Japanese Golf Clubs Manufacturers and Brands
Japanese golf clubs are similar to German cars. They have the claim of highest quality and they can call high prices which are nevertheless gladly paid. Maybe not from every golfer in the world, because golf is still not a cheap hobby and many people like to save on their equipment. But especially connoisseurs and enthusiastic players are willing to pay a little more money for Japanese golf clubs.
In this article we introduce you to the best known Japanese golf club manufacturers - regardless of whether you can buy them on ExactGolf or not. Just because you don't find them on ExactGolf doesn't mean they are automatically worse. Some Japanese brands are just not as well positioned in terms of distribution and are sometimes difficult to obtain.
Honma is certainly the biggest and best known Japanese manufacturer and for good reason. For decades Honma has been supplying clubs in the best handmade quality on a large scale. It is often the case that the demand is too high and Honma does not even comply with the production. That's the disadvantage if you don't have a completely industrialized production in China, but produce individually in Sakata, Japan.
Honma is mainly known for the Beres series because they can also be very exclusive. A Beres iron set is available for not less than 3,000€ even in the cheapest version. It can also cost almost 50,000€ as a 5-star set. The clubs are then decorated with gold and the shafts extremely high-quality and incomparable to anything else. The Beres shafts are hand made by Honma, are very light and soft and still have very good torque values. This is exactly what makes the Beres clubs so special.
However, Honma also became known through the Tour World series, which has also featured Justin Rose as a brand ambassador since the beginning of 2019. The new Tour Worlds deliver the usual Honma quality, i.e. hand-forged soft steel irons for relatively little money. Starting from 1109€ you can already get a complete iron set of 5-PW and that with high-quality shafts without surcharges.
If you are looking for a traditional Japanese manufacturer, the first choice is certainly Miura. Miura is a relatively small forge in Japan, founded by Katsuhiro Miura. Miura started to forge golf clubs at the age of 16 and found several mistakes in the forging process at his original employer - at least in his opinion. That's why he went into business for himself and founded Miura, one of the best-known manufacturers of high-quality forged irons. Miura does not stick with things they do not master 100% and therefore you will only find Miura irons and putters. They leave woods and drivers to others.
Only recently Miura is trying to increase its popularity in Europe and North America and is "professionalizing" marketing and sales. With Abraham Ancer the first professionals are already equipped with Miura clubs. It is the first address for all those who are looking for special, handmade, Japanese irons with tradition.
Vega Golf is certainly not familiar to everyone and not as well known as Honma or Miura. Vega is also a small Japanese forge who, unlike Miura, also makes woods and drivers. Vega is a bit cheaper than Miura but not less exclusive. Behind Vega is only no marketing so far, which is why it will probably remain an insider tip for a long time to come.
But Vega is exactly what you have to expect from a Japanese manufacturer. And we at ExactGolf like to build clubs with Vega heads. They are manufactured with extreme precision and are delivered with an accuracy of one tenth of a gram. This is crucial in order to be able to build golf clubs that fit exactly.
Mizuno is certainly the largest manufacturer of Japanese golf clubs in terms of volume and is also played most often on the Tour - at least with the irons. Mizuno still relies on the "Grain Flow" technology and forges most of the irons. For some irons, this is no longer possible due to the design and they are cast. As a rule, however, the MP irons and wedges are classically forged in Japan. Irons as "Two Piece Construction" like the Hot Metals, on the other hand, are cast and are no longer manufactured in Japan. Mizuno is also a manufacturer of driver heads, which are now definitely competitive. In terms of price, the drivers and woods are sometimes significantly lower than the big western competition. This is certainly not due to poorer quality or performance, but because Mizuno simply wants to establish itself better in this segment.
Srixon is a manufacturer that is especially known for its balls and is definitely one of the best in the world in this area. However, there is no doubt that Srixon also produces very good golf clubs, especially irons. And it still does so very traditionally in Japan. Srixon is not a manufacturer with an infinite marketing budget and accordingly has only a handful of contract players on the tour, such as Hideki Matsuyama or Shane Lawry. Since the 2021 season, Srixon also has very good drivers and woods in its portfolio, which are considered an "insider tip" by many clubfitters. This means that the performance is proven, but the popularity is not there (yet).
Ryoma is still a rather unknown manufacturer who is only now trying to really gain a foothold in Europe. Ryoma serves a similar target group as Honma and tries to make life much easier for players with low to average club head speeds. Ryoma is well known for the "Maxima Driver Series" which has several innovations integrated. Ryoma breaks with traditional manufacturing methods. As far as irons are concerned, however, Ryoma is not yet established and has only recently published a "Players Iron". However, this also impresses with its innovative structure.
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XXIO is a manufacturer that has only recently appeared on the map. It's not a brand you absolutely have to have heard of but if you have seen Ernie Els playing in the recent past you should have seen XXIO clubs at least once. XXIO is not particularly cheap but no comparison to Honma Beres either even though the target group is similar. XXIO irons are both forged and cast and all have a certain "Game Improvement" character. It's all about getting as much out of your swing as possible.
