Posts Tagged ‘pets’

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.

 

Pulsations (10.26.12)

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Here are the latest 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, they are . . .

  • Ramen Competition on the street (from Adele Wong): What looks better than a bowl of yummy ramen? A bowl of yummy ramen meant for photographing. Blogger Adele Wong shows us how one event made sure everyone got perfect  pictures of their seemingly perfectly crafted food.
  • Tanaka Hisashige (from James Calbraith): Author James Calbraith follows in the steps of Google and pays tribute to this master innovator of the late Edo Period. Oh, and you have Hisashige to thank for your trusty Toshiba laptop.

Visual Pulse:

Neurowear’s wearable cat ears is now complete with the latest addition of a wearable cat tail that is controlled by brain waves. Want to express your excitement at seeing a friend but too lazy to say so? Let this nifty thing do the talking.

Tamagtotchi turns 15, as virtual pets continue to evolve

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Tamagochi reached the ripe old age of 15 yesterday. To celebrate, Bandai brought out a special Tamagotchi iD L 15th anniversary edition in pink or purple with plenty of new functions. Not just for the 8- to 9-year-old girls, those who recall their cute digital pets with fondness, rather than mild irritation, are bound to want to get their hands on these special models which have one of the game’s first-generation characters, Oyajichi, among their sets of 32 characters.

The commemorative version of the Tamagochi features one of the game's original characters

Tamagochi have come a long way since their birth and the iD L has a color screen, is decorated with sparkling crystals and has a function that allows you to swap items and propose marriage with other players.

The success of the toys sparked a virtual pet rearing boom that continues to this day. It’s not that surprising, especially when you think of all the city apartment dwellers who aren’t allow to keep real pets at home. Though some simply get around a landlord’s strict rules by keeping a secret pet (small dog owners can resort to hiding a dog in a bag when entering and exiting a building), many have sublimated their need with virtual games.

Pet-raising games have continued to be popular in Japan and the increased complexity of games like Nintendo’s Nintendogs has arguably brought pet games to an adult market. More recently this popularity has spread to smartphone apps. Just this month, for instance, a new pet-rearing app, featuring a cute cat called “Mecha-kun,” was released on the market.

But the area in which pet-rearing games are really evolving is within games that combine the usual game-playing characteristics, such as feeding and petting your animal, with a social networking element. Online game Meromero Park, for instance, allows you not only to raise your own cute creature, but to meet and chat with other users who share your interests while going out for a walk.

Dog’s new best friend: microblogging

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

We all know that dogs are more sociable than cats, but recently,  our furry friends have taken that to a whole new level by utilizing social networking tools on the Web. Twitter and Mixi are already popular with dog owners keen to share info aobut their pet pooches but, even better, this month saw the launch of the cell phone version of Fur Peace, a Twitter-like site that allows owners to write messages about their days with the doggies. As it’s now available for smart phones, owners don’t have to be tied to their PCs to post and upload messages while they’re out on walkies.

Fur Peace, which was developed by students at Waseda University and launched in February, has stolen the march on doggie-microblogging from Twitter with the addition of canine-friendly extras. Unlike Twitter, pictures can be displayed alongside posts and users can engage in short conversations if they feel like it, upping the awwww factor immensely: “The dandelions are blooming,” barks one dog, accompanied by a picture of said hound with his snout in a patch of dandelions. In addition to uploading cute pictures, owners can use the Fur Peace matchmaking service to arrange amorous assignations for their pedigree hounds.

At the moment, most owners render their dogs barks into intelligible messages, such as: “This is a great place. There’s a river. Perhaps I’ll go for a swim, woof!” But, according to Asiajin, from the summer, owners of iPhones will be able to deliver messages straight from their dog’s mouth with the use of a simultaneous translation app. Bowlingual Voice, which analyzes barks and turns them into written messages such as “lets play,” is available in portable form from Takara Tomy, so some users of Fur Peace, who already have the gadget, may well be already writing in the first person. However, the iPhone app will be designed to allow users to upload messages directly onto Twitter and who knows, perhaps even to Fur Peace too.

While it’s not immediately apparent, the video above is a commercial for Fur Peace and aims to show how the service can strengthen the bond between owner and beloved hound. I love the owner’s final words of love to her dogs, who are cleverly named  Obama and Hato (clearly an abbreviated Hatoyama): “Obama and Hato, if you pee, you won’t get any dinner.”

Japan by the numbers (2.23.10)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Who let the dog boom get out of control?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

dogjacket

Japan’s pet population has grown by over 9 million in the last 10 years. Cats figure into the equation, but it’s the present “dog boom” that gets the most attention, with the spotlight shining on more and more services available for Japan’s canine lovers. In addition to clothing lines and custom-made birthday cakes, dog owners can now keep a memento of their deceased four-legged friend after their death, in what now marks a complete cradle-to-grave cycle.

What’s not mentioned as frequently is how the grave-end of this cycle presents itself to many unwanted pets. Some estimates show that over 300,000 dogs a year are now being put down around the country. There is no simple answer as to why so many pets are abandoned, or even bought in the first place, although it has been argued that Japan’s love of cute and the difficulties of raising children play a role.

Continue reading about the pet boom →

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