Archive for September, 2013

Rent a dude for ¥1,000: an interview with Takanobu Nishimoto of Ossan Rental

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

“In Japan, old guys get a fair amount of ridicule, basically bad-mouthing. That had been kinda ticking me off, so I was thinking if we could create a bunch of good — not looks-wise, but lifestyle-wise — fun, older guys, then maybe the value of older guys would be seen.”

Meet professional ossan Takanobu Nishimoto

Meet professional ossan Takanobu Nishimoto (Emily Balistrieri photo)

That seed grew in the mind of Takanobu Nishimoto, a 46-year-old jack of all trades, and blossomed into what is now known as Ossan Rental (“Old Guy Rental”). Thanks to the unusual brand name, the experiment attracted customers early on, and later, the attention of social media and web watchers on sites like NariNari and Kotaku.

So who rents themselves out for ¥1,000 an hour? How did Nishimoto find time between his college and vocational school lectures, fashion consulting, modeling and everything else? As I learned more about him, my curiosity was definitely piqued. And part of me wanted to confirm that he is simply a guy doing something interesting . . . and not a creep, as some people might assume.

I requested an interview and got an enthusiastic “yes.” When I asked him to choose a cafe where we could relax and chat, as if I were renting him, he suggested one on a fifth floor overlooking Shibuya.

His introduction was as casual as his button-down shirt and jeans. “Hello, I’m Ossan Rental,” he says, half laughing, perhaps realizing how goofy that sounded. We order tea and coffee and get right into it.

“Outside of work there’s a distance between older guys and young people.  I think it’d be cool if we could connect more. I’m 46. There aren’t many opportunities to talk to people in their 20s in our private lives. I thought it would be neat if I could set up opportunities to make that happen.

“I would go to Tsutaya or some rental shop and think, ‘If older guys were lined up on the shelves, that would be something.’ But how would you order them? Well, putting them in a cart would work. And then you could return them by mail. Well, ‘returning by mail’ would be parting ways at the mailbox, but . . . (laughs).”

This past February he turned his crazy Ossan Rental vision into a reality.

Continue reading about ossan rental →

Pulsations (09.11.13)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Here’s a new batch of 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…

Japan’s Real-Life Kick-Ass Is Very Helpful (from Kotaku): A friendly guy helps locals carry strollers or luggage at a station where this is no elevator or escalator. Oh, and he’s dressed as a Power Ranger.

An ‘Origami’ Chair Folded From A Single Wooden Strip (from DesignTaxi): This chair concept was inspired by Japanese paper-folding techniques.

The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success (from Buzzfeed): Get your facts straight on that delicious taste, umami, including how University of Tokyo chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered the man-made version.

Kiritoshi House by Sugawaradaisuke (from Dezeen): Looking at these pictures, it feels like this must be something much more than a two-bedroom house in Chiba, and yet . . . it’s a two-bedroom house in Chiba.

Famed Photog Yasumasa Yonehara Wants Kids to Tack Back Fashion for Themselves (from MTV81): “The culture informs their choice of clothing – but these outfits aren’t exactly practical. I want cosplay kids to stay true to themselves after removing their outfits.”

The old-timey treat that’s back in style thanks to Hayao Miyazaki (from RocketNews24): Everyone’s curious to try the “Siberia” cake featured in “The Wind Rises” and luckily, you can!

Control Bear Store Tokyo — Beyond Character Goods (from Tokyo Telephone): As mentioned in this month’s On Fashion in The Japan Times, Control Bear now has its own shop in Harajuku. This post goes in-depth!

Video pulse

“The Light Shooter” is a first-person shooter with a peripheral you’ve never seen before — a real, stringed bow, no arrows necessary.

10 charming things believed by little kids in Japan

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

bug photo

Great great grandma?

Certainly everyone has some embarrassing things they thought were true as a kid. Me, I thought that chipmunks were baby squirrels. A recent 2ch forum thread (later rounded up and commented on at Itashin!) took up this at times awkward topic and we selected 10 particularly cute ones. Note that our highlights are mostly skewed toward things that seemed unique or particularly Japanese (e.g. not Santa, although he came up). Please remember that since it was just a forum conversation, these are not necessarily widespread beliefs.

When I was little I thought (paraphrased from Japanese) 

. . . that there was a city in the United States called Downtown.

. . . that when you got married kids would just show up from somewhere.

. . . that all TV was live and how amazing it was that the actors in the commercials could do exactly the same thing every time.

. . . that there was only one ambulance in the world (and how amazing that was).

. . . that during Obon our ancestors came back as bugs.

. . . that if I told a lie I would be forced to eat 1,000 needles.

. . . that the bamboo shoots in ramen were pull-apart chopsticks soaked in soy sauce.

. . . that you went from: kindergarten —> elementary school —> middle school —> high school —> college —> Tokyo University (I thought Tokyo University was where you went after college).

How about you? What sorts of things did you believe when you were a kid?

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