The Power of the Unseen

Hakko Department (Fermentation Department)

Hiraku Ogura (JP)

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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 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.

Hiraku Ogura: Fermentation Designer/CEO, 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 baceteria, 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 [Fermentation Cultural Anthropology: The shape of society as seen from microorganisms]” (Kirakusha, 2017) and more.