How's this for a business slogan? "The family in which you take pride has the shine of a proud corona."
Right now, people who are employed in Japanese companies that evoke the name corona are feeling pain more than pride. One such firm, reports Asahi Geino (Nov 12), is Korona Kabushiki Kaisha, a maker of housing fixtures based in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture.
Last June, according to a reporter for a nationally circulated newspaper, the company was targeted with terrible slander.
Author Takanori Iwata, author of a 303-page book titled "Corona Mania" published in October, has been researching the problem.
Based on his research via legal affairs office around the country, he found that the names of approximately 300 companies in Japan incorporate corona in some form. And some of these firms have been the target of a broadside of malicious slanders and rumors.
"Compared with last spring the number of prank calls declined," says the female proprietor of the Corona beauty salon, located somewhere in the Kanto area. "Lately they've started up again, asking me, 'Haven't you changed the name of your business yet?' I've put my whole life into this business. It's really vexing, and I feel forsaken."
Iwata drew his inspiration from the Corona coffee shop, located along a rural road in Aichi Prefecture. He braked to a halt and approached the building, where he found a sign posted that read, "Temporarily closed due to the owner's illness."
"Gee," Iwata quipped, "I hope it wasn't a corona-caused illness. Maybe I should poke around and see if there are any other businesses in the same predicament."
The origin of corona is from the Latin for "crown of the king," and the term is widely used for descriptive purposes of things in nature, such as "corona of the sun."
The word corona became popularized in Japan after automaker Toyota launched sales of its affordable Corona sedan from May 1957. The model went through 10 full model changes before being phased out in 2001.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on brands and businesses containing the word corona, and in Japan, many report being subjected to harassment. The Ajikura Korona Shokudo in Nagano, and the Osaka Corona Hotel, for example, have both been the target of malicious posts on Twitter and other social networks -- although their supporters have countered with words of encouragement such as "Don't give up!" and "You haven't done anything wrong."
Meanwhile, in businesses offering sex services, it seems "Corona" has been a popular name used to preserve the anonymity of female workers.
"But from around March, they've disappeared," Iwata relates. "The one exception I could find was a place in Mito, Ibaraki, that specializes in female office workers. But in her blog she announced the shop had temporarily closed and she had gone back to a day job. When I logged on again the other day, I saw she was back, but had switched her business name to 'Kokoro.' It was a relief to know she was okay."
Other Corona companies poured out a litany of woes. "We've been getting silent phone calls" (steel processing company); "When we issue receipts with our corporate name at the bottom, the recipients glare at us and act like the receipt is contaminated" (trading firm); "People have been taking photos of our signs and posting them with negative remarks on Instagram" (restaurant); and "Inebriated customers tell us we should change our name" (izakaya).
"There's nothing to do but wait for the pandemic to blow over," sighs the operator of the Corona photo salon in Hiroshima.
The proprietor of a retail store named Corona, specializing in blue jeans and other casual wear in Shizuoka Prefecture, voiced similar resignation.
But Iwata found at least one exception, of a Corona business that's thriving. Dan Hishida, president of a glove manufacturing business in Gifu Prefecture named Corona, had been suffering a health crisis in November 2019. And then when COVID hit soon afterward, it looked like his company was doomed for sure.
But Hishida hit upon the idea of making gloves to be worn by strap hangers on commuter trains.
"Copper's supposed to have germ-resistant properties so I thought I'd weave copper thread into the cloth material," said Hishida. "After months of trial and error, in June of this year I succeeded in producing our 'Touch' brand of viral resistant gloves. https://www.corona-gloves.com/ブログ/
"They were featured in the local news and orders began to pick up. Sure, there were some morons who badmouthed us online, and others who wrote to us asking, 'Why did you pick that company name?'
"I tell these people it was my father who picked that name when he founded the firm. He wanted to make gloves to keep people's hands warm. So I'll stick with Corona."© Japan Today