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September 2004

Kadokeshi: An Eraser with Many Corners

The Kadokeshi, which has 28 corners (KOKUYO Co., Ltd.)

The corners of erasers are very convenient when you need to erase small areas of writing. But an ordinary eraser only has eight corners, and when all eight corners have become rounded, it's no longer as easy to use. Many people must have wished at some time for a more functional eraser. For those who have, the eraser of your dreams is here!

The Kadokeshi is an eraser with a whopping 28 corners. Its name comes from combining the Japanese word for corner, kado, and the word for eraser, keshigomu. New corners keep emerging as you continue using the eraser, so it's always easy to erase small areas.

Children seem to like the new eraser very much. "It's great that you can erase just where you want to," says one. Another explains, "Erasing with a corner is easy, because you don't have to put so much strength into it." Others appreciate the look: "I like the cute and funny design." Kuroki Megumi, a sixth grader living in Gifu Prefecture, feels the eraser is especially helpful when it comes to practicing kanji, the characters with which Japanese is largely written. Most kanji characters are made up of two or more parts, and she says, "Even if I make a mistake when I'm writing a kanji character, I can erase just the part that I got wrong, so it's very useful."

The Kadokeshi is also easy to hold (KOKUYO Co., Ltd.)

You may be wondering how this uniquely shaped eraser, made of 10 staggered cubes joined together, came about. Kokuyo, a supplier of stationery, has been holding the Kokuyo Design Award every year since 2002. It invites the public to submit ideas for products that incorporate the concept of universal design, or designs that are easy for everyone to use. The Kadokeshi was one of the winners of the award in its first year.

The Kadokeshi has been noted far and wide for its excellent design. In Japan it was chosen for the Good Design Award. It was even featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition featured 122 everyday items from around the world that were selected for their brilliant designs, and it ran from April to September 2004.

But although the design of the Kadokeshi was widely praised, there was one problem in making it into a marketable product: the hardness. If an eraser of this innovative design were made with the same soft material as most erasers, it would be likely to tear apart during use. So the manufacturer adjusted the amounts of the chemical substances that are mixed together to make the eraser, resulting in a harder material than the average eraser.

Professional adults who do detailed work with pencils, such as technical or design drawings, have started using the Kadokeshi as well. In May 2004 the Kadokeshi reached the first anniversary of its launch. During that month, according to Kokuyo, total sales of the eraser reached one million, far exceeding the initial target of 40,000. More and more people are sure to start using the Kadokeshi as word spreads of how easy it is to use.