Posts Tagged ‘health’

Pulsations (07.19.13)

Friday, July 19th, 2013

What’s in a Japanese Woman’s Purse? Let’s Look Inside! (from Tofugu): Phone, check. Day planner, check. Face-blotting paper, check. Shout-out to Tofogu’s intern, Rachel, for a great read on what lies in the depths of a Japanese woman’s bag.

On Getting by in Japan (Without Speaking Japanese) (from This Japanese Life): The author of this post wishes he could have read this upon arriving in Japan two months back. Plenty of helpful tips for the less fluent among us gaijin.

Japanese Tattoo Stockings (from Spoon & Tamago): Tattoo taboo is notrious in Japan, so several companies have rolled out a new variety of temporary ink. Designs of origami cranes, mirror frames and other images can give you the edgy look without the all the pain and shame.

Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? (from Just Hungry): A lunch set from your favorite sushi joint could cost you ¥1,000 and nearly as many calories.

Shigeru Ban Wins Competition to Design ‘Cite Musicale’ in Paris (from DesignBoom): Japanese architect Shigeru Ban just won the design competition for a revitalization project in southwest Paris. The compelling design is slated for completion in 2016.

SDF: Looking for a Few Good Women — to Date (from Japan Real Time): The nation’s Self-Defense Force has plenty of bachelors who are single and ready to mingle. Finding that man in uniform may not be so tough, after all.

Google Tour of Hashima Island (from Google Street View): A coal-mining facility for nearly a century, the haunting haikyo of Hashima was made famous with the release of last year’s mega-hit “Skyfall,” which used the island as locational inspiration for several scenes.

Visual Pulse

This vibrant music video for pop artist Cuushe’s “Airy Me” comes to life through 3,000 hand-drawn sketches. (Don’t watch if you’re disturbed by illustrated entrails.)

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 a cloud. Photo courtesy of Fujitsu.

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.

 

J-blip: flu report app

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The U.S. is in the midst of a particularly severe flu season and Google’s trend map for Japan shows a near-vertical spike in flu searches in the last weeks. Apart from washing your hands regularly, eating healthily and staying fit, there’s not much you can do to prevent getting infected. Or is there?

A new Android app from Docomo called “Your Area’s Influenza Report“ allows users to keep an eye on the spread of influenza in their own locality and, if they’re thinking of taking a trip, check ahead of time to see if that area is an influenza hotspot or not.

The app draws data from the Infectious Disease Early Detection System designed by The Infectious Disease Information Center at the National Institute of Infectious Disease. Daily influenza forecasts are extrapolated from prescription information gathered from pharmacies and absentee records for schools. Info includes a report on the dryness level of the air, as drier air is associated with easier spread of flu.

Armed with this app, the modern-day Howard Hughes can decide whether it’s worth risking an outing to a different area or not, or indeed whether it’s safe to leave the house at all!

Can Japan swallow a salty yogurt boom?

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Fancy some salt yogurt soup, some fried pork marinated in salt yogurt, or perhaps some salt yogurt mayonnaise? Over the last month or so, a variety of cookbooks featuring salted yogurt as a main ingredient have come on to the market. Until now in Japan, yogurt has been seen as a healthy food to be eaten on its own or with fruit for breakfast, but now it seems publishers are trying to stir up a yogurt cooking craze to rival the salt koji boom that hit the culinary scene last year.

The white stuff: A mixture of yogurt and salt can be used in a wide range of dishes

Over the last month, according to Nikkei Trendy, following a micro-trend of recipes calling for strained yogurt as an ingredient, five cookbooks featuring salted yogurt have been published in Japan. One of these was “Let’s Get Started With Salt Yogurt” by Wakako Sato. Published by Bunshun publishing company, the recipes in the book were created by researching international yogurt-based recipes and adapting them for the Japanese palate.

But we think the recipes are also heavily influenced by salt koji recipes. The cover of Sato’s book exclaims that using salt yogurt is “even simpler than shio koji,” drawing the connection clearly. Salted yogurt is touted as being a great marinade for vegetables, meat or fish. Just like salt koji, marinating meat in salt yogurt is said to soften the flesh and bring out savory umami flavors. Once you’ve finished with your marinade, add some sake and put it on the boil to use as a base for a creamy soup.

Indeed, making salt yogurt is even easier than making your own koji: Simply add salt or miso to plain, unsweetened yogurt and off you go. To make marinades or soups, use the yogurt as it is, or, to make mayonnaise or cream cheese substitutes, place the yogurt in a coffee strainer and drain off the liquid. The cream cheese substitute is simply the strained yogurt cooled overnight in the fridge. Making mayonnaise involves adding olive oil, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice.

