ルビつきぶんはこのページのしたほうにあります。The Japanese translation with Ruby (furigana) is at the bottom of this page.

Three Waves of Japanese Investment in Greenville

  1. A memory of a Japanese investor
  2. The story of Mr. Tsuzuki
  3. Nippon Center
  4. The temple of the Tsuzukis
  5. Furman University
  6. The transfer of the temple
  7. Place of Peace
  8. The memory of TNS Mills
  9. The second wave of investment in Greenville
  10. The Japanese community in Greenvile
  11. The third wave
  12. The Greenville Bon Dance Festival


1. A memory of a Japanese investor

Since 1977, an annual meeting has been held by the US southeastern states and Japanese companies.

It’s a big meeting with more than four hundred participants including state governors, the Japanese consul, and company executives. Current member US states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

2017 marked their 40th meeting and this time it was held in Greenville, SC.

According to the local newspaper, the mayor of Greenville in his speech mentioned his memory of TSUZUKI Kiyohiro. He was one of the first Japanese investors who came to Greenville in the 1960’s.

Mr. Tsuzuki and his family moved to Greenville from Japan and stayed for life. They built a relationship with the local community beyond business. 

We had never heard about a Japanese person who was remembered in the local community in South Carolina. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Kiyohiro Tsuzuki passed away in 2005, and his business was closed permanently. However, we went on searching to know more about Mr. Tsuzuki and his work.

2. The story of Mr. Tsuzuki

Mr. Tsuzuki was born in Nagoya in 1937. After he moved to Greenville, he established TNS Mills (TNS stands for Tsuzuki New Spinning), his textile factories. Conducting business in the US, Japan, and Brazil. he was very energetic. 

He had several patents for his inventions in the textile field. He was a believer of the future in the American textile industry through investing in research, education and technology development.

Besides business, he was an amateur pilot, an accomplished artist, and a published author. 

Also, he helped the city of Greenville to become more attractive to foreign investors. He and his wife, Chigusa, made a founding contribution of one million dollars to the peace center of the city’s theater for performing arts. 

3. Nippon Center

Nippon Center, a Japanese culture center which once was in Greenville, SC. It had an excellent, authentic  Japanese restaurant, too.
[Click to enlarge] Nippon Center- Yagoto, the Japanese culture center in Greenville, SC, completed in 1990 / 1990年完成直後のニッポンセンター=やごと Image by Adeptus Architecture https://adeptusarch.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/nippon-center-2.jpg

In 1990, he opened “Nippon Center-Yagoto”, a culture center and an excellent restaurant. By this, he meant to create a bridge between Japan and the local community. The name Yagoto probably came from the area name in Nagoya closely related to Mr. Tsuzuki.

The building exhibited the design and construction techniques of the Muromachi Era (around 14th-century). They hired American architects and Japanese craftspeople in building it. In addition to some materials imported from Japan, more than a dozen species of wood were used in the ceiling. Mahogany was brought from the African rainforest, and massive stones were quarried from the Pisgah National Forest.  

There was also a Japanese garden along with a pond of lotus flowers and cherry trees which bloomed in spring.

Nippon Center hosted classes in Japanese traditional arts such as flower arrangement, ink painting, how to conduct a tea ceremony, etc. On the other hand, the restaurant served authentic Japanese fare. 

Thus Mr. Tsuzuki was one of the few active Japanese who located operations and were active in the US as early as the 1960’s.

Therefore, we consider him as the embodiment of the first wave of investment in Greenville from Japan.

4. The Temple of the Tsuzukis

However, the American textile industry declined at the end of the 20th century and Mr. Tsuzuki’s business also suffered.

Nippon Center-Yagoto was closed in 2001. The TNS Mills factories were also closed in 2002 after operating for 35 years producing yarns.  

In 2004, the Tsuzuki family needed to sell some of their land in the US and Japan. 

The new landowners in Japan told them that they were going to tear the family temple down if it was not relocated by January 2006.

The family was heartbroken because it was a precious temple; Mr. Kiyohiro Tsuzuki had had it constructed it twenty years ago.

5. Furman University

Coincidentally, at that time, Furman University in Greenville, one of the best universities in South Carolina, was trying to establish an Asian Center.

Ms. Chigusa Tsuzuki, Mr. Tsuzuki’s wife, once took a philosophy class at Furman University. She later became a friend and a pupil of the professor who also taught Aikido, the marshal art of self defence. Ms. Chigusa passed away in 1995 but the university and the Tsuzukis stayed connected.

With that background, the Tsuzukis made an offere to donate the temple to the university. Relocating and donating an entire temple from Japan to the US had been unprecedented.

However, Dr. Shi, Furman’s former president, accepted it. 

It was rather an unexpected decision for the university to have a Buddhist temple relocated on campus. Furman was founded by the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 1826 and it was considered to have a little more politically and socially conservative climate than other liberal-arts colleges.

