Japanese Style – Features of packaging design

Post date: septiembre 23, 2020 | Category: Décimo Séptima Edición Diciembre 2017

Annotation: this work is devoted to the study of the features of modern Japanese packaging. Japanese packaging can be either very simple, or too complex in terms of the design of the packaging material and in its subsequent design.



Japanese graphic design has its own deep roots and it is very different from European or American traditions. This fully applies to the samples of packaging – in in the eastern tradition, packaging does not hide the object, it wraps and emphasizes the features of the product [1].

The design of the Japanese packaging has its own deep history, quite different from the history of packaging in Europe, America and other countries. If the packaging concept in Europe first implied the meaning of the words «close,» «conclude,» «save,» then in Japan, originally meant «wrapping.» Even a verbatim translation from Japanese to English sounds rather not «a package design», but «a wrapping design». Japanese design is very multifaceted. On one hand, it is simplicity, refinement and stylish minimalism, and on the other hand – the use of sophisticated techniques of origami, furoshiki and traditional packaging materials – straw, silk and bamboo.

The packaging design in Japanese is characterized by two main trends: minimalism and simplicity and the use of national Japanese techniques (origami, furosiki, natural materials in packaging) [2].

 The objective of the work is to explore the characteristics of Japanese packaging as an example of combining modern technology and cultural traditions.

Modern consumer packaging is an element of the space of aesthetic culture of our time. The study of the features and specifics of modern Japanese packaging is relevant today.

Japanese culture provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the symbiosis of practicality, elegance and simplicity. Herein lies Japan – in the art of decorating life, in the beauty of submitting forms, in the culture of presenting gifts. Japanese packaging is represented unity of the most modern technologies and deep national roots.

Raised from childhood in every Japanese, the desire for aesthetics and the beauty of the world around them, understanding the purity and harmony conceived by nature, makes the Japanese change and create a life around themselves in accordance with these concepts [3].

Considering the modern Japanese packaging, it is worth highlighting the six main components of its attractiveness.

Simplicity. This is a synonym for beauty in Japanese. The Japanese mostly adhere to the Wabi-Sabi – this is an extensive part of the Japanese aesthetic worldview. Wabi-sabi is described as the beauty of what is imperfect, fleeting or incomplete. Wabi-Sabi characterizes the ability to perceive objects around a person in their nature, genuine and without excess. This worldview of the Japanese is reflected, in particular, on the stylistics of the packaging of products [5].

Bright examples of modern packaging are the non-standard approach to design. This example is the packaging of juice of a standard design with the transfer of the texture of a certain fruit to it. The design was simultaneously simple and unusual.

Another bright example, the simplicity in the design of Japanese packaging is a pack-ball for tofu or for Japanese puddings made of elastic material that easily changes the size. It is only necessary to pierce the package with a toothpick – and from it there will be only a small piece of rubber.

Interesting ideas were presented by the design studio D-Bros which, designed in the form of juicy cut fruits, sticky notes for writing. In the grid, like the one in which real fruits are sold, 150 leaves are packed on a wooden stalk [An example is an image called 1].

Functionality. Any Japanese packaging is extremely convenient for use. One of the examples of literate design, combining the traditional form and convenience in use – packaging «onigiri», thanks to which you can explain the current popularity of this type of Japanese fast food. Onigiri are sold at any grocery store. Onigiri is a triangular rice cake with a fish or other filling, wrapped in a «nori». But, unlike a sandwich or roll, which is easy enough to put in a cellophane bag and close, the problem of onigiri packing was that the rice component of onigiri should be wrapped in nori just before eating. By the way, nori in ancient times served as a kind of edible packing for rice, but since then hygienic requirements to foodstuffs, of course, have increased. It would be possible to of course package rice and nori separately, but then the big difficulty would be the use of onigiri «on the run» due to a great waste of time, first on the process of deploying components, and then the subsequent «screwing» of one onto the other. It is likely that most of the Japanese would switch to much less useful, but easier-to-use products. The remaining lovers of Japanese cuisine would be scared off by the high price because of the complexity of packaging. The design of the packaging, which is used now regardless of the manufacturer of onigiri itself, was coined. The rice cola wraps with a packing film, cut in the middle (median) of the triangle, the second layer of packing is the nori. The third outer layer is the actual packaging of the onigiri, which is torn apart again along the median of the triangle before use and is easily pulled out together with the first layer of the film. As a result of all the simple manipulations, the layer of the nori remains on the rice [6]. Thanks to the successful design of the packaging, the traditional national product «onigiri» became competitive in the Japanese fast food market [An example is an image called 2].

Traditions. Along with the «europiesized» packaging in Japan, a complex traditional packaging is widely spread. Basically it is Japanese sweets, traditional alcoholic drinks, dishes and chopsticks, supplies for various Japanese calligraphy schools, ikebana, martial arts and etc. In the packaging of such goods, traditional materials are used: Japanese paper, wood, bamboo, straw, silk. Often such a package has a complex geometric shape.

