As you may have noticed, Japan has pretty much mastered the art of sprucing up food. We’ve already seen a plethora of tools to create bear-shaped rice or smiley face sausages, but we’re particularly excited about a certain product we just discovered up north in Hokkaido. They’re called “message kombu” and the heartfelt messages made out of seaweed are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

▼ Yep, that’s seaweed.img_1915

The product’s name in Japanese is actually “messe-ji konbu,” a play on words combining the Japanese word for message (messeji) and the word for written character (字 [ji]). The latter half of the product name, kombu, of course refers to a popular type of seaweed used in many Japanese dishes.

So now that the cleverness of the name has been sorted out, let’s get a closer look at this unique garnish. The manufacturer, Kotobuki Konbu, actually makes six different kinds of fancy seaweed, but our writer only picked up the one variety.

▼ Here we have 愛している (I love you), ありがとう (thank you), and ごめんね (sorry ’bout that).img_1836

Opening each package reveals a tangled web of seaweed inside clear plastic wrappers.


Taking the message kombu out of the package and placing it in a bowl results in a somewhat underwhelming scene:


It just looks like dried kombu with maybe a little heart somewhere in the mix. Our reporter timidly poured hot water over the tangled mess and every so slowly things started to take shape as the seaweed soaked up the boiling water.


Okay, looking better! Now to just unscramble these messages…


They’re beautiful! The writing is so elaborate and delicate; it’s amazing each character stays stuck together. However, after our reporter’s initial excitement, he couldn’t quite figure out how he’d use this stylish seaweed.

▼ Here we have ごめんね (sorry) accompanied by a heart. img_1882

Delicious food has always stood as something of a universal language, but why not add a sincere “sorry” to the meal you make to apologize after that big fight with your spouse. You can even throw in a heartfelt 愛してる (I love you) for good measure.

▼ The “I love you” seaweed comes with two hearts! She can’t stay mad at you after seeing that floating at the bottom of the “miso sorry soup” you lovingly made for her.img_1901 (1)

But even if you didn’t do something horribly wrong and need a way to make up for it, there’s always the ありがとう (thank you) seaweed to show your appreciation any day of the week.

▼ No hearts here, but still a nice message of thanks.img_1888

If you’d like to get your own pack of message kombu, you can find them online at the Kotobuki Konbu homepage or, if you happen to be traveling, at the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. A package of three of the same message sells for 378 yen (US$3.17). Just don’t forget that you have to rehydrate the seaweed for the message to be revealed!

Reference: Kotobuki Konbu
Photos © RocketNews24