Japanese power tool brands consistently rank near the top of the list for customer satisfaction, durability, quality and innovativeness. Brands like Makita, Hikoki, Tone, Shindaiwa, Echo and Kioritz are known world-over for their incredible quality and longevity. As more and more American power tool brands are moving production overseas, to countries with far less stringent quality control, craftsmen and DIY hobbyists are looking to countries like Germany and Japan to source top-quality power tools that are built to last.
This article hopes to introduce you to some of the Japanese power tool brands that you may not have heard of, as well as to answer some of the common questions about the brands you know and love (like: "Who really owns Ryobi?").
If you'd like to learn more about some other Japanese tool brands, not just power tools, check out the companion piece: The Ultimate List of the Best Japanese Tool Brands on the Market.
If you're just interested in a couple of the Japanese power tool brands we've covered, feel free to jump to the relevant section by clicking here:
Asada | Astro | Funasaw | Hikoki | Iris Ohyama | Kyocera (Ryobi) | Makita | Max | Maxell Izumi | Mitachi | Nakatomi | Nishigaki | Panasonic | Paock | Resiton | Sankyo | Shinko | Suzukid | Takagi | Tone | Trybuil | Yamabiko/Shindaiwa/Echo/Kioritz | Yamazen
Asada - Plumbing & HVAC Tools
Asada was founded in 1941 in Nagoya, Japan. In 1953 they launched their most popular product that would cement the trajectory of the company: Japan's first portable electric pipe threading machine. Since then, they've brought many different pipe threading and pipe cutting machines to the market in Japan and globally.
In the early 2000s they began producing HVAC tools and machinery, and have since launched a successful range of refrigerant recovery machines and vacuum pumps for air conditioner installation and repair. They also produce and sell a range of pressure washers and electric drain cleaners that are popular with professional tradesmen.
Their tools are trusted by plumbing and HVAC professionals in Japan, and their company is respected as an industry leader. They've been recognized by the Japanese government as a company who is leading work-life reforms and that actively hires and trains young people.
Their refrigerant detection and recovery tools have won awards from the US Environmental Protection Agency thanks to the impact they have on protecting the ozone layer.
Astro Products - Consumer Power Tools
Astro Products opened in 1988 as a reseller of American tool brands in Japan. Seven years later, in 1995, they opened their first automotive and DIY tool store in Saitama, and around this time they developed their own range of tools, to sell alongside the imported tools they carried.
Just twenty years after that, in 2015, they had 150 stores nationwide, a superstore in Thailand, and around 3,000 products under their own brand. They carry many different tools for different purposes, but the vast majority of the tools they produce are most suitable for the automotive industry and for automotive hobbyists.
They produce and sell almost any consumer power tool you can think of: power drills, reciprocating saws, angle grinders, routers, polishers, impact drivers, electric ratchet wrenches, tire inflators, and more.
Funasaw - Band Saws & Blades
Funasaw was founded in 1958 as a manufacturer of band saw blades, and is now one of the leading producers of not only band saw blades, but also band saw machines.
They produce four very popular band saws with different capabilities, from small desktop band saws for safe, detailed cutting, all the way up to their extra-large band saw which is capable of cutting a full-sized refrigerator in half.
Funasaw band saws and their blades, which are compatible with other brands, are popular in small workshops and large industrial manufacturing centers all across Japan.
Hikoki (Hitachi) - Consumer & Professional Power Tools
Hikoki, formerly Hitachi Koki, was founded in 1918 as Nippei Shokai. At this time they were one of the first domestic manufacturers of electric drills.
Over the next 100 years, they grew into one of the largest multinational power tool companies in the world, eventually purchasing two other major toolmakers from Germany: Metabo and Carat.
Now their range of power tools is so diverse, it's hard for any other company to compete. They produce an enormous range of DIY cordless power tools like cordless drills, circular saws and reciprocating saws. They make popular gardening and agricultural tools like brush cutters, hedge trimmers and chainsaws. Finally, tradespeople rely on and trust their professional and industrial power tools, like heavy-duty hammer drills, impact wrenches, mitre saws, band saws and trade accessories like cordless fans, drink coolers, floodlights, speakers and more.
