• Jiji


The one-year postponement of the 2020 Olympics caused by the coronavirus pandemic is damaging makers of official goods for the games, including traditional crafts.

There were some 6,360 official licensed goods as of the end of June, according to the Olympic organizing committee.

Six official stores selling merchandise have closed over the pandemic, and 17 more will shut next month.

“We’ve had lots of struggles,” Takaaki Watanabe, 14th-generation head of a maker of daruma dolls in Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, said of the pandemic. His products are on the list of licensed goods.

Shirakawa Daruma Sohonpo saw sales in April plummet about 80 percent from the year before, said Watanabe, 28.

Sales of Olympic goods are also stagnant as “the postponement made people less interested in the games,” he said.

But the company has seen signs of a recovery thanks to efforts that include opening up new sales channels.

Watanabe said the company planned to open a tourist facility next April that will allow him to promote the official goods extensively.

“We’ll pick ourselves up after falling down, just like a daruma doll,” he said.

A fan maker in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward said he is following through with his plans for the Summer Games nevertheless, now that he has time on his hands.

“Whether lucky or unlucky, I’ve been given more time to provide my products,” said Hiroshi Matsui, who has been making Edo sensu (folding fans) for some 50 years.

Matsui, 73, said he has been working on a new Olympic merchandise to be released later this year.

“Athletes will take part in the Olympics through competitions, and we’ll do it through traditional crafts,” he said.

Hideo Mimura, 70, head of Meister Promotion Corp., an Edogawa company that promotes traditional crafts, including Matsui’s fans, said, “We hope that Japan will take coronavirus measures that will set a good example to the world and go ahead with the Olympics next year.”

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