Kotaro Nishibori, Director of TCI Laboratory, began his path to the role when he became successor to head the failing business of Hiyoshiya, a Kyoto seller of Japanese-style umbrellas, or “wagasa.” His efforts to revive the business followed the credo, “Tradition is Continuing Innovation,” and thus focused not only on preserving tradition, but also on applying and adapting the accumulated skills and techniques of wagasa toward new product development such as lighting decor. This wagasa-based lighting is now sold internationally in 15 countries, and sales have soared to 50 times what they once were. Using this developed know-how and networking experience, TCI Laboratory was born to help traditional craft industries in Japan promote their trade and reach new overseas markets.


  • Business Name:

    TCI Laboratory Co., ltd.

  • CEO & Director:

    Kotaro Nishibori

  • Capital:

    10,000,000 yen

  • Founded in:


  • Employees:


  • Services:

    Product Development / Overseas Marketing, Sales & Promotion Support

  • Main Bank:

    Kyoto Bank / Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank

  • Main Customers:

    Kyoto City / Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, JAPAN (in no particular order)

  • Affiliated Groups:

    Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry / Hiyoshiya Corporate Group


Born in Shingu, Wakayama in 1974, Kotaro Nishibori is the fifth generation successor of Hiyoshiya, a maker of Kyo-wagasa (Kyoto-style traditional umbrella). After studying in Canada, his professional life began back in his hometown as a local government interpreter. Intrigued by the charm of the Kyo-wagasa at his wife’s family business, Hiyoshiya, he soon left his stable job to pursue a career of craftsmanship. In 2004, he was appointed to lead Hiyoshiya as its fifth generation successor. Following the credo, “Tradition is Continuing Innovation”, he focused on new products that respect the tradition of wagasa while adapting the traditional construction and techniques to new designs.
He endeavored to make Hiyoshiya a global, yet long-established, venture corporation.
In collaboration with a network of designers, artists, an architects at home and abroad, he has been active in international exhibitions since 2008. The KOTORI line of wagasa-inspired lighting decor was a focal point in developing overseas markets. MOTO, a configurable light fixture made with steel and ABS, received international acclaim in 2011, winning the iF Product Design Award. Cross-genre collaboration became a top priority, including a “Wagasa Dress” project with a bridal gown designer which appeared in the Paris Collection 2011, “Kasaan (umbrella tea house)” in collaboration with a tea master and architect, and more.
In 2012, the years of experience and networks developed at Hiyoshiya were used to establish T.C.I Laboratory (now TCI Laboratory Co., Ltd.), where Nishibori serves as CEO and Director, providing support to traditional craft industry clients with product development and overseas marketing. TCI Laboratory has helped a variety of clients on over 400 overseas projects.
In 2015, he founded the corporation, Blancs Manteaux Co., Ltd., together with like-minded French and Japanese companies and opened Atelier Blancs Manteaux, a flagship showroom space with a 180m sq space in Paris’ Le Marais District. Promoting and selling select made-in-Japan products, the space is a hub for new product collaborations with international designers.
Authored Book: “How to Sell Traditional Craftsmanship to the World: The Global Niche Strategy of a Local Company” (Gakugei Publishing)



    • Street address

      203 Tateyashiro Kitahancho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN 602-0098

    • business hours

      10 am to 5 pm Closed on Monday & New Year holidays

    • access

      By Bus: Take No, 9 Kyoto City bus at JR Kyoto Station. Get off at Shijo Kawaramachi Stop to change bus to No. 12. Get off at Tenjin Koen Mae Stop. Walk for 4 minutes.
      By Subway: Take Karasuma Line, Kyoto Municipal Subway. Get off at Karasumaguchi Station and walk for 15 minutes.


    • Street address

      2-18-17 Kimoto Build. 4 Fl. Kojima, Taito-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 111-0056

    • business hours

      10 am to 5 pm Closed on Monday & New Year holidays

    • access

      By Subway: Take either Toei Oedo Line of Tokyo Metro or Tsukuba Express. Get off at Shinokachimachi Station Exit A4. Walk for 1 min.