Japanese History: The Story of Olfa Corporation | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
Japanese History: The Story of Olfa Corporation

Japanese History: The Story of Olfa Corporation

By Guidable Writers Aug 28, 2016

Japanese History: The Story of Olfa Corporation

The Olfa Corporation was founded by a Japanese businessman Yoshio Okada in 1956 in Osaka. Olfa Corporation may not be a famous company, but Olfa’s cutter knives are introduced in more than 100 countries’s offices and houses in the world today.

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Yoshio Okada and his younger brother Saburo worked in a printing company together. There were no convenient utility knives, such as Olfa’s cutter knives in Japan at that time, they needed to use blades of knives or razors without handles directly for working. Moreover, such knives and razors were not strong enough and they easily wear out quickly, the brothers decided to invent more durable and safe utility knives which is made originally and locally Japan.

Utility Knives Created by Okada

In 1959s, after many trials and errors, Okada finally succeeded to invent his ideal cutter knives “Sharp knife” in Japan. “Sharp Knife” was the world’s first utility knife which can be snapped off if its blades are worn out or broken. However, Okada’s ideas were not accepted by his fellows and other companies, he decided to found his own company after he quitted the printing company.


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In 1968s, Okada began to export the snap off blade cutter in the world. At first, Okada decided to introduce his own products as “Olha” in the world (“Ol” or “Oru” means break something in Japanese and “Ha” means blades in Japanese). But “Olha” could be pronounced “Olua” in French, Okada changed his products and his company name “Olha” to “Olfa”. Olfa corporation has manufactured basically, yellow colored products since its foundation because yellow colored products are the most visible color and this color also reminds people caution when they use these utility knives. These yellow colored products also came from the yolk of a raw egg. According to Olfa Corporation, the yellow color reminds people of warmth when they use it. Olfa Corporation has been carefully selecting its materials and colors for their products ever since.

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(Reference: https://www.bing.com/images)

Okada’s ideas came from his childhood when American soldiers gave chocolates for Japanese children after WWII. The experiences reminded Okada to invent the snap-off blade cutter which is easy to bend or break each blade that looks like chocolate bars that the American soldiers gave after the war. His ideas have been gradually accepted by the world and Olfa’s cutter has now become the world standard sizes for manufacturing all over the world.



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