While unsweetened yogurt on its own is seen by the Japanese as a little bit like Marmite (you either love it or you hate it), the publishers of “Let’s Get Started With Salt Yogurt” reckon that even the haters might like yogurt if it’s used as an ingredient in Japanese-style dishes. The fact that alleged health benefits include helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract and giving a boost to the immune system might be just enough to sway those who might otherwise prefer to steer clear.

Yakuzen cuisine makes Chinese medicine easier to swallow

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Chinese medicine is so commonly considered an effective way of treating ailments in Japan that pharmacies here often stock traditional Chinese remedies alongside Western drugs. Believing in it is one thing, but getting it down is another: many Japanese have an aversion to actually consuming the stuff, because the taste and smell can be totally icky. Enter yakuzen (薬膳), the Japanese term for a form of Chinese cuisine that blends Chinese medicinal ingredients (kanpō, 漢方) into meals, turning hard-to-swallow powders and teas into delicious meals. Though yakuzen has been around for awhile, there are indications that it might be ripe for a revival.

New on the yakuzen scene is Oriental Recipe Cafe, an establishment that opened in Harajuku this April. They serve up dishes that vary with the season and the physical condition of the customer. Under the management of Yukari Arai, a master of oriental medicine, dishes are made with ingredients that can help with particular health issues. Eye strain, for example, can be eased with a tea made with a blend of kuko (a shrub that is purported to act as a tonic) and chrysanthemum. A key element of dishes served in Oriental Recipe Cafe is that they are made specifically to please the Japanese palate, so a curry that is made to improve the condition of the kidneys, for example, contains the traditional Japanese fish stock dashi.

They’re not the only ones giving a Japanese twist to yakuzen food. Reset Cafe in Toranomon offers a hormone broth, while in Osaka, Goshiki is making some noise about the organic ingredients and homemade sauces in its yakuzen cuisine. 10Zen (read “juuzen”) in Tokyo’s Shinagawa offers up hotpots for detoxing, improving your skin, or slimming down. In the same space, they offer both consultations, prescriptions and products, as well as regular classes on kanpō.

Since the food is tailored to treat specific ailments, it’s not uncommon for yakuzen eateries to have an expert on hand to consult about which foods best suit your health needs. At Reset Cafe, customers fill out a medical questionnaire as they’re ordering their food. Much of the menu is based around soups, and there are six available to suit ailments such as inflammation, dry skin or bad circulation.

News Searchina is going so far as to proclaim a “yakuzen boom.” Indeed, products containing ginger, a common kanpō ingredient, were trending last winter, indicating that people are open to incorporating traditional remedies into their diets. The interest in yakuzen complements the recent attention on organic vegetables and overall healthy eating that we’re seeing.  The only downside is that a lot of yakuzen food seems to come in the form of soup or steamed dishes, which is not necessarily appealing during Japan’s excessively hot and humid summer months!

New dishes on company cafeteria menus

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Cleverly promoting their health devices, Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo is capitalizing on the manufacturer's popular book of cafeteria recipes.

Offering cheap, filling staples like curry rice and bowls of noodles, the company shokudo (canteen) in Japan is not generally a place that has foodies waxing lyrical. But ever since Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo opened for business in January and started attracting press for its healthy nutritious meals, there’s been an increasing interest taken in what’s on offer at the company shokudo.

Offering the same dishes as served at Tanita’s cafeteria, Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo serves a low-calorie but tasty menu. The restaurant was opened in response to the success of a recipe book of company canteen dishes published last year. Tanita manufactures bathroom scales and other health devices and is able to use the restaurant as a showroom for its products to health-conscious customers. Visitors to the restaurant can get free dietary advice from nutritionists.

The success of Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo has sparked media interest in the humble company shokudo and a recent set of tours offered by LUXA, a website that sells luxury experience coupons, has allowed a select few members of the public and press to take a sneak peek inside some rather upscale company cafeterias. Recent tours of the canteens of Microsoft and cosmetics manufacturer Pola have shown that these companies are putting on a spread beyond the usual cheap and filling fare.

Microsoft, featured in Tokyo Bargain Mania, has the One Microsoft Cafe on the 19th floor of their new offices in Shinagawa. With its splendid view, the upscale space resembles a luxurious hotel lounge more than a dining hall. The menu is rather sophisticated too offering dishes like “chicken fried in basil with tomato paprika sauce” or “cream cheese mince cutlet.” Despite the swankiness, the prices are extremely reasonable with a main meal and side dish going for around just ¥680. After meals staff can lounge in sofas nearby to enjoy a coffee or a chat.

The latest tour held was at cosmetics company Pola in Gotanda and was featured on J-Cast. Though Pola’s cafeteria predictably serves items such as curry rice, each item is made to be rich in dietary fiber and potassium. The cafeteria also has a unique anti-aging menu on offer every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month that includes dishes such as “clams, bamboo shoots and rice with mackerel sauce” and “tea jelly.”