They also produce a range of best-in-class cordless power tool batteries called Multi Volt. Their Multi Volt batteries are capable of powering both 36v and 18v tools, have as much as 8.0Ah of runtime, and can charge in as little as 32 minutes. With advancements like these in cordless tool batteries thanks to Hikoki, the need for corded power tools is diminishing.
Iris Ohyama - Consumer Power Tools
Iris Ohyama was founded in 1958, and is now one of the most recognizable brands in Japan. They make a range of different lifestyle products such as televisions, washing machines, mattresses, furniture, kitchenware, healthcare products, office supplies, pet supplies and tools.
They’ve opened various factories around Japan, as well as others in Dalian, Wisconsin, Incheon, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ho Chi Minh City, and Lieusaint, France. They are proud to be one of Japan’s most international companies, as well as a company that produces an enormous range of products to support the daily lives of people everywhere.
They produce a range of 10.8v power tools for home and DIY use, as well as heavier-duty 18v tools, such as jigsaws, circular saws, electric sanders and power drills.
Iris Ohyama may be more recognizable in the US as simply “Iris”, as they’ve had factories under that name in various locations in the US since 1994 and now produce over 2,000 products for the American market.
Kyocera (Ryobi) - Consumer & Professional Power Tools
To introduce Kyocera power tools we need to introduce three companies, so that we can get a clear picture of who they are.
Kyocera was founded in Kyoto in 1959 as a company that specialized in fine ceramics. In the 1970s they began making ceramic semiconductors for electronics, and in the 1980s they diversified further by making ceramic knives and kitchenware, LCD screens, laptop computers, audio equipment and more. Now they're one of the largest semiconductor, electronics and applied ceramics companies in the world.
Ryobi was founded in 1943, in an old soy sauce storehouse in Hiroshima, as a company that specialized in die casting. They established one of Japan's first integrated die casting systems, where every process was performed in-house. In the 1970s Ryobi began manufacturing and selling consumer goods that had been die-cast, such as golf clubs, fishing reels, and power tools.
Techtronic Industries was founded in 1985 in Hong Kong as an OEM manufacturer who made power tools for overseas brands like Craftsman and Bissell. In 2000, Techtronic Industries purchased licensing rights from Ryobi Japan, so that they could produce original power tools with the Ryobi name and branding. All of the Ryobi power tools sold outside of Asia, the ones known and loved in the US, Australia, the UK and Europe, were designed and produced by Techtronic Hong Kong, with no influence from Ryobi Japan.
In 2018, Ryobi Japan sold off their power tools division to Kyocera. The sale included all Ryobi branding, manufacturing, and the designs for all Japanese Ryobi power tools. Within a couple of years, the Ryobi branding was entirely replaced with Kyocera branding. Ryobi power tools are no longer sold in Japan, instead, professional power tools such as saws, chainsaws, drills and grinders that were originally designed and marketed by Ryobi Japan, are now sold by Kyocera as Kyocera Industrial Tools.
Makita - Consumer & Professional Power Tools & Accessories
There’s a good reason why Makita is one of the most recognizable Japanese brands, trusted by DIY enthusiasts and professionals across many industries. Their power tools consistently rank among the top brands for customer satisfaction, durability, and quality. With over 100 years of industry-leading experience, and constant groundbreaking innovations, Makita has cemented themselves as one of the top five power tool companies in the world by market share, boasting control of over 6% of the $43B global power tool market.
Makita was founded in Nagoya in 1910, but only started making power tools in the early 1950s. They brought to market Japan's first electric woodworking plane, and the world's first readily-available cordless power drill.
Makita has put the cordless power tool battery at the forefront of their research. For them, the battery is just as important as the tool. This is why Makita has such a large range of products, all able to be run with their interchangeable batteries. From outdoor speakers, to portable microwave ovens, and electric-assisted bicycles, and of course their entire range of power tools – if you have Makita batteries, you can run almost anything that Makita sells.
Their innovation in battery design, and their incredibly diverse range of products, has allowed them to become one of the most popular power tool brands on worksites worldwide. Their catalog includes professional impact drills and wrenches, specialist tools for various industries, DIY favorites for home-use, and everything in between.
