Clever Japanese


Some people see the uncreative way that many aspects of Japanese society execute and, quite mistakenly, extrapolate that Japanese people are not clever. Often we follow rules here that are not the best, but they are “The Way”; however, I am often impressed by amazing details that are considered in the design of tools.

Today, my mind muddled and preventing me from being terribly productive, I found myself seeking distraction. The communal tissue box is on my desk, partly because I am rarely at this office and partly because I have a small space requirement when prepping for classes. Hoxy (pronounced hokushii), a new brand of tissues from Nepia, caught my attention. I turned the box over to see if there was any explanation of the new name and found four sets of perforated lines. The middle two had specific directions in Japanese.

You know how half-empty tissue boxes sometimes like to swallow the tissues back inside? When I’ve spilled a little soy on my hand I don’t want to reach into the box to try restarting the feed mechanism. Wouldn’t you know it; the box designers had accounted for this by making easy-to-use tabs that raise the remaining tissues up close to the mouth, preventing the tissue swallowing problem.

The other two sets of perforations didn’t have an explanation so I asked Google Japan for a little help. This page from the Nepia website gives a diagram with directions on usage. For those of you literate in Japanese, you’ll find the following descriptions:

  • box mouth design uses no plastic film for recycle sorting ease
  • environmentally friendly inks are used in printing
  • 90% recycled paper is used in manufacture
  • simple designs to make us think of nature are used
  • convenient center tabs to raise short stack of tissues
  • handy side tabs for easily collapsing the empty box
  • a link to Prince Paper Group’s forest and paper recycling philosophy

The “nature symbols” are Sun, Cloud, Flower, House, and Snowman. I notice that all of them are constructed using only the letters H, O, X, and/or Y. Coincidence? I think not.

Two years back, on the original blog, I recall writing about the clever, page-turning ATM.

One Response to “Clever Japanese”

  1. My Butt Doesn't Care « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] Butt Doesn’t Care While writing about the well-designed Nepia Hoxy tissue boxes, I fumbled around their website to see what other products were there. […]

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