The latest commercial from supermarket chain Seiyu has customers calling the shots. The marketing department supplied only the vaguest scenario, “something falls.” The rest of the who, what, where and when of the “Seiyu Social CM” were put to an online poll. Participants choose the person and the location from a multiple choice list that brings to mind a Japan-specific version of who-dunnit board game Clue.
An Yahoo News article tried out some of the possible combinations from the choices given, including: “A female shell diver is at a ramen shop having an argument when her zipper falls.” Voters, however, were far more earnest in the message they sent the company. “Supermarket” got the most votes for the “where” and “prices” was one of the top choices for what they wanted to see fall.
With voting now over, the crowd-sourced commercial is set to air Sept. 15. (Spoiler alert: The winning scenario sees a psychic at the supermarket engaging in a suspicious transaction, when a mysterious lever falls.)
Tokyo train conductors are always warning riders not to run for trains. Nobody ever said anything about running in trains. Japanese sporting goods maker Asics has “train jacked” a train on the Yamanote loop line, with a 200-meter track running through all 11 cars of the train. How to spot it? Keep an eye out for the train that has photos of Japanese Olympic runner Chisato Fukushima running along the outside.
Since Kirin launched Kirin Free back in April 2009, non-alcoholic beer has been a huge success in Japan. Now the other three major breweries, Asahi, Suntory and Sapporo, have all launched similar products. Suntory’s All Free is the most popular and sales were up 23 percent in the first half of this year for the same period the year before.
To encourage further growth it seems that Suntory is now promoting the idea of All Free as a lunch-time drink during the work week. Last month they opened up the All Free Garden in Tokyo Midtown Roppongi for a limited 12-day run. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., office workers could pop by for a meal accompanied by a cool glass of All Free.
But not everyone thinks it’s acceptable to drink beer during lunch time. According to a survey by M1.F1 Research Survey, 32.7 percent of male respondents between the ages 20 and 34 thought that their colleagues would be annoyed with them if they saw them drinking non-alcoholic beer during their lunch breaks. In comparison, 48.4 percent said they felt their colleagues would be annoyed with them for drinking a normal beer during lunch.
Of 618 respondents of both sexes, 35.9 percent said that if they saw their colleagues drinking non-alcohol beer they wouldn’t be that bothered, and 14.4 percent were tolerant of their colleagues drinking real beer. While these figures are encouraging, it seems that beer manufacturers have a way to go to convince the public that it’s OK to drink non-alcoholic beer at lunch.
Even if beer companies are keen to win the public over and make lunchtime non-alcohol beer acceptable, they themselves are drawing the line at targeting minors, despite the fact that according to the letter of the law, it’s OK for minors to consume anything under 1 percent alcohol.
In an article in Tokyo Shimbun, a PR representative for Kirin made it clear that Kirin Free was not intended to be drunk by children and stressed that the product was developed to help eradicate drunken driving and is aimed at those who are 20 years and over. It seems that Suntory, Asahi and Sapporo are of the same opinion. They encourage stores to display non-alcoholic beer alongside alcoholic beverages and restaurants to list it on their alcoholic drinks menus.
Convenience stores are backing them up: Seven Eleven and Lawson do ID checks before selling the stuff. Family Mart doesn’t check IDs but can refuse to sell it to kids who are obviously under age. A number of schools have explicitly banned the drinks.
The upshot seems to be that while it may soon become acceptable to sip fake beer during the office lunch break, minors will not be openly chugging down non-alcoholic beers.
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
How to Spend 3 Nights in Tokyo All Included on ¥10,000 ($US125) (from Tokyo Cheapo): While some tourists in Japan spend at least ¥10,000 a night for a hotel alone, others prefer to spend the same amount for their entire stay in Japan. Impossible? Well, these guys claim they have a plan for spending three days in Tokyo for just ¥10,000, everything included!
1929 Japanese animation “Kobu tori” (from Japan Sugoi): Here is your chance to see the 1929 Japanese anime “Kobutori” by Chozo Aoji and Yasuji Murata. It is a 10-minute piece featuring two old men with large lumps, the “kobu” in the title, on their faces. They encounter similar situations, but one has a good temper while the other has an evil one.
Lesbian invisibility in Japan (from Japan culture blog): Lesbianism is not as widely discussed as male homosexuality in Japan, where women are expected to be primarily good wives and wise mothers. Ramona Naicker explains how three decades ago, plenty of lesbian activist groups emerged seeking change but were forced to shut down due to lack of support.
Why Do Japanese People Wear Surgical Masks? (from Tofugu): I have been asked several times why so many Japanese people wear masks in public spaces. I did not know how to answer this question until I stumbled upon this post on Tofogu. Find out if you should be wearing one, too.
A former Australian rugby captain puts his unique skills to use on a rush-hour Tokyo train.