Nakamura Brace´s Prosthetic and Orthopedic Devices

Last week, I was reading the Japanese book entitled "Company that Receives Thank You Letters from Overseas"(世界から感謝の手紙が届く会社) written by Nozomi Chiba.

The book is about Nakamura Brace Co.,ltd (中村ブレイス), a company that makes prosthetic and orthopedic devices. They have had customers order from over 30 countries. The company is located in Omori, a town of 500 persons in Shimane Prefecture – one of the most depopulated prefectures in Japan. Though, this town´s Iwami Ginzan Sliver Mine was listed as the World Heritage site in 2007. Mr. Toshiro Nakamura, clinical prosthetics specialist is the company´s founding president.

This company/Mr. Nakamura impressed me, so I would like to write about them, highlighting some points.

Their commitment to quality:

Nakamura Brace makes artificial devices to replace human body parts (e.g., arm, breast, earlobe, finger, leg, skin, toe, the tip of nose, anus), lost by injury, disease, or other causes. Nozomi Chiba writes that these prosthetic devices, applied with meticulously detailed realism, are so lifelike that it is almost frightening. For example, their artificial fingers have hair on them and the nails can be manicured. Their artificial silicon breast is called "Vivify." Like the natural breast, "Vivify" gently bounces with the movement of the user and falls to the side when lying down. The artificial breast even turns reddish when she takes a bath! (this is important as many Japanese enjoy taking a bath in an outdoor hot spring/public bath).

Apparently, they are known for quality standards. That´s why they receive positive reviews from users and thank you letters, both nationally and internationally. So, it seems that Nakamura Brace helps to restore not only the appearance (as well as the function) of a body part, but also the users confidence in themselves.

Their management philosophy/willing to be helpful:

According to the author, Mr. Nakamura has been solicited donations by charity organizations. Though, he has been hesitant about simply donating children´s prosthetic legs to overseas organizations. This does not mean, however, he is unwilling to help others, but rather he wants to "genuinely" make a contribution to the international community.

Needless to say, a prosthetic leg made in Japan is expensive, not affordable by many families in developing countries (please check the price on the website below). More importantly, those who need prosthetic devices need rehabilitation services as well as follow-up care (repairs and adjustments, especially for growing children). Otherwise, the devices would go to waste. So, he advises that prosthetic devices should be made with locally available materials and techniques as well as they must be affordable and functional. Mr. Nakamura has helped Filipino artisans to make prosthetic legs of bamboo.

Company location in rural Japan:

After finishing his internship at the U.C.L.A´s medical school, Mr. Nakamura returned to his rural home town to start the company in 1974. Local people saw him as being crazy or "a loser" moving back to the town in decline.

However, I think that Mr. Nakamura chose the right place. Note that many companies´headquarters are based in Tokyo these days, so the vast majority of profits do not stay locally. On the contrary, Nakamura Brace´s business has contributed to sustainable development in Omori that not only brought money into the community, but also attracted visitors and residents to the town. He has established the Nakamura scholarship for American students, offering home stay accommodation and promoting cultural exchange.

I understand that Mr. Nakamura´s life (especially in his young age) has been a constant struggle. Though, it seems that all his/their hard work has paid off nicely.

Nakamura Brace Co. : www.nakamura-brace.co.jp