There are only 2 factories in Japan making 3D Japanese erasers, one is Zensinsyoji Eraser Factory ゼンシンショウジ株式会社 under the brand DREAM or Yumenoaru, Yumenoaru 夢のある means “There is a dream” which is only used in Japan, while DREAM is used
both in Japan and for worldwide market. The other factory is Iwako. Both factories are
located fairly close to each others outside of Tokyo city limit.
Both owners of Zensinsyoji and Iwako were salesmen at a Japanese stationery company in 1950s and 1960s,
when that Japanese stationery company closed in the 1960s, both men went out and started their own stationery factories in
1968 making stationery and parts for other big Japanese stationery companies, such as pen bodies and parts. They are in-laws
and competitors at the same time.
They started to make 3D Japanese erasers in the mid 1980s, at the early stage in more simple forms, the first three dimensional kawaii (means cute in Japanese) erasers
but without more sophisticated puzzle parts, and gradually developed into high quality and more complicated 3D puzzle erasers.
These erasers started
to attract collectors worldwide in the 1990s, however,
they were extremely hard to find and sold in very few places outside of Japan. They were only sold in stationery
stores in Japan. The invasion of big box chain stationery stores in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s
closed down most independent stationery stores in Japan, these were the days without internet sales, both companies had a
hard time finding outlets to sell their erasers, they had very little export market outside of Japan.
The breakthrough came
in 2006 in the United States,
when their U.S. distributor BC USA started to distribute their erasers in wider channels and when internet became commonplace
in homes. BC USA provides the distribution to thousands of American stores, refocuses the erasers to the
Western market, what the Japanese love are not the same as what Westerners love, and BC USA built websites reaching millions
of consumers directly.
INTERNET IS THE BREAKTHROUGH TOOL, prior to internet, salespeople, wholesalers or retailers hold the keys, if they don’t like it, if
they don’t “Get It”, they don’t buy them and they don’t sell them, consumers never even know
these products exist, there is no chance for potential great products to be successful without massive advertising, they died
before they had a chance to prove themselves. Internet became a direct line of communication to the public, internet bypasses
the distribution key holders to reach the consumers. Let consumers decide.