User Case Stories:Leather

Nagasaka’s Tradition and Innovation in Katsushika Leather

Business Overview

Facing the rivers flowing in the center of Tokyo, the downtown area of Katsushika, where traditional crafts and factories are concentrated, exudes an air of craftsmanship. Walking down an alleyway with a nostalgic and warmhearted atmosphere, one is struck by a big and simple, solidly-built building. This is the factory of Nagasaka Senkaku, which has long supported the Japanese leather industry in this area. The company is a professional dyer and finisher of genuine leather materials, mainly a traditional vegetable-tanned type of kip leather, a soft and luxurious cowhide made from young cows.

The leather industry is an industry that has become specialized in each segmented process, starting with the tanning process, followed by dyeing, shaving, splitting, stamping, embossing, and other processes, each of which requires expertise. Among these, the "dyeing and finishing" process, which maximizes the natural characteristics of the leather by dyeing and waxing the crust leather immediately after tanning, antiquing, and shrinking/firring the leather, is an important process in the life of genuine leather. In particular, the first-class luster produced by the original waxing process is the essence of "Katsushika-Leather," which has inherited the craftsman's tradition from generation to generation and enhances the texture of the final products such as bags, handbags, accessories, and belts.

You can find genuine leathers that change their expressions due to craftsmen's techniques, such as shrink finish, smooth finish, and hand finishing using original waxes.

Use of Digital Solution

Nagasaka Senkaku's workshop is where craftsmen's techniques, honed over many years of experience, are concentrated. In the workshop, there is a lineup of leather materials with creative expressions that stand out from the rest. They are printed leathers digitally decorated with inkjet printing technology. While the industrial structure has been changing since the birth of substitutional materials, the company has always been passionate about the value that the texture, richness, and functionality of natural leather bring to people, and has constantly introduced new dyeing techniques and proposed new ideas through trial and error. The company was one of the first in the market to introduce industrial inkjet printers 20 years ago. The graphical and antique leather expression created by combining this with the company's analog method, which is based on a thorough knowledge of leather processing methods, has stimulated the creativity of designers and played a role in realizing the image envisioned by brands and stores that produce leather products.

Carefully fix genuine leather flat before inkjet printing

Nagasaka Senkaku's technological development continues unabated, and in pursuit of even more unique methods of expression, the company recently introduced a LEF2-200 flatbed inkjet printer which uses UV curing technology. The UV printer is capable of printing a base layer of highly-opaque white ink on a variety of dyed leather colors and then over printing in full color. The ink hardens on the surface of the leather, which means that a contrasting and crisp finish can be achieved with the unprinted leather surface. The aim is to meet the need for graphic objects to stand out on the leather material with a single, clear point. By using both the existing printer and the new UV printer, the company is able to meet the diversified design needs of the increasing number of creators who produce and sell leather products through e-commerce sites.

The company has also focused on the special ink used in the UV printer. By controlling the ink, it is possible to print any shape, even with thick ink layers that provide a sense of unevenness. With this technique, the company realizes a textured quality with a three-dimensional feel. It is used for decorating small leather goods such as wallets.

Comparison of Before and After Solution Implementation


  1. Offered printed leather that fused analog and digital methods, making full use of the industrial inkjet printer to bring out the quality and texture of natural leather as it is. The company was well received by designers, brands, and artists.
  2. As inkjet leather printing became increasingly popular, they wanted to establish a special new method of expression.


  1. A new UV inkjet printer was introduced which enables a crisp graphic expression on dark-colored leather materials using white ink with high opacity.
  2. The raised print with a thick layer of ink makes it possible to achieve special effects.
  3. By using both solvent and UV printers, a wide range of creative expressions can now be achieved for designers, brands, and handcraft artists.

Reason for Choosing This Solution

  1. The UV ink that LEF2-200 is equipped with is flexible on leather materials and does not crack easily when bent.
  2. The circulation mechanism of the white ink allows for stable printing with high opacity.
  3. It excels in producing special effects with a three-dimensional feel.

President Nagasaka (right), who inherited a wide range of dyeing and processing technologies, and Mr. Ueno (left), who is in charge of developing digital decoration technologies.

Plans for the Future

As a member that protects the Japanese natural leather industry and represents the community of Katsushika, Nagasaka Senkaku will continue to develop new and creative technical methods to create unique results that combine experienced craftsmanship with the latest digital methods.

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