Hot Pulse

Don’t eat and drive with sake-flavored Kit Kats

February 6th, 2016 by

Nestlé Japan shows off its sake-flavored Kit Kat at Craft Sake Week.

Nestlé Japan shows off its sake-flavored Kit Kat at Craft Sake Week. | MONICA IRELAND

Nestlé Japan released a new Kit Kat flavor this week that has people buzzing. Containing an actual amount of alcohol — 0.8 percent — the new sake flavor is a perfect way to spike your mid-day snack. The packaging even warns that the treat it not for kids.

When I bit into the Kit Kat, it tasted very smooth. It has a very light and subtle taste from the sake, accompanied by the sweetness of white chocolate. It is well worth a try even if you’re not crazy about sake.

The new Kit Kat has expectedly made a splash online with many people posting their reactions on social media.

Sake is a rice wine made by fermented rice that has been polished to remove the bran. With many different types and flavors, it is one of Japan’s most famous products, and now joins the long list of flavored Kit Kats.

While most countries only get the regular chocolate, Japan has seen an array of colorful Kit Kats, including green tea, pineapple and strawberry cheesecake. We will have to wait and see what flavor Nestlé Japan comes up with next.

100 years of Japanese beauty in one minute

January 15th, 2016 by

The production company Cut has made a name for itself by creating videos that look back at the history of beauty in various countries, including China, Ethiopia, Brazil and Germany. The videos show the different hairstyles, fashion and makeup that each decade was known for, with one model trying on all of the looks.

Now Cut has focused its lens on Japan by showing the dramatic changes Japanese women have gone through in the past century —  ranging from the classic white makeup and big hair from 1910 to modern day kawaii style — all in 103 seconds

To show how accurate their looks are, Cut posted their throwback inspirations on Pinterest and explained them in a behind-the-scenes video.

1910

1910.

At the end of the Meiji Period, nihongami (traditional bundled hairstyle) was still popular but was mixed with the pompadour look that many women were wearing at the time in Europe. In terms of makeup, ochoboguchi (small lip) style was preferred as women only painted inside their natural lip line.

1920

1920.

Magazines started dictating fashion in the ’20s as wavy, permed hair became the standard look. Many women chose a mimikakushi (hidden ear) haircut with a stylish clip.

1930

1930.

In the 1930s, Japanese women embraced the international “modern girl” look, including bob haircuts and fitted hats. The hair became so synonymous with the “modern girl” lifestyle that the cut is referred to as moga (a portmanteau of modan gaaru, or modern girl).

1940

1940.

During WWII, Japanese citizens were expected to rebuke Western influences and go back to traditional Japanese ways, including fashion. Many women wore conservative jugo hair tied back into a bun.

1950

1950.

In postwar Japan, people looked to Hollywood and entertainment for inspiration, including many American actresses. One of the looks of the day is named the Machiko maki, named after the main character from the radio drama “Kimi no Na Ha.” Think of it as the Rachel of the 1950s.

1960

1960.

The ’60s was all about big eyes and big accessories. Cut was inspired by Chiyo Okumura, a famous pop singer at the time whose look influenced many.

1970

1970.

Sayoko Yamaguchi was one of the biggest stars, not just in Japan, but in the world during the 1970s. The supermodel was found in many magazines where she showed off her unique style and iconic bangs.

1980

1980.

During the economic boom of the 1980s, many girls wanted to look as cute and innocent as Seiko Matsuda, a hugely popular singer and one of Japan’s ultimate idols. Seiko-chan’s feathered hair was so ingrained into mainstream culture that it even has its own Wikipedia page.

1990

1990.

Longer, curly hair became more popular as women in the 1990s were less interested in looking simple and cute.

1990.

On the other end of the ’90s spectrum, ganguro style swept through the streets of Tokyo. Ignoring all past trends and social standards, ganguro embraced tan skin, defining makeup, and outrageous nails and accessories. If you want to witness the look for yourself, you can visit the Ganguro Cafe in Shibuya.

2000

2000.

During the recession, women tamed things down and chose a more girl-next-door approach. Cut chose a look worn by popular model Yuri Ebihara. Again, her wavy hair became so popular that people went to salons asking for the Ebi-chan maki.