A Japanese temple was relocated and reconstructed on the campus of Furman University, Greenville, SC. It was an exceptional gift of a Japanese family who was a friend of the university and the city.
Heiseiji Temple under reconstruction on the campus of Furman University in 2008 / 2008年、ファーマン大学へ移築再建中の「へいせい寺」Image by Furmanplaceofpeace.pbworks.com http://furmanplaceofpeace.pbworks.com/w

6. The relocation of the temple

After the agreement between the Tsuzukis and Furman, the temple in Nagoya was dismantled into 2,400 pieces, each labelled, and shipped to Charleston, SC. For this, Japanese carpenters crafted wooden braces around the pieces to hold them tightly in place and keep them from warping during the humid ocean voyage. 

Then it took the university more than three years to raise $400,000 for the temple’s reconstruction. Finally in 2008, they began the work, and completed it by the end of summer.

A team of highly specialized artisans were brought from Japan. They were seven wood specialists, four tile specialists, and two plaster specialists. Then they built the temple using mostly keyaki, and hinoki for floors, both wood native to Japan. They also used the best materials available for other parts. The temple is built without the use of a single nail. The intricately crafted tongue and groove joints hold the structure together.

Mr. Tsuzuki passed away in 2005 and didn’t see his reconstructed temple. However, we believe that even in his sick bed, he watched the relocation with strong will and interest and that he looked forward to his temple being settled in the city he loved so much. 

7. Place of Peace

In the fall of 2008, they had a ceremony of blessing and dedication at Furman University. At the ceremony, the daughter and son of Kiyohiro and Chigusa Tsuzuki spoke of their childhood when they played at the “Heisei-ji” temple at home in Japan.

The family altar had been removed from the temple and kept at the Tsuzukis. And, instead, calligraphy is hung where the altar is supposed to be. For this reason, Furman considered it was not precisely a temple, and named it “Place of Peace”.

“Place of Peace” has become a tool of Philosophy and Asian Studies. It’s also an example of sustainability to which Furman has committed. Keyaki wood is very solid and can last hundreds of years. Each of the wood pieces is designed to be taken apart so they can be repaired individually if needed. 

Photo of an ornament on the roof of Place of Peace, Furman Unviersity
This is an ornament on the roof of ex-Heiseiji temple. It is made with such attention to details that we are truly grateful that the Tsuzukis and Furman saved it from demolition. By the way, we looked for Chinese characters for Heiseiji and found a framed calligraphy written “治清平” in a webpage of Furman University. We suspect they replaced the last character “寺 (meaning temple)” purposefully with “治 (meaning correcting disorder)” since they don’t consider it as a temple. へいせい寺の屋根の装飾。細部まで丁寧に作られたお寺を取り壊されるままにしなかったツヅキ家と大学に感謝します。ところで、「へいせいじ」の漢字ですが、ファーマン大学の写真に「治清平」という書の額を見つけました。最後の「治」はわざと「寺」を変えたのではないかと考えています。(2019年9月17日)Image by Furman University, https://www.furman.edu/place-peace/wp-content/uploads/sites/76/2019/07/POP6.jpg

8. The memory of TNS Mills

We found several voices of former workers at TNS Mills. That the factory was kept clean, productive and effective, and my colleagues were nice, etc.

A woman said that she had learned the process of making yarn, and she loved opportunities to learn. She was the first female in maintenance who moved forward three positions in the company. It was a very rewarding experience for her.

Another former worker proudly remembers. He had operated four winders and held the highest production among the winder operators on all shifts his entire employment.  

The American textile industry still has not done well. However, at one period, it presented opportunities for people to earn their living and to work with pride. We would like to remember it. 

9. The second wave of investment to Greenville

Mr. Tsuzuki, who relocated to the US in the 1960’s and was successful through the 1990’s, was more or less alone. Except, of course, his family, he singlehandedly built a relationship with the local community.

Apart from that, in the late 1980’s, there was a period when the Japanese yen was highly valued. Taking advantage of it, many Japanese companies started their businesses abroad and/or expanded their overseas operations.

Investments and business expatriates to North America increased. As a result, many Japanese families began to live there, and in a close proximity in some areas.

Greenville was one of them. 

We liken this to the second wave of Japanese investment to Greenville.

10. The Japanese community in Greenville

After their moving is complete, a business expatriate family wants to provide their children with a special environment. Their purpose is to enable them to re-enter the Japanese education system smoothly after they return to Japan.

We imagine Japanese companies in the area cooperated for that purpose to establish, in 1988, the Japan America Association of Western South Carolina. (Later the name was changed to Japan-America Association of SC. It was the host of the 2019 Greenville Bon Dance Festival.)

The next year, 1989, Greenville Saturday School was opened.

This is a school where children would go only on Saturday mornings. They study Japanese subjects there for four hours from Japanese teachers, using Japanese textbooks. Other days of the week, they went to local American schools.

