Bellmark Goods‏

Bellmark is a non-profit organization set up to help schools buy teaching materials and equipment. It was founded in 1960 by Asahi Shimbun newspaper and a wide variety of Japanese companies, including most food companies, support this organization while at the same time receiving positive publicity.

It works as follows: Bellmark symbols are attached to specific products and show how many points that product is worth. Points generally range from 1 to 8, and one point corresponds into one yen's worth of donation. Schools, the PTA or people who support schools clip and collect these marks and then redeem them to receive credits for their school.

One yen per point does not sound like much, but in 2011, roughly 130 million yen was collected. Over 24,800 schools participate, and this includes oversees schools which are recognized by the education ministry. Eighty percent of proceeds go to schools and 20 percent to administrative costs - not bad.

If you have kids in school in Japan, you probably already know about Bellmark, but even if you don't collecting these symbols from packages and giving them to someone who is collecting them might be worth the effort.

The only thing that seems odd is that the technology appears not to have changed since 1960. You still have to cut them off the label, count them up and separate them by company. Sounds like incredibly tedious work which could be greatly simplified by use of bar codes or some similar technology.


List of companies supporting Bellmark and some corresponding products (PDF file)

More detailed list of products with links

Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Itoen Morning Yoo

Itoen sells a drink called Morning Yoo, which is short for Morning Yogurt (朝のヨー). This is a fermented milk drink, not a true yogurt drink, and is advertised as containing 10 times more lactic acid bacteria than yogurt (non-active culture). This product is a collaboration with Chichiyasu, the yogurt maker, and includes oligosaccharides and added calcium.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Meiji Nature Outing‏

Meiji is holding an outing for 1st to 3rd graders to experience some nature in Fukushima Prefecture. The number of winners (parent-child pairs) has not been announced but the activities include games, coating cookies with chocolate (to promote Kinoko and Takenoko chocolate products) and a nature outing. Transportation costs are not included in the promotion. Co-sponsors of this event are two Japanese nature societies.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.

Ito Ham Black Pig‏

Ito Ham sells a special brand of pork made from Kagoshima Black or Berkshire pigs (黒豚) called Kuro no Takumi (黒の匠) or roughly "black workmanship". Kagoshima is famous for black pigs and for Satsuma sweet potatoes (薩摩芋). This product claims an umami taste deriving at least in part from the pigs fed containing 10 to 20 percent Satsuma sweet potatoes.


Photo is a web capture for explanatory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.