Since you, beloved reader, seemed to enjoy our recent How-to Reduce Packaging Journal quite a lot, we decided to do a little variation with some more nifty ideas: packaging design concepts surrounding us in our everyday Japanese life that make things just so much more convenient! From refill packs that you can open without scissors to a salad dressing that doesn’t make your hands dirty when you open it — sounds simple but is so terribly effective. PingMag would like to point out some examples.
Written by Ayana
Translated by Kevin Mcgue
Onigiri from the Conbini
A variety of onigiri rice balls wrapped in clear plastic can be found lined up on the shelves at any conbini, short for convenience store. This thoughtful package design was first developed by Suzuki, an Osaka-based food processing machine maker in 1989 and won them several awards. To open these triangular objects, you simple follow the numbered steps printed on the plastic. There is actually a thin layer of plastic between the rice and the seaweed sheets, which slides out of the way when you open the package. This keeps the seaweed nice and crispy right up to the moment you pop the rice ball in your mouth. Yummy!
It’s all about perforation: instant yaki-soba noodles with built-in strainer
Instant yaki-soba noodles are an easy (but not too healthy) lunch, much like instant ramen noodles, but with one important difference: While instant ramen is eaten with lots of broth, it is best to drain away as much of the hot water as possible before eating instant yaki-soba. This can be hard to do without spilling some of the noodles, burning yourself with hot water, or just making a big mess… But wait, these problems can be solved! The packaging lid is perforated with some small holes, which create a built-in strainer. The speed at which the water is drained is also important, and we found that the size and number of holes varies for different types of noodles! Clearly, this design must have been developed through a whole lot of trial and error…
Knick Knack: Individual Serving Packets
We were always longing for a nifty packaging design that doesn’t make a mess when mixing several ingredients. Done! Individual serving packets of butter and maple syrup are folded in the middle to break a seal, releasing the contents, thus allowing us to spread margarine on bread, or dressing on salad without getting our hands dirty. Though these packets were first developed in America, by today Japan produces more of them, more than any other country. There are also dual packets, with margarine on one side and jam on the other. A Japan-only variation would be ketsup and mustard in one packet.
The Knife Margarine Container Lid
This popular type of margarine package has been used for a long time in Japan: On one side of the lid, there is a little part that flips open to allow you to leave a butter knife in the container and still shut it securely. Before, hungry people needed scissors to cut out a hole, but now it is easy for people to pop it out by hand.
Single-use Honey Capsules
We found something interesting: single-use honey capsules, produced by Meijiya. By turning the cap two or three times, it pops off, leaving a small opening, allowing us to pour it without getting our hands dirty and without having to worry about it all coming out in a big blob. Nice!
The World of Refilling
Shampoo, detergent and many other liquids come in economical refill packs, which are emptied into reusable bottles. For example, the bathtub cleaner you see below comes in a refill pack that is open and poured in the old bottle. Now, in order to keep the refill pack from folding over in half while refilling, there is a straw inside the package which keeps it stiff. Also, the opening does not require scissors to open. After use, the package can be folded up, too, of course.
Multi-open: Zip-lock Packages
You have surely seen them in your country, too, but to complete our list: Gummy candy and other treats often come in these types of packages that can be resealed after they are first opened, making it possible to slip the package into your bag without fear of the contents spilling all over. So this one is perfect for sweets that you want to enjoy a little at a time.
The Instant Foldable Tissue Box
When a tissue box is nearly empty, it can be difficult to get the remaining tissue at the bottom. Help is needed! Here, there are little perforations on the side of the box and you can stick your finger in and pull up the side of the box. What for? In order to collapse the box into a more compact shape, so those few remaining tissues can be pulled out more easily. When the box is completely empty, it can be made even more compact to be put in the recycling bin. Would you have thought of that?
Coffee Filter Including Coffee
Forget instant coffee! Finally, we would like to show you this single-serving coffee filter — with the coffee already inside. Like a tea bag, there is enough ground coffee beans in the filter for a single cup. How does it work: The perforated edge along the top of the filter is torn off and as the filter is opened up, tabs pop out with hooks that allow it to be balanced securely on the cup’s rim. Just pour in hot water slowly and you will have a quick and enjoyable cup of drip coffee!
What’s your opinion on these practical designs? If you find some equally clever products around you, be sure to let us know!