November 3, 2014
By AKARI YAMAMOTO KAHO NISHIMURA
Although Japan is typically known as a culture of rice, the consumption of bread has been steadily growing over the past several decades. Bread has become so popular that Kyoto boasts the most bakeries per capita of any city in Japan. One of the oldest and most famous bakeries in Kyoto is Sizuya, which opened its first store on Kawaramachi Street in 1948.
Last year Sizuya cerebrated its 65th year in business. Sizuya has many branches throughout the city and is popular not only among Kyotoites, but tourists too. There is even a Sizuya branch near our university. The popularity of some of Sizuya’s products has been the result of features done on it by popular TV programs, magazines and newspapers. We decided we wanted to talk to a store manager and find out more about why Sizuya has been so successful.
Naoko Iura is the manager of a new Sizuya branch named Kotochika. It is located in front of the gates for the subway line at Kyoto Station. In spite of the fact it was early morning, Ms Iura took time from her busy schedule to have an interview with us. She always wears an attractive smile for customers and is full of energy. We could tell she maintains good relationships with other staff members because we felt the store had such an easy-going atmosphere.
KAHO NISHIURA: Why do people have an image that if the bread is from Kyoto then it is Sizuya bread?
NAOKO IURA: Because the head store is in Kyoto. Although there are some shops in Osaka and Shiga. Also, Sizuya first opened in downtown Kyoto where a lot of people go shopping. Kyoto consumes the most amount of bread of any city in Japan. They have a very long history, since 1948. So the residents of Kyoto have come to love bread.
AKARI YAMAMOTO: What are the special characteristics of Sizuya?
Every month seven to nine new products are released. We also have a wide variety of sandwiches for sale. You can buy Sizuya bread anytime because there are many stores throughout the city.
Why did Sizuya open only in Kyoto Prefecture?
Ever since the establishment of our first store, Kyoto citizens have loved and supported us. From now on we, the department of management, have been thinking that we should somehow contribute to society in the future. It’s added value that you can’t buy in any other place. Also Kyoto strengthens the brand.
To start with, Sizuya was picked up in a popular TV show called “Himitsu-no-kenmin Show!” and then we appeared on other TV programs and in magazines. Our carnet was featured, so it became widely known all over Japan.
How many items of bread do you make?
I can’t answer exactly, but within our products, there are about 100-110 different kinds of breads and sweet-rolls. There are about 20-30 different kinds of sandwiches. So about 120~140 items in total.
Does each shop have different kinds of bread?
Best-selling products such as sweet rolls and sandwiches are sold in every shop, but the number of products that can be sold in each shop is different because each shop is different in size and space. The shops that have big floor space deploy many kinds of products. However the shops that have a kitchen, or are close to a Sizuya factory, or shops in the station, sometimes sell their own original breads and sandwiches.
How many foreign people come to KOTOCHIKA KYOTO in a day?
About 50 people.
How many Sizuya outlets are in department stores and supermarkets like AEON?
There are 24 shops.
Which is the most popular selling shop?
The shop in Kyoto Station.
What is the difference of Sizuya and Sizuya Pan?
Sizuya is a bakery that provides safe and delicious breads to the people of Kyoto. It has sweet rolls and sandwiches. Even deserts are developed there. Some of its stores have a small café where people can eat and have coffee or tea. On the other hand, Sizuya Pan is another brand which has the phrases “a small present” and “ connecting people and heart.” It is run as a specialty store for anpan, buns with sweet-bean paste inside. Sizuya Pan collaborated with a famous designer to come up with stickers and the product’s package. Also, shops are totally different from existing Sizuya shops and they are designed with simple white and black colors.
Why do you think Sizuya has continued to be loved for 65 years?
Because the policy of our founder, Mokoto Hori, has been taken to heart by all of our staff. It is…
1. to care your health.
2. business is not just a business; sell with your heart.
3. when deciding the price of a product think from the position of the customer.
4. do not forget shops are there for the customers.
5. give your cooperation and make an effort to improve your skills.
That is wonderful! Thank you for your time.