The number of students was 26 at the opening in 1989. It gradually increased and exceeded 110 from 1996 to 2004. After that, it has slowly decreased to about fifty this year (2019).

A Japanese grocery shop in Greenville, SC.
“Tampopo” in Greenville is the only Japanese grocery shop in the Upstate South Carolina. A Japanese sushi restaurant owner has been running it since the time of the second wave of the Japanese investment. / 南カロライナ州北西部唯一の日本食料品店「たんぽぽ」。第二の波のころから、お寿司屋さんが経営しているお店です

11. The third wave

Since about 2007, the third wave of Japanese investment in Greenville has occurred.

This time, it has brought more size-able investments. However, the size has never been reflected in the number of students in Greenville Saturday school.

Maybe the current business does not require relocating many Japanese businesspeople from Japan. 

12. The Greenville Bon Dance Festival

The Greenville Bon Dance Festival began in 1996.

That was the year when the number of students of Greenville Saturday school soared.

Maybe this may have led the Japanese people of the area to think: 

“We have so many of our children here. So, we will be able to organize a Bon dance festival lively enough and have them experience it. In addition, local people can also learn about the Japanese culture and enjoy it!”

…and the motivation for the festival got stronger and finally materialized.

When we participated in the festival in 2019, we were happy to feel the busy and warm atmosphere.

There were not many Japanese but a lot of Americans visited to see cultural performances, buy boxed lunch in the Japanese style, enjoy Japanese plays and games with children. 

The location of booths, stages and shops, and the timetable of performances had been carefully and meticulously planned and we somehow felt it was very Japanese. 

[These related links are being updated. Sorry!]

  • The Report of a Japanese Festival: Bon Dance Festival in Greenville (1)
  • Why are there Japanese companies in Greenville?: Bon Dance Festival in Greenville (2)
At the Greenville Bon Dance Festival, there were hundreds of people who came and enjoy the traditional Japanese summer festival.
At the 2019 Greenville Bon Dance Festival / 2019年グリーンビルお盆祭りにて

[End of the English post]


  1. あるほん人投じんとうおも
  2. ツヅキはなし
  3. ニッポン・センター
  4. ツヅキのおてら
  5. ファーマン大学だいがく
  6. プレース・オブ・ピース
  7. ツヅキこうじょうおも
  8. グリーンビルへのとうだい
  9. グリーンビルの本人ほんじんコミュニティー
  10. グリーンビルへのとう第三だいさん
  11. グリーンビルのお盆祭ぼんまつ


1. あるほん人投じんとうおも








2. ツヅキはなし

1937ねんまれたツヅキは、グリーンビルにじゅうすると、紡績工ぼうせきこうじょうTNSティーエヌエスミルズ (TNSはツヅキ・ニュー・スピニングのかしら) を設立せつりつし、米国べいこくほん、ブラジルをまわってせいりょくてきぎょうおこないました。




3. ニッポン・センター







4. ツヅキのおてら






5. ファーマン大学だいがく






6. おてらちく



ほんからせた専門せんもん (宮大みやだい七人しちにん、「タイル」専門せんもんしょくにんにんかべ専門せんもんしょくにんふた) たちが、おもにケヤキ、ゆかはヒノキ、ほか随所ずいしょ最高さいこうざいりょう使つかい、くぎ使つかわず伝統的でんとうてきみだけでつくげたお寺です。


7. プレース・オブ・ピース


仏壇ぶつだんはツヅキのこされたので、おてら建物たてものなかのご本尊ほんぞんのあるべきしょにはしょかっています。このため、大学だいがくは、これは正確せいかくにはおてらではないとして、「プレース・オブ・ピース (へい)」とけたのです。


8. ツヅキこうじょうおも





9. グリーンビルへのとうだい

1960年代ねんだいべいし、90年代ねんだいまでぎょう成功せいこうしていたツヅキは、ひとりで (ごぞくべつとして) げん社会しゃかいはいっていった人だったとおもいます。





10. グリーンビルの本人ほんじんコミュニティー


おそらくそれを とう さいじゅうようだいとして、いき日系にっけいぎょうちゅうしんになり、1988ねんにウエスタンサウスカロライナ日米にちべいきょうかい(のちにサウスカロライナ日米にちべいきょうかいかいしょう、これが2019ねんのグリーンビルのお盆祭ぼんまつりの主催者しゅさいしゃ)が設立せつりつされたのでしょう。




11. グリーンビルへのとう第三だいさん

さて、げんてん (2019年9月) にいたる、2007ねんぐらいからの日系にっけいぎょうあいとうを、第三だいさんなみえるかとおもいます。



12. グリーンビルのお盆祭ぼんまつ










  • 2019年8月24日グリーンビルのお盆祭り報告:グリーンビルのお盆まつり (1)
  • なぜ日本企業がグリーンビルに?:グリーンビルのお盆まつり (2)

References / 参考さんこうサイト

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