Business operator: GE Wellness Co., Ltd.
Project manager: Mika Tsuneyoshi
R&D in biotechnology and IT found lactobacillus in rice-growing soil. During the 17th and 18th centuries, common people in Japan incorporated into their daily lives traditional foods that utilized the powers of lactobacillus. Such foods included tsukemono, vegetables and other items pickled for a certain period of time in salted bran made of rice husk. GE Wellness Co., Ltd.’s Ukiyo-e Hinata Hina soap combines this lactobacillus with yeast for use in contemporary lives as a cosmetic item.
The main features of this soap containing lactobacillus are its precisely calculated lactobacillus-yeast compounding ratio and superb lathering. Moreover, this soap is fragrance free and uses no synthetic surfactants, making it ideal for sensitive skin. GE Wellness manufactures and sells this soap as a new cosmetic item that enhances the skin’s immunity and promotes the regeneration of skin cells. Along with spreading the concept of “facial cleansing nurtured within Japan’s unique culture,” the soap also conveys the Japanese aesthetic concept that bright, radiant and smooth-textured skin is the essence of beauty.
Ukiyo-e Hinata Hina also encapsulates Japan’s unique spirit of handcrafting and other forms of monozukuri (making things) prevalent since ancient times. This soap is not a simple cosmetic item but rather a product that blends cutting-edge technologies with Japanese traditional culture.
Using only naturally derived materials essential for skin
GE Wellness mixes naturally derived materials such as lactobacillus, yeast, honey and olive oil in meticulously calculated quantities to ensure fine lathering. The company also takes innovative steps to prevent any waste. For example, it recovers excess materials that protrude from molds during the soap forming process and sends it back to the process of mixing the materials for reuse.
The secret to lathering lies in the compounding ratio
Mixed ingredients are kneaded while being cut. This repeated mixing and kneading ensures that components of the naturally derived ingredients are evenly blended to produce uniform and long-lasting lathering. Although machinery is used in this process, the condition of ingredient mixing is determined by the hands and eyes of highly skilled workers.
Handiwork by skilled workers affects shaping
Skilled workers hand-cut the carefully mixed ingredients and place them into molds. Because cutting too much or too little creates waste, the long years of experience of skilled workers are essential. This machinery was used for the production of soap in times so early that it is rarely in operation in Japan any more.
Pressing only the best portion at the center
The cut materials are placed onto a press for shaping. The ingredients formed into a cylinder are purposely laid sideways, with both ends removed and only the center portion left. The press for this process has been used since early times and production up to the final process is carried out under the watchful eyes of skilled workers.
Kenichi Arakawa gained knowledge about IT during his stunt at PC-related part-time jobs in his high-school days and started up a company at age 20. He became involved in the biotechnology industry 15 years ago as part of an industry-academia collaboration business. Motivated by his desire to expand the possibilities of biotechnology, in 2016 he launched GE Wellness Co., Ltd., where he currently serves as representative director and president.
“The traditional technology, for which research is advancing in today’s society, was routinely used in daily life during the Edo Period (1603–1868). We brought this wisdom into our contemporary lives in the form of Ukiyo-e Hinata Hina, our original lactobacillus-containing facial cleansing cosmetic,” says Kenichi Arakawa, president of GE Wellness Co., Ltd., who spearheaded the development of the product.
By applying its technological capabilities that originated from the IT business, GE Wellness has promoted R&D aimed at making its achievements in biotechnology a familiar part of people’s lives for the past eight years.
Arakawa explains that “Although Ukiyo-e Hinata Hina utilizes soil-derived lactobacillus, I see numerous possibilities in other bacteria. R&D is still ongoing, but first I’m hoping to convey the attraction of biotechnology starting with this cosmetic product. On top of this, I’d like to communicate Japan’s unique cultural style of facial cleansing to the rest of the world.”
GE Wellness seeks to tell the world about the still untapped possibilities of biotechnologies by combining bright, radiant and smooth-textured skin, which can be considered “Japanese beauty” as depicted in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with Japan’s self-nurtured facial cleansing culture.
Synthetic surfactants, which are a cleansing agent, are compounded in regular facial cleansers. Although some products maintain lathering by using this ingredient, Ukiyo-e Hinata Hina achieves long-lasting fine lather without using synthetic surfactants. The use of honey and olive oil raises moisturizing effects and is effective in bringing natural suppleness to the skin after cleansing. The packages feature three types of Ukiyo-e works by Chikanobu Toyohara, known as a “beauty painting artist.” They express bright, radiant and beautiful skin, which is one of the Japanese aesthetic concepts since ancient times.
Head Office functions are situated in Nagoya, where the company was founded. In autumn 2018, GE Wellness set up its biotechnology lab on Port Island, in Kobe, which is known as a research hub that attracts leading-edge technologies. As its innovative approach to spurring growth in its respective fields of expertise, the company divides research among individual research facilities according to development themes.
GE Wellness Co., Ltd.
With the aim of fusing IT and biotechnology, GE Wellness started R&D of cosmetic items around 10 years ago through industry-academia collaboration. The company also has group companies that utilize its accumulated know-how to undertake research in the dementia-related business, the wellness business, the clinical trial consignment business and the robotics business.
JP Nagoya Tower 14F, 1-1-1 Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi