HOOD Loft Spotlight: Japan

We continue our HOOD Around the World series with a spotlight on HOOD Japan: since his early days in the sailmaking business, Toshio Toya’s dedication and leadership has paved the way for HOOD as a leading sailmaker in Japan. We had the opportunity to speak with Tosh and we are pleased to share his story on how HOOD Japan has evolved.

 Toshio Toya, owner of HOOD Japan (center),
with Mitsuharu Tohara, loft manager (left) and
Noriyuki Kawai, director for the Aichi area (right).

How did you become a sailmaker?  
Until I graduated from Meiji University in March, 1969, I was sailing almost full-time. Once I graduated, I would go sailing every weekend and that’s when I realized that I could make a career in sailmaking. At that time in Japan, there were only four sailmakers, but the quality of those sails were not up to par as those of HOOD Sailmakers from Marblehead, MA, USA. I became interested in bringing a better sailmaking technology to Japan. I wrote a letter to Ted Hood asking him if I would be able to learn the techniques of his sailmaking. In April 1971, Chris Bouzaid began training me in HOOD sailmaking. I spent over a year in New Zealand learning Bouzaid’s skills, then I returned to Japan to start the Japan branch of HOOD New Zealand. By 1974, sales were rapidly increasing, and I created HOOD Japan.

How have you seen sailmaking change through the years?

Traditional Dacron material continues to dominate the market for long-life sails. However, over the years, we’ve seen the laminate sails continue to evolve as a lightweight sail option in both panel sail and membrane sail format. Both of them are evolving, giving us different options to pursue, depending on cost and various conditions of a client’s needs. 

Do you own a boat?
I own a small dinghy, a 16 foot Yamaha.

Where do you sail most often?
I sail my own boat out of Tokyo and do a lot of sailing with clients on their own boats out of Tokyo as well.

Do most people belong to Yacht Clubs and sail club boats or is there a lot of private ownership of yachts in Japan?
Most people who work in Tokyo join Yacht Clubs and sail the club owned boats. The Seto Inland Sea is a great spot for leisure sailing, and most people who sail there own their own yachts. 

Tell us about your clients at HOOD Japan:
In Japan, most of our clients are cruising boats and boats that compete in local club racing. Most have been HOOD customers for many years.

Why do you think customers keep coming back to HOOD?
Customers stay with HOOD not only for the high quality, durable sails, but for the service they receive.