Reflected on the past, looked ahead for the future, with PlanToys Japan

Reflected on the past, looked ahead for the future, with PlanToys Japan

Reflected on the past, looked ahead for the future, with PlanToys Japan

We had the opportunity to sit down with PlanToys Japan President Kenji Maehata at the PlanToys head office in Bangkok. We reflected on the past 20 years of having an office and doing business in Japan. We also looked ahead and discussed what the next 20 years have in store for PlanToys in Japan.


What were your first impressions of PlanToys, and how did you find out about us?

Kenji: I first discovered PlanToys at the 1994 Nuremberg Toy Fair. I was amazed at the sophistication of the design and could not believe that all of the products were made in Thailand. I knew then and there that I wanted to import PlanToys to Japan.  Shortly after, I visited the office and factory in Thailand to learn more about the company culture, philosophy, and unique-design products.  I began importing PlanToys that same year as a retailer in Japan. 

Why Import PlanToys to Japan?

Kenji: After speaking to the founder, Mr. Vitool, I understood his passion and motivation to create PlanToys.  I wanted to bring his mission and philosophy of Better Kids, Better World through Sustainable Play to the people of Japan and help PlanToys be a globally recognized manufacturer.  What he and the PlanToys team were doing is something that, to this day, I have not seen from another toy manufacturer. 

In Your opinion, what is the difference between PlanToys from other brands?

Kenji: PlanToys desire to create original products that teach through play and their commitment to sustainability. They don’t just create.  Their products have a purpose and what they belief to have a positive impact on the world.  That differentiates PlanToys from other manufacturers.

What is the Key to Success for PlanToys in Japan?

Kenji: I think the main success factor was in our efforts to convey PlanToys’ philosophy of cherishing the earth by providing sustainable toys for children with the support of PlanToys Thailand. As a result, Japanese customers have recognized the philosophy as very unique for a wooden toy brand in a very good way and feel like every time they purchase a PlanToys product; they have some contribution to the environment as well as guaranteed safety to their children.

We have tried to convey the philosophy by publishing a fully translated catalog every year to distribute to all shops and some customers if they want them and displaying panels of what PlanToys does for the environment at every toy show.  But we still need to consider that we have reached complete success.  We can attain further success through collaboration with Plantoys in the future.

What are your favorite PlanToys items, and why?

Kenji: My favorites are the classics such as the Solid Drum, Dancing Alligator, and Balancing Cactus. PlanToys items are heirloom toys meant to be passed down from generation to generation, with timeless, original design and safety guaranteed.  These three items are tried and true and embody the PlanToys design philosophy.

Japan puts the environment first with a high appreciation for the beauty of nature.  What do Japanese customers think about PlanToys?

Kenji: Japan is renowned as a country with beautiful nature and scenery. It is because of the extensive forestry we have. But recently, deforestation is often found in many places causing natural disasters. So the measures of reforestation are needed very badly. Many Japanese people know the situation and highly trust PlanToys’ philosophy and what PlanToys has been doing for over 40 years.

What is PlanToys Japan doing to counter attach deforestation in Japan?

Kenji: PlanToys Japan has collaborated with Shizuoka Prefecture in a reforesting project.  For the past 15 years, we have been planting trees to build back the forests that have been lost.  Starting in 2023, PlanToys Japan collaborated with Shizuoka City for a new reforesting program focusing on more urban areas. 

Do you have any special events planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of PlanToys Japan?

Kenji: We would like to have an anniversary event in Shizuoka City to commemorate our 20th Anniversary.  We will provide activities for our community to engage with our products and to learn about the PlanToys philosophy and sustainable way.  For a souvenir to commemorate the event, we plan on creating a set that includes the four iconic shapes of the PlanToys logo - a cube, a cylinder, a triangular prism, and a sphere.  More details to come as the event gets closer!

We appreciate PlanToys Japan being our partner and continuing our philosophy for 20 years in Japan. Thank you for sharing your story with us.




In addition, the PlanToys Japan team, Kenji Maehata, and Yuji Mori invited Toshiyuki Otani – our customers and owners of Ton-Ton Wood Works, to visit the Kind + Jugend ASEAN 2023 trade show in Bangkok and travel to our factory in Trang province to learn about our sustainable way. It is our pleasure to welcome the team from Japan this time.

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