Posts Tagged ‘retro’

Fundoshi: the innerwear sanctum of Cool Biz

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Despite the energy-conserving Cool Biz campaign — inaugurated in 2005 by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi — becoming a household word, according to a recent poll by The Suit Company 28.8% of women thought Cool Biz casual dress was still inappropriate at work.

The new trad fundoshi

The new trad fundoshi

What’s a well-intentioned man to do? Well, how about taking the Cool Biz under your suit?

This past March innerwear maker Wacoal launched a new underwear line for men called Fundoshi NEXT (ふんどしNEXT). Fundoshi is as traditional as you can get with underwear in Japan. Before Western briefs arrived, they were the undergarment of choice. In public, they are a common sight at traditional festivals, and sumo wrestlers wear a more elaborate version. While there are several types of fundoshi, they all involve a strap and piece of cloth material. Looking a bit like a fat thong, the fundoshi exposes a large part of the buttocks.

Wacoal’s spin on this tradition, which echoes the recent rage for suteteko, adopts the original fundoshi’s breathability and sense of openness, while utilizing a modern design and quick-drying material. Combining the best of old and new, Wacoal is offering a revealing remedy to the summer heat.

This fundoshi revival is also spreading to woman’s underwear.  FFsee recently launched an online fundoshi shop playfully called Aifun (love + fundoshi) aimed at women. With the motto of “sayonara sutoresu” (goodbye stress), they hope to give customers a more comfortable fit than typical panties. FFsee says that the less constricting fundoshi will decrease swelling and improve skin quality.

A Japanese saying says, “to know the new, look to the old” (古きを尋ね新しきを知る). Call it old school, but these risque retro looks could leave you smiling cheek-to-cheek.

Anyone for canned sea lion curry?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Mr. Kanso stocks an impressive collection of 350 varieties of canned goods including bear curry 

A chain of bars currently opening up in Tokyo has been getting a lot of attention for its unusual menu, which includes items such as sea lion curry and steamed Korean silkworm chrysalis. Not for the faint of stomach, Mr. Kanso, is a no-frills drinking establishment that offers an impressively diverse menu of 350 items all of which come out of a can.

The chain has its head offices in Osaka and has already been incredibly successful operating in the Kansai area. Its Shibuya branch, which opened in August, is the first Mr. Kanso in Tokyo, but in mid-November, two more stores will be opened in Yotsuya and Tamachi. Decor is quite simply a bunch of cans displayed on shelves creating a retro feel — though each store manager is free to add his/her own personal touch. Because there’s very little to do in the way of food preparation, costs are kept down and a draft beer comes very cheap at ¥350.

The cover charge at Dagashi allows you to eat as many sweets as you can

Light meals out of a can range from ¥200 to ¥2,000. The selection of canned foods come from all over the globe, but foodies willing to try something new will be keen to order dishes such as bear curry, seal curry, deer curry and sea lion curry, all of which were made in Japan.

As the trend for Showa Era nostalgia shows no sign of slowing down, bars like Mr. Kanso stand to make a tidy profit. Dagashi Bar, for instance, which opened back in 2003 in Ebisu, is now thriving with several bars around Tokyo. Dagashi bars are not only covered in Showa Era memorabilia, including movie posters and toys, they’re also stocked up with cheap sweets that were popular during that time. Table charge includes sweetie tabehodai (all you can eat), a gimmick that further encourages customers to reminisce about the good old days.

But not everyone can afford to pay table charge these days, and spit ‘n’ sawdust establishments in which customers sit on beer crates or lean against standing bars, where you sacrifice a seat in favor of cheaper drink prices have been increasingly popular in recession-hit Japan. We reckon it makes a nice change to find a bar that’s found a fresh new way to interpret cheap and cheerful.

Showa Boys a go go

Friday, September 18th, 2009

"Tokyo 2016" by Tenan Ito, "Tanoshii Yonensei" (Happy 4th Year Student),  1961

“The Tokyo of 2061″ by Tenan Ito, “Tanoshii Yonensei” (Happy 4th Year Student), 1961

We generally are obsessed by the next shiny, shiny thing on the horizon, but “Showa Boys SF Guide,” a collection of 1950-1970 memorabilia, had us transfixed from the get-go. The modestly sized Yayoi Museum, nestled in the back streets of Nezu, has put together a terrific trip back to the future as imagined in Japan’s Show Era.

Need more proof of its brilliance? Click the thumbnails below or read the review of “Showa Boys SF Guide” on Japan Times Online.

The show closes soon, so hop in your personal air car, or strap on your jet pack, and whiz over to Nezu to see how we really are supposed to be living.

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