Eat Together Live Better

美味しい食卓 豊かな暮らし

“Sitting round the dining table with our families, enjoying delicious meals prepared with love using local ingredients… and suddenly all our problems will be solved. Yes, this is what we truly believe in.”


Saikichi Shoten is a fish-processing company with a long history of 95 years, located in Kesennuma city of Miyagi Prefecture. Throughout its history, Saikichi Shoten has been passing down the local Tohoku culinary culture using the abundant marine resources available in the seas of Kesennuma. This is represented best by its signature product- the Golden Saury, that takes four days to make, using the magical master stock that has been accumulated and replenished for 27 years.

Our designers, Ryan from Singapore and Rege from Indonesia, spent three days with the Saikichi family, learning about the local culture and thinking of design ideas for them.



The Saikichi family’s request to the designers, was to convey, through design, the richness of Tohoku’s lifestyle and culture interpreted by themselves. “The Port of Kesennuma is surrounded by mountains. When rain falls, the rainwater flows together with its minerals through the mountains into the seas. This is how our seas provide us with such rich resources.” The Saikichi family narrated to us the beautiful story and history of the fishing town, about the history of Saikichi Shoten and their vision, and about the day of the disaster, while overlooking the town of Kesennuma on the top of Mount Anba.


After the disaster, the product packaging of Saikichi Shoten have been revamped such that they convey Saikichi Shoten’s brand concept and messages, by designers both in-house and by consignment. Furthermore, beyond packaging design, they have also published recipes using their own products, and begun using social media to disseminate information and reach out to more people. Saikichi Shoten had, in fact, already acquired its own style and foundation through various sales and PR tools. So then the question was how else could the designers suggest something totally new.


We understood the true meaning behind Saikichi Shoten’s catchphrase “Eat Together Live Better” during the homestay. We sat round the dining table together with the Saikichi family that spanned across four generations. On the dining table lay a sumptuous meal consisting of chirashi-zushi, bonito fish and other dishes. One of our favorites was the “Steamed Bonito with Bones”, which contained the true essence of the local culinary flavor. That was a dish that Ryan requested from the start- “a dish that your family usually eats at home”. Our meal was full of laughter as we chatted over delicious food. When the ice was broken, the grandma told the two designers, “The world is one”. Intriguingly, the two designers understood what she said, without interpretation. The original message in Japanese, had reached the hearts of the two designers who did not understand Japanese. It is interesting how having a scrumptious meal together connected our hearts and minds.

斉吉商店が掲げる「美味しい食卓 豊かな暮らし」がすっと入ってきたのは、ホームステイのときでした。大きな食卓を4世代で囲み、その上にはちらし寿司、鰹のタタキなどご馳走が並びます。その中でも一番嬉しかったのは地元の滋味を余さず丁寧にいただく「カツオの骨煮」。それはRyanからのリクエストでもあった、普段斉藤家で食べている家庭料理でした。美味しい食事を囲みながら笑い声が絶えない食卓。しばらくして緊張が解けた頃、ばっぱ(おばあちゃんのことです)が2人に「世界はひとつですね」声をかけると、そのメッセージは通訳を介さず伝わっていたのでした。美味しい食卓を一緒に囲むことで、こんなにも通じ会えるんだと驚きました。

Ryan brought up three suggestions, namely “recipe books”, “packaging” and “design system”, to Saikichi Shoten. However, having seen how they already have their own designers, and have a solid foundation of packaging design and PR tools, his idea was not to re-design everything, but instead a conceptual framework in order for them to continue designing by their in-house designer, and to tell the stories of Saikichi Shoten to overseas without undermining their current method.


The fishes caught from the rich seas of Kesennuma and the strong family bond enhanced through gastronomy. This was what inspired Rege to come up with the idea of introducing this natural cycle of the local environment to Jakarta, a city that is experiencing rapid economic growth. Environmental awareness is recently growing in Jakarta, and this is why Rege thought it would be the perfect timing to relate the story of the richness of lives in Tohoku and Saikichi Shoten.


There is a blog article on the homepage of Saikichi Shoten named “Grandma’s Canteen”.

My kids wrote the words “our favorite canteen ever” on the keys to the kitchen.
Grandma, the boss of the canteen, was proud of having received such kind words.
Grandma’s Canteen is what makes Saikichi great.
And this is what motivates Grandma’s Canteen to keep preparing delicious foods.
I hope this place will be where we gather, have meals, chitchat, quarrel and learn, all together.

Reading this article, it reminded me of the three days we spent at the Saikichi family. That big dining table in their house has become “our favorite canteen” too.

I encourage you to read the presentation by the two designers.
You will feel how the two designers received and interpreted the warmth and hospitality from the Saikichi family, as well as the richness of Tohoku and their heartfelt messages to their Japanese families.


子供たちが 外から入る台所のカギに「最高の台所」と書きました。
台所の最高責任者 ばっぱ は 素敵な称号 をもらったと自慢気でした。
ばっぱの台所 こそ 「斉吉のへそ」のような気がしています。
ですからまた 新しい「ばっぱの台所」の準備をしています。
みんなが集まって ご飯を食べたり 話をしたり けんかをしたり、何か 教わったりする場所
になれるように と 思っています。(一部を抜粋)


  • Ryan's Presentation
  • Rege's Presentation