Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Virtual games in a real sports club

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Hey, Tron fans. The future you’ve been dreaming of is here, located in a sports club inside a shopping mall in Tokyo. Or one step closer, anyway. With the new e-Sports Ground, players can run around a yoga studio kicking balls and breaking blocks made of light projected on the floor. The technology behind it is a system similar to Microsoft’s Kinect:  Sensors hanging from the corners of the the ceiling read and react to players’ motions and instantly change the projected images accordingly. Players don’t need to hold or wear any special equipment.

Get your virtual game on

As described by Nikkei Trendy, there are sports games, where where players kick virtual balls to each other and try to score, like one-on-one soccer or full-body air hockey. Another option is like stepping into the kind of video game you might have played … if you were a kid in the early ’80s. You become the paddle in a version of Breakout, using your  feet or hands to bounce a ball into a layer of bricks to destroy them. In Spacerunner, you outrun moving blobs of light. For a more cerebral experience, a game that translates roughly to “Spreadsheet Walk” challenges you to perform calculations on numbers on the ground by walking on them in the right order. We don’t remember seeing that in Tron.

The space opened last Friday at sports club Renaissance in Kitasuna, Koto-ku. Playing is free for sports club members. The game schedule is posted on the gym’s homepage. A spokesperson at the gym was quoted in Nikkei Trendy as saying that they have plans to add the system to one more branch early next year and hope to install it in others as they are renovated.

The maker of the e-Sports Ground is Eureka Computer. The system is also currently on display at the Kobe Biennale. Versions of the game system have been appearing at new media and digital art exhibits in Japan over the last two years, including at 3331 Arts Chiyoda and at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2010.

A win-win for Nadeshiko and Japan’s merchants

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Takashimaya's Nadeshiko commemorative dessert

As Japan welcomes back its women’s soccer team from their world cup triumph, Nadeshiko fever grips the nation. While the team’s victory is sure to spur women’s interest in soccer, it has also inspired the nation’s merchants. From sushi restaurants to department stores, special celebratory offers are the order of the day.

Sponichi Annex reports that Nadeshiko Sushi in Akihabara (which existed long before the women’s team was dubbed Nadeshiko) has been supporting the women’s team since it began kicking butt around the middle of the tournament. While the team battled it out on the field, the staff of the restaurant proudly wore its colors and when they won, the sushiya celebrated by dropping their ¥980 set meals to ¥700. In nearby Kanda, Izakaya Nadeshiko also discounted its sashimi set from ¥1,200 to ¥600. The izakaya naturally benefited from its name, as it popped up in online searches for the women’s soccer team’s name.

Over in konbini land, Family Mart is selling commemorative goods and holding a special thanks sale in honor of the Nadeshiko team up until July 25. Customers who buy items such as beer get entered into a lottery to win prizes.

Takashimaya will be selling a range of commemorative items from July 23 in honor of the victory. The department store also got on the ball quickly and invented a new Nadeshiko commemorative dessert. The blue and green lemonade jelly confection, which has a cute white-chocolate soccer ball perched on top, is available at the store’s rooftop beer garden for ¥420.

Not surprisingly, publishers are seeing brisk sales with Nadeshiko-related content.  According to Sankei News, a book titled “Homare” by  team captain Homare Sawa was sold out by July 18 at Kinokuniya stores across the country. Book 1st also sold out of “Honmare” as well as “Nadeshiko Power” (a book by teammate Sasaki Norio) before the final. The company is now placing an order 10 times as big as the last order for fresh copies.

Because no one was expecting the ladies’ team to beat the odds and come out on top, manufacturers were caught unawares. So we’re betting there will be plenty more Nadeshiko-related tie-ups to come.

Will girls take the bait of fishing fashion?

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Will fishing girls follow in the footstep of mountain girls?

