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The Founder of Daiso: Hirotake Yano – 矢野 博丈

Born in Beijing, China, Yano Hirotake –is the 5th son out of 8 siblings. After the end of world war two, with his family, they moved back to his father’s hometown in Higashi-Hiroshima city of Hiroshima prefecture, Japan. Thereafter, he moved to Hiroshima’s capital city where began his middle school education, furthering his education in Hiroshima Kokutaiji High School. While in high school he passionately practised boxing, and was even selected to participate in Japan’s athletes training program for Tokyo Olympics 1964. Yano graduated from Chubu University’s evening course program in the March of 1967, with a Bachelor’s majoring in Civil Engineering.

(Image Source: Daiso Website)


While Yano’s father was relatively known to be a high-income earner as a medical physician, with his siblings following their father’s footsteps into the medical field by enrolling in Japan’s national universities’ medical programs, establishing as a family of doctors. Yano however, chose to personally do otherwise by enrolling in a private university’s evening degree program.

Yano married his wife while as a student, changing his name and surname to what he is current known as. With his wife, he took over his in-laws’ aquaculture business of rearing Hamachi, a type of fish (also known as the Japanese Amberjack or Yellowtail), but they went bankrupt within 3 years of business. With 7 million Japanese Yen in debt, they ran away from their debtors. Taking up odd jobs afterwards, from working as a salesman, in a bowling alley as an operator, to even working as a cardboard and used paper recycler; changing employment up to no less than 9 times. By 1972, he was selling miscellaneous goods off the back of his truck and calling it the “Yano Shoten”, or “the Yano Shop” in English. With his mobile business, Yano used a wholesaler business model of buying merchandise in bulk for cheap prices, from other business or factories trying to offload unpopular goods or in some of those cases to relief insolvency or for them to alleviate cash-flow problems. Yano then resold those items at a small profit to other people, this method was otherwise known as the “Butter House” tactic in Japanese circles (although individual roots were totally different, but to those of us in the English-speaking world it is much similar to the strategy used by the widely known Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from the United States of America).

Peddling his goods from supermarket storefront spaces to empty lots in front of community centres, Yano would display his merchandise, handle the inventory stocking, and deal with the transactions all on his own; all while setting up and tearing down, and moving around different locations. It is at this point when he soon conformed to using the “Everything Same Price” school-of-thought. Although “100-Yen Shops” concepts was not a thing when Yano began his business, the idea of using uniformed prices throughout a shop has been floating around. For Yano however, the idea was rooted in practicality; having to run his business all alone, there were times when he was just too busy to change the pricing labels of his goods, therefore he decided to simply sell everything at a uniformed 100-Yen price tag.

(Image Source: Daiso Website https://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/recruit/daiso/history)

In the 1970’s energy crisis, when Japan was deeply affected by the Arabian Oil Embargo, Yano’s peers closed shop one after another. However it is in 1977, basing on a business model of franchising “Daiso Sangyo Inc.” was legally incorporated and there came a big turning point for Yano. During this period of time, around 60% of Daiso’s item stock is being wholesaled and sold at The Daiei, Inc.’s chain of supermarkets, however one day, The Daiei, Inc.’s owner, Nakauchi Isao proclaimed, “Because our event halls are being dirtied, The Daiei, Inc. will from now on put a stop on our all-items-at-100-Yen special sales.” Scrambling to brainstorm ideas to prevent his company from going under, Yano then came up with the idea to set up shops at locations where Daiei Supermarket customers would detour to as they were shopping to permanently sell items at a uniformed 100-Yen price tag; it is these fixtures of shops, which replaced the event hall sales in Daiei Supermarkets, that became the concept and now commonly seen chains of 100-Yen Shops.

In 1987, “100-Yen Shop Daiso” started to expand its business, and in 1991 they launched their first directly managed retail outlet in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. Following that they started a determined effort of setting up series of chain stores. Even as Japan’s economy is reeling in the damages of the burst economic bubble through the 1990’s, Daiso’s 100-Yen Shops not only managed to repel the negative effects of the recession and they also managed to rapidly increase their profit margin. Against the rise of competition in the same wholesale industry, Daiso’s chain of shops continued to gain recognition in the whole country as an uprising retailer. With the help of mass media channels featuring news about Daiso Sangyo Inc., they experienced sustained rapid expansion. By year 2017, Daiso owns 3150 outlets domestically in Japan, and counting at least 1800 outlets overseas, making Daiso Sangyo Inc. the top company in the business of running “100-Yen Shops”.

Although Yano does not take part in economic forums nor does he take on interviews in business magazines, neither does he appear much on-air in mass media channels; during his high school reunion, Yano gave a speech on, during this era of what we call the “Shrinking 21st Century” as humans, how can we contribute to society? As a corporation which managed to survive till this day, there is no other way but to build with kindness and with benevolence; in turn, to contribute back to society in the same way; and in conclusion, from here on forth, the only way for corporations to live on as their guiding way of life.

(Ref: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%9F%A2%E9%87%8E%E5%8D%9A%E4%B8%88