Max - Professional Power Tools, Fastening Tools
Max was founded in the early 1940s, and spent their early years manufacturing aircraft wings. From the 1950s until the 1980s, they focused on fasteners and the tools to install them.
Their most popular early products were staples and staplers, nail guns, and air-compressors to power them. From the 1980s they started diversifying their product range, and made many technological advancements. Their electronic office supplies such as printers and label makers were, and still are, very popular in Japan. They also began making a wider range of fastening tools like rebar binding machines, high-pressure nailers, and drywall screw guns.
Today, their product range has expanded far beyond fastening tools. Now their range includes hammer drills, impact drivers, circular saws, electric pruners, and more. In 2017 they developed the world's first cordless, rechargeable rebar binding machine, which has become a global success in the construction industry.
Maxell Izumi - Heavy Duty Professional Cable Cutters, Steel Punching Tools, Pipe Benders etc.
The Maxell part of Maxell Izumi may be recognizable to a lot of people in the west. Maxell is an established global brand producing batteries, headphones, speakers, and computer hard drives. Most people in the US, Australia, the UK or Europe have probably seen the Maxell logo before.
The Izumi side of Maxell Izumi is responsible for their construction equipment and power tool business.
Maxell Izumi produces a range of heavy-duty cable cutters designed for cutting armored cables up to 10cm thick. They also produce industrial cable crimpers, pipe benders and cutters, and punching tools for putting holes through thick steel plates.
They don’t make a lot of consumer power tools for the general public, but their professional power tools are essential for those working in power line installation and maintenance.
Mitachi - Professional Grinders/Polishers, Chop Saws
Mitachi was founded in 1958 as a manufacturer of disc grinders. They're a rarity as a Japanese power tool company, as they still make all of their tools in Japan. Not only that, their tools' important components are made in Japan too. Mitachi makes all of their motors in-house, in order to achieve high-torque action with low noise and low vibration.
Mitachi produces extremely powerful corded power tools. Their angle grinders, which are their flagship product, are all rated for very high output, while comparable angle grinders from popular brands are far less powerful.
For example, the bestselling angle grinders from Metabo, Black+Decker, Bosch, Takagi and Hikoki are all putting out between 500-1050 watts (the Hikoki grinder is the most powerful of the group). Yet Mitachi's angle grinders are all rated between 1000-1650 watts, making them extremely high-performance products, and more than three times more powerful than some of their competitors.
Mitachi also makes handheld polishers, drill presses and chop saws, as well as a range of grinding discs, polishing pads and saw blades. Their heavy-duty chop saws completely outclass the competition, with their MSC405A saw capable of cutting through 200x100mm structural steel H-beams in under 8 seconds.
Nakatomi - Log Splitters, Agricultural Tools, Workshop Circulation
Nakatomi is one of the youngest companies on our list. They began operations in 1995, and specialized in heating and cooling systems for workshops and factories.
Now they produce a range of specialized, portable heaters and air conditioners for use in large factories, and also on heavy machinery. For example, they have an air conditioning system that can be attached to a forklift to keep the driver cool as they work. Their range of circulation equipment is also very popular, and they make portable circulating fans in sizes unmatched by most of their competitors, to make sure fresh air is flowing no matter what.
Recently, their agricultural tools are really taking off. Their power log splitters are extremely popular with farmers and forestry workers in Japan, as they're able to split logs up to 35 cm in diameter into four equal quadrants. They also produce some wood-chippers to assist in land clearing measures.
Aside from heating, cooling, circulation and land-clearing, they also make mixers to automatically mix livestock feed and fertilizer, automatic plowing and tilling machines for field work, and some air-powered hand tools, such as impact wrenches.
Nishigaki - Drill Grinding Machines, Chainsaw Sharpeners, Electric Blade Sharpeners, Gardening Tools
Founded in Miki, Hyogo, in the 1970s, Nishigaki is one of many power tool and gardening tool manufacturers based in the city. Nishigaki produces bladed tools and the systems necessary to sharpen and polish their blades, to limit the need for customers to buy replacement blades often.
