Brand Element Design: Japanese Sake – Creative Koi Packaging for Imayotsukasa

Award winning "KOI" sake bottle.

Wonderfully creative Sake packaging from Japan conceived by Aya Codama at the BULLET agency. One of the loveliest designs we’ve seen in awhile.

From Oishi Nippon Blog:

“Imayotsukasa is a family owned business founded in 1787, and current owner Heikichi Yamamoto is its 9th generation brewer. Given its long history, why am I calling them the new kid on the block? Well, for a company that’s almost 230 years old, the brand feels fresh and modern.  This is a small brewery with big dreams.”


Graceful, and smooth –hopefully the sake inside the bottles is just as smooth and graceful on the palate.

The project brief:

This package is for Japanese Sake, which is called “KOI”. The “KOI” is a vividly patterned ornamental fish that represents Japan (“KOI” is also known as “Nishikigoi”).

“KOI” is ornamental carp that have beautiful colored markings on the spindle-shaped heroic body. They can be defined as inedible carp that have admirable figure, markings or colors. Also they are known as a “living jewel”.


In 1918, first “KOI” was born in Niigata Japan where the Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery has their brewery. In past times, when Japanese sake was shipped in barrels, breweries would often dilute their product with water before selling it to liquor stores.

The stores would then add more water when selling it to consumers. People dubbed such sake “goldfish sake”, implying that it had become so watery that goldfish can swim in it. But it is said that even in those times, Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery, the producer of this sake, never added water to its product, much to the delight of the liquor stores.

“Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery is not a little ‘goldfish’ but a majestic ‘koi’.” This project started with the ambition of creating a majestic sake that manifests the values of Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery.

Agency: BULLET Inc.
Designer: Aya Codama
Client: Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery Co. Ltd.
Location: Niigata, Japan

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