We visit Japan because we have a lot to learn from the Japanese. They have companies that are very old, many carried on by the children of the pioneers. They do very well with competitors and are remarkably focused on details. These are things that KissTies continues to strive for, especially product development. We don’t only visit tie brands, but we always walk away with something fresh. Every time.
The Japanese also care very much for their relationships. In fact, while a brand is really a relationship with your customers, this is remarkably so in Japan where mindfulness of others is a national identity. And this is something we identify with. Our slogan “Ties with your beloved ones” expresses our deep care for relationships. It is, in fact, our hope that our ties, bow ties, and pocket squares become items that strengthen relationships - ties that bind us with our customers, and between them and their beloved ones.
In our last visit, we went to Hakone Shrine, a Shinto shrine in the town of Hakone in the Ashigarashimo District of Kanagawa Prefecture. It is hidden among the trees, nestled in nature, in perfect harmony with Lake Ashi below. You can peek at Mt. Fujiyama from there.
You bow once before passing through the torii gate. The Torii are not just the representation of the entrance to the jinja - a place of worship, but also the red gate that demarcates where the world of humans ends and where the world of the gods begins.
When you pass through the gate after bowing, you must not walk in the center of the road. The center is the road for the gods.
We rinsed our hands and mouths at the ritual cleansing place Kuzuryū-no-temizuya, an open area where clear water from 9 dragon heads fills a stone basin. Legend tells the tale of a Shinto Buddhist monk who used his mystical powers to banish a 9-headed dragon from Lake Ashi who was inflicting havoc on Hakone. Afterward, the dragon became a guardian spirit and is honored with offerings every year.
Then we offered a prayer, written in a slab of wood with the words "Ties with your beloved ones. - KissTies." Our rallying cry - our slogan - is our prayer. And then we hung it with the others.
Then as before, we didn't walk in the center of the path, and walked as far to the side as we can.
Once you pass through the last torii, you have returned to the world of the humans. The entire area within the torii gates is considered to be the Shinto precincts where the deities quiet down.
Then we turned around and politely bowed toward the shrine house to indicate our thanks. We are back in the world to work on our prayer.