BorneLund stays strong on smart toys

Kyodo

Since its beginning in 1981, BorneLund Inc. has been growing at a steady pace, supplying toys the Tokyo-based company touts as stirring children’s imaginations.

President Hiroko Nakanishi said that when the company imports or builds toys, it always confirms not only whether they are safe for children but also whether they strike a cord intellectually.

“For children, playing is tantamount to living,” she said. “We hope to provide them with the appropriate tools and the environment so that we can support the growth of their hearts, brains and bodies.”

BorneLund runs 90 outlets from Hokkaido to Kagoshima and offers roughly 3,000 products. The wares include toys imported from some 100 companies in about 20 countries, and those it has developed on its own.

One of BorneLund’s more popular items is its original fish-shaped xylophone, praised by professional musicians for its accurate and soft tones. According to Nakanishi, customers say the sounds it produces are great for small children.

Similarly, a German set of animal-shaped bowling pins made of fabric stimulate the senses gently because the beads inside make comforting sounds, she said.

Nakanishi said sales clerks receive training on a regular basis so they can make appropriate recommendations depending on each kid’s stage of development.

BorneLund also operates the Kid-o-Kid play spaces proliferating in commercial facilities nationwide. The indoor spaces draw some 2 million visitors a year.

Noting that children today spend less time outdoors, Nakanishi said Kid-o-Kid areas are designed to let children safely engage in physical activity. The spaces provide a big air mattress for kids to jump on and a huge plastic wheel to roll around in. Both help develop muscles and balance, the company said.

BorneLund was founded by Nakanishi’s husband, who was working for a trading firm that imported toys from Northern Europe, a region with a strong reputation for early education.

Nakanishi, who replaced him in 1994, said, “I want more and more people to know that playing is important for children, and we will continue to build children’s playgrounds as part of social infrastructure.”