Japan Pulse » » J-blip http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse Taking the pulse of trends, trend-watchers and trendmakers in Japan. Thu, 02 Jul 2015 03:04:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/wp-content/themes/orange/favicon.ico Japan Pulse Mister Donut went berry picking for its newest line of treats http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/mister-donut-went-berry-picking-for-its-newest-line-of-treats/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/mister-donut-went-berry-picking-for-its-newest-line-of-treats/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:15:16 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20030 mister donut strawberry

Spring is the sweetest time of the year, and Mister Donut is celebrating with its Strawberry Donut Fes.

From now until May, the dessert chain will have a special selection of five sugary sweets for customers, including a custard-filled strawberry croissant donut and a strawberry and whip pie.

mister donut strawberry donut

The standout of the collection though is its strawberry donut, created in the shape of a real strawberry. The treat is topped with green-colored chocolate to resemble a strawberry stem.

The move comes at a time when Seven-Eleven is rolling out its own line of donuts, including a strawberry flavor.

With all treats under ¥200, there’s no excuse not to indulge your sweet tooth. Plus, some of them are covered in real freeze-dried strawberries, meaning there are a few vitamins hidden among all of those calories.

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I wanna rock ‘n’ roll all night, and be kawaii, ev-er-y day http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/i-wanna-rock-n-roll-all-night-and-be-kawaii-ev-er-y-day/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/i-wanna-rock-n-roll-all-night-and-be-kawaii-ev-er-y-day/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:48:11 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20012 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivJZljEostE

After the major success of Babymetal, who fused Japanese idol culture with head-banging metal and opened for the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Lady Gaga, another J-pop unit is setting their sights on overseas fame and getting a helping hand from rock giants.

The teen idol group Momoiro Clover Z just released a new song, “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saite Mina,” with the help of legendary rockers . . . Kiss.

What? The Satanic pantomimes? The subterranean lizards of Detroit Rock City? Yes, that Kiss.

On Jan. 19, the two released a music video that is high on Japanese tack and low on coherence, more or less taking every possible traditional Japan cliche, putting them in a blender and turning it up to 11. Kiss — who are old enough to be their fathers — provides backup vocals and instrumentation while Momoclo do their thing with “Power Rangers”-esque transformations and sumo dance moves. The ukiyo-e-inspired video features the bands facing off with their signature brands of kowaii (scary) and kawaii (cute). After several back and forths, the leaders of each band eventually shake hands, so the world (and concertgoers) are safe for now.

While this combo might seem a bit random (a fated industry party hook-up perhaps?), the collaboration is actually cross-promotional effort as Kiss is scheduled to tour Japan with — surprise, surprise — Momoclo opening their Tokyo show. In addition, the same day that Momoclo released its newest video on YouTube, they also released an enthralling English introduction video, which includes choice quotes such as such as: “On stage, their ‘Power’ and ‘Performance’ unite the audience regardless of their age or gender.”

Kiss also plan to release their own version of “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saite Mina,” so this video is just the beginning of their budding marketing synergy. Will the aging Kiss Army happily lap up the sugarcoated sounds of J-pop? Or does this PR campaign signal more left-field J-pop collabs to come? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu vs Journey? AKB48 vs Blink 182?

Stranger things have happened — including this video.

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J-blip: Doraemon hard boiled eggs soften your heart http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-doraemon-hard-boiled-eggs-soften-your-heart/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-doraemon-hard-boiled-eggs-soften-your-heart/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 06:06:22 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19986 Doraemon1

Doraemon, everybody’s favorite blue robot cat, could be coming to a salad near you in the not-too-distant future.

Doraemon2

Anyone can turn a hard boiled egg into the shape of the Japanese icon, and the good news it doesn’t require Doraemon’s magical gadgets, nor high tech.

The simple four-step process is:
1. make a hard boiled egg
2. peel off the egg shells
3. put the egg in the Doraemon-shaped mold
4. leave it inside cold water for 10 minutes.

Voila! There you have it.

The special mold will be released, in Japan only, on Jan. 30, for ¥100 and will come in both Doraemon-shaped and Dorami-shaped (Doraemon’s little sister) versions.

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J-blip: cat montage http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-cat-montage/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-cat-montage/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 10:54:28 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19938 If you’ve been keeping your eyes open, you might have caught a glimpse of the “cat montage” meme that has been spreading through Japan and beyond.

The gist: A human draws a set of cartoon eyes for its furry friend and creates a funny collage.

Credit for this simple yet viral idea goes to Twitter user Shirotamaaaa, who sparked the trend in early November. His original post has been retweeted more than 4,500 times.

Spilling over into Instagram and YouTube, the meme is also gaining traction overseas.

