Archive for November, 2010

Japan by the numbers (11.16.10)

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Some konbeni snacks with your favorite anime?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

K-On! goods displayed in Lawson convenience store

K-On! goods displayed in Lawson convenience store

Pop culture and junk food are a perfect combination: Both are brightly colored, easy to consume and totally moreish. Personally I can while away whole afternoons watching anime while stuffing potato chips and chocolate down my gullet. Sure,  I end up feeling a little sick and ashamed at the end, but while it lasts, the experience is sublime.

Space Battleship Yamato drinks at Family Mart

Space Battleship Yamato drinks at Family Mart

That’s why convenience-store tie-in campaigns that target anime and movie fans make so much sense. A limited-edition K-On! Choco Snack has proven to be hugely popular, so popular that Gigazine discovered that it had disappeared off the shelves of the local Lawson within hours of going on sale Nov. 9.  In addition to the K-On! Fair at Lawson, this month Seven-Eleven and Family Mart are also running campaigns. Here’s a round up of what’s on offer:

  • K-On!, an anime about five high school girls who form a band, is the focus of Lawson’s campaign. K-On! fans can purchase special yaki-soba sandwiches, cold cocoa drinks, sticker sets and caramel corn. Fans can also accumulate points by buying Gogo no Kocha drinks, which then qualifies them to win lottery prizes that include T-shirts, K-On! figurines and a custom-made electric guitar.  Lawson is also selling K-On! phone cards, K-On! figurines (from Nov. 16) and tote bags (that can be purchased on Loppi). The campaign runs until Nov. 29.
  • Fans of One Piece should set sail for Seven-Eleven. Customers who spend over ¥700 can enter into a prize draw to win special pirate-themed One Piece booty. Some drinks also come with a free cell-phone strap.
  • To promote the upcoming release of “Space Battleship Yamato,” Family Mart is running a special campaign until Nov. 29. Customers who spend over ¥500 can apply for a special lottery to win movie-themed goods. Sweetening the deal, Yamato-themed pastries and drinks are available.

Japan by the numbers (11.12.10)

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Fortysomething women roll back time with kawaii style

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Glow magazine advocates the kawaii otona look

Glow magazine advocates the kawaii otona look

When are you too old for ribbon pattern tights, furry leg warmers, high heels and sparkly frocks? Late 20s? Early 30s? According to “Glow” magazine, launched last month, women are free to boldly wear these kind of fashions well into their 40s. The front cover of the magazine’s first issue shows one model wearing a short silver lamé dress while the other sports some fake-fur, leopard-print leggings tied at the side with a cute ribbon. The look has been dubbed otona kawaii (adult cute) and it’s been catching on in a big way over the past few years.

The idea is not to religiously copy fashions aimed at a younger market, but to carefully tone down bolder fashions while still maintaining a youthful sense of fun. The editor of Glow states on Asahi.com that they conducted interviews with women in their 40s about fashion before the launch and found out that these ladies were not only interested in brand-name items, but were also keen to buy trendier fast-fashion items. Therefore Glow will be featuring high-class brands such as Hermès and Gucci alongside cheaper fast-fashion names like H&M.

The sexy bold look of Glow closely resembles the teenage gyaru fashions that can be found at stores such as Shibuya’s 109. Indeed, according to Tokyo Kawaii, there are now organized shopping tours for women in their 40s who want to peruse the glittering aisles of 109 together. While embarrassed to shop in the teen paradise alone, the women feel they can shake off their shame in a group.

Continue reading about otona kawaii in Japan →

Japan by the numbers (11.3.10)

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

What rolled in with the DesignTide

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

DesignTide exhibition and market opened for business last Saturday and we went along Monday to check out the sleek and sexy new objects on show at Tokyo Midtown.

The or-ita allows you to easily fold corrugated cardboard

The or-ita allows you to easily fold corrugated cardboard

At the top of our wish list was the or-ita by Makoto Orisaki/inter_works Lab.’s, an awesome tool that allows you to cut into corrugated cardboard and form creases that then enable you to mold the cardboard into interesting shapes.

folding-stuff

Naoki Kawamoto’s Orishiki and Mic*Itaya’s lamps

Still on a folding tip, Naoki Kawamoto’s cool Orishiki, which unfold and easily fold back into solid containers. I tried out the glasses case and it proved surprisingly easy to manipulate despite its complex look.

