Passing on the idea that “sweets are a peaceful food” to the next generation
Nishikido’s company policy is “sincerity,” and they have gone about their craft over the years while consistently coming up with new products and improving on classics. Known for such sweets as their momiji manju, Sweet buns in the shape of Japanese maple leaves, “Shin Heike Monogatari,” and “Setokomachi,” they’re a prominent confectionery in Hiroshima.
According to current president and CEO Otani Hirokuni, “Nishikido was founded by my father, Otani Teruso, in 1951. He was a pilot in the Japanese air force during World War 2, and he watched many of his close friends die. Some of them were pilots who left on their mission to never return. His younger brother also died aboard an aircraft carrier, so he knew well the horrors of war, and that led him to have a strong desire for peace.”
President Otani speaking with us about his peace activities
After founding the company, he always held dear his idea that sweets are a peaceful food. “When do we eat sweets? We eat them when we’re with family, while enjoying a conversation with friends, or giving a gift to a dear person, right? During such times, someone is always smiling. Our belief is that sweets create peace in our everyday lives.”
Shortages after the war led to difficulties securing ingredients, and they occasionally had to build their own machines by hand, but Nishikido has continued to produce high-quality sweets to this day, driven by the desire to use their sweets to promote world peace.
Products made in collaboration with long-running local Hiroshima businesses line the inside of the store
In addition to making sweets, the company also participates in numerous peace activities. Nishikido has backed such initiatives as the Hiroshima-Iran Love & Peace Film Festival, which serves as a bridge of peace between Japan and Iran, the Junod Music Festival, which is held in honor of the Swiss doctor Marcel Junod who delivered medical supplies to Hiroshima immediately after the atomic bombing, and the Green Greetings Project, which aims to preserve a-bombed trees.
Poster for the 2020 Hiroshima-Iran Love & Peace Film Festival
“I understand the film festival was started on the occasion of the production of a movie about Tsuya Shizuko and other doctors who assisted victims of poison gas during the Iran-Iraq War. After that they played Iranian movies about war and peace, and they’re going to hold the tenth festival this year. One movie is a documentary putting a spotlight on the lifestyles of Iranian children. Personally, seeing the innocent Iranian children affected me deeply. Iran has a bit of a scary image, partially because of the war, but I think that those children feel the same way as they struggle through their everyday lives.”
Junod Music Festival
With the Junod Music Festival, which features music with a theme of peace, the company not only supports the festival itself but also puts effort into showing an animated movie about Dr. Junod’s story in schools around the prefecture. “It’s truly a wonderful film, I would love for children, our country’s future leaders, to see it.”
President Otani was able to learn much about a-bombed trees through Green Greetings, a project carried out by Hiroshima City’s Peace Promotion Department which aims to preserve the trees. “When I looked into a-bombed trees, I found out that Chinese parasol tree seeds were once used in making sweets. The trees lost their limbs and leaves in the heat and blast of the atomic bomb, but by the next spring new buds were popping up. Can you imagine what a symbol of hope that must have been for those lost in the despair of the bombing and losing the war? I felt that these trees, which may have once been used in making sweets, lined up perfectly with our desire for peace and our passion for making sweets.”
President Otani wrote about peace in the book “Jokamachi Hiroshima no Okashi”
President Otani wrote his thoughts about peace in the afterword for the book “Jokamachi Hiroshima no Okashi” (“The Sweets of Hiroshima Castle Town”), which was published by the Hiroshima Confectionery Association for the 26th National Confectionery Exposition.
“I want to continue putting my effort into all of these activities as long as I can. Also, promoting peace isn’t just about showing people the horrors of war. I want to promote a positive peace, a future-building peace, in a variety of ways. I strongly hope that our sweets can become one of those ways.” said President Otani, sharing with us his thoughts about peace.
Sharing the story of A-bombed trees with as many people as possible
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