A healthy life for all

Today, Yakult is loved not just in Japan, but in many countries and regions around the world.
The story of how Yakult became what it is today began with one young man and his heartfelt wish.
This passion of Yakult’s founder, Minoru Shirota, is still with the company today and continues to form the foundation of all Yakult’s business activities.

Minoru Shirota,M.D. Minoru Shirota,M.D.
Minoru Shirota,M.D.

Yakult’s Beginnings

From the pursuit of preventive medicine to the potential of microorganisms

People involved with Yakult in the beginning (photo circa 1935)
A bottle of Yakult from the early 1960s

Yakult was born out of the passion of the company’s founder, Dr. Minoru Shirota.

In the early part of the 20th century when Dr. Shirota was a young man, many people in Japan taken by infectious diseases like cholera and dysentery owing to poor hygiene and nutrition at the time. Disturbed by this reality, the young Shirota pursued a career in medicine and entered Kyoto Imperial University (now Kyoto University) in 1921. From there the young scientist turned his attention to preventive medicine, which places evidence not on treating illnesses, but on trying to prevent them. This was his gateway to the research of microorganisms.

After painstaking research Dr. Shirota discovered that lactic acid bacteria suppress harmful bacteria in the intestines. In 1930 he successfully cultured a fortified strain of lactic acid bacteria robust enough to survive the powerful gastric juices and bile in the digestive system, reach the intestines alive, and produce beneficial effects. That strain of lactic acid bacteria is now known as Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota. In order to contribute to the health of as many people as possible, Dr. Shirota, with the help of colleagues, used this lactic acid bacteria to make an affordable, delicious fermented milk drink―and so, in 1935, the first bottle of Yakult was produced! These are the beginnings of Yakult, which today, is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world.


  • 1930

    Dr. Minoru Shirota succeeds in strengthening and culturing a strain of lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota) beneficial for people’s health


    Yakult is first produced and brought to market

  • 1950

    The Shirota Research Institute is established in Kyoto

  • 1960

    Yakult launches its unique Yakult Lady home delivery system


    Yakult Taiwan commences operations as the company’s first overseas office


    The research institute is relocated to Kunitachi, Tokyo


    Yakult Brazil commences operations


    Yakult Hong Kong commences operations

  • 1970

    Yakult Thailand and Yakult Korea commence operations

    Full-scale entry into the Japanese cosmetics market


    Full-scale entry into the Japanese pharmaceutical market


    Yakult Philippines commences operations


    Yakult Singapore commences operations

  • 1980

    Yakult Mexico commences operations

  • 1990

    Yakult Indonesia commences operations


    Yakult Australia and Yakult Netherlands commence operations


    Yakult Belgium commences operations


    Yakut UK and Yakult Germany commence operations


    Yakult is given approval in Japan for labeling as Food for Specified Health Uses


    Yakult USA commences operations

  • 2000

    Guangzhou Yakult commences operations

    Yakult develops an automatic intestinal microbiota analysis system without the need for culture


    Yakult Malaysia commences operations


    Shanghai Yakult and Yakult Austria commence operations

    Yakult sponsors the World Swimming Championships as an official partner of the International Swimming Federation (FINA)


    Beijing Yakult commences operations


    YIF-SCAN® (Yakult Intestinal Flora SCAN), an intestinal microbiota analysis system with higher detection sensitivity, is completed

    Yakut Italy and Yakult Vietnam commence operations

    Full-scale sales are commenced in California, USA


    Yakult Danone India commences operations

  • 2010

    Tianjin Yakult commences operations

    The three-dimensional trademark for the Yakult bottle is registered in Japan


    New Yakult and New Yakult Calorie Half are launched


    Yakult commences joint research with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on board the International Space Station

    Wuxi Yakult is established in China


    Construction of the new Yakult Central Institute is completed


    Yakult’s first official character, Yakult Man, is created

    Yakult Middle East commences operations


    Partnership agreement concluded with Nature Research

    Awarded the Special Award (SDGs Partnership Award) at the second Japan SDGs Awards


    Daily average global sales of Yakult’s dairy products surpass 40 million bottles

    Yakult Myanmar commences operations

  • 2020

    Yakult wins Brand of the Year in the World Branding Awards for the fourth consecutive year