Although Fujimoto has been active since the 1960s, few have heard of this manufacturer. The main reason is that Fujimoto is simply a very small forge that prefers to focus on the quality of its irons rather than on marketing. Therefore it is not surprising that Fujimoto clubs are among the best in terms of quality, but can only rarely be found in European bags. Fujimoto irons cost between 240 and 340€ each and are available in chrome and black copper finishes. The latter looks very noble and is surely an eye-catcher on every course.
Kyoei is definitely a manufacturer of high quality Japanese irons and wedges, but only for a very special group of buyers. Kyoei only offers very classic clubheads, which means a blade and a rather sporty cavity back. Recently, however, a dual weighted iron has been added that has two adjustable weighting screws. Kyoei also offers unpolished clubheads that you can customize according to your own preferences - as long as you have the necessary skills.
© Image rights Kyoeigolf.com
Best irons made in Japan
It is impossible to find "the best" among all Japanese manufacturers. The requirements and player profiles are too different for that. However, in our opinion, there are two winners in two very different categories:
- Honma Beres irons: Honma's Beres irons are the gold standard in the senior and ladies category because they are designed from the ground up for this segment. Beres irons have only a low swing and total weight. The shafts are not only light but very soft. However, what Honma manages to do better than anyone else is to ensure the high quality of the shaft. It is very difficult to produce such light and soft shafts that hardly allow any undesired twisting. This is exactly what makes these shafts so special and therefore, in our opinion, Honma Beres is the first choice for the right type of player.
- Miura Irons: Miura is, in our opinion, the first choice when it comes to irons from Japanese manufacturers for three reasons. Firstly, no other manufacturer forges with such high pressure as Miura. This is partly due to a patent that only allows Miura to forge with such high pressure. In addition, we purchase individual heads from Miura and can build each shaft individually and with absolute precision. Weight can also be taken out of the hosel, which is often necessary to guarantee the correct swing weight. And the third reason is that Miura always focuses on its core competencies and also implements and produces the few irons they have in their programme in the best possible way. This is why, for example, the MB-101 blade is the gold standard for blades, the TC-201 has advanced to become probably the best cavity back iron within a very short time and the CB-301 is our bestseller in fittings. The CB-301 is absolutely classically forged but can easily compete with the latest technology of other brands.
The Best Japanese Drivers 2022
Admittedly, Japanese manufacturers are better known for forged irons, wedges and putters than for woods. But that doesn't stop them from being at the forefront of a highly technological field like drivers. And to be honest, Japanese manufacturers have made up a lot of ground with their drivers in recent years and certainly don't have to hide from the Western competition.
- Mizuno STZ: The new generation of Mizuno drivers really has it all and convinces all along the line. They are very stable and still offer very decent lengths thanks to little spin. This year, the Mizuno STZ won the popular "Driver Bracket" of our colleagues from TXG and beat TaylorMade SIM2, Callaway Epic, Titleist TSI, Cobra RAD Speed and others.
- Honma TW757: Our best-selling driver that is above all versatile and offers a number of options that make the heart of a clubfitter beat faster. The interchangeable and adjustable weight inserts allow not only the head weight but also the draw and slice tendency as well as the launch and spin profile to be adjusted. The TW757 D driver has already been voted the most stable driver. It's not a "low spin" machine that only goes for distance but offers a balance of control and length.
- Srixon ZX: The new Srixon ZX5 and ZX7 drivers are also among the best Japanese drivers on the market and helped Hideki Matsuyama to win the Masters. In our opinion, there is hardly a more stable driver than the ZX5 for maximum control off the tee.
In short, if you want to go for Japanese drivers, you are definitely well advised to go for one of these drivers and will not have to hide from the big and dominant SIMs, Epics and TSIs of this world.
Best Japanese Forged Irons
There is no doubt about it, Japanese manufacturers are known for their forging technique in irons and wedges and accordingly this is their core competence. There are, of course, a number of forges in Japan that produce very good iron heads, but for one particular reason we would call Miura the best forged irons. Miura has a patent on a certain technique that allows them to forge with more pressure than other manufacturers. This prevents unnecessary air pockets and produces a higher quality result.
Are Japanese Golf Clubs better?
This question is difficult to answer because every player has different criteria. The most important thing is that the club fits the player. Even the highest quality Miura iron can be unsuitable and therefore worse for a player, for example because the head does not fit the player or the wrong shaft is used. In short: Japanese irons and wedges are better in that they are more durable, convey a unique feeling at impact and are particularly easy to adjust in terms of head weight, loft and lie. Especially the latter is always an issue with other clubs.
Most expensive Japanese Golf Clubs
While Japanese irons from Srixon or Mizuno can be described as rather cheap, there are various manufacturers that can clearly be described as expensive. And here we range between 400€ and 5000€ per iron. Here is an overview of the most expensive golf clubs.
JDM Golf Clubs
JDM clubs are clubs that are made for the Japanese market and you might be surprised to know that manufacturers like Titleist or Callaway are also part of this group. We like to talk about "Western" manufacturers - simply because they are based in the USA. But that doesn't mean they haven't found a market in Japan with their JDM clubs.
|Who are we and why do we think that Japanese clubs are superior - Find out more about us and our fitting philosophy. And also why we are exclusively working with Japanese brands with the highest quality standards.|
|If we had to take one set of iron to a lonely island it would be this one: Miura TC-201. In our opinion the best iron every made in this category. You can browse all our Japanese irons here.|