Author Archive

April Fool’s in Japan — the joke’s on you

Monday, April 1st, 2013

April Fool’s Day doesn’t have very deep roots in Japanese culture, but obviously branding creatives and open-minded corporations are seeing the potential benefits of making potential customers laugh. Rather than pulling a fast one, these pranks put their silliness up-front and center.

Ika

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Never runs out of batteries, glows in the dark and easy to handle.

Introducing the iKA Organic Ebook from publisher Kodansha. Drawing its power from the squid’s natural bioenergy, there’s no need to recharge the batteries. The iKA’s long tentacles serve as a handy neck-strap, it glows in the dark and has endless supply of ink. The iKA is provided via a subscription service, which delivers a fresh squid each week (note:  size and weight may vary). You get the added bonus of being able to cook and eat the old one (special squid dish recipe available to early buyers!). How’s that for eco-friendly technology?

Domino's can pizza

Don’t you hate how unwieldy pizzas can be? Dominos’s new canned pizza is not only compact, it’s long-lasting, so you can stock up your bomb shelter and never go without a slice!

giant squid

Need something with a bit more substance? How about Hanamaru Udon‘s giant squid, caught daily by harpoon fishing and fried up as tempura, from  That will be ¥87,000, please.

Silky

Taking aim at Line, the runaway hit app of the past year, search site Goo offers Silky, the old favorite for free and simple communication. And you can send silly stamps too!  And  yes, it’s biodegradable tech, too?

Forcebook

We have to give full props to Eiga.com, a movie info site, for its execution of Yoda’s account on Forcebook. They got every detail right … from George Lucas friending J.J. Abrams to  Anakin Skywalker changing his account name to Darth Vader to R2D2 denial of Jar Jar Bink’s friend request. One ad shows has Imperial Storm Troopers raising funds to rebuild Death Star. May the forceful guffaw go with you.

By the way, did you spot this one in The Japan Times. I mean we highly admire professor Mogura Tataki’s mission to eliminate society’s bias against lefties but  something tells us we’re being pawned.

 (Research by Shinjin Ono and Kazuhiro Kobayashi)

Today’s J-blip: Kasō Taishō’s YouTube channel

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Traditionally in Japan, oshogatsu is when families gather and celebrate the passage of the old year into the new one. Various customs are honored without fail, but when all is said and done and eaten, one of the biggest recent-day traditions involves the clan coming together in front of the TV.

A large chunk of this tube-watching is focused on the cult of celebrity, from the spangled jamboree of  ”Kōhaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Song Battle)” on New Year’s Eve to the dozens of shows featuring comedians and starlets answering quizes, running marathons, visiting exotic places and so on. For this reason alone, “Kinchan & Katori Shingo no Zen-nihon Kasō Taishō” stands out from the crowd as a tribute to the common man. Broadcast on Nippon Television since 1979 (at its peak, three times a year; now only around New Year’s and in spring), the contest salutes the passion of amateurs.

This week NTV launched a  new Kasou channel on YouTube. Currently, 30 videos of past contestants are on offer, organized into various playlist categories (humor, performance, technique). Whether it’s precision choreography, athletic feats, adorable kids or just damn clever visualizations, most are worth a click. The videos are missing the post-performance deconstruction of how they did it, but at least you are spared the manic vaudeville emceeing.

Continue reading about Kasō Taishō →

Today’s J-blip: Ikea pops up all over Cat Street

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Moved by the plight of homeless people in Tokyo Ikea Japan has … Making a bold commentary on the rabbit-hutches that Tokyoites have been conditioned to tolerate, Ikea Japan has …   Doing a spin on pop-up shops, Ikea Japan has invaded hinter Harajuku and wedged 14 “galleries” into various nooks and crannies on Cat Street. With a name that plays on the Japanese word for “gap,” Sukima Gallery is not only a clever way to bring a catalog to life and showcase Ikea interiors in the city (all the Ikea stores are located in the suburbs), but also an inspired social media campaign: Choose which one you like with an ”ii nee” and then enter a lottery for a chance to win a gallery of Swedish stuff. Naturally, some assembly will still be required. Launched on July 31, the event ends Aug. 5.

