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The latest funky food flavors, coming soon to a konbini near you

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Japan is known for its seasonally flavored foods. Swing by your local konbini in the fall and you’re likely to encounter limited-edition beverages, snacks and candies that weren’t on the shelves a few months earlier.  Some companies pump out more flavors than others, with Nestle’s Kit Kat chocolates alone having dozens of varieties. This summer, manufacturers are debuting a number of interesting flavors to entice convenience store shoppers.

  • As if summer needs to be any hotter, Tohato will begin selling habanero pepper and lemon-flavored corn chips in late July. We’re excited about this one, despite the sinister face on the bag. The company will also be debuting yogurt-honey Caramel Corn and arrabbiata-flavored chips, which arrive in Japan this month.
  • A few weeks ago, we reported on our taste test of the Pepsi-flavored cheetos, which hit the shelves Monday.
  • More directly on the beverage front is Suntory’s Boss Black Sparkling. Best served cold, this carbonated coffee hopes to refresh and awaken those gulping it down on a hot summer afternoon. (Note: If you preferred your fizzy coffee hand-poured, Excelsior Caffé has begun offering a “Perriespresso,” which combines Perrier sparkling water with the chain’s espresso over ice.)
  • The average konbini has a pretty impressive array of instant noodles, but how many of them would satisfy a hankering for Italian? Maruka Foods is now selling peperoncino-flavored instant yakisoba, which combines the convenience of instant noodles with the Italian pasta sauce made form garlic, oil and chillies.
  • A few weeks back, Luna began selling its mint-flavored yogurt. This seems like it could be a crowd-pleaser, with the soothing mint and cooling yogurt making for a perfect way to fend off afternoon drowsiness during the dog days.
  • For dessert, check out Kabaya’s ramune-flavored chocolate  that fizzes just like the soda pop.

Fundoshi: the innerwear sanctum of Cool Biz

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Despite the energy-conserving Cool Biz campaign — inaugurated in 2005 by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi — becoming a household word, according to a recent poll by The Suit Company 28.8% of women thought Cool Biz casual dress was still inappropriate at work.

The new trad fundoshi

The new trad fundoshi

What’s a well-intentioned man to do? Well, how about taking the Cool Biz under your suit?

This past March innerwear maker Wacoal launched a new underwear line for men called Fundoshi NEXT (ふんどしNEXT). Fundoshi is as traditional as you can get with underwear in Japan. Before Western briefs arrived, they were the undergarment of choice. In public, they are a common sight at traditional festivals, and sumo wrestlers wear a more elaborate version. While there are several types of fundoshi, they all involve a strap and piece of cloth material. Looking a bit like a fat thong, the fundoshi exposes a large part of the buttocks.

Wacoal’s spin on this tradition, which echoes the recent rage for suteteko, adopts the original fundoshi’s breathability and sense of openness, while utilizing a modern design and quick-drying material. Combining the best of old and new, Wacoal is offering a revealing remedy to the summer heat.

This fundoshi revival is also spreading to woman’s underwear.  FFsee recently launched an online fundoshi shop playfully called Aifun (love + fundoshi) aimed at women. With the motto of “sayonara sutoresu” (goodbye stress), they hope to give customers a more comfortable fit than typical panties. FFsee says that the less constricting fundoshi will decrease swelling and improve skin quality.

A Japanese saying says, “to know the new, look to the old” (古きを尋ね新しきを知る). Call it old school, but these risque retro looks could leave you smiling cheek-to-cheek.

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