Fueled by a desire to get fit and out of the city, not to mention the prospect of a funky new wardrobe, Japanese women have been exploring the great outdoors in ever-increasing numbers. The running trend, followed by the yama (mountain) girl trend, have been a boon for vendors of outdoor/sports wear. But what about more sedentary girls who like the clothes but don’t fancy breaking a sweat? If the hype keeps up they might soon be a new less-active outdoor tribe to join.

Recently, Nikkei Trendy tipped fishing as the next big thing for women in 2011. In keeping with the pattern, the women of this nascent trend have been dubbed “tsuri jo” (fishing woman) or “tsuri garu” (fishing girl), though we’ve yet to hear about these phrases enter common parlance so marketers have their work cut out for them this year.

Cool gear, though, might hook them. The ransuka (running skirt) and yamasuka (mountain skirt) did wonders for popularizing running and mountain climbing. Will the tsurisuka be next? As far was we know, manufacturers aren’t exactly targeting fisherwomen yet, fishing gear maker Daiwa Globe Ride has at least gone out of its way to make fishing cool. Last month, the brand teamed up with uber-hop fashion label A Bathing Ape to create a line of cutting-edge fishing gear under the label of  A Fishing Ape, comprising camouflage-patterned fishing jackets and lures.

If Daiwa casts its lines right, it could make a pretty profit off of tsuri girls. According to Insight Now!, other manufacturers of cheaper fishing gear from Taiwan, China and South Korea could also get into the game. Will they be successful in luring the young female market? A sign of things to come can be seen at  Japan Fishing Festival, March 25-27. A seminar for female fishers has been scheduled, as well as a meet-n-greet vent for the anglers’ idol, Aica. Will she become a role model for budding tsuri jo?

Photo by Kintaiyo [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Music makes bananas fit for the long run

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Blasting an early ’90s J-pop song on repeat for a week straight might sound like a dubious military tactic. But Dole is just doing it to give its bananas a little extra pep for the Tokyo Marathon.

Banana power

Banana power

A variety of banana called Lakatan will arrive green from the Philippines and then be ripened for eight days in a storage facility after arrival in the Tokyo area. Various companies in Japan have experimented with giving their foods and beverages a bit of culture by letting them mature to Mozart, with “Mozart bananas” getting the most attention. While the Mozart pieces were chosen for frequency profiles that are reported to increase taste quality, the music for the marathon bananas was chosen a bit less scientifically: Dole asked former marathon runners via Twitter what songs they’d most like to hear at different points in the race. The inspirational song “Makenaide! (Don’t Give Up!)” by Zard was the hands-down winner, so that’s what the bananas are being serenaded with, 24 hours a day, for the eight days leading up to the marathon.

Some 78,000 bananas will be given out throughout the race to the 32,000 marathon runners at four spots along the 42.2-km route. The soundness of the science behind the singing seems to be a minor point. The company alludes to it only by having a slightly skeptical “Chief Quality Officer Alberto” of the plantation say in the promotional video clip that he “heard somewhere that playing music for the fruit  increases the sugar content . . . They’re nutritious either way, so why not give it a shot.”

With or without music, the Lakatan bananas have about twice the citric acid as the more commonly eaten Cavendish variety. Citric acid is popular as a diet and sports nutrition ingredient in Japan, and these little guys will continue to be sold as “sports bananas” once the race is over. They’re quite a bit smaller than the bananas usually sold in Japan, with a slightly tarter taste and denser, slightly orangey flesh. They’ll be available in grocery stores for about ¥300 a bunch, and sports shops will also be selling them experimentally for the month after the marathon.

Dentsu, Young & Rubicam is the PR company behind the marathon campaign, as well as those memorable spots with Shingo Katori sprouting bananas from his face. Just us, but we find the music thing a lot less disturbing.

Japan by the numbers (08.16.10)

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Pulsations (07.29.10)

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

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 . . .

Pulsations (7.22.10)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

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 . . .

Japan by the numbers (06.28.10)

Monday, June 28th, 2010

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