Photo/IllutrationA spoon for left-handed people, left, and one for right-handed people (Provided by Nonoji Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

SAGAMIHARA, Kanagawa Prefecture--A stationery shop operator here is turning his hand to the issue of left-handed people having to make do with goods designed for an overwhelming majority.

Under the Lefty 21 Project, started by Hiroo Urakami last year, 10 companies, including stationery makers Zebra Co. and Plus Corp. as well as cooking tool manufacturer Nonoji Co., share their expertise to develop products for left-handers, who account for an estimated 10 percent of the population.

The companies are joining hands in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, when many “lefties” are expected to visit Japan from around the world.

Urakami, 42, president of the Kikuya Urakami Shoji stationery shop, said another objective is to promote mutual understanding between right-handed and left-handed people.

“I would like right-handed people to try tools for left-handed people to understand how difficult it is for them to use goods designed for right-handers,” he said.

Urakami, who is a lefty himself, said he hopes that jeans with a zipper that is easy to open and close with the left hand will be released someday.

In 2016, Zebra marketed the Sarasa Dry ballpoint pen. The product built a following online, especially among left-handers, helping sell as many as 6 million Sarasa Dry pens.

When a left-handed person writes from left to right using a pen with a water-based ink, the hand rubs the freshly written characters. As a result, their hands and notebooks often become smudged.

The water-based ink used for Sarasa Dry quickly dries, allowing left-handers to write without getting their hands dirty.

More than 25 years ago, Urakami’s parents, who ran Kikuya Urakami Shoji, set up a section for lefty goods at their store, after Urakami’s younger brother, who is also a left-hander, got injured while using a utility knife for right-handers.

Urakami took over the shop in 1998. Since then, he has added tools and goods for left-handed people.

Among more than 100 items available are a utility knife with its blade on the opposite side, a ruler on which numbers are arranged in ascending order from right to left, as well as a small teapot and a corkscrew.

Kikuya Urakami Shoji has become famous on the Internet as an outlet offering all sorts of articles for left-handers, and some customers bother to drop in from overseas.