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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Paper Thin Reading Glasses

[From October Issue 2014]

201410-4

Nishimura Precision Co., Ltd.

As the name suggests, Paper Glass are quite literally paper thin reading glasses. They can be folded flat to a thickness of two millimeters. If you open them out, the lenses tilt downward to help you read the text before you. The temple arms that fit over the ear curve gently round to match the shape of the head. These portable and beautifully designed reading glasses were created in 2012 and won a special award at the Good Design Awards in 2013.

SAITO Rikito, PR staff member for the sales company Nishimura Precision Co., Ltd. cries out delightedly, “Until then, we were taking two to three months to produce a batch of 100 pairs. Since the award, this has risen to 6,000 a month.” From this it’s possible to deduce that a lot of people were waiting expectantly for them.

Paper Glass are made by Nishimura Co., Ltd. in Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture. Sabae City produces 90% of Japan’s eyeglasses and has a 20% share of the world market for eyeglasses. Nishimura was once a manufacturer of screws and hinges for eyeglasses. However, in the beginning of the nineties, they started losing work to China. Because of this, in addition to manufacturing glasses, they began taking metalworking contracts to make the best use of the technology they’d developed as a manufacturer of other metal parts.

At the start of the millennium, they received a tricky commission to produce robust reading glasses which are easy to carry and stylish. Through trial and error, they came up with a way to fix the hinges on the frame at a diagonal angle. With all the requirements met and the hinges installed at this angle, the lenses naturally tilted forwards when worn. This is ideal for reading and for peering over the lens to view objects further away. It dispenses with the need to constantly put on and take off your glasses. The company has patented this technology.

Nishimura had never produced a complete pair of eyeglasses itself. The company launched its own brand when another company in Sabae City taught them the basic knowhow required to produce a pair of spectacles. In order to develop new sales channels, the decision was made to sell the glasses on the company’s own website.

The advantage of online sales is that user feedback directly reaches the company. Taking these opinions into consideration, minor changes are occasionally made. For example, the frame width has been adjusted. Although all Paper Glass were designed as one-size-fits-all models for both men and women, some female users commented, “They are so wide that they fall off.” In answer to those complaints, the models were redesigned to fit women’s faces.

“Elderly ladies in particular have told us that ‘you’ve made reading glasses that I can finally use outside my home.’ Some say they didn’t even feel like going out because they didn’t want to wear reading glasses in front of others,” says Saito.

If all you want is to be able to see, it’s even possible to buy glasses at 100-yen shops. Paper Glass provides extensive customer service: different strength lenses for each glass are available and repairs are basically free. Paper Glass spectacles have completely revamped the image of reading glasses.

Paper Glass

Text: ICHIMURA Masayo


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