The joke hidden inside Muji’s name (but only if you can read 無印良品)

Posted on by Guy Cookson

Muji

This might be old news, but it was news to me. The Muji brand, which I’m pretty fond of, is not really a brand at all.

From the New York Times all the way back in 2007:

New Yorkers, used to the egocentric Japanese personalities like Nobu and Masa, may assume that there is a man named Muji behind the Japanese brand that has already seduced design-conscious crowds at MoMA and is scheduled to arrive in New York City on Nov. 16 with its first American store, at 455 Broadway in SoHo. (And a 5,000-square-foot space in the new New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue and 40th-41st Streets in January.)

But there is no Muji the man. New York shoppers who can read the characters in the Japanese label (無印良品) immediately get the inside joke. The first character, 無 (mu), means “without.” The second character, 印 (jirushi), means “brand.” “Muji” is simply short for “Mujirushi Ryōhin” or “brandless quality goods.” Muji started out in the early 1980s as a generic supermarket brand for Seiyu but has grown to encompass a huge array of goods including housewares, lighting and clothing.

This just makes me like Muji all the more.

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