Three Generations of Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten
Denshiro Shirakata, founder of Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten and Den’s grandfather. After working as an apprentice at a tea wholesaler in Kyoto, Denshiro founded “Shira-Den Shoten” in Tokyo in 1923. That is where our family tea business began. During his business trips throughout Japan, he would go wherever people, whether businesses or individuals, expressed an interest in quality tea. His motto was, "If you're going to sell bad products, stop doing business." With the belief that customers and quality come first, he kept expanding his sales to all of Japan. He then moved to the real center of Japanese tea, Shizuoka. He started “Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten'' and built the foundation of direct tea sales that was not bound by the framework of the old tea industry prominent in Shizuoka at that time.
Yuzo Shirakata, former president of Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten and Den’s father. Although it appears in this picture that Yuzo was a Shogun or Samurai*, he was actually a great tea merchant. Yuzo learned the tea business under Denshiro and was trained in peddling tea. He inherited the belief, “If you're going to sell bad products, stop doing business."
Yuzo, who loved visiting shrines and temples, happened to be at a temple in Kyoto called "Doll Temple". He felt as if one of the many dolls was "speaking" to him, and was strongly attracted to it. He took a picture and described it to a local designer and asked him to draw it. This was the birth of our company’s symbol "Den-chan doll". Yuzo was an ideasman and used this doll for product development and advertising, expanding tea mail-order sales to tea-loving customers all over Japan. This doll was spontaneously called "Den-chan doll" by customers and "Den-chan" became its official name.
*He was a leader of a youth tea association in Shizuoka and would attend one of the festivals in Shizuoka wearing this traditional Kimono.
From right - Yuzo, Den's sister, little Den and Den's grandmother
Den Masanori Shirakata, current president of Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten, Inc. I am taking over the will of my father and grandfather, I have engraved in my heart "Stop doing business if you sell bad products", and have devoted my life to our family tea business. I am very happy that I am currently president while my company celebrates our 100th anniversary. I don’t have much to say for now because I’m currently making history. I am walking with Den-chan toward our 200th anniversary and I hope the next generations will be as proud of me as I am of my father and grandfather.
Thank you to my father, grandfather, family, employees, tea farmers, vendors and customers!