Archive for the ‘New products/services’ Category

J-blip: You TOO can be a ‘konbini’ manager of your dreams

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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.

J-blip: Morphing time for Okamoto’s ‘Tower of the Sun’

Friday, September 26th, 2014

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.

UTme!: Want your own Uniqlo T-shirt? There’s an app for that!

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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 for purchase by anyone.

Bandai’s projection-mapping candy toy: Hako Vision

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Bandai’s Candy Toy division is known for those inexpensive character-driven toys packaged with just enough sugar to score shelf space where food is sold so that parents can use them to reward kids for being good at the grocery store. Their anime tie-up rosters includes Kamen Rider, Pokémon, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, One Piece, Yokai Watch and more. With the initial round of Hako Vision releases, however, they’re doing something a little different. Did you ever imagine you’d be watching recreations of popular projection-mapping shows rigged up with your smartphone and a cardboard box? While chewing grape-flavored gum?!

You can think of it as the latest evolution of shokugan (“candy toy”) culture that supposedly has its roots in Meiji Era collectible cards that came packed in cigarettes (definitely not for kids), or a new direction in diorama construction for the 21st century. As of Jan. 27, there are two kits available for ¥500 each: Tokyo Michiterasu 2012 “Tokyo Hikari Vision” and the Tokyo National Museum’s “Karakuri” (2013). The package itself  is the stage for the miniaturized versions of these special events (“hako” means “box”), so don’t go tearing it up to get inside. Once you set up the scale model of the building to be projected on and the reflecting panel, all you need is the lighting, which you provide by pulling up a specially made video on your smartphone and laying it on top like a roof to your cardboard theater.

Projection-mapping itself seems to be all over the place lately. Even just in the past several months The Japan Times has noted Tower of the Sun Beam Painting, Art Aquarium 2013, “live” Hatsune Miku shows presented by NTT Docomo, and Yokohama Odyssey. On the horizon, Disney (pioneering projection-mapping tech for years — since building the Haunted Mansion ride in 1969 according to Projection Mapping Central) is debuting a new show mapped to Cinderella’s Castle at Tokyo Disneyland May 29th.

As for the future of Hako Vision itself, Bandai already has big plans. Instead of just continuing to reproduce shows people have already seen life size, they’re creating original videos to go with Mobile Suit Gundam figures. Giant mecha familiar to fans of the anime, Gundam and Zaku II, each get their own video helmed by creative director Ryotaro Muromatsu of Naked Inc., the same company that produced the video for “Tokyo Hikari Vision.” The new kits go on sale April 14.

Needless to say, if Hako Vision catches on, the licensing possibilities at Bandai are nearly endless. And now that the kits are out in the wild it’s not hard to imagine fans of the tech creating their own models and fantastic videos to go with them.

J-blip: Tsutaya launches one-stop ‘lifestyle’ bookshop

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Tsutaya's new book store meets all your lifestyle needs

Tsutaya’s new book store meets all your lifestyle needs

Following on the success of Daikanyama T-Site, an upmarket complex targeted at an older demographic of book lovers and one that included satellite boutiques for cameras, bikes and pets,  bookselling behemoth Tsutaya has opened  a new similar envelope-pushing book store in Honjō-Waseda, Saitama.

By offering objects for sale related to a particular hobby or interest, the concept of the new store, which opened its doors on Nov. 2, is to sell not only books, but also a new lifestyle and, of course, to maximize profits.

Make no mistake, though. The lifestyle being hawked here is a far cry from the tony Daikanyama T-Site. Catering to a more suburban and middle-class set, the store is divided into seven zones: cookery, interior decorating, beauty, kids, business, the arts and travel. In the cookery zone, cooking utensils and tableware are laid out next to cookbooks and in-store cookery demonstrations should further whet consumer’s appetite for purchasing more than just a recipe book.

As more entertainment content — be it books, DVDs or games — becomes digitized and downloadable, could this mark the final chapter of the bookstores? The writing is on the brick-and-mortar wall.

Tokyo Designers Week 2013

Monday, October 28th, 2013

This year’s Tokyo Designers Week’s main event at Meiji Jingu-Gaien has had a bit of a makeover. As “Creative Fes,” it now includes a music venue, various food stalls and a market of hand-crafted goods. But, of course, the main focus remains design, and the event’s new Asia Awards, which includes categories for design schools, young creators and professionals, pulled in plenty of entries.

From architectural constructions to jewelry, we took a look at what the students and pros had to offer, as well as perused our old favorite — Designboom Mart. This year, we also found an extra favorite spot: the TAPAS Spanish Design for Food exhibition, which not only made us hungry for more, but proved that design can have a great sense of humor.

Flip a skirt a month in 2014

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

The original run of Kari Kato‘s “Skirt Flipping Calendar” did so well that it’s back this year in two colors:

two colors

Gray is new for 2014.

While the thrill of most novelty calendars is spurred by anticipating what the next month’s image will be, in this case, every month looks more or less the same…


Weekends and holidays are color-coded.

…which is not to say there’s no thrill here, because when all 12 skirts are flipped — well, you’ll have waited for all year, so let’s not spoil it. If you want to see how 2013 was rung in, check here.

The new sticky notes seem even more fun.

Write and fold.

Write and fold.

Gigazine‘s example cracked me up, but really, I can’t think of a place to stick these that wouldn’t be entertaining.


“There’s nikujaga in the freezer. Zap it and eat up! – Mom” Aww.

The calendars run ¥2,100, while the sticky notes are ¥680 for 20. They’re available through Village Vanguard or directly on Kaori Kato’s site.

It’s amazing how design can take something that would be totally inappropriate in real life and make it not only whimsically cute, but functional. Anyone planning on watching the days go by with one of these pin-up girls?

Isetan Mitsukoshi Design Week

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Today, the Isetan Department in Shinjuku launches its Designers Week product fair “Hand Made By For Me,” featuring numerous lifestyle brands across various floors of the Isetan main building. The fair runs till Nov. 5 and with all items also available to purchase, it could be a good opportunity to get a little Christmas shopping in early.

We took a sneak peak last night and selected some of our favorite Japanese designs.


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