Nihon Rikagaku has been making quality art materials for over 80 years. Seeing massive piles of scallop shells that were going to waste and causing serious environmental issues, the founders of the company saw it as a challenge to reduce, reuse and recycle this material. With the help of their local government, Nihon Rikagaku developed a patented process to recycle these shell by-products. They now turn the discarded scallop shells into a clean, fine powder and blend them with calcium carbonate to create an all-natural chalk product with a smooth, soft texture. The use of powdered shells had the additional benefit of making the chalks stronger, smoother, and longer lasting. It’s no surprise that more than 60% of the chalks currently used by schools in Japan are Nihon Rikagaku. All products are non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
Nihon Rikagaku is guided by the philosophy that everyone, regardless of their ability, can find happiness and satisfaction through their work. Currently, 70% of their employees have an intellectual disability. The company have adapted their manufacturing methods and work environment so that they can continue to hire employees with different abilities. The employees all work together in a cooperative space where hourglasses replace clocks and the devises for measuring and testing have been designed especially for the employee's needs and capabilities. Nihon Rikagaku is committed to enhancing customers’ creative experience, engaging in earth-friendly manufacturing, and empowering people with disabilities.
The reason Nihon Rikagaku employs so many people with intellectual disabilities is because of their belief in Zen philosophy which states that the real bliss of human beings is not found in receiving care from someone else, but in 1. being loved, 2. being praised, 3. being of help to other people, and 4. being needed by other people. Nihon Rikagaku recognises that welfare facilities do not necessarily make people happy, giving people a job and a purpose makes them happy.