Archive for July, 2012

Today’s J-blip: K-Pocke pocket

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Form meets function, but unfortunately not fashion. K-Pocke (say “kay po-kay”) is a new line of shirts with a uniquely designed pocket to safely secure your mobile device. Shake, rattle and roll all you want. Nothing will fall out due to the convoluted way it’s constructed, they claim. I’m as worried as the next person about dropping my phone. Unfortunately, I’m more worried about looking like Steve Urkel. Cool innovation, but it might have a better chance if it were still the 90′s — and if pants didn’t have pockets.

Today’s J-blip: Mount Fuji summit panorama

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

(Click the photo to see the full panorama!)

Climbing season is just getting under way at Japan’s Mount Fuji. Every year hundreds of thousands of people make the trek to the summit—note the massive line of people in the lower-left corner. This photo, from panorama-photo.net, was uploaded by “Rio Akasaka,” who snapped it from the summit this weekend after a rainy trek. What an amazing view! For English-language resources and information on climbing Mount Fuji, see Fujiyoshida City’s official website.

Today’s J-blip: MUJI to GO game

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Where to?

No-frills houseware emporium Muji‘s new online social game has players moving around a board with the toss of a virtual die to win prizes. The game promotes Muji’s “to GO” line of travel products, so the top prize is a trip, the medium prize is a suitcase and the easy win is a sticker. If you win a sticker online, you can go to a Muji shop with a bar-coded print-out from the game or just flash the winning message from your mobile device. At every step of the way, the game prompts you to post a message to the social network of your choice. The posts are optional, but if you click on everything they want you to click, you may intrigue (confuse?) your friends and followers with announcements like, “You’ve landed on the JERSEY SLIPPERS square!” The game points you to a number of related Muji sites. It’s clean and slick, if perhaps a little sea-sickness inducing.

Pulsations (07.06.12)

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • Free at last! Starbucks brings easy to use free wifi to Japan (from La Vie En Tech): At long last, the wonders of easily-accessible free wifi may have finally reached Japan. Steve Nagata gives readers a run down on how to set up your devices to tap into this great power. Don’t worry, this service is much easier to understand than other “free” wifi services found in Japan. It’ll only take a few minutes and then the next time you’re asked to fork over too much cash for a caffeine fix, at least you’ll have wifi.
  • Make eco-friendly iced tea (from Being a Broad):  Of course, if you aren’t persuaded to venture out to your local Starbucks by their new Wifi, you can always stay home and enjoy a glass of home-brewed tea. Kirstin has some great tips on how to use the power of the sun (and your fridge) to brew the perfect summer teas. Eco-friendly, refreshing, and delicious? Count me in.
  • The Japanese Seasons: July (from Japan Navigator): With the rainy season (hopefully) behind us, it is time to enjoy summer in Japan. And just what does Japan have to offer in July? Festivals, mountain climbing, cloud watching, seasonal dishes, and that’s just the start. Pop quiz: do you know what the flower of July is?
  • Are Japanese Houses worthless? (from Tofugu): Japanese houses may have some flaws, but they are certainly balanced by clever architectural design and unmatched efficiency right? Apparently not. After 15 years most Japanese houses lose the majority of their value.

No video this week, but rather a comic from Lars Martinson‘s Kameoka Diaries. Click on the first one and scroll through, then head to his site to see them as they’re meant to be read.

Check out the rest!

Today’s J-blip: Line’s Birzzle

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

When the fastest-growing social-networking service in the world puts out a game that looks like a mash-up of Angry Birds, Bejeweled and Tetris, you might guess the game would do pretty well. Throw in a free sticker with your download, and you’ve got an instant hit. The acquisition of Korean game Birzzle looks like the first step in Line’s strategy to expand its properties beyond internet calling and messaging. Line has been downloaded over 42 million times in the last year, mostly in Asia.

Website Tech in Asia reports that Line Birzzle has blasted to No. 1 on app store charts in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Macau. It is available for download on Android and iOS operating systems.

Today’s J-blip: Running man, powered by Facebook

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

As part of Nike Japan’s “Run Like Me” marketing campaign, British expat Joseph Tame will jog 100 meters for every “like” that he receives via the campaign’s special Facebook page/app. You might remember Joseph as that earnest mobile-tech evangelist who rose to Internet fame by using GPS to turn his runs into massive urban scribbles, as well as broadcasting his start-to-finish performances in past Tokyo Marathons. A true original, he would appear to be the right poster boy for Nike’s highly customizable LunarGlide+ 4. How far will he have to run? That’s up to you. It should be noted that while the campaign might inspire consumers to buy a pair of cool shoes and run like Joseph, as a large-scale social media campaign that taps into collective sadism, this might be a first.

Cool heat-blockers for summer 2012

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Though Japan is still experiencing rainy season, the country is bracing for a super-hot summer. Predicted power shortages and another season of setsuden are raising the demand for products that can help beat the heat without electricity. Here are a few of the more unusual ones.

Forget icy glasses, frozen foam is where it’s at

Frozen beer: Kirin has invented a machine that creates frozen suds on top of your pint. Working rather like a softserve ice cream machine, the device adds a frosty froth to a glass of draft beer. The froth is actually made from beer so that it doesn’t dilute your drink as it melts. According to Kirin, there are currently 252 establishments serving it nationwide, and 91 of those are in Tokyo.

Chilled foods: It’s unsurprising that manufacturers are casting around for unexpected foods to stick in the cool box. Chilled doughnuts have been around for a few years now and have proven to be more than a passing fad. Last year we had chilled Hiroshima okonomiyaki and cold curry. This spring snack giant Calbee brought out Potato Chips Zeitaku (Premium) Vanilla, which, the company claims, taste much better after being chilled in the fridge. There’s even a chilled instant ramen from Nissin (which, strangely enough, was launched in February).

Fans: Old-school paper fans have enjoyed a bit of a revival 0ver the last few years, but why waste all that energy flapping your hands around when you can get your hands on a Kurukuru Eco Fan? This environmentally friendly toy fan from Takara Tomy has been so popular that the company has had to double the shipments of the product. Thanko, our favorite store for wacky gadgets, put out this petite little fan that resembles bladeless household fans and comes in at a very affordable ¥980. Thanko has also got a product for cooling the insides of your shoes. The USB Shoes Cooler produces a cooling breeze when inserted into footwear, promising to prevent your feet from getting all sweaty.

Today’s J-blip: Oronamin C 7/3 Facebook Campaign

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The vitamin drink Oronamin C, friend to hungover salarymen everywhere, launched a campaign today where one lucky person an hour, for 73 hours, will each win 50 bottles of the sweet and sour beverage. The catch? Contestants must install a Facebook app, “like” the Oronamin C page, and fill out a simple form. Yes, it’s a marketing ploy for the company to gather information and boost its Facebook followers, but giving away that much Oronamin (3,650 bottles in total!) is still pretty cool.

What’s the deal with the number 73, though? It’s a play on the Japanese spelling of the popular drink, where 7= na(na) and 3=mi. By 1 p.m. today, they will have already given away 650 bottles. A lucky 60 people still have a chance to win, so if you’re interested, start by “liking” Oronamin C’s page, and then start thinking about where you’ll stash all those little brown bottles.

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