Nishigaki is dedicated to creating tools that respond to customer needs, and are truly functional and labor-saving. Their electronic-assisted pruning shears make gardening, pruning and land-clearing much easier and more accessible for people with mobility issues. They also make electric grass clippers, brush cutters, and branch clippers.
In addition to their bladed tools, they make high-quality blade sharpeners for various tools. They have sharpeners and sharpening systems for chainsaws, sickles, scissors and shears, as well as for circular saw blades. They have a very popular range of drill grinding machines that allow people to re-cut the edge on their drill bits, saving an enormous amount of money in the long run.
Panasonic - Consumer & Professional Power Tools
Many people know Panasonic, but not a lot of people know that Panasonic makes a diverse range of high-quality power tools. When you look at the range of Panasonic products at a hardware store in the US, for example, they’re most often related to plumbing and ventilation, and very rarely do you see a Panasonic tool.
In Japan, however, Panasonic’s range of power tools is similar in scale to brands like Makita and Hikoki. Many people who try a Panasonic tool for the first time are surprised by the quality, considering it equal to or superior than some of the bigger competitors in the global power tool market.
Their Exena series of Drill Drivers, for example, transform into a multi-functional super tool when used with Panasonic attachments. The cable-cutter attachment is capable of cutting thick steel cables, and the crimping attachment is incredibly useful for electrical workers.
Panasonic makes various fastening tools such as drills and power screwdrivers. Their hammer drills are especially robust, and make it painless for professionals to put clean holes through concrete in no time at all.
Paock - Consumer Power Tools & Workshop Tools
Paock makes drill presses and drill drivers, table saws, circular and mitre saws, reciprocating saws, planer tables, angle grinders and more. The vast majority of their tools can fit within two categories: consumer power tools, and workshop tools. Their consumer power tools, like circular saws and mitre saws, are cost-effective and provide a lot of bang-for-your-buck for DIY enthusiasts. Their workshop tools, like planer tables and drill presses, are heavy-duty woodworking tools for serious professionals.
Paock tools are sold widely in Japan. Many of them can be found in local hardware stores and online. Unfortunately, they’re relatively unknown outside of Japan. This is unfortunate, because Paock’s consumer power tools are very high quality, but often sold at very affordable prices. They offer the quality of a more well-known power tool brand for big-box store prices.
Aside from their electrical power tools, Paock’s air-powered tools are also very popular in Japan. Their impact air wrenches, air nailers and tackers are praised for having sleek, modern and ergonomic designs while maintaining high-level functionality.
Resiton - Cutting, Grinding & Polishing Tools For Metal
Resiton is a simple company. They know what they want to focus on, and they focus on it well. Resiton works within three fields: cutting, grinding, and polishing.
They were founded in 1955, in Tokyo, as a company manufacturing and selling grinding wheels for other companies' machinery. Now they make many of their own tools that are compatible with their wheels and discs.
They make chop saws that can cut through steel at various angles, and at higher speeds than comparable chop saws. Their 1,400w model can cut 100mm diameter steel at both 90 and 45 degree angles. As for grinding, they have many different varieties of belt grinders and sanders that can reach as high as 5000 RPM. Finally, by replacing a sanding belt with a polishing belt, their sanders can finish steel to polished perfection, reducing the number of power tools needed to complete the job.
In addition, many of their cordless tools are compatible with Hikoki Multi Volt batteries, meaning they save a lot of space in the workshop.
Sankyo Tools (Trad, Sig) - Consumer Power Tools & Gardening Tools
Sankyo was founded in the 1940s as a wholesaler for craftsmanship tools. They spent their early years as the middleman between tool manufacturers and retail stores in Japan, and eventually expanded to become an international tool exporter.
Now they’ve entered the business of manufacturing tools themselves, as they’ve spent the last seven decades gathering unique insights about the tool industry, the needs of the customers, and the shortcomings of other tool manufacturers. Based on their uniquely cultivated market information and know-how, they've developed over 6,000 original products under multiple brands. Their power tool lines are released under their Trad and Sig brands.
The Trad range carries a wide variety of hand and power tools for DIY, vehicle maintenance and woodworking, including power drills, drill drivers, circular saws, chop saws and more. They also make replacement parts, blades and accessories for all of the tools they carry.