A vivid example of the use of natural packaging materials and traditional Japanese designs can be seen in this package. This dinner is wrapped in a natural bamboo shell and tied with a bamboo ribbon, inside three different rice balls flavored onigiri. Despite the fact that the production of polyethylene bags in Japan is developed quite high, food wrapped in a natural wrap is much appreciated here much higher [ An example is an image called 3].

The task of modern Japanese packaging is not only to meet all the aesthetic and technological requirements put that forward by the market and society, but also to give individuality to the packaging created. This is possible due to the appeal to traditions at various levels, both in detail of graphic design, and through integrated solutions. In modern Japanese packaging you can see many traditional styles. Each style betrays the packaging of the necessary color and personality.

«Kawaii.» A style in Japanese design that uses images of cute little animals and «cartoon» characters. The Japanese resort to the aesthetics of «kawaii» in the design of products of completely different categories. They make an adorable and sweet any package, decorating it with funny characters-talismans.

Such an ordinary product, like salt, combined with a glass bottle decorated with a muzzle pattern of panda or teddy bears undoubtedly stands out on the shelf in the store [An example is an image called 4]. Or Japanese packaging for rice Shirokuma, Ryuta Ishikawa [An example is an image called 5].

Kokeshi is a brand that produces amazing matches that have faces and other drawings printed on the match heads. Handles are produced in color different from match heads. The packaging has a similar image, as on the match [An example is an image called 6].

Packing with elements of origami and furosiki. All piece goods are packed separately, grouped in containers, stacked in a common cardboard box, and the top is still wrapped or put in a separate package. Aesthetic pleasure is guaranteed already from the process of unfolding the product.

To re-educate the Japanese to manage one doll for a kilo of biscuits is unlikely to succeed. In a Japanese box, each cookie will be packed separately, every five pieces will be stacked in a plastic container with compartments, all packed in a cardboard box with some explanatory booklet, then everything is wrapped in paper and put in a separate paper bag. Packs of Japanese fold as cleverly as origami. And you start to get pleasure already from the process of unfolding.

Origami technique. For modern design, origami has a real pantry of artistic principles. Origami can serve as a textbook on the formation of three-dimensional symbols, implemented with the help of a single artistic and constructive law. The origami language has a clear rhythmic organization [4].  The presence of a single module and modular grid determines the purity of the relations between small and large elements. It also draws a bright, symbolic beginning and the acuteness and expressiveness of the principles of the traditional formation of aesthetic space for Japan. In addition to visual expressiveness, which is achieved thanks to laconicism and consistency in a single key of all the elements of the plastic language, modern designers also draw on a solid constructive principle peculiar to origami. In origami, the formative capabilities of paper are used in the most natural way. The fold (folding, folding) is of key importance in this case. It builds a structure and this is conditioned by the formal language of the origami figures.

Famous Japanese sweets are always wrapped in Furoshiki technique (literally translated as «bath mat» and is a square piece of cloth, which has been used since ancient times to wrap and carry objects of any shape and size). Every candy is necessarily separate [An example is an image called 7]. Literally furoshiki (or furosiki) can be translated as a «bath mat.» The fact is that in Japanese baths (furo) people walked in a light kimono made of cotton. Changing clothes from street clothes in kimono for a bath, they stood on special rugs – chic. After changing clothes, street clothes were wrapped in this rug, and after a bath – a wet kimono, so it was more convenient to carry it home [4]. So furoshiki began to be used for carrying objects, folding it with a knot. The color and pattern of the furoshiki began to symbolize the store where it was purchased, or even belonging to an aristocratic family. Now furoshiki used to package product. The fabric allows you to pack a subject of any shape and size, taking the shape of the item you are packing. And the abundance of layers, different forms of knots, the softness of the fabric, the variety of textures, patterns and colors make it possible to pack a product in an original and unique way. Fabric for furoshiki can be different, the most common are cotton, silk and mixed fabrics. Use mostly square pieces in size from 40 to 80 cm (most often), but to pack a large product with a two-meter piece of cloth is also not a problem with due skill.

As we see, the Japanese design is very multifaceted. On the one hand, it’s simplicity, sophistication and stylish minimalism of Japanese packaging, and on the other hand – the use of sophisticated origami techniques, furoshiki and traditional packaging materials – straw, silk and bamboo. The combination of such approaches contributes to the fact that the Japanese design is considered one of the most advanced and innovative in the world.

Thus, we can conclude that in this paper, Japanese packaging is considered as a design and aesthetic category of design, aesthetic values ​​are studied, the problem of the correlation of aesthetic and everyday emotions is touched upon.



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