The joke has even spread further into the animal kingdom with pictures of dogs, rabbits and hamsters.

Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! #猫モンタージュ

Pro tip from cat montage experts: snap it when your feline is sleeping.

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Astro Boy gets green light in robot-branded Sagami http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/astro-boy-gets-green-light-in-robot-branded-sagami/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/astro-boy-gets-green-light-in-robot-branded-sagami/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 03:38:24 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19914 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMyEReoTw6c

Astro Boy stoplight in Sagami

Red = cool your jets; green = blast off!

Astro Boy is using his seven powers not to fight evil to but to direct traffic in Kangawa as a new traffic light was erected in the prefecture using Astro Boy’s image as the pedestrian walk signals.

The traffic light was created to draw attention to the Sagami area, which is rebranding itself as the premier robot town and a “robot industrial zone.” Kanagawa Prefecture recently released a video highlighting the technological advances being made in Sagami.

Sagami and Kanagawa Prefecture are also hosting a variety of festivals and tours in the prefecture to publicize the Sagami area and its robot-building brand.

In addition to parades and exhibits featuring Astro Boy, Kanagawa is holding a “Find the Atom” competition for people around the region to race and find Astro Boy buttons in exchange for prizes.

For more information, visit Sagami’s website.

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J-blip: Cornered by strong men and sweet pudding at ‘kabe-don’ cafe http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-cornered-by-strong-men-and-sweet-pudding-at-kabe-don-cafe/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-cornered-by-strong-men-and-sweet-pudding-at-kabe-don-cafe/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 07:53:01 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19881 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hj6gJ3q72g

Ah, the classic kabe-don move.

Many young women daydream about having their school crush pull them aside and slam his arm against the wall to create an intimate scene. Kabe- (wall) don (the onomatopoeia for a loud thud) has become so established through numerous TV shows and manga series that the move itself has spawned a spin-off meme and its own Wikipedia page.

Girls tired of waiting for their own kabe-don moment can now take matters into their own hands. Morinaga Milk has concocted a promotional campaign that involves a suave man for the coffee shop Cafe Marriage in Harajuku posing for perfect photo kabe-don photo opportunity. Mind you, the said man is silicone based, but for those wanting a good laugh or curious to experience the magic of kabe-don, he’ll do.

Morinaga Milk installed the mannequin to help promote its new line of pudding treats so visitors can melt over (or is it melt under?) the handsome statue while tasting its melted treat.

Patrons can be wooed starting Oct. 11 at Cafe Marriage in Sweets Paradise on Takeshita-dori. Visit Morinaga Milk’s website for more information.

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J-blip: You TOO can be a ‘konbini’ manager of your dreams http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-you-too-can-be-a-konbini-manager-of-your-dreams/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-you-too-can-be-a-konbini-manager-of-your-dreams/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:12:50 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19872 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF-8QfnC-vw

Ever have the urge to shriek “Irasshaimase!” and microwave meals for salarymen? You’re in luck as you can now control a Japanese convenience store right in the palm of your hands.

“Konbini Dream” lets users manage a typical Japanese konbini — complete with bowing employees and cheap snacks. Players can hire workers, rearrange the layout of the store and decide which items are up for sale for your anime-inspired customers with big eyes and stubby legs.

In addition, players receive experience points for every successful purchase. After leveling up, part-time workers and new merchandise become available, including seasonal items for Halloween and Christmas.

“Konbini Dream” was released for Nintendo 3DS on Sept. 24 as a downloadable title and only costs the price of a few pieces of convenience store chicken at just ¥800. Perhaps in the future this will be how Lawson, Sunkus, et al. train their staff?

Go to Arc System Works’ website to learn more about the game.

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J-blip: Morphing time for Okamoto’s ‘Tower of the Sun’ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-morphing-time-for-okamotos-tower-of-the-sun/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-morphing-time-for-okamotos-tower-of-the-sun/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 08:50:36 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19858 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9Fh5A9JGWA

Bandai has created toy robot versions out of virtually everything from Hello Kitty to Mickey Mouse. Now it’s morphing time for Osaka’s iconic “Tower of the Sun.”

Taro Okamoto’s “The Tower of the Sun” was created to commemorate the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka and represents Japan’s past, present and future. Okamoto was known for his promotion of peace in works such his “The Myth of Tomorrow” mural, which depicts the horrors of the atomic bombings.

So we’re not sure how Okamoto would take his reflective tower becoming a menacing robot. The figurine, which will tower over your other toys at 280 mm, has the ability to transform from a tower to its final robot version. Well, actually you have to do the transforming, but still cool, no?

