Here’s a selection of what blipped on our radar at Tokyo Designers Week 2001, a multi-ring circus of design innovation. This year the organizers put an emphasis on Tohoku reconstruction, the environment, food and loooove. And as in past years, the student work was just as eye-catching as that from professionals.
From amateur endeavors to corporate PR, from high art to crass commercialism, from sleek motocycle prototypes to dried squid light shades, the annual event literally offered something for everyone.
Schoolyard fun for adults, Aku G Dou's randoseru rucksack updates a kids' classic
Would you be seen out and about wearing a white lab coat or how about donning an elementary school child’s rucksack? Judging by the buzz on the web, looking like you’re about to dissect a small mouse or alternatively like you’ve stolen some poor kids’ bag might be all the rage this fall.
In August, Classico Style launched a new website to promote their line of designer lab coats. Showing a bunch of good-looking Westerners posing for the camera in their dashing white coats, Classico Style is looking to broaden the appeal of their product line. Winners of the medical furniture category of the 2009 International Design Awards, the company has been praised for making well-tailored lab coats. Not content with targeting just doctors and scientists, J-Cast reports that Classico Style is hoping to broaden their appeal to other professionals such as designers and artisans, and perhaps even beyond to the man on the street.
We reckon that while swanning around in a well-made white coat and impersonating a busy surgeon might be fun, you’d be well and truly rumbled if someone called on your services while out and about.
No such difficulties with Aku G Dou’s adult randoseru. Elementary school students are generally seen sporting these leather rucksacks, but Aku G Dou has made their own version specially for adults. The rucksacks which are designed to fit the broader frame of an adult come in red and black and are adorned with metal studs that rock the playground style, making it that little bit edgier and perhaps a little less ridiculous.
Aku G Dou (who sell only one other kind of bag besides the randoseru, a cool bucket bag) have quite an impressive marketing pitch for their brand. Their spiel is a way too long to quote in full but here’s a snippet: “When you were a kid, the popular children in class were those that could run fast or those that studied well, but the one that really made your heart beat fast was a hero of the shadows, that naughty kid. Behind the candy store or the game center, he’d show you his father’s sexy ballpoint pen or a strange doll, sometimes that evil kid would make things that couldn’t be spoken of . . . If he grew up what kind of thing would he show you? With these thoughts Aku G Dou was born.”
This high-concept item, comes with a similarly high price tag of ¥88,200. Despite this, we reckon the bag shows potential as it’s the perfect size for accommodating laptops or tablets. It’s also important to bear in mind that these bags don’t come cheap in any case, the children’s versions usually average around ¥40,000 to ¥50,000 (though prices have been coming down in recent years). While we have our doubts about whether lab coats take off, we can see the potential for this item to become a modest hit.
A relaxing bath in sawdust is just the thing for beautiful skin
Sawdust has more uses than sopping up blood on a butcher’s floor or providing a cosy bed for pet beetles, according to Café Googirl: It’s now trending as a beauty treatment.
Enzyme baths, filled with sawdust from cedar and cypress trees, are said to improve circulation, cleanse skin and help with muscle pain, among other health claims. Enzymes from vegetation and fruit ferment within the sawdust to produce heat and it’s said that this fermentation provides the skin-enhancing “magic.”
The “bathing” here involves getting buried up to the neck in sawdust by rake-wielding salon staff. The heat generated by fermenting enzymes then brings the temperature up to around 40 degrees centigrade. Café Googirl says you need to sit in the bath for between 20 and 30 minutes.
The treatment, which actually started in Hokkaido in the 1940s, can be experienced at salons around the country: Hi no Ki in Tokyo; Ogakuzu Koso Yoku Sakura, with branches throughout the country; and Yu Shin Ion Koso Ogakuzu Furo in Saiki City, Oita Prefecture, which opened early this year. Though Yu Shin Ion claims that its baths can help with “irregular periods,” its main clientele, according to Asahi Shimbun, appears to be men returning from trips to a nearby fishing spot.
Salon owners seem to believe that there’s almost nothing these feisty enzymes can’t cure. Ion House Sayama, based in Saitama, says that a 20-minute dip will help with complaints including acne, anemia, hypertension, arthritis and even obesity. While we can’t vouch for that, we don’t be surprised if this unconventional treatment catches on.
Take me, I'm free! BACS magazine is filled with gorgeous young ikemen
Picking up up hot-looking guys at your local convenience store just got a whole lot easier. BACS is a free magazine aimed at ikemen (cool, good-looking guys) in their teens and twenties. Launched last month, the magazine advises aspiring ikemen on how to do their hair and makeup (and, yes, we know some of you will think this deeply wrong).
The cosmetics market for men in Japan is expanding and magazines like BACS are really going to help drive that growth. According to Yahoo News, the first month’s issue includes an interview with a makeup artist, a feature on how to create ikemen hairstyles and a women’s discussion on the topic of ikemen.
Part of BACS’ agenda is to recruit and foster new ikemen talent and its website features a section for aspiring ikemen idols to apply to become models. The chief editor emphasizes in Yahoo News that they’ll be supporting and scouting Japanese ikemen talent, so that Japanese talent doesn’t lose out to Korean stars.
