As many of you will be aware, Japan is a country that pays great attention to details. In this article, we talk about packaging design features that will help you distinguish between products even if you don't understand Japanese. A must read for those who've never been to Japan or have recently moved here.
Shampoo or conditioner？
There is a wide variety of haircare products in Japanese pharmacies and cosmetic stores. Some of these are cult classics and are even popular in foreign markets. Have you ever picked up a conditioner instead of a shampoo due to identical packaging? Or when you’re staying in a hotel, do you sometimes hesitate as to which bottle to pick first.
Of course, many of the latest products have names in English, and it is easier for people who understand English to distinguish them.
You may not know this but often conditioner is referred to as "treatment" in Japan.
If the bottle is transparent, it is easier to distinguish the product. A clear, translucent liquid is usually shampoo, while a milky white one is conditioner.
If you're in a hurry, pay attention to the above and you'll avoid making a mistake.
However, there are several local brands that use only Japanese or don't have transparent bottles for products. In this case, check the side of the bottle.
A bottle of shampoo has raised stripes (textured) on the side while a conditioner does not. So now you know which one to buy in case the labeling is all in Japanese.
This design was originally created to help the visually challenged. Although you won't see all brands using this design feature, it can help those who don't read Japanese.
How to look for 100% pure fruit juice
This little secret is important for those who pursue a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you prefer to drink 100% pure fruit juice with few other ingredients, then look for an image of cut fruits on the packaging. Look at the the two fruit juice cartons below: the package on the right uses a picture of a whole orange, while the left uses a picture of a cut one.
The one on the right has 21% fruit juice, while the one on the left has 100% fruit juice. Rather than looking for the tiny numbers on packaging, it is much easier to look at the image and quickly make a decision.
How to look for 100% milk
If you visit the dairy section of a supermarket, you will find milk cartons with this small arc-shaped cut.
Only pure milk cartons have this cut. Anything with this cut is 100% pure milk.
Other dairy products that contain milk like milk coffee, flavored milk, yogurt, low-fat milk among others do not have this mark. By using the sense of touch, the visually challenged can easily distinguish between such drinks in cartons.
It should be noted that this design is only available for volumes above 500 ml.
How to judge the size of packaged food items
Sometimes you may see some snacks that look very attractive based on the packaging design, but you may wonder about the actual size of the snack. This kind of worry is unnecessary in Japan because most of the contents in the packet are the same, including size, as shown in the pictures on the packaging. Japan’s popular treat Kinoko-no-yama (the real thing) is marked with a red circle in the middle below. Each mushroom is the same size as the picture on the package.
Knowing this is very convenient for parents and guardians as you can judge if a snack is suitable for a child just by looking at the picture.
Take a look at this well-known shrimp cracker snack, the thickness of a real cracker is almost the same as that shown on the package.
Let’s take a look at this very popular stress-relieving chocolate sold in convenience stores and supermarkets. The red circle shows the real chocolate and its size matches that of the one on the package.
The Japanese pursuit of the belief “God is in the details” is well known the world over. This characteristic is manifested in all aspects and particularly useful in figuring out packaged products. Hope knowing this will make your shopping experience easier on your visit to Japan.