiwan. We raised our brand's profile in Taiwan with an exhibition of Yojiya products centered around our flagship "aburatorigami".
We participated in the Japan Expo at Le Bon Marché in Paris, France, opening a limited-time store there from August to December.
The second floor of the Gion store was renovated as a cosmetics floor. In 2017, a beauty salon was also added to the facility.
We launched a beauty salon service offering treatments using our very own Yojiya products. It is a step towards expanding the ways we can help enhance and bring out our customers' beauty beyond simply offering our products.
CIDESCO, an international educational organization dedicated to the aesthetics, held its 58th World Congress in Kyoto. There, we gave a presentation titled "Aburatorigami As One's Only Daily Beauty Treatment," in addition to exhibiting and selling our products. The exhibition was an opportunity to convey Japan's sense of aesthetics and traditions of personal grooming, as well as to raise awareness that aburatorigami are not only for makeup touch-ups, but are also increasingly in demand as a basic skincare product.
A new logo was designed for Yojiya Café, and we also began developing original goods.
The original hand mirror logo was adapted to create a new logo for Yojiya Cosmetics.
A vending machine was installed at the Haneda Airport Terminal 2 store after over a year of planning and preparation. We began offering cappuccinos decorated with the face from Yojiya's logo.
From October to March in the city of Shanghai, an entry point for expansion into the Chinese market, we exhibited at a special shop called the Kyoto Antenna Shop. The shop is dedicated to showcasing and selling Kyoto's local specialties and products of Kyoto companies.
We opened a shop and café in the Nippon Beauty Area of Tokyo's Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs department store (closed in 2017). This shop was our first flagship store in Tokyo. The store was founded on the traditions, history and dedication to high quality service that we have cultivated in Kyoto since our beginnings as a vendor of stage makeup. The fusion of a café with cosmetics provided customers with a novel experience.
As part of our expansion into Asia, we participated in an exhibition of Japanese goods in October at Pacific Sogo with the opening of a limited-time shop. We have continued to make steady progress, setting up shops at Shin Kong Mitsukoshi and Pacific Sogo in 2015, Pacific Sogo in 2017, and Far Eastern and Kaohsiung's Sogo Hanshin Arena Shopping Plaza in 2018.
In May, we participated in the Japan Style Fair at Isetan Bangkok with a limited-time shop.
Kou, the son of fourth generation Yasuhiro, succeeded his father as president of the company when the world is in the confusion of the COVID-19. Online shopping was focused more than usual while closing the stores temporarily in order to avoid the spread of new coronavirus. At the same time, a great deal of efforts has been made to achieve better working conditions and advance the company into the new stage. With keeping our original manufacturing spirit and over 100 years tradition, we always devote ourselves to provide customer oriented services of “O-MO-TE-NA-SHI”.