2000.

While some women started dressing more simply, other women decided to go with an over-the-top agejo appearance. Agejo refers to the women who dressed like the models in Koakuma Ageha magazine, which at one point was selling 300,00 copies a month. The style brings together big hair and pale makeup that borders the line between fashionable and sultry.

2010

2010.

Current women are dressing even more effortlessly than before. Iyashikei (therapeutic) style is trending with girls who want to come off as loving and motherly by wearing yurufuwa perms and more natural makeup.

2010.

While mainstream women are going back to basics, decora girls are picking up the slack — along with anything else they can find. The Harajuku subculture likes to put on as many colorful clips, rings and stickers as their face can handle to balance out the drab days at school and in the office.

You can see more videos from Cut on their YouTube page.

Studio Ghibli on a roll with licenses for new toys

December 15th, 2015 by

If you’re still wound up about Studio Ghibli more-or-less leaving the animation industry, there are some new toys that may help ease the pain.

Toy company Nibariki has a new “pullback collection” of figurines that will race forward when wound up. Certain items are downright adorable while others are just creepy crawlers.

On the cute side, Nibariki has three “My Neighbor Totoro” vehicles, including the blue vehicle that Mei and Satsuki cling to during moving day, and the city bus their father takes to work. (Sorry, no Catbus though.) There is also a wooden buggy made from a tree that’s driven by a Totoro.

The new toys based on Studio Ghibli's movies are both darling and disgusting.

The new toys based on Studio Ghibli’s movies are both darling and disgusting.

On the gross side, there are the huge worm monsters from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” that roll with such realistic movements that it may bug you out. And just like in the movie, the red-eyed beasts will dart forward while blue-eyed ones go at a much slower speed.

All items are available on Ensky Shop’s website and cost ¥2,300, making the perfect stocking stuffer this season for your anime-loving friends.

‘Japan Sumo Cup’ is possibly the most Japanese thing ever

November 25th, 2015 by

Do you like sumo? Into horse racing? Longtime fan of “Street Fighter”? Well, then do we have a game to match your specific and varied interests.

Japan Sumo Cup” is a free web-based game that — prepare yourself — lets you play as real sumo wrestlers riding actual horses from the Japan Racing Association while competing against characters from “Street Fighter.”

No, this isn’t a joke. The Japan Racing Association developed the game with the Japan Sumo Association and Capcom to help promote an upcoming race on Nov. 29, and also created the most Japanese thing in quite some time.

In this rhythm game, players can choose from different sumo wrestlers and then compete against characters from Capcom’s popular fighting series, including Blanka, Guile and M. Bison. The best part is that there are many nods to “Street Fighter” in “Japan Sumo Cup,” such as Dhalsim riding an elephant instead of a horse.

Each fighter’s stage comes with a remixed version of their background music from the original game, and they even perform their signature moves when the race gets close. Ryu shoots out his Hadouken blast and Chun-Li does her Spinning Bird Kick.

Ryu gets an extra speed boost by shooting out one of his Hadouken blasts.

Ryu gets an extra speed boost with one of his Hadouken blasts.

In order to win, players have to tap the arrow buttons on their keyboards at the right moments to rack up combos and win the race. Since the beats match the music from “Street Fighter,” old-school players who have the original soundtrack burned into their brains will have a leg up on the competition.

With this game, the JRA and Sumo Association, long the pastimes of elderly men, are clearly trying to reach out to the next generation. It kind of reminds us of when JRA put QR codes on betting tickets in 2002 or when the Sumo Association held “gokon” matchmaking events at one of its matches.

You can place your bets now on whether or not this joint venture pays off.

“Japan Sumo Cuo” can be played for free online. The site says that more characters will be unlocked later this week.

YouTubers in Japan with 100,000 fans and counting

November 7th, 2015 by

As more and more people turn off the TV in favor of the Internet, YouTube Japan is recognizing some of its top celebrities who are drawing in millions of people to their videos.

The company threw a big celebration for more than 20 YouTubers living in Japan who each have over 100,000 subscribers. The channels range from expats explaining Japanese culture to girls giving out makeup advice. Here are some of the channels honored at YouTube’s event.