Sig is a brand developed for gardeners, and the tools in this line are particularly modern in design and aesthetic. Sig makes lawn clippers, brush cutters, hedge trimmers and more, all with a fresh and modern white and blue colorway.
Shinko - Consumer Power Tools & Gardening Tools
Shinko Seisakusho is a small consumer power tool importer and manufacturer based in Tokyo. They were founded in the early 1960s, and have spent the past sixty years importing and developing power tools and gardening tools that are affordable and reliable.
Most of their tools are created for DIY and home-use, and are sold in chain tool shops and big-box-stores as the budget alternative to bigger brands like Makita and Kyocera.
They have a wide range of corded and rechargeable drills, impact drivers and impact wrenches, circular saws, reciprocating saws, chop saws and mitre saws, hand sanders, grinders and polishers, as well as blowers, vacuums and chainsaws. All of their tools are affordable and user-friendly, and their black and silver styling is popular with many of their customers.
Suzukid - Professional Welding Tools, Chop Saws & Band Saws
Suzukid makes arc welders, TIG welders, spot welders, battery welders, and all the various welding accessories and consumables you could need to go with them. In addition to their welding machines and consumables, they sell very heavy-duty welding wagons and workbenches, and a couple of other power tools such as plasma cutters, band saws and chop saws.
As there aren’t many brands in Japan who specialize in welding, Suzukid has managed to corner the market. Their welding machines are trusted and relied upon by professional welders, and hobbyists alike. When it comes to accessories, their welding masks in particular are extremely popular.
Gone are the days when a welding mask was a single piece of steel with darkened glass to see through. Suzukid’s high-tech welding masks include models with adjustable glass, that can be darkened or lightened with a dial, models with LCD screens instead of glass, showing a feed from a small camera on the front of the mask, and models with three internal LCD screens, providing you with a 180° field of vision, unimpeded as you weld.
Takagi (Earth Man) - Consumer Power Tools & Workshop Tools
Takagi is one of the oldest power tool companies in Japan. They were founded in 1866, in Sanjo, Niigata, as a saw smithing workshop.
At a time when Japan was closed off to much of the world, and domestic transport was still mostly on horseback, Takagi's innovative business practices saw them expand much further than similar companies at the time could. By the 1890s, Takagi had opened two hardware stores, including one in Tokyo, and in 1910, they started trading internationally - something that was unheard of for most Japanese companies at the time.
In the 1920s, they began manufacturing carpentry tools, and expanded sales channels to China and Japan's northern island, Hokkaido. At the time, Hokkaido was such a remote location that they didn't even have telephone lines connecting them to mainland Japan. In the 1980s they expanded sales to the US, and started manufacturing their very popular Shark Saw brand of Japanese-style handsaws.
Even though Takagi’s tools, and their Earth Man line of power tools, are typically among the lowest-cost items on the shelves in Japanese hardware stores, they’re known for their long-lasting durability and very high quality.
They make a very wide range of hand tools like clamps, hammers, saws, pliers and wrenches, as well as air-powered tools like dusters and airbrushes. But their Earth Man power tools are among their most popular products. Takagi Earth Man makes power sanders, jigsaws, reciprocating saws, sliding mitre saws, circular saws, grinders, tackers, electric screwdrivers, power drills, power scissors and shears, polishers, various powered drivers and wrenches, pipe cutters, drill presses, welders and more.
Today, Takagi is still based in Sanjo, where they opened their small, one-room saw smithing workshop over 150 years ago. But now they operate out of a dedicated 15,000 square meter compound of factories and warehouses.
Takagi is also the sole agent in Japan for popular Australian router brand Triton, and the Worx gardening tool brand, which is jointly produced in the US and China.
Tone - Power Wrenches
Tone is a widely-known Japanese hand tool brand. They’re one of the top four Japanese brands for automotive tools, and their wrenches and screwdrivers are especially loved by mechanics and car and motorbike enthusiasts in the west.
Tone was founded in the 1930s in Osaka, Japan, and spent most of their early years operating and manufacturing locally out of Osaka and Amagasaki (where Daitool is based). They exhibited their tools at the first Japanese Automobile Show in 1954, and were one of the early-adopters of the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) certification. The founder of Japanese machine tool trading company Yamazen (that we’ll talk about later in this article) first worked as an apprentice at Tone, before founding his business.
