Posts Tagged ‘beverage’

Hit the road: Japan’s 2013 trend forecast

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

'Long Trail' hiking is Trendy magazine's number one trend pick for 2013

‘Long Trail’ hiking is Trendy magazine’s number one trend pick for 2013.

In 2012 we got cat-ear hair-dos, an increasing appetite for salty mold, and a tower with a silly name. What wonders will 2013 bring? We’ve gone through Trendy’s predictions and came up with a list of themes that look good to us. Basically it boils down to this: smart phones continue to up the convenience factor, and people have to work harder to get away from convenience and to make up for all the energy it saves.

People will get moving – even more

Running and hiking have been big the last few years, and Trendy predicts that this will continue, and that people will invest even more in these hobbies. The magazine anticipates that hikers will head further into the hills, taking to what it calls the “long trails” that are dozens (possibly hundreds) of kilometers long, mostly in the Alps of central Honshu.

Naturally, these overnight trips will require more gear than the yama girls have acquired thus far, including camp stoves and camp stove-operated mobile phone chargers. Hikes deep into the heart of the country also fit in nicely with other growing interests that have been driving travel trends recently, like history and power spots.

Dieting will be more palatable, and fun

One of the biggest hits of 2012 was Kirin’s Mets Cola. Billed as the world’s first health-soda, the product claims to inhibit fat uptake. It got tokuho billing, the government-issued health food label usually reserved for products like bio-yogurt. Trendy anticipates that other ordinary edibles will ramp up their ingredients to qualify as tokuho products, and that 2013 will see more typically sweet things – from donuts to umeshu (plum wine) to teriyaki sauce – getting the low-calorie treatment with sweeteners like D-Psicose. Likewise, “water enhancers” like Kraft’s Mio Energy, which look like colored eye-drops but presumably have a Crystal Lite effect, look to make good, old-fashioned water more palatable to soda addicts.


Fujitsu’s “Wandant” dog pedometer automatically uploads data to the cloud. Photo courtesy of Fujitsu.

Trendy also sees gadgets that gamify weight-loss and fitness, like Nike’s FuelBand and Panasonic’s EW-NK63 pedometer – both of which beam data to smartphones – as being likely hits in 2013.

And (sigh) it looks like Fujitsu has gone and made a pedometer for dogs, the “wandant” (“wan-chan” being the word for puppy). As the pampered puppies of years past are now overweight middle-aged pooches, we’re probably going to see more human-driven weight-loss and exercise trends trickle down to the canine population.

Smartphones work their way further into our lives

Now that we’ve confirmed that Japanese consumers are buying into smartphones, it is likely that we’ll see more crossover products on the market. Expect more digital cameras that allow you to upload photos to a smartphone over Wi-Fi – like Nikon’s new Coolpix S800C, which is also an Android device itself – to hit the market in 2013, says Trendy.

Last year Moleskin introduced its “Smart Notebook” series, which is designed to sync nicely with the popular smartphone app Evernote. According to Trendy, Japanese office and school supply manufacturer Kokuyo (they make those ubiquitous “Campus” notebooks) has now launched its own series of smartphone-ready stationary, CamiApp, along with its own app.

Edo-era amazake is back to beat the summer heat

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Bottles of amazake for sale at Matsuya department store in Ginza, Tokyo. (Photo by Rebecca Milner)

The annual competition for the summer’s hit drink is as fierce as usual, and all the major manufacturers have their contenders. Will it be Asahi’s new Red Eye in a can? Or Pepsi’s latest oddity, the shocking-pink Salty Watermelon soda?

According to the morning TV show “Non Stop!,” the winner may just be a dark horse: amazake.

Though it literally means “sweet sake,” this fermented rice drink is actually alcohol free and has been around for centuries. In the Edo Period, it was commonly drunk to ward off the dreaded natsu-bate (summer heat fatigue). Apparently the combination of vitamin B and glucose provides an immediate jolt of energy. The rich ate eel; the rest drank amazake.

At some point  in history, that tradition fell out of favor. These days, amazake generally only shows up at traditional festivals, namely during New Years, or at cafes attached to Buddhist temples. Now, however, a savvy Niigata producer is looking to give amazake a little more everyday cachet.

In February, Furumachi Kōji Seijōjo opened a specialty shop in the fashionable Tokyo suburb of Jiyugaoka. Here you can get hot and cold amazake drinks spiked with matcha and shiso (perilla leaf) or health tonics that mix amazake with fruit-flavored vinegar. Boosted by plenty of media attention, they’ve since opened a second branch in the basement food court of Ginza’s Matsuya department store.

Continue reading about amazake →

Warm up with these winter drinks trends

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Hot Calpis

Hot beverages in cans or pet bottles are one of the best things about winter in Japan. Warming up your hands as well as your tummy, they’re a great way to beat the cold during this setsuden (power saving) winter. Sold in vending machines or heated displays in convenience stores, product lineups are ever-evolving and this year is no different. Here’s a quick look at what’s trending:

Hot Calpis: Stop sniggering. We know what the name sounds like. Unpleasant connotations aside, this sweet milky drink has been popular as a cooling beverage for years in Japan. Released on the market on Nov. 7, the heated version is milder than the summer drink and a dash of honey gives it a nice wintry touch. It’s one several products added to Calpis’ winter range of heated drinks. Another is Hot Fruits au Lait, a milky blend of sweet fruit juices.

Suntory Iemon Green Espresso

Suntory Iemon Green Espresso: Matcha in a black can for manly men; Suntory is targeting businessmen who would normally warm up with a hot can of coffee. The product has been reasonably successful, according to Nikkei Trendy: During the first month of sales after its launch in September, 600,000 cases of the stuff were sold. The espresso part refers to the fact that this is very strong, gritty green tea, just like the kind made for tea ceremonies. Containing 20 mg of caffeine in every 100 ml, it’s just the thing to give hard workers a boost.

We see some similarities to a product Georgia launched last year. X Green Tea Style Coffee does exactly what is says on the tin, i.e. blending together green tea with coffee. The product also contains sugar and cream and we reckon is the natural, if not mouthwatering, progression on from the popularity of the matcha latte.

Kirin Poppo Cha

Kirin Poppo Cha: Ginger is very much in style at the moment. According to J-Cast, hot ginger drinks have been trending, especially among women, over the past few years. Asahi Newspaper also reports that ginger is trending as a health food. Some women are even carrying around tubes of grated ginger to add to meals as the seasoning is thought to improve circulation and prevent colds.

A non-caffeinated blended tea with a dash of ginger, Kirin’s Poppo Cha is just one of many products on the market. In October, Calpis also released a hot ginger drink onto the market and this year Ginger Chai from Nagatanien has become more widely available in conveninece stores throughout the country following on from its success as a mail order product.


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