1. Bilingual Chika’s fun and informational videos aim to help Japanese people learn English and to help everyone else to understand Japan. Her videos range from simply explaining grammar points all the way to reproducing English fairy tales.

2. Chihiro shares her beauty tips with the world with monthly favorites and test trials of 100 yen store makeup — Chihiro reviews it all. Scattered within these reviews are also a number of vlogs about her life.

3. Daichi Beatboxers name pretty much says it all: Daichi Beatboxer is a beatboxer named Daichi. His channel consists of performances, experimental content and collaboration videos with artists such as Hikakin.

4. Einshine’s channel has one primary theme: anime. Whether it be in his videos about gaming, vlogging or animation, the topic of anime almost always seems to make an appearance.  

5. Kobasolo is a musician, producer and charismatic goofball. Showing off his talent in full blown music videos or covers, Kobasolo’s musical skills really shine through.

6. Kumamiki’s channel is a collage of different do-it-yourself and do-yourself-up videos. In addition to her beauty and makeup tutorials, Kumamiki also vlogs and tries out a variety of food.

7. Melodee Morita is a TV reporter and director who has made her way to YouTube. On top of her travel videos, her videos feature tips on how to act, eat and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

8. Rachel & Jun are more than just a friends. This married couple shows a unique perspective on living in Japan as both a foreigner and native to the country. Whether filming together or alone, their videos tend to revolve around topics relating to Japan.

9. SekineRisa’s channel is a guide for all things glamorous. Her videos include travel, shopping hauls, makeup tutorials or a combination of the three, and Risa does it all in style.

10. Sharla in Japan is almost like an Internet tour guide for all those looking to visit or learn more about Japan. When she’s visiting theme cafes or discussing Japanese fashion, Sharla always seems to do it with a smile on her face.

11. Takutaku is a gamer with a focus on horror games. His take on games such as “Hide and Seek and “Entity helps make the games feel a little less terrifying.

12. Dekakin runs channel where, whether combining nine hair products into one or drinking cold water in a bathtub full of ice, his humorous personality is the star.

13. Haiji’s channel is a collection of food vlogs that are sure to make your mouth water. When he’s enjoying cheap sushi or ordering two large bento at once, viewers might feel a mix of hunger and jealousy.

14. Miki Pon provides makeup and hair tutorials for every season and every cost. Those who love her style can mimic it in the real world with her product collections.

15. Suzukawa Ayako is a family-oriented mother who loves her kids and cars. Her videos range all the way from visiting museums with her children to assembling models of toy trains.

So there you have some of the top vloggers in Japan. While they may not be household names just yet, their dedicated group of fans are probably refreshing their channels right now hoping for a new video.

Finding laughs in translations that have lost the plot

October 29th, 2015 by

Move over Google Translate; Orikaeshi Honyaku is here with questionable translations that are tickling the funny bone of the Twittersphere.

Orikaeshi Honyaku (折り返し翻訳) can roughly be translated to “folded up translation.” The Orikaeshi Honyaku Dictionary site boasts the catchphrase “from Japanese to Japanese.” After inputting any Japanese phrase and hitting the search button, the dictionary proceeds to translate the phrase first into English, then into Dutch, then Italian, and finally back into Japanese.

The news of the website has spread rapidly through social media, prompting users to input lines from their favorite TV shows, old Japanese sayings and even their innermost desires.

The website encourages visitors to share the “before” and “after” directly with their Twitter followers. Users are eager to share their creation with the hashtag #折り返し翻訳.

There is no science to the madness of Orikaeshi Honyaku, but the results, while rarely accurate, are often hilarious.

“I can’t finish my report” → “There is no report”

“Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!” → “Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7! Windows 7!”

“I’ll eat it even if it’s gone bad” → “This food was brought up spoiled”

“I don’t want to work for the rest of my life” → “I want to work forever”

“It’s my turn!” → “That is up to me!”