Folds surfaced yet again with Mic*Itaya updated versions of traditional Japanese lamp designs (above right). The lamps not only look modern but also are designed to switch themselves off and on again when you clap your hands. (Well, they’re designed to do that, but in reality this function only worked sporadically.)

Daisuke Motogi's Lost in Sofa and Yuki Yamamoto's ReLine chair

Daisuke Motogi’s Lost in Sofa and Yuki Yamamoto’s ReLine chair

Tou's glove scarf

Tou’s glove scarf

In terms of furniture, Daisuke Motogi‘s Lost in Sofa got our vote for the most innovative concept. The sofa’s rather suggestive tag line is “anything can be inserted anywhere,” and as you can see from the photo, that’s true!

We also liked Yuki Yamamoto’s ReLine series of chairs, which are designed to physically represent mathmatical formulas when viewed in profile. Made from tubing normally used for medical purposes, they’re also super comfortable.

Lastly, Tou’s lovely knitwear (right), on sale at the Design Market near the exit, caught our eye. Humorous and trendy, we liked the long hand scarf pictured but the arrow design was also a bit hit.

Superlative design blows into Tokyo

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Unlike the grey pre-typhoon skies, Tokyo Design week was decked out in a cheerful bright blue hue

Unlike the gray pre-typhoon skies, Tokyo Designers Week was decked out in a cheerful bright blue hue

Celebrating its 25th year, Tokyo Designers Week kicked off last Friday. The theme this year was “Environment,” which seemed a bit of a cheat since last year took an ecological theme as well. However, the color chosen to represent the show changed from green to blue – which was  a good thing because unlike last year, the skies were a gloomy shade of grey. The blurb on the website stated: “The term ‘environment’ we regard is not just ecological environment concerning issues such as global warming but in a more collective means of ‘living environment’ including conditions of our mind and body to have affluent living.”

No, we didn’t really get it either, but at least the ideas on display stood on their own.

Field Four Design Office's Hanging Plants and Mie Matsubara's cardboard origami blinds

Field Four Design Office’s Hanging Plants and Mie Matsubara’s cardboard origami blinds

As with last year, there was a lot of cool shiny stuff on show for us to coo over.  We were especially impressed with designs that updated the traditional Japanese aesthetic, like Mie Matsubara‘s super groovy origami window blinds (shown above) that fold out gradually allowing you to regulate the amount of light you’d like in an a room. Both super-strong black cardboard and wood versions were on display, but surprisingly the cardboard looked like the least flimsy of the two. We also dug the hanging garden of tsuri-shinobu hanging plants (above), from Field Four Design Office, which had fluffy ferns growing out of the top of the traditional hanging moss ball.

Shimada Touki's crockery sets

Shimada Touki

Mossy stuff was seeping into other design booths too, and Shimada Touki’s lovely crockery sets, really stood out with lovely trailing ivy, flower and bird motifs painted on.

Kaito Ehara's folding table/Shinya Ito and Kaori Yamamoto's DND Mirror

Kaito Ehara’s folding table/Shinya Ito and Kaori Yamamoto’s DND Mirror

Ingenious ideas abounded but one of our favorites was Shinya Ito and Kaori Yamamoto’s DND (Do Not Disturb) Mirror. We also thought that Kaito Ehara’s folding table was a really elegant way to save space in the home.

Have fun on the spinny chairs or collect the specially designed WWF stamp.

Have fun on the spinny chairs or collect the specially designed WWF stamp.

The show continues until Nov. 3 and is well worth a visit, especially now that the typhoon has passed (the show had to be cancelled on Saturday due to extreme weather conditions). Obviously, this post doesn’t cover everything on display, but we will say that it would be a crime to miss playing around on the spinning top chairs in the entrance hall or the chance to collect the specially designed WWF stamps also laid out at the front of the tent exhibition area.  If you don’t make it to Meiji-Jingu there are countless stores around Tokyo celebrating good design, as well as affiliated events.

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