“The Tower of the Sun” figurine will break out of its shell on Sept. 27 and will retail for ¥17,000.

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UTme!: Want your own Uniqlo T-shirt? There’s an app for that! http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/utme-want-your-own-uniqlo-t-shirt-theres-an-app-for-that/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/utme-want-your-own-uniqlo-t-shirt-theres-an-app-for-that/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 05:36:57 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19800 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4VBfwMwxSE

Fast-fashion titan Uniqlo had already ventured into the domain of smartphones applications with not-so-exciting Uniqlo Calendar, fashion-style browsing Uniqlooks or again Uniqlo Wake Up applications. However, the Japan-based brand has finally released something that speaks directly to its target customers with UTme!, an application that lets smartphone users design their own T-shirts.

The idea is simple, and all you need is an iPhone or Android device. You input text, a picture or draw some shapes on your screen to make the design to be printed on your T-shirt to-be. But before finalizing, you can add cool effects such as mosaics, splashes and glitches just by shaking your phone to create the final touch. An easy and fun way to give customers more choice in what they wear and attract potential buyers.

Be aware, however, that if you’re aiming to become the next fashion phenomenon, UTme! might not be the right place to experiment as all the uploaded designs belong to Uniqlo, and are then available on utme.uniqlo.com for purchase by anyone.

IMG_1714 photo photo (1) photo (2)

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J-blip: Pipo-kun’s new song and dance http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-pipo-kuns-song-and-dance/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-pipo-kuns-song-and-dance/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 05:02:37 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19176 The Pepo-kun song on the website of the metropolitan police

Pepo-kun, as seen on the metro police’s website

Japanese netizens are apparently all in a lather regarding the question of whether virtual pop star Hatsune Miku is the new voice of police mascot Pipo-kun. The “Pipo-kun Song” video, made to celebrate the fact that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s counter crime initiative Twitter account now has more than 60,000 followers, is a collaboration between a synthetic voice and the police headquarters’ orchestra.

However, the consensus on the web seems to be that there is no mistaking that Pipo has Hatsune’s distinctive saccharine sweet voice. When asked by J-Cast if this was a correct assumption, the police replied, “The identity of the singer hasn’t been announced.” One wonders why they’re being so reticent as Hatsune’s “dulcet” tones are now commonplace, having been widely used in the many commercials and TV show theme songs.

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J-blip: Pepsi-flavored Cheetos http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-pepsi-flavored-cheetos/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-pepsi-flavored-cheetos/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 07:09:31 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17785 A new snack about to hit convenience store shelves in Japan might possibly make waves, it could start a buzz, but it will definitely generate . . . fizz. FritoLay’s Shuwa Shuwa is, according to the promotional copy, “a snack that allows you to enjoy the fizziness of a carbonated drink via the pairing of long-seller Cheetos and Pepsi Cola seasoning.”

That’s right: Pepsi. Flavored. Cheetos. The PR claim is that the “refreshing tartness” combined with the bubbly sensation is the perfect taste for summer, but what did the office taste-testers think?

shuwa shuwa

Crunchy bubbles: Shuwa Shuwa

Reformed sugar-holic Mark: “The first crunch packed plenty of  joy and wonder, taking me back to the first time I had Pop Rocks, but by the third or fourth bite, the sugar rush was too much and they just ending up tasted like sickly sweet Cheetos. It was a bit like this.”

Mio, who has been known to hoard imported sweets:  “It smells like cola, tastes like cola and even fizzes like flat cola, but when it comes to texture it’s wrong in absolutely every single way. Oh and there’s this weird corn aftertaste. My verdict: It’s awesome . . . but then you could put fizzy powder on a dog biscuit and I’d probably have said the same thing.”

Shaun, an expert on flavor mechanics: “It tasted like corn chips with — you know cola gummies? They might be coated in kind of cola sugar? It tastes like corn chips coated in cola sugar. The cola flavor wasn’t inside the chips, but it was more like a dressing. It was really sweet, but that didn’t stop me.”

Mayumi, who probably is the only person in the office with fully functioning taste buds: “It was like I had chips and Pepsi at the same time. They were really fizzy though. They smelled sweet and didn’t taste like any chips I’ve had before.”

New kid on the block Eric: “My first taste was surprisingly Pepsi-like. It had that cola flavor and, even more noticeably, the bubbly fizz of a soft drink. After a bit of munching, however, the flavor turned much more corn-like. If I’m looking for refreshment on a hot summer day, I’d prefer an ice-cold soda pop to the chips. Besides, I’m a Coke fan.”

Note that these are not to be confused with China’s Pepsi chicken-flavored chips. No chicken in evidence here, just sweet, sparkling cola corn snacks.

