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Yamanashi Prefecture Japan's Jewelry Hub

30 May 2024

In Japan, Yamanashi prefecture is the hub of the Japanese jewelry industry. Jewelry manufacturers in Yamanashi are now developing their own brands, after having long focused on producing items for other companies' brands.

Yamanashi Prefecture is proud of its jewelry industry, and is said to boast over 1,000 related businesses. According to the government's Economic Census for Business Activity, the prefecture's shipments in the field of precious metal jewelry reached some 23.9 billion yen (roughly $153 million) in value in 2020, the highest level in the country.

The prefectural capital Kofu, where many of these businesses are located, is recognized in the jewelry industry as one of the world's two major gemstone processing municipalities alongside the German city of Idar-Oberstein. In fiscal 2022, 70% of the donations to the city of Kofu through Japan's hometown tax program were made by donors who chose jewelry as their thank you gift, with the amount of donations reaching 2.06 billion yen (about $13 million).

Yamanashi's jewelry industry originated and developed thanks to rock crystal mined from the area around Mount Kinpu on Kofu's border with Nagano Prefecture. Kofu has now become a center for production, handling all areas from planning to polishing, processing of precious metals and distribution. Chika Wakatsuki, a curator at the Yamanashi Jewelry Museum in Kofu, commented, "It's rare for everything to be available in one place, and that's one of its strengths." The city is also home to the Yamanashi Prefectural Jewelry Art College, the only public technical college in Japan dedicated to jewelry education.

According to Wakatsuki, the local jewelry industry had traditionally focused on producing items for other companies' brands, but more jewelers are now pouring effort into developing their own brands. "With sales having taken a hit with the coronavirus crisis, companies may have turned their attention to their own brands which enable them to increase sales with their own ideas and enthusiasm," she said.

People can get a glimpse of Yamanashi Prefecture's jewelry industry at the Yamanashi Jewelry Museum, which exhibits various items from the history of the industry to minerals from across the world and the excellent works produced by Yamanashi craftspeople. On weekends and public holidays, people can try polishing gems and processing precious metals. The adjacent jewelry shop, directly operated by the Yamanashi Jewelry Association, offers items at reasonable prices. There are also several shops near the museum that feature their own brand products.

The prefecture has hosted various jewelry themed events too, with recent events including Yamanashi Jewelry Week in November 2023 and the Yamanashi Jewelry Fair in April 2024. In July 2024, a gemstone fair is also set to be held in Kofu.

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