The cover star of the first issue of BACS is Hamao Kyousuke, an actor who’s appeared in the stage version of “The Prince of Tennis” and the movie “Takumi Kun Series.” As “Takumi Kun Series” is based on a Boys Love novel that features passionate relationships between a number of sexy young boys at a high school, we’re thinking that BACS might just also be aimed at women too.
The fact that BACS is also behind the Mune Kyon Tokei (chest-tightnening clock) site gives further credence to this theory. A spin on the hugely popular Bijin Tokei, in which hot women pose with a chalkboard that tells the time, Mune Kyon Tokei is, well, the same thing, only with hot guys. Visitors to Mune Kyon Tokei can vote on whether they find particular guys hot or not and then view the top-rated guys.
In the never-ending battle to remove unsightly hair, some Japanese women opt for a close shave. According to J-Cast, a kao sori (shaved face) boom is gathering momentum across Japan. Specialist salons offering kao sori services are increasing in number and earlier this year, a new specialist shaving razor for women was launched on the market.
So why the hell do women want to scrape their faces with a razor? The main reason is to get rid of downy hair around the mouth and cheeks, but Beauty Face, a specialist kao sori salon, claims there are other benefits, such as a noticeably whiter, brighter and softer skin.
While barbers were the first to offer a ladies’ shaving service (being as they specialize in wielding a razor), many women were reluctant to enter a male-dominated environment. Female-friendly salons, however, are a different matter. Since Beauty Face was opened in 2004, business has steadily grown, and the company now has 70 salons across the country. Beauty Face is not the only ones offering this service. We also spotted Soru on the web, a salon in Kanagawa, offering women’s face shaving. There’s also Napoli in Ebisu, Peau D’Ange in Shinjuku and Rev-own, who have 10 shops in Kanto and three shops in Kansai.
Beauty Face is keen to promote the concept of the ladies’ shave and has teamed up with Kai, a company that sells razors and beauty products, to conduct a dermatological study into the benefits of face shaving. The companies claim that if you use a razor correctly the amount of moisture and natural oil in your skin increases.
No matter how well you shave, facial hair grows back at around the 20-day mark, so you’ll be in need another shave by the time the month is out. As a simple face shave costs ¥2,362 in a Tokyo branch of Beauty Face, it might be more economical to do it yourself. Kai’s new lady’s face shaver went on sale in March this year and is targeted at women who’d like to shave their face in the comfort of their own homes.
Kai’s PR manager stresses the need to take care when shaving delicate facial skin and to avoid doing so when you’ve got sunburn. The woman in the video above demonstrates the correct face-scraping technique for those curious about the process. However, be warned. J-Cast says plenty horror stories of stinging, painful skin and even bloodshed can be found on the web.
Focusing on Asian cities, Fukulog World Snap was launched this month
Don’t you hate it when you’ve created that perfect look, but apart from parading yourself up and down the boulevard, you’ve got no one to show it off to? How are you to know if your ensemble is spot on or way off target? Social fashion site Fukulog provides a solution. Every day 70 to 100 users post their look on the website for other users to see, comment on and approve of. The site, which was launched late 2009 in Japan, is now so popular that the company behind the project is set to launch the concept on the global stage.
Since Fukulog launched its Facebook page in February this year Honey Entertainment, which manages Fukulog, noticed that the site was making waves overseas. In a recent press release the company announced that over 67,000 of their Facebook fans were foreigners (at the time of writing the total number of fans of the page was 70,257). Reacting to this popularity the company launched Fukulog World Snap on July 15. Initially focusing on Singapore, Taipei, Shanhai and Hong Kong, Fukulog has recruited fashionistas from those city’s to upload portraits of trendy types spotted out and about.
Despite the fact that the Facebook page currently caters to foreign fans by including posts in English, phrases like “to share your favorite fashion coordinates” suggest that they’ve got a ways to go before they become a truly international site. Fukulog’s main site is currently only accessible in Japanese, but Honey Entertainment is aiming to provide the service in English and Chinese by September this year.
So, what’s so great about this service that gives it the potential to go global? As opposed to other street-fashion sites, it doesn’t have invisible arbiters telling users what’s hot or not. All users can vote freely and upload their own looks freely. Furthermore, users post info about where they purchased clothes and the site easily links to those stores’ websites. The site, which allows you to browse via brand ranking, is also a good barometer of what’s trending now on the streets of Japan.
Where are the lines drawn with super cool biz fashions?
This summer, encouraged by the government’s Super Cool Biz campaign, Japanese men are daring to bare a bit more flesh. As neckties and heavy blazers are discarded, almost anything goes, and many braver businessmen are now sporting calf-length trousers, polo shirts and “aloha shirts.” For the first time female colleagues are seeing their male coworkers in a whole new light, but according to a poll by Nikkei Woman Online, there’s a fine line to be drawn between kakui (cool) and kakkowarui (unattractive).
The poll, published in Nikkei Trendy, reveals that too much flesh in the office can be a bad thing. Revealing tank tops were the most objectionable office-fashion item, with 90 percent of 409 respondents rating this “NG” (thumbs down). Shorts came in a close second, at around 80 percent NG. While most women did not object to plain short sleeve shirts, if the material is sheer, around 60 percent of respondents preferred men to wear a vest underneath to cover up exposed nipples and chest hair.
Here’s a new batch of 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 . . . The Mystery of Japanese “Sauce” (from Just Hungry): You may know the sweet brown concoction as “tonkatsu sauce” but it’s [...]