Unfortunately, I was no longer in the office by the time these surfaced, so I’ll have to wait like the rest of Japan until July 1. After conquering convenience stores, Shuwa Shuwa will appear more widely starting July 15. Exchange a cool ¥125 for 414 calories of fizzy sugar high, and then you, too, can say, “Yes, they really do taste like Pepsi.”

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J-blip: high school girls with ‘tuba guns’ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-high-school-girls-with-tuba-guns/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-high-school-girls-with-tuba-guns/#comments Fri, 07 Jun 2013 08:21:13 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17635 Japanese students have sparked yet another inspired photo meme. This time they’ve put a new twist on the Makankosappo meme that went viral a few months ago. Using “tuba guns” (チューバ砲 “Chuuba Hou”), school band members appear to be blasting one another away with their instruments.

A French horn is just as explosive, and as is the drum section.

The tuba guns are just the latest in a string of memes that have swept across Japan and beyond as kids create their own versions of each photo craze. In a recent Tweet Beat, we talked about an “Attack on Titan” meme that shows some impressive staging skills, making students appear to be eating each other. We also shared this recreation of “The Death of Socrates,” which has received some 21 thousand retweets.

Hungry for more? These sideways-studying scholars show that being a Japanese student doesn’t have to mean all work and no play. They might even have time for a round of Quidditch à la Harry Potter after school.

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J-blip: The secret behind Disney + Gogo no Koucha http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-the-secret-behind-disney-gogo-no-koucha/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-the-secret-behind-disney-gogo-no-koucha/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 10:06:11 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17379 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nf5kCEOYpg

Kirin is currently collaborating with Disney to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disneyland. Not only are they giving away a grand prize of a 30-night stay for four at the DisneySea Hotel Miracosta, year-long passes to both parks and a resort giftcard worth a million yen, but each flavor of their popular Gogo no Koucha (“Afternoon Tea”) features a different character on the package:  the straight tea has Mickey Mouse; lemon has Winnie the Pooh; and milk has Donald Duck.

Recently, an observant fan noticed there are different numbers on each bottle and decided to investigate. To his delight he found  60 numbers on the the straight tea version and 18 on the lemon tea and milk tea. His interest piqued, he bought all of them and took photos of each in sequence.

Although it is hinted at on Gogo no Koucha’s site, only a clever and dedicated tea drinker would go to all this trouble. By lining up each “frame” in video form, he revealed short animations of each character.

While we’d like to praise this creative campaign, it’s a bit ironic considering Disney just laid off nine veteran hand-animators.

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J-blip: Taro Aso ‘gang style’ t-shirts http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-taro-aso-gang-style-t-shirts/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-taro-aso-gang-style-t-shirts/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2013 09:34:15 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17400 Serious stylin'

Serious stylin’

When Finance Minister Taro Aso set off for a G20 meeting earlier this year, he did it in style, sporting a natty felt hat, pulled rakishly down over one eye. No sooner had he stepped out in public in this getup than Twitter was abuzz with comments celebrating the finance minister’s “gangster style.”

Now the outfit has even been immortalized on “Gang Style” t-shirts, sold by Osaka-based brand t-shirts Trinity. The t-shirts have been a big hit, inspiring the company to bring out Taro Aso “gang style” sweatshirts and tote bags.

The t-shirts are only ¥2,980, but if you’d like to get your hands on a hat similar to the one Aso wore, you’re going to have to shell out quite a bit more. Business Media reported that sources close to Aso have said that the hat is probably made by Italian brand Borsalino. The company itself says that a hat in a similar style to Aso’s retails for around ¥90,000. It seems that gangster style comes at a hefty price!

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J-blip: Scorpionfish on the menu in Shizuoka http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-scorpionfish-on-the-menu-in-shizuoka/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-scorpionfish-on-the-menu-in-shizuoka/#comments Thu, 11 Apr 2013 13:04:38 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17293 Fancy a slice of scorpion fish?

Fancy a slice of scorpionfish?

It’s come to our attention that some truly bizarre looking creatures are being served up in seafood restaurants in Shizuoka lately. Ever since a new deep sea aquarium opened up in Numazu just over a year ago, deep sea seafood has been all the rage in the area. Monkfish, scorpionfish, lumpsucker and rosy seabass are being served up as sushi, sashimi or simply on a bed of rice, in local restaurants.

Pioneering this local trend has been Uoshige Shokudou, a restaurant that serves up a weird and wonderful deep sea sashimi platter that varies according to the season. The most expensive item on the menu, costing between ¥10,000 to ¥15,000 ($101 to $151), is the Japanese spider crab that lives at depths of 600 meters.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

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