Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser

Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser

A fascinating eraser from Japan.

This eraser is a 2 x 2 x 5 block of 10mm sided cubes, with half the cubes scooped out.

Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser

There is apparently a “big brother” U800 with 15mm cubes, and a version with a strap, for attachment to a cell phone. I’m not making that up.

It is intriguing and geometric. The many corners and edges and scoops create interesting shadows, and make it very eye catching. Yet, it remains just an eraser.

Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser

Introduced in 2003, the eraser is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection, and was featured in a 2004 exhibition, “Humble Masterpieces”.

The eraser was designed by Hideo Kanbara as an entry in a competition held by Kokuyo.

Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser

It is also a commercial success, having sold over 6.5 million erasers in the first three years after the launch.

Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser

The Kokuyo website says the eraser has 28 edges. Of course, they mean corners. External corners in particular.

I was curious about what else Hideo Kanbara has designed. While there are a few concept drawings on the web, an intriguing “plug pin” was the only other commercially offered item that I found.


Official Kadokeshi website
Kadokeshi in the Museum of Modern Art
The plug pin by Hideo Kanbara

9 Replies to “Kokuyo Kadokeshi U700 eraser”

  1. What a bizarre design! An an engineer, I always believed that form should follow function. This eraser seems to take an opposite approach. It looks like ergonomics were thrown out of the window for the sake of art. I can’t imagine that this eraser is very comfortable to hold which in turn could affect performance. Would the cubes be prone to break off? I understand that this is just an eraser and not a rocket being blasted to the moon so you can get away with a lot of things. Hmm… not sure if I would be too excited to try this but I could be too conservative.

  2. Hi Boris,

    I thought you were an engineer!

    If you search around the net, you’ll find the designer asserting that the need for an abundance of sharp edges was the inspiration for the design – a very practical consideration.

    It’s purpose does include more than just being an eraser.

  3. Interesting. I must say that the japanese make really good erasers, like Pentel’s Hi-Polymer.

  4. Having more sharp edges does facilitate more precise erasing. I would agree. It would seem to me then that this eraser would have to be flexible enough to be bent. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to expose the sharp edges on a middle square. It would also seem that the user must be able to comfortably hold the bent eraser and maintain control during use.

    I will admit that it does look cool and futuristic but I’m not exactly sold on the ease of use. Have you tried it much yourself? I have to also admit that I’ve never held or used one of these so I’m doing some “mental” erasure simulations in my head. Wouldn’t an eraser pencil of the same material work better? Keep it wood cased and simply sharpen it as necessary. Some would say that it is wasteful since you are shaving away perfectly good eraser. Then again, what do you do with this eraser once it turns into a little nub and is practically unusable? It probably gets tossed into the same place as those eraser shavings.

    I know.. I’m such a pessimist, aren’t I? :-)

  5. Thanks for the comment!

    It does bend easily. As to ease of use and the ergonomics of the grip – the awards it received were not based on it being the ‘best’ eraser or anything like that.

    I have tried it, including one of the middle edges – and it is a working eraser, but I do want to preserve it in the current shape. Unless you rarely use erasers, it will be more of a show item than a regular choice.

    I like this eraser in general because as a famous design object, it attracts positive attention to the realm of desk and office tools. Further, I applaud the manufacturer for challenging designers to innovate with erasers. Wouldn’t a similar pencil challenge be great?

    I like my eraser in particular because it’s a bit of fun, and stands apart from so many rectangles, practical though they may be.

    (There are woodcased pencil format erasers, but I’ve never tried one.)

  6. I agree with Boris. I often find myself cutting old erasers to have sharp edges, because I just can’t erase with erasers shaped like ping pong balls.

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