Tokujin Yoshioka's Olympic torch. Images courtesy of

Look at the Olympic torch formed from the Fukushima quake

Designer Tokujin Yoshioka used recycled aluminium from quake housing to create the 2020 torch

Trust Tokujin Yoshioka to take one of his country’s darkest moments, and turn it into light. The 53-year-old award-winning Japanese designer is famed for his technical skill, appreciation of modern materials, and a deep understanding of his country’s traditions and cultures. Even before the formal competition had begun to design the torch for the 2020 Olympics, Yoshioka had begun to consider how he might best exemplify his country in this prominent new design. 

His winning torch is based on the sakura flower, or cherry blossom, the national flower of Japan. "The polyhedral shape of a cherry blossom reflects sunlight from different angles when the torchbearers are running with it," Yoshioka told Dezeen in a recent interview. "We hope that each torchbearer would shine with a sparkle in their hand, and the torch relay would be memorable for everyone."


Tokujin Yoshioka's Olympic torch
Tokujin Yoshioka's Olympic torch

But that sparkle might be a little more memorable for some of Japan’s citizens, as part of the torch is fashioned from recycled aluminium, first used in the construction of prefabricated housing units in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.  

Yoshioka visited the Fukushima region back in 2015, and held an art workshop with children affected by the quake. “The cherry blossoms they drew were all vibrant, as if they're symbolising the spirit of the people taking steps toward reconstruction, and projecting hopes for the future,” he explains. “That experience inspired me to design this torch.” 

The process, however, wasn’t exactly child’s play. Yoshioka employed high-tech aluminium extrusion manufacturing technology and precise cutting techniques to create a light, seamless torch, that’s beautiful, ecological, wonderfully symbolic, and easy to run with.  

"I think the design must be done for the society rather than the economy where they produce and consume a mass number of goods,” he said. “A designer is a creator, but I think it's also important for us to evaluate what not to make." 


Tokujin Yoshioka Design
Tokujin Yoshioka Design

For a deeper understanding of Yoshioka’s work and outlook order a copy of monograph, Tokujin Yoshioka Design, which features contributions from Issey Miyake and Ross Lovegrove.