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Hiroshi Kichijo, the inventor of SENTOL and LaQ, and President of YOSHIRITSU CO., LTD., was born in Nara Japan.
It is said that the Kichijo Family have resided in Nara for over 400 years and there are actual records of the family tree dating back over 300 years. The 200 year old residence in which the Kichijo Family live today, took 15 years to build with the finest architectural technology of the early 1800’s and is recorded as a historical site in the area of Oyodo Nara.
The Kichijo Family was known as a distinguished family in Oyodo, with a history of being a Landlord owning most of the property in the area of Koshibe Oyodo. The family also prospered in the trade of the Sake Brewery, Mountain Forest Management, and Washi (Traditional Japanese Style Paper) business.
The Kichijo residence was used as the resting place for the feudal lords during 1800’s when the Daimyo’s Procession traveled through the routes of Kishu to Edo. The Daimyo (feudal lord) would rest inside the Kichijo residence which has a traditional Japanese style room called “jyoudan no ma”, which is a higher elevated room used only for guests of high status. The number of soldiers and servants in the Daimyo’s Procession numbered up to as high as 4,000 during the mid 1800 hundreds and the Kichijo residence was the only house in the Oyodo area that was suitable to welcome the feudal lords.
The Kichijo residence was once surrounded with a high wall that led to a large traditional gate and entry way with finely detailed decorative iron nails and iron ornaments. These fine works of architecture was not allowed to the common inns or residences, as decorative walls and gates were banned to the common folk and considered a luxury. The residence also had a “kadoya” which was a barn and resting place for horses and servants within the entry of the large gates. Unfortunately these historical gates and barns were removed when the street was paved and widened during the post war period.
The residence also has the history of being used as a resting place when the Meiji Empress traveled to view the wild cherry blossoms of the Yoshino area in 1890. However, with modern changes that came with the development of the area into a systematic town with paved roads, part of the residence was altered, and the family fortune was spent assisting the funds to modernize the town. The taxation system was still not stable during the Meiji period, so much of the necessary fees were expended from the family’s private wealth leaving the Kichijo Family in a tight financial situation.
When Hiroshi Kichijo was a young boy, the family was in the dairy business and he recalls thinking that there must be another way for him to help his family rebuild their financial situation, as he did not foresee a long term success in the dairy business.
The answer to his quest for a change would come from the environment he grew up in. As young Hiroshi grew up with the family background of having a very old family history in Nara and residing in a house built from traditional Japanese wooden architectural skills, he had the opportunity to see these skills on a daily basis. These traditional skills and other traditional Japanese philosophy would become an inspiration to his inventions.
Young Hiroshi grew up to become a very creative person, as his mind was set on finding an invention, or a method, to reconstruct his family fortune and business. His philosophy was to create something completely unique, useful and entertaining that no one has ever seen, surprising people with his innovative ideas. 30 years after his first invention, Hiroshi Kichijo continues to pursue new inventions so as to surprise us all once again.
SENTOL, invented in 1981, is a unique bottle opener that can remove the crown of a bottle with one push and pop!
LaQ, a construction toy block invented in 1993, has won numerous awards in Japan, as well as overseas.
Both inventions are sold in numerous countries around the world.