Hakko Department (Fermentation Department)
Photo by SHIMODA Naoto
Miso, soy sauce, sake and koji are fermented foods that are indispensable to the Japanese diet. OGURA Hiraku is a fermentation designer who aims to make the microorganisms in fermented food visible through design. In collaboration with brewers and researchers across Japan, he has developed several projects on the theme of fermentation and microorganisms, including product development, production of picture books and animated films and workshops. He has been conducting fieldwork in a variety of regions to explore various fermented foods in Japan and abroad.
In 2019, he established the Fermentation Design Lab, a design firm specializing in projects related to fermentation and microorganisms, with the mission of creating “Design that embeds the workings of invisible microorganisms in society.” In April 2020, he opened Hakko Department (Fermentation Department) in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, where he highlights about 450 fermented products from all over Japan and the world. It runs as a café-restaurant serving fermented food, a gallery and a workshop space, and is a center for the dissemination of fermentation culture.