When it comes to things like an office chair or how to efficiently carry boxes, for example, it's not too hard to imagine how the field of human factors and ergonomics can improve productivity and quality of life. However, some things seem to be so simple and already perfectly designed that no improvement is required. Consider the soup spoon. It has a handle to hold, and a circular, sometimes oval "bowl" to hold your soup. Simple. Works fine. End of story. Or is it?

As it turns out, even the soup spoon can be improved!

New World Co., Ltd. and Yamazaki Kinzoku Kogyo Co., Ltd. have jointly launched a crowdfunding project for the スープ賢人 sūpu kenjin (literally "Soup Sage"), a radical new soup spoon design born from the field of human factors and ergonomics! Their campaign on the crowdfunding platform Makuake runs until August 27th, 2021, but it has already exceeded 550% of their goal at the time of writing.

Founded in 1918 in Tsubame, Niigata Prefecture, a city famous for metalwork and craftsmanship, Yamazaki Kinzoku Kogyo Co., Ltd. is internationally famous for its high-quality one-of-a-kind cutlery designs. For example, in 1991, their specially-designed cutlery was laid on the banquet tables for the Nobel Prize 90th Anniversary Award Ceremony in Stockholm.

Their "Soup Sage" soup spoons are the result of thorough analysis and research into the movements people make when they eat soup, and have been designed from the ground up to be easy to eat with!


The spoons come in two designs, ES6 and R45:

Soup Sage ES6

  • Retail price: 1,650 JPY (tax included)
  • Size: 185 mm (length) x 45 mm (width)
  • Weight: 48 g
  • Material: 18/8 stainless steel

Soup Sage R45

  • Retail price: 1,650 JPY (tax included)
  • Size: 185 mm (length) x 45 mm (width)
  • Weight: 51 g
  • Material: 18/8 stainless steel

A case made with Rice Resin® is included with each purchase of one of the spoons. Rice Resin® is a sustainable biomass resin, developed and commercialized by Biomass Resin Holdings Co., Ltd. in Japan, and derived from inedible old rice, rice shreds generated in the process of making rice-based snacks, and other rice that would otherwise be disposed of as animal feed. Moreover, using a sustainable product like Rice Resin® contributes to Sustainable Development Goal No. 12: "Responsible Consumption and Production."

  • Size: 220 mm (length) x 65 mm (width) x 20 mm (height)
  • Weight: 16.5g (15 mm body / 1.5 g rest)
  • Material: Rice Resin®

An optimized design based on human factors and ergonomics

The kenjin (sage) series is designed to be the "ultimate cutlery" customized to specific dishes based on the concept of "making food more delicious."

As the name suggests, the Soup Sage began with observing the movements of the hands and mouth when eating soup, especially chunky soups like minestrone with many ingredients inside it.

Working in close cooperation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research Institute and the Research Center for Human Factors and Ergonomics, they thoroughly researched the ideal shape for a spoon that can make eating more delicious (and efficient).

Like an extension of your body

This unique shape was derived as the most suitable for the series of actions of eating soup with a spoon: scooping up soup and ingredients from a deep-bottomed bowl, bending the hand to bring the spoon to the mouth, putting it in the mouth, and pulling it out.

The most distinctive feature is the bowl (head) design. This shape is designed to make it easy for a spoon loaded with soup and ingredients to enter the mouth at an angle of 45° from the front of the face. The angle is designed to assist this natural movement without any discomfort.

The flowing slope of the spoon when viewed from the side allows the lips to envelop the entire surface of the spoon when removing it from the mouth, allowing the user to finish eating the soup.

This shape also has a positive effect on eating manners, as it prevents the user from raising the elbow too high.

In addition, the well-calculated and exquisite handle design allows the user to quickly pick up the soup and ingredients without tilting the bowl or rotating the spoon too far.

It's a well-known fact that ergonomics have an important impact in users' wellbeing. Whether it's at home or in a company cafeteria, every little detail which can enhance life, work, and happiness is appreciated. That's why ergonomic improvements can also contribute to Sustainable Development Goal No. 3, "ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages."

Two "Soup Sage" designs

In a first for the company, Yamazaki Kinzoku Industry used a metal 3D printer for prototyping and testing, which allowed them to create numerous test models and finally arrive at these two distinctive spoons.

The ES6 is ambidextrous and can scoop up a large amount of food in one go. This model is recommended for those who want to eat a big meal at once. Compared to the R45, the ES6 makes it easier to pour soup into your mouth and remove it with a satisfying, unencumbered movement.

The R45 is designed for right-handed users only, with an asymmetrical design. The straight lines that protrude greatly when viewed from the front and the three-dimensional shape that more easily fits in your mouth provide a sense of stability and comfort.

You can also purchase the "Curry Sage," a special spoon optimized for curry.

Sustainable materials

In addition to being made with Rice Resin®、the surface of the spoon cases are printed with rice ink made with rice bran oil. Moreover, the design features a motif of golden ears of rice shining in green fields. Yamazaki Kinzoku Kogyo Co., Ltd. is based in Niigata Prefecture, famous for its rice production, and this is reflected in the case's design through and through.

The cases are perfect for bringing "Soup Sage" and "Curry Sage" along with you wherever you go. It goes without saying that it's more environmentally-friendly than using disposable plastic cutlery.

If you'd like to participate in the crowdfunding project and buy your own spoons, please note that the campaign will run until August 27th, 2021.

By - Ben K.