YOSHIRITSU is located alongside the Yoshino River
The 200 year old building of the company head office stands alongside the historical Old Ise Road.
The company name “YOSHIRITSU” has the meaning of “To be independent (RITSU) in Yoshino (YOSHI)”.
YOSHIRITSU CO., LTD. Head Office
The building has the history of being the officially
appointed resting place for nobles of the Kishu House,
one of "The Three Houses of Tokugawa", when the
nobles traveled to and from Edo (present day Tokyo).
The invention of LaQ
Hiroshi Kichijo wished to invent something completely
unique, and something no one had ever seen before.
A construction material that can create spherical shapes
unlike the usual brick-and-mortar type stacking blocks
that we are familiar with, and could be useful to build
household items and containers.
The letter "Q" in LaQ stands for the Japanese word
"kyuu" meaning "sphere". Inventing block parts that
can make spherical shapes was a challenge, but the
ideas came from his knowledge of Japanese traditional
architecture, as Hiroshi Kichijo lives in a historical home
over 200 years old. The house uses traditional Japanese
wooden architectural skills of connecting pillars with
mortise and tenon joints.
Another important clue to making the parts versatile,
was discovered while eating a bowl of noodles.
He observed that the noodles would bend and flex as
they were flat. The knowledge of traditional wooden
architecture and his daily observations, were the keys
to the invention of the prototype for LaQ.
Inspiration from traditional Japanese culture
Another important philosophy behind the invention of LaQ
comes from the traditional Japanese culture of recycling.
LaQ can be reassembled into something completely
different to make a new household tool or container,
similar to how kimonos were recycled into a child’s kimono,
then cushions or toys in the olden days.
LaQ is manufactured in Japan using high quality materials
to ensure that the parts can be repeatedly used to for long
term open-ended possibilities.
Spreading recognition of LaQ
LaQ was invented in 1993 and sales started a year later.
In the first marketing trials, we discovered that children
were able to concentrate on playing with LaQ for hours,
even if it was the first time to play with LaQ.
Seeing how the children would play with LaQ, we decided
to launch the sales of LaQ as an educational construction
toy block. We approached sales through toy stores, but
we had no experiences and no sales channels. LaQ was
a new unrecognized toy in a period when TV computer
games were becoming popular, and most children were
not interested in toy blocks.
The children who did actually play with the LaQ enjoyed
the open-ended building and fun snapping sounds of
connecting LaQ parts. Families that experienced playing
with LaQ recognized the block toy as a good quality toy,
but we could not reach the general public. We endured a
period of not being able to market LaQ, and we learned
that the most effective way to spread recognition was to
have children actually experience playing with LaQ.
We placed LaQ kits and sample parts in barber shops,
gasoline stands, anywhere that would accept LaQ on
Sales grew in bookstores
As we could not market LaQ in toy stores, we decided
to approach bookstores. Bookstores were looking for
new items to recover the decrease in sales of printed
books. One bookstore sold all of their stock of LaQ in
one week. We became confident in which sales channel
to pursue, and immediately started to visit all bookstores
in our area. Gradually, we were able to spread our sales
area with bookstores throughout Japan.
Sales grow to over 3,500 stores
LaQ is currently sold in over 3,500 bookstores and
toy stores throughout Japan, and used in numerous
kindergartens, daycare centers and after-school activity
classes as an ideal educational construction toy.
Enjoyed by children around the world
LaQ playday events are enjoyed by children and families in over 26 countries in Asia, Europe,
Oceania and North America. LaQ is a unique construction toy encouraging children around the
world to experience open-ended creative building with tactile experiences of snapping parts together.
LaQ has won numerous overseas awards as an innovative and creative educational construction toy,
and is recommended by educational professionals in Japan and overseas.