Joining a factory tour making “skin” into “leather”
Back in December 2013, we visited Tochigi Leather Tannery to watch leather tanning. “Tanning” is a process of converting skins into leather using tanning agents to bind protein of the skins and protect the skins from decaying.They maintain the old tradition and craftsmanship using traditional tannin derived tanning agents while chromium is commonly used in tanning process nowadays.

Realizing appreciation for animals
Raw hide and skin in the warehouse are left with the pelage and give out beast-like odor.
We were freshly reminded that leather is a gift from animals after their long lives.

Tanning takes time and care
Leather manufacturing goes through variety of complex processes. The picture on the left shows its main process “vegetable tanning,” soaking skins into tannin extracted from mimosa. Taking step by step from light to dark tannin, leather is tanned beautifully with time and care.

Paying the most attention to protect the beautiful river
Tanning process requires hundreds of gallons of water. Tochigi Leather has their private non-chemical wastewater facility which can reproduce clean (as in meeting local effluent standard) water only with microbe and enzyme, and segregated sludge is reproduced into organic fertilizer. They take the most care to protect the local class A river, River Uzuma, the perfect habitat for koi carp, loach and fireflies.