History

Shirota-ism

The Yakult Company started the probiotics revolution by introducing Yakult in Japan in 1935. Today, Yakult is the world's leading probiotic beverage. Why? Our product speaks for itself. Once you experience the delicious taste and health benefits of Yakult, you'll have no doubt why it is loved by millions of people around the globe!

Click here to view a timeline of our company history.

In the 1930's while studying microbiology at the Medical School of Kyoto University, Dr. Minoru Shirota adopted the philosophy that intestinal health leads to a long life and set out to find certain lactic acid bacteria that could help fight harmful bacteria in the body. At this point in history, health care was expensive and many people lost their lives to infectious diseases caused by poor nutrition.

Minoru Shirota, M.D. (1899-1982)
Microbiologist and founder of Yakult

During his research, Dr. Shirota cultured a bacterial strain that was strong enough to survive harsh acids of the stomach and reach the intestines alive where they could have a beneficial effect on the body. The probiotic strain was named Lactobacillus casei Shirota in his honor!

Thinking of a way that people would be motivated to ingest probiotics every day and be spared from suffering and disease, Dr. Shirota had the brilliant idea to pair the "friendly bacteria" with a delicious flavorful mixture that everyone would want to drink every day.

In 1935, he manufactured this drink for the Japanese market as "Yakult," which was derived from the word "yogurt" in Esperanto, the proposed universal language of the 1880s.

Fortunately, Dr. Shirota had a good sense for a product that many would enjoy. In fact, Yakult was such a great success that in 1955 The Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., Yakult's national headquarters, was formed with Dr. Shirota as its founder.

Today, Dr. Shirota's philosophy, known as Shirota-ism is the core and driving force behind all of our company's activities and Yakult has become the universal probiotic drink loved by people around the world!

Nobel prize winning scientist Dr. Elie Metchnikoff noted the role of lactic acid bacteria on health at the turn of the 20th century. It was his work that sparked Dr. Minoru Shirota's research in microbiology and shaped the course of his life as well as our understanding of health today. We know now that probiotics can play a significant role in digestive health for people of all ages - and help prevent disease before it happens.