While many people have heard of, or used, Tone hand tools, their power tools are still relatively unknown outside of Japan. Tone makes just about every kind of powered wrench you could need. From heavy-duty cordless impact wrenches for regular nuts and bolts, to powered wrenches specifically designed for the wheel nuts of buses and trucks, to nutrunners that can set specific levels of torque for civil engineering, to dedicated powered wrenches for primary tightening of Torcia bolts, to shear wrenches for tension control bolts used in critical structures such as building frames and bridges.
Trybuil (Shinko Products Rebranded For Yamazen) - Consumer Power Tools
Trybuil is a tool brand created by Yamazen, which is an international trading company and homegoods manufacturer. Trybuil tools are not made by Yamazen, however, they’re made by Shinko (who we’ve already covered). Trybuil are Shinko OEM tools, with coloring, branding, distribution and marketing by Yamazen.
Many of the tools produced by Trybuil are nearly identical to their Shinko counterparts, with some slight design changes, and the major difference being their coloring. Shinko tools are all made in their signature black and silver designs, but Trybuil tools are a light, pastel blue color. The other major difference is in distribution. It’s hard to find Shinko tools outside of a few places in Japan, and most of their sales are made online. But Yamazen already has a robust distribution network, both within and outside of Japan, so Trybuil tools are more easily accessible.
Trybuil produces power drills, circular saws, jigsaws, power sanders, reciprocating saws, blowers, and more - all at very affordable prices.
Yamabiko (Shindaiwa, Echo, Kioritz) - Professional & Consumer Gardening & Agricultural Tools, Welding Machines
Yamabiko is the result of a merger between two major Japanese power tool companies that you may have heard of before. The first is Kioritz, which was made famous internationally for its Echo brand of chainsaw. Kioritz was founded in the 1940s to manufacture agricultural machinery, starting with crop dusters and foggers for pest control. In the 1960s they began developing brushcutters and powered scythes, and in the 1960s and 1970s they began making chainsaws under the Echo brand.
The second company involved in the merger is Shindaiwa. Shindaiwa started making chainsaws in the 1950s, and eventually grew to manufacture welding machines, power generators and forestry equipment for international sale.
The two companies merged in 2008, and created the new holding company Yamabiko. Now, the Shindaiwa branch of Yamabiko mainly makes generators and welding machines, the echo branch makes chainsaws, brushcutters and hedge trimmers, and the Kioritz branch makes crop sprayers, ride-on lawnmowers, wood chippers and agricultural transportation like powered carts.
Yamazen - Consumer Power Tools
Yamazen was founded in the early 1940s as a machine tool dealer in Osaka, by a 22-year-old former apprentice of Tone, a Japanese toolmaker. But due to his age, the founder was conscripted to fight in the Pacific War, and the company quickly shut down.
One year after returning to Japan, in 1947, the founder re-opened Yamazen Tools as a dealer of hammers and shovels, which were needed for the rebuilding of Osaka. Eventually, Yamazen built close relationships with other local Japanese toolmakers, like Tone, Mitutoyo, and Trusco, and shifted their focus to that of a trading company, exporting other companies’ tools abroad.
Now, though Yamazen’s international trading division makes up a large portion of the company, they still develop many of their own products, particularly home appliances like fans, kitchen appliances, and heaters. Yamazen has developed a reputation for making budget appliances, so in an effort to distance their tools from that image, they produce a line of tools under a different brand, Trybuil, that we introduced earlier.
However, they still produce some tools under their Yamazen brand – including some that compete directly with their Trybuil tools. Yamazen makes full tool kits, power drills, power grinders and knife sharpeners, and reciprocating saws. All of which are low-cost, and targeted at beginners in the DIY hobby.
So there you have it, the ultimate introduction to Japan’s top 24 best power tool brands, including some names you’ve certainly heard of, like Hikoki and Makita, and plenty you probably haven’t, like Paock, Astro Products and Suzukid.
If you’d like to learn more about Japanese tool brands, including hand tools, check out our list of The Best Japanese Tool Brands on the Market.