By Liliam Benzi* who visited the exhibition at the invitation of Japan House São Paulo

Japanese packaging combines respect for traditions with state-of-the-art technology. Let´s say it is a technological ancestry. We are also talking about an element with fundamental importance in Japanese culture where the importance of packaging is evidenced by the term Tsutsumu which means “to wrap”, “to pack” and whose ideogram symbolizes the image of a child inside its mother’s womb, referring to the idea of protecting what is precious.

In line with this concept, the Japan House São Paulo presents the show ‘Packaging: Contemporary Designs of Japan’, on display until March 14. Elaborated in partnership with Japanese Package Design Association (JPDA), company responsible for Japan Package Design Awards – award that celebrates, since 1985, designers that creates packaging with focus on the premises of creativity, aesthetics, usability, value and marketing potential – the show presents packaging that reveals much of consumer behavior and traditions and customs of Japanese quotidian.

They are not just attractive packaging, but exquisite examples of the importance of the act of giving as part of a complex code in Japan. All this without forgetting that the Japanese consumer also seeks the attributes of today: functionality, convenience, on the go consumption and sustainability.

In these photos some examples of the art of Japanese packaging supported by technology.

Some points deserve more evidence as the millenary shoyu that becomes transparent and leaves the packaging equally dark. The rice that becomes a gift and sustainable packaging with a focus on ‘kinder projects with people and the planet’. And one of my favorites: ‘air pack’ packaging for growing fresh vegetables in aseptic environment which allows the consumption of food without the need for hygiene.

Definitely this exhibition is a unmissable trip through the packaging universe which reinforces my belief: in Japan the packaging goes beyond the own packaging; it is a gift that reverences the product (especially the food) and shows respect for the final consumer.

As Natasha Barzaghi Geenen, Cultural Director of Japan House São Paulo and curator of the exhibition, stated, “These packages say a lot about Japanese culture; they call the attention because of their aesthetics and the importance given to every detail, but also allow a general panorama of consumer habits in the country. The idea is also to inspire
designers and national companies that seek this combination of product, design and sustainability in order to deliver a complete consumer experience. The refinement of the packaging values the product even more and deserves the same care in its development”.

The exhibition justifies why Japan is admired worldwide for its ‘wrapping’ culture, which puts container and content on the same level of importance, with quality packaging being a sign of respect to the person who will receive the product. The packaging carries important aspects of the concept of Omotenashi (hospitality); to treat the other well from a design thougth to anticipate consumer needs, respecting the user and the nature.

An essential part of the object, a well thought out design values the best of each product and can start from more traditional and millenary techniques such as Furoshiki – millenary Japanese technique that uses square fabrics to wrap, pack and protect the most varied types of objects by means of moorings – even the most complex and technological, such as a lotion bottle produced with the highest level of the industry in the use rate of super recycled glass – 90% or more.

Finally, it is clear that in Japan, every detail matters and should be considered with the maximum attention, revealing that the Japanese search for perfection and sense of beauty can be perceived in daily life from the packaging.

*Liliam Benzi is a specialist in communication, marketing and business development and strategies for B2B, with emphasis on the packaging sector. She is also the Editor of some publications, including WPO News, and is the Communication Advisor for several companies and entities. She was elected ‘Professional of the Year 2018’ in Brazil. She was also appointed as Press & Communication Liaaison Officer of WPO for a second term and is the head of her company – LDB Comunicação – since 1995 ([email protected]).

WPO (World Packaging Organisation –

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