Highlighting Collective Movements

Hakko Department (Fermentation Department)


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.


Published the book Hakko-bunka-jinruigaku [Fermental Cultural Anthropology: The shape of society as seen from microorganisms] (Kirakusha, 2017).


Held the exhibit Tourism Nippon - Rediscovering Japan through Fermentation at d47 MUSEUM, Shibuya Hikarie.

Founded the design firm Fermentation Design Lab.


Opened the Hakko Department (Fermentation Department) at BONUS TRACK, a commercial facility in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.

Director’s comment

​​The workings of fermentation live on as an invisible culture in the various climates and people who live there. OGURA Hiraku teaches us from the perspective of cultural anthropology while investigating the food and history of the land. Just as humans evolved through the acquisition of fire, Ogura says that humans will become "homo fermentum" (a term he coined) through the acquisition of microorganisms as companions. What he deploys at Hakko Department is an accumulation of knowledge that has been cultivated over the years by people from different places, and fermentation culture as the ultimate open source. OGURA knows what it means to eat, and his journey to explore the world's fermented food cultures never stops. (TOMURA Asako)

OGURA Hiraku

OGURA Hiraku

Fermentation Designer

CEO of Fermentation Design Lab

​​Born in 1983. Studied Cultural Anthropology at Waseda University. After studying and working in France, he studied fermentation science as a research student at Tokyo University of Agriculture and set up a fermentation laboratory on a mountain in Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture. He has been exploring the world of microorganisms while growing bacteria, and is also involved in activities to introduce Japanese fermentation culture to people overseas. He established a design firm, Fermentation Design Lab, and opened the Hakko Department (Fermentation Department) in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, in April 2020. Publications include Hakko-bunka-jinruigaku [Fermental Cultural Anthropology: The shape of society as seen from microorganisms] (Kirakusha, 2017) and more.

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