Kinosaki Inspirations

Caban Street Chronicles Vol 3: Rivets, Metal, and Innovation

  • Maison Def

  • Amongst the neighboring businesses ranging from cafes and vintage boutiques on Toyooka City's "Caban Street," one shop nestled within a set of austere, white walls carries on the tradition of Toyooka's bag-making industry with a French flair.

    Established in 2020, Maison Def is a newcomer to the legendary world of Toyooka-produced bags, but the design house has already made a lasting footprint in a millennium-old legacy through unique designs and innovative technique.

    Bending the rules while honoring tradition provides the two vital building blocks for Maison Def's success as an independent label, and head craftsman Mister Shimomura makes it his mission to paint a picture of Toyooka's future with bags as his canvas.

  • At 37 years old with throngs of loyal customers, Mister Shimomura is humbled by his success.

    Although originally from Fukuoka Prefecture in southern Japan, Mister Shimomura believes that Toyooka City has always been in his blood.

    “I wanted to make my own fashion brand since I was in high school,” he recalls while looking over his library stocked with anthologies of European fashion houses.

    “I was introduced to a book by a school friend of mine. I read about Toyooka and its bag-making, and eventually I read a passage about Mister Uemura and his bag factory. He's a legend in Toyooka."

  • In a bid to meet this Mister Uemura at his shop on Toyooka’s Caban Street (literally translated to “Bag Street”), Mister Shimomura left his hometown of Kasuga City in 2010 to make the move to Toyooka.

    After meeting Mister Uemura, he was inspired to further his education with seven years of experience as an artisan and designer for a Toyooka bag brand.

    However, the inner pangs of desire for his own label drove Mister Shimomura to quit in 2017 and open a boutique of his own.

  • “It wasn’t on Caban Street originally,” Mister Shimomura says.

    “My first storefront for Maison Def was near Toyooka Station. I experienced a lot of personal hardships after opening in 2017, and by chance in 2020, I met Mister Koyama of Todohyo in a coffee shop.”

    Mister Shimomura found some good luck on that winter day in 2020.

    As the two men struck up conversation over some coffee, Mister Koyama shared that he had just purchased an old restaurant on Caban Street with the goal of transforming it into a complex housing cafes, shops, and event halls for passersby.

    “I was very lucky in fate,” Mister Shimomura laughs.

    By March 2020, Maison Def moved house over to Todohyo, and the rest is history.

  • aluminum handle bags
    aluminum handle bags
  • aluminum handle bags
    aluminum handle bags
  • leather for rivet bags
    leather for rivet bags
  • rivet bags
    rivet bags
  • Two design elements claim the utilitarian yet chic identity of Maison Def: rivets and metals.

    The rivet bag calls upon the bicolor charm of raw, unlined leather, meticulously bonded with a series of small rivets in lieu of a thread and needle. In Mister Shimomura’s words, “I think using a bunch of small rivets all together displays a special kind of beauty.”

    Calling upon Toyooka’s history of crafting doctor bags, Maison Def also prides itself on the house’s modern take on the legacy.

    “Aluminum handles were usually used by doctor bags back in the day as the handle frame, but the aluminum was always hidden by leather. I wanted to put the spotlight on the original material.”

  • Apartment

  • Mister Shimomura’s footprint on Caban Street doesn’t stop at Maison Def’s doors.

    Just down the street is another one of his ventures, newly opened in June 2022.

    The three-story “Apartment” is a safe space for up-and-coming creatives in the bag industry to hone their fashion identity and skills in a like-minded environment.

    While the first floor acts as a shop for these artisans to sell their creations, the magic happens on the second floor atelier equipped with sewing machines and doused with a rainbow of fabrics and leathers.

    For inspiration, the third floor houses a couture library stocked with books archiving past collections of legacy fashion houses.

  • Apartment third floor library
    Apartment third floor library
  • Apartment second floor atelier
    Apartment second floor atelier
  • “Again, I had very good luck when creating Maison Def. I met Mister Koyama of Todohyo by coincidence, and the rest is history.” Mister Shimomura says.

    “Not everyone can be as lucky as I was. Toyooka is Japan’s town of bags. There’s so much potential to cultivate young creatives. I want to create an environment where they can easily start to sow the seeds of their own success.”

    As of 2023, over 20 creatives ranging from disciplines such as leatherworking, willow craft, and even interior design have set up shop in Apartment.

  • In Toyooka City, the local motto goes as follows: “Coexistence and co-prosperity.” Instead of competing against one another, businesses in Toyooka thrive not only with their own success, but the achievements of their neighbors as well.

    Caban Street is no exception to the rule, and Mister Shimomura wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • About

    Danielle Leveille

    Danielle Leveille

    Junior Local Expert

    Originally from Chicago in the USA. She currently works for Visit Kinosaki as a coordinator for international relations. A lover of Tajima beef and hidden sightseeing spots, she can be found either at one of her favorite restaurants or exploring a secret nook in town.