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Japanese Tradition meets Canadian Fusion

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Twenty years after moving from Japan to Kamloops, Makiko Kanakubo continues to honour her roots. When Covid-19 slowed things down in her Sweet Home Café, she saw an opportunity to continue using her commercial kitchen to develop a line of sauces she’d been making for her family. Makiko started with a traditional Japanese barbeque sauce and then developed three flavours that she can now sell commercially.

Makiko came to Farm Food Drink to develop a brand and supporting marketing assets so she could prepare to expand this new business. 

The Project

Makiko was able to obtain a provincial government grant to establish an ecommerce website, but upon discussion with Farm Food Drink, it was agreed that a brand foundation needed to be created first.

The sauces needed an appealing product name, plus a logo and label to showcase it. The brand needed to attract a Canadian consumer, while honouring Japanese tradition and promoting a local connection. A modern website was also required to showcase the brand, the products, and Makiko’s story to elevate her online presence.

The Creative

Our creative team was excited to work on this project as an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and Japanese design methods. The challenge was to blend Japanese traditions with a modern Canadian aesthetic.

Makiko had a deep desire to have prominent Japanese design elements while not making the products look like they were imported from Japan. Showcasing the business as local was also a high priority.


The original idea from Makiko was using the Japanese word Oishii, meaning tasty or delicious. After deeper discussions, the word Yakiniku kept surfacing as it means ‘grilled meat’ in Japanese. The sauces are meant primarily for BBQ, so the term related more specifically to the product usage. The final name became Yakiniku Sauces.


To ensure authenticity, Makiko was meticulously involved in the creative process. This was a truly collaborative effort to achieve her vision, even engaging a Japanese artist to help with the typography of the logo’s characters. To further enhance the design, the dark shape was added behind the Kanji characters, an authentic graphic that would be recognized by Japanese as a ‘drop’. In this case, a drop of Yakiniku Sauce.


The label needed to appeal to an adventurous Canadian palate, as well as local Japanese Canadians. Makiko had sourced some unique square bottles with rounded edges that helped our label design effectively stand out. With a clean aesthetic of subtle Japanese patterns, and bright attractive colours, the packaging is eye catching and creates curiosity.

A local focus was required to distinguish the product. Using the tag line “Proudly and Traditionally Made in Kamloops” validates the owner’s values, and including the “BuyBC” logo further legitimizes this local enterprise.


The website is beautiful. Makiko wanted it simple, and Farm Food Drink delivered with professional photography and images, and an easy-to-navigate visitor experience. Although not a full ecommerce capability, locals are still able to order online and pick up at Makiko’s café. The site is poised to grow as the business grows.

The Result

Consumers are delighted with Makiko’s new products, and are attracted to the sophisticated branding and packaging, the traditional recipes, and her local Kamloops story.

“I’m really thrilled with the final designs of everything,” says Makiko. “The Farm Food Drink team were very respectful of what I wanted to accomplish and the results are beautiful.”

Farmers Markets have been a high-margin strategy to sell Yakiniku Sauces, so Makiko is looking to get involved in more markets around the region. With her new professional brand, she is also poised to expand into local independent grocers. Very exciting times for her venture.

To learn more about Yakiniku Sauces visit their website.

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