Plugging in Japanese phrases that are hard to translate to begin with produced similar results. よろしくお願いします, which roughly means “Please take care of me,” becomes ありがとう (thank you), and 頑張ります, which is something like “I’ll do my best,” is simplified to 良い (good). My personal favorite is お世話になります, a phrase that means something along the lines of “Thank you you for your kindness” or “I’m happy to be working with you,” which becomes — very roughly — ”I tried differently” when put through the system.

Additionally there are a couple other interesting bugs: a search for the translation of any emoji will return a poop emoji, and typing in a famous anime title like “Angel Beats” will usually translate it into the title of a rival show.

No doubt Orikaeshi Honyaku serves to highlight the weaknesses of machine translation, but for sheer entertainment value, some things are better lost in translation.

Japan tricks out the Halloween treats

October 28th, 2015 by

Halloween is a time to carve pumpkins, enjoy a few scares and, most importantly, shovel as much candy as humanly possible into one’s own mouth. While the practice of door-to-door trick-or-treating may not be a thing in Japan, the custom of eating special Halloween snacks certainly translates. Plenty of companies, both overseas and domestic, are looking to cash in on this boom.

In fact, American doughnut company Krispy Kreme is featuring some especially creepy creations at its Japanese outlets. The “Mad for Monsters” series is available through October and includes: Spider Chocolate Custard, Maple Milk Franken, Caramel Halloween Jack and Purple Potato Monster. We’re big fans of the three-doughnut box, which comes in the shape of a coffin.

monsters

Lotte’s Koala’s March — aka crackers that depict adorable koalas doing adorable things — are dressing up, too. Be it strawberry, cookies and cream or chocolate, each cracker depicts koalas in different Halloween costumes. And if you want to your sugar crash to the next level, there’s Lotteria’s Kaola’s March shake:

In a more chilled aisles of grocery stores, be on the look-out for pumpkin pudding cups. For those who enjoy a bit more crunch than jiggle there are Kit Kat’s Halloween bars.

Of course, one crunchy pumpkin pudding treat is not enough. Luckily, Tohato Caramel Corn is featuring a similar pumpkin pudding product complete with costumed packaging that features Frankenstein’s monster and other ghouls.

After you gobble down all of these treats, you might need something to wash it all down. Well, don’t fear because many companies have released some spooky sodas.

Pepsi has released Pepsi Ghost, which features a special mystery flavor inside each bottle of witchy brew. It seems that most who have tried it are leaning toward either pumpkin or cherry as the flavor, but the jury is still out. 

Of course, tis the season of pumpkin lattes. While Lipton’s Sweet Pumpkin Tea Latte apparently hard to find, the tea has been defined as being extremely milky and rich. Both the pumpkin tea and Lipton’s infamous Yellow Label Tea are being sold in a package that features a mysterious black cat on an orange background. Unlike the pumpkin tea, however, there is no change in flavor in the Yellow Label Tea.

Toppo and High Chew are doing much of the same — new costume, same product. 

Make sure you get a taste of these snacks before they slink away back into the shadows. With so many delicious options available at once, our wallets and stomachs truly have a reason to scream.

Ginza Cozy Corner takes dessert into hyperdrive with ‘Star Wars’ cakes

October 22nd, 2015 by

One Japanese confectionary vendor is about to find the Force deep within a sweet tie-up.

cozy-corner-20151021

The (caloric) force is strong with this one.

Ahead of the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Ginza Cozy Corner, which has outlets nationwide, has made a line of “Star Wars” sweets that are truly out of this world. The treats themselves are all based on people from the the films, and regardless if the characters were good or evil, the desserts will end up being sweet.

The cake set includes Darth Vader, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, an Ewok, a Stormtrooper, C-3PO and R2-D2, each having its own unique taste. The yellow C-3PO cake is lemon-flavored; the white R2-D2 one is cheese mousse; and so on.

If that wasn’t enough to satisfy sci-fi fans, Ginza Cozy Corner is also releasing a “Star Wars” tin and pouch filled with the store’s original creations. They will also be selling an R2-D2 sponge cake that is covered in white frosting and colored biscuits.

The “Star Wars” collection will be sold at select stores beginning Nov. 1, and the nine-piece cake set will sell for ¥2,000.

For more information, visit the Ginza Cozy Corner website.

RSS

Recent Posts