COVID-19 has caused a shortage of antibacterial sanitizers around the world, making it extremely hard for people to find. However, a company in Japan found itself short of the containers it comes in, as opposed to the product itself. In response to this, two companies – one selling antibacterial sanitizer liquids and a manufacturer of small containers for seasonings – joined forces and came up with the idea for SafeHandFish, a portable antibacterial sanitizer in the iconic fish-shaped soy bottles. Only in Japan.


“In response to the UN’s call for creative coronavirus preventative measures, a-dot reached out to hand sanitizer and container and bottle companies for ideas”, marketing company a-dot who came up with the idea says. In a joint effort by Ohishiya and natural antibacterial agent manufacturer Clean EX, the project SafeHandFish saw extra fish that are normally used in bento boxes (Japan’s signature lunch box) being filled with hand sanitizer to promote hygiene during the coronavirus outbreak.

SafeHandFish is born in response to a decrease in lunch box orders in consequence of voluntary refraining/cancelation of events. Fish-shaped sauce containers are familiar to Japanese, usually containing seasoning and come with lunch boxes. However, a wave of event cancellations left a huge pile of stock behind.


By containing sanitizers in the fish-shaped containers, it helped save the manufacturing company as well as promoted personal hygiene through food consumption. The portable antibacterial liquid is 100% natural product – containing purified water with a grapefruit seed extract – and delivered to consumers free of charge through restaurants and delivery businesses that are in high demand due to Japan’s lockdown. It is a single-use sanitizer enough to disinfect the area of concerns, allowing the consumer to enjoy a meal in a sanitary condition.

The iconic red cap of the soy sauce containers was changed to blue, to symbolize cleanliness and to echo the colour of the United Nations.

Pictures by a-dot / Illustrations by Edith Ault for What Design Can Do.

As told by our partners in Japan, Shibaura House – a hub for creative culture in Shibaura, Tokyo.

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