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From Value One, Summer 2017, No. 57  

The mammoth vault door exhibited in Kumahira’s showroom

Veteran Vault Maker Dedicated to Keeping Customer Assets Safe

The huge bank vault door pictured above—commonly known as a mammoth vault door—is around two meters in diameter and weighs about thirty-two tonnes. Similar doors are installed in the strong rooms of the Bank of Japan and other banks and financial institutions. Indeed, these doors are often considered the “faces” of banks. Kumahira Co., Ltd., based in Hiroshima, manufactures mammoth vault doors of the largest class in the world, and its share of the vault facilities and safe-deposit boxes delivered to financial institutions surpasses seventy percent.

Modern steel bank vaults were first crafted in Great Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. The first such product manufactured in Japan was reportedly made by Yahe’e Takeuchi in 1869. Genzo Kumahira, the founder of Kumahira, started selling vaults in Hiroshima in 1898. As a sales agent of products that bore the name Takeuchi, the company did business in Hiroshima and also opened a branch in Korea.

Eager to make vaults himself, however, Kumahira built a factory in Xinjing (today’s Changchun) in Manchuria (Northeast China), and in 1940 realized his long-cherished wish. After World War II ended, he resumed making vaults on a major scale in Hiroshima, and delivered vaults and vault doors to many financial institutions, including the Bank of Japan.

Bank vaults must be absolutely fireproof and theft-proof. Various materials such as thick steel sheets and concrete are combined to make vault doors that meet those requirements. In 1963, Kumahira Co. succeeded in developing an exclusive and unprecedented protective armor plate for this purpose. Called Kumahira Alloy, the new material boosted the defensive properties of vaults and vault doors dramatically.

“To protect our customers’ treasures, we have to supply absolutely reliable products all the time,” says Akira Ishida, manager of the control department at Kumahira. “This remains as true as it was in the days of our founder.”

Kumahira has also been producing the foremost in security products in recent years—including access control systems and security gates—that incorporate the technology and know-how the company has built up through its experience in vault making. “Total security” is the key phrase for this company. With a history of well over a century behind it, the vault manufacturer is intent on continuing its mission to protect the property and information of its customers.


A vault door delivered to the Niigata branch of the Bank of Japan in 1949


Kumahira also holds the biggest share in the domestic market for security gates

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