Pulsations (09.13.10)

Monday, September 13th, 2010

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 . . .

Running with the Red Bulls in Odaiba

Monday, October 12th, 2009

At Japan’s first Red Bull Box Cart Race, held Oct. 11 in Odaiba, Tokyo, 78 box carts battled it out on the incline of Yumeno-obashi, competing for a grand prize of ¥1,000,000.

Not surprisingly for an energy drink, Red Bull has poured a lot of marketing dollars into the sponsorship of extreme sports and race-related events. Called Soap Box Races oversease, it would appear that wipeouts are just as important as winners. While the race judges here, led by actor Koichi Iwaki, did have to factor in course times and vehicle performance into their final scores, the event was less about white-knuckle adrenalin and more about homespun humor and creativity. In that respect, everyone was a winner.

Continue reading about the Red Bull Box Cart Race →

3D marketing in motion

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

As we all know, Madison Avenue and their international counterparts got hideously drunk on the coincidental cocktail of Mentos and Diet Coke, and marketing departments around the world have been trying to bottle that sensation and sell it to YouTubers ever since.

Some companies have simply capitalized on the organically grown fan love. Others have promised fame and fortune to tomorrow’s consumer-media stars, or even going so far as tutoring  would-be viral videomakers. But one fool-proof way to create buzz is to provide a prefab scenario starring you, the loyal consumer. Only need photo; no creativity required.

Take OfficeMax, which nailed it last holiday season with its Elf Yourself campaign, by teaming up with JibJab, makers of fine cheeky greeting cards for the YT generation.

But when it comes to generating a true wow factor, Japan’s Motion Portrait might have an edge over other cut-n-paste photo labs. As predicted on Pink Tentacle two years ago, Motion Portrait was seen a killer app for 3D-enhanced games, sites and services.

Continue reading about Motion Portrait →

Showa Boys a go go

Friday, September 18th, 2009

"Tokyo 2016" by Tenan Ito, "Tanoshii Yonensei" (Happy 4th Year Student),  1961

“The Tokyo of 2061″ by Tenan Ito, “Tanoshii Yonensei” (Happy 4th Year Student), 1961

We generally are obsessed by the next shiny, shiny thing on the horizon, but “Showa Boys SF Guide,” a collection of 1950-1970 memorabilia, had us transfixed from the get-go. The modestly sized Yayoi Museum, nestled in the back streets of Nezu, has put together a terrific trip back to the future as imagined in Japan’s Show Era.

Need more proof of its brilliance? Click the thumbnails below or read the review of “Showa Boys SF Guide” on Japan Times Online.

The show closes soon, so hop in your personal air car, or strap on your jet pack, and whiz over to Nezu to see how we really are supposed to be living.

Tokyo Meatrea: a cut above your usual food court

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Artist's rendition of Namco's Miitorea "theme park," slated to open this winter in Hachioiji City.

Artist’s rendition of Namco’s Tokyo Meatrea “theme park,” slated to open this winter in Hachioiji City.

In a nation that worships at the temple of food and loves to travel, even virtually, it’s a no-brainer that gourmet theme parks would prove popular in Japan.

Over the past decade, there’s been a parade of restaurant clusters grouped around a concept, from Odaiba Little Hong Kong and ShinYokohama Ramen Museum to Global Dining’s Glien Passage of Italian, Asian, Japanese and Mexican simulacrum.

The one company that has really carved this niche deeply is Namco, the amusement company behind Ikebukuro Gyoza Stadium, Ice Cream City and Tokyo Dessert Republic and a handful of Sweets Forests scattered around the country.

So naturally we’re curious to check out Namco’s latest culinary adventure, opening this winter in Hachioji City. The concept? A theme park that celebrates meat. Yep, you read that right.

Read more about Meatrea →

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