How it started
Whilst in Japan, Jez met Hiromi, which was great fun because he couldn't speak Japanese and Hiromi couldn't speak English! But once Jez completed his assignment (after receiving a special award from the Chairman) they travelled to Canada and got engaged in The Rockies before returning to the UK to get married in 1997.
The couple returned with gifts for friends and family which included beautiful silk kimono, cute kokeshi dolls, stylish Japanese tableware and delicate organic incense which were so well received that it gave them the idea to start their own business. Determined to share their passion for Japanese culture with European customers, the couple then founded The Japanese Shop in 1998 and opened their first shop in their hometown of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Between 1998 and 2008 they went on to open new shops in York and Chester, launched an online shop and won contracts to supply corporate accounts which included Sony, Hitachi, Nissan, Procter and Gamble and Toyota. For ten years The Japanese Shop grew every year and they were particularly thrilled when their team (which by now numbered 25) went on to win several regional business awards including the York Press Overall Business of the Year in November 2004.
In mid-2008 the financial markets collapsed, sterling crashed by over 50% versus the Japanese yen and very regrettably Jez and Hiromi were forced to close their shops and concentrate their resources on the online shop. But now, in the midst of challenging economic times, The Japanese Shop is once again enjoying another period of growth. They opened a new distribution center in March 2012 and Jez and Hiromi are now delighted to have regular customers all over the world.