Some are unique.
Some are truly best-in-class.
Some are just "old school" NJS for keirin racing.
Others ... well, you be the judge.
But it seemed to make sense to try and collect these on one page for readers.
Please excuse the haphazard organization. And yes, some items will be links to our own posts, while others will be external links to third parties or the manufacturer. We will start with a list, then fill it in. Some links are Japanese ... the rest English.
And please let us know if we should add something ... or if anything we list is not, in fact, made in Japan. Japanese companies figured out long ago that it is expensive to make things in Japan ... but that a Japanese brand stands for quality and helps to sell. And, of course, in much of Asia there are plenty of Japanese sounding brands that have nothing to do with Japan. So there is plenty of "Japanese branded" cycling gear made elsewhere. (Fuji bicycles, Pearl Izumi clothes, etc., etc.) Here we try to focus on things actually MADE in Japan.
Where to buy these things? Some of them are sold worldwide. Others you can get from the manufacturer (e.g. Gokiso). Others you may need to buy in Japan (the manufacturers do not have a structure -- or product liability insurance -- to sell and support in other countries).
If you want some of these products and cannot get them in your home market, we suggest you contact Hiroshi at C Speed, one of our favorite shops in Tokyo.
-Cherubim - framebuilder (inherited the 3rensho legacy and many time NAHBS winner)
-Nagasawa - track frames near Osaka
-Panasonic - Top quality order made frames (as well as mass market bikes, televisions, toasters, etc.)
-Anchor (Bridgestone) - bikes. A relatively full line. Not much sex appeal.
-Kalavinka - known for their track frames ... and located in Meguro, Tokyo
-Amanda - custom bikes, including carbon ... no website?
-Equilibrium - custom frames/bikes, known for modern, light weight high strength steels, including stainless. A Latvian framebuilder with a Japanese sensei making beautiful bikes in Tokyo
-Samson - frames, also known for track models
Yonex - bikes and (carbon) frames. A 650g carbon road bike frame from a carbon fiber specialist (yes, tennis rackets, golf clubs, now bike frames).
-Nitto Kogyo - handlebars, stems, seatposts, accessories
-Sugino - cranks, chainrings and bottom brackets
-Kashima - saddles for keirin riders and others too
-Honjo Koken - beautiful fenders in polished and "hammered" finishes
(Sim Works-branded for export ... but widely available in the original in Japan. ... Honjo Koken does not seem to have a website!)
Wheels and Hubs
-Gokiso -- Nagoya based machining company designs and makes beautiful hubs!
-Soyo (very fine tubulars ... the tires used by keirin riders; clinchers also!)
-IRC (Inoue Rubber co. -- a nice road tubeless offering, and a very grippy rice husk-based tread ingredient!)
-Panaracer (widely available in some overseas markets, Panasonic group company)
-Gout Watanabe - handmade bags, not only bags for cycling, but mostly!
-Ostrich bags - wide array of cycling bags (handlebar, saddle, touring etc.), but most well known or the ubiquitous "rinko" to take your bike on a train in Japan.
http://www.ostrich-az.com/ (out of date website ...)
http://www.chari-u.com/parts/bag1/subrinko1.htm (shop page showing rinko models)
-Classic steel bottles (へら絞り -- produced on a metal lathe)!
-Arai - helmets for keirin
-Cateye - electronics
-Shimano (some, but not all, made in Japan. And in most of rural Japan Shimano is known for its fishing gear, not its cycling gear!)
-Toray -- Makes the carbon fiber that goes in almost all high quality carbon frames ... and other carbon cycling components