Dishes containing collagen are purported to be good for the skin and have been popular for several years, so we’re wondering whether the folks at Pola might not be considering publishing a shokudo book of their own, filled with anti-ageing recipes. We’re also keen to see whether other company shokudo will follow their example.

Sniffling and shivering into a setsuden winter

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

As we inch toward December, a chill is most definitely in the air, as are the inevitable cold viruses that accompany the onset of winter. At Shinjuku Station, it feels like you can hardly walk a minute without getting sneezed or coughed on by a passing comuter. According to a recent survey by cold medicine makers Contac, those living in areas powered by Tepco are particularly worried about catching a cold as a winter of setsuden (power conservation) looms.

Kaze Miru Plus tracks the cold virus in your area

The survey of office workers living alone in the Tokyo area showed that 89.1 percent were proactively taking steps to prevent getting a setsuden cold. Some felt that these might not be enough: 34.1 percent were worried that if they practiced power-saving with their heating appliances it would be harder to keep in peak physical condition. It appears that women had more of a tendency to worry about this issue: 41.1 percent of females compared to 27.2 percent of males.

As well as wrapping up warmly like the government advises, alternative sources of heating are popular. Yomiuri Online reports that a store selling kerosene heaters in Iwate had sold 200 heaters in a week and had 30 reservations from customers. These heaters are being actively marketed as being good for setsuden winter. If you’re not too keen on getting gassed in the night by one of these, a new electric heater called the “Beam Heater” claims to kick out 800 watts of heat while only running on 400 watts of electricity.

Another way to prevent getting a cold — at least in Japan — is to use a cold mask. Cold masks have become increasingly funky in recent years and we noted a nice product just out for kids that includes masks and cool packs adorned with decorations of Tomi cars and trucks. You might even manage to snag a mask for free. According to Eiga News, individually wrapped masks were available at five Tokyo stations, including Ikebukuro and Omotesando, as part of a clever advertisement for the movie “Contagion.” Once removed, the faces of the stars of the movie are revealed.

If the doomsday scenario of a super bug spreading throughout the world has you reaching nervously for the hand sanitizer, then you might want to sign up for Esu Esu Pharmaceutical’s Kaze Miru Plus, a Twitter-based application that tracks and forecasts cold and flu symptoms throughout Japan. By bringing together data from tweets and weather forecasts, Kaze Miru makes a cold forecast for your area. Today in Tokyo, 1,447 tweeted headaches, 970 a cough and 639 a runny nose. As the mercury drops those numbers are bound to rise drastically over the next few months. Be careful out there, folks.

How about a hot bath … in sawdust?

Friday, August 26th, 2011

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.

RSS

Recent Posts

  • Marketers capitalize on university entrance exam time

    This week there is something weighing heavy on the minds of many students who’d like to advance to college: the National Center Test for University Admissions. It’s being held Jan. 18-19. Those with their heart set on a particular school who don’t get a good enough score may choose to spend a year, or in [...]

  • Pulsations 1.13.14

    The first batch of Pulsations in 2014 features a twist on chopstick design, a spectacular holiday illumination in Osaka and more.

  • Feelin’ lucky? The highs and lows of ‘fukubukuro’

    Whether you count fukubukuro “lucky bags” as a thank-you to shoppers, a scheme to unload less popular merchandise at the end of the year or just a way to kick off the New Year’s sales, buying a mystery pile of stuff worth [hopefully far] more than the price tag is a tempting offer to many. [...]

  • Pulsations (12.6.13)

    This collection of Pulsations brings holiday cheer in bento form, a must-see project for font-lovers, a solo stop-motion animation effort and more!

  • Joysound’s top 10 karaoke songs of 2013

    Joysound karaoke announced their top songs of 2013! However, just because they’re popular does not mean they came out this year . . .

  • Tokyo Eggs Benedict Bingo

    Eggs Benedict with awesome bacon, with a near lack of eggs, with raw tuna! Wait, raw tuna?! We sample a handful of Tokyo’s Hollandaise sauces.

  • Pulsations (11.19.13)

    Fashion, art and snacktime collide in this collection of Pulsations! Plus: Doraemon makes his 3D film debut!

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

    Bookseller Tsutaya moves into the lifestyle business and gives consumer more ways to use T-points.

  • Autumn crop of pumpkin, purple potato and pear products

    The change of season prompts a change of snack flavorings – great for those with a pumpkin craving.

  • Tokyo Designers Week 2013

    This year’s Tokyo Designers Week gets its creative juices flowing with more markets, music and a festival vibe.