Yuhei Yamamoto’s “kokki” are a series of tableware shaped like flags

Kokki (国旗) is the Japanese word for national flag, but it’s also the title of a new series of tableware that includes four rectangular, white porcelain plates, each with unique dividers that create the outline of several well-known national flags. “By placing various national foods on other national flags, you can mix borders and cultures on the dinner table,” says designer Yuhei Yamamoto. In other words, it’s a melting plate of cultures!


an example of Italian food being served on the Japanese flag, and vice versa.

Yamamoto typically works as a designer for Panasonic, but last year he submitted his prototype to the Tokyo Midtown Design Awards, which awards designers cash prizes and the chance to commercialize their design. Well Yamamoto’s flag plates came in 3rd last year, but this year the design competition announced that the plates were being turned into buyable products thanks to Oda Pottery.


an example of Japanese and Spanish food served on the flag of Spain

But ahead of going on sale, the kokki tableware will be used at two Tokyo restaurants – ukafe and Rita – between Oct 16 and Nov 3, 2015. “Mixing [national foods and flags] together, will perhaps make us more aware of the foods we eat, and of the country’s identity,” said Yamamoto.


“kotohane” are wearable flag feathers that indicate fluency in the country’s respective language

Perhaps due to the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, internationalism and interculturalism is certainly on the minds of many designers. In conjunction with their announcement to commercialize Yamamoto’s kokki tableware, the Tokyo Midtown Design Awards also announced the winners of their 2015 contest. And from over 1,300 entries the top prize when to designers Rina Kurihara and Takanori Yoshida, whose wants to visualize fluency in a foreign language and integrate it into fashion.

The duo’s “kotohane” (a portmanteaux of two Japanese words meaning “speak” and “feather”) are essentially wearable feathers that have various country flags printed on them. By wearing the feather either on your hat or pinned to your chest you’re sending out a message that you can speak that country’s language. “Seeing your own country’s flag in a foreign country must be reassuring,” asserts the designers. “We want everyone in the world to be able to come to Japan and enjoy the country by sailing over language barriers.”