Archive for September, 2009

Beating the Winter Heat

Last winter, Uniqlo beat its competition hands down in the race to sell the season’s hottest thermal wear. From pastel turtlenecks to puffy jackets, its HEAT TECH clothing line became the year’s most gossiped bundle of threads.

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This winter, Uniqlo’s underdog competitor Aeon is determined to steal the throne with its line called (drum roll please) ….HEAT FACT! The apparel is similar to last year’s — short-sleeve tees, camisoles, turtlenecks, and long Johns — but boasts a higher thread-count for a softer, warmer feel. HEAT FACT also aims to beat competitors with a price tag 20-30% less than Uniqlo’s offerings (between $7 to $12).

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HEAT FACT was just launched last week at 1,000 stores nationwide and retailers are hoping to sell at least 10 million items. Truthfully, Aeon isn’t exactly a chic brand, selling at places like Jusco and Daiei, which are like the Big Lots and Walmart of Japan. Uniqlo, on the other hand, is like Gap, appealing to both kids and adults at an affordable cost.

Especially in times like these, winter-wear has become an aggressive market. When the air gets frigid, people still want to restock their wardrobe but without breaking the bank. If Aeon wants to do well, I hope they have an eye-popping promotional campaign lined up, otherwise I think I might go for HEAT TECH. The name just sounds cooler, don’t you think?

Himawari

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September 29, 2009 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

Grilled to Perfection

So long summer! Thanks for the good times on the beach. I’ll miss you. Sniff.

If you’re like me, living along the breezy California coast, you spent most of this summer playing in the sand and cooking chicken over a toasty grill. Ah yes, the great Japanese charcoal grill, a.k.a., shichirin.

It’s much smaller than your typical American grill — about the size of your two hands spread wide — and so is the wire mesh. So instead of hamburgers and hot dogs, Japanese people like to throw down chopped raw vegetables (peppers, onions, corn, etc.) sliced beef, and shellfish. None of it is usually seasoned, so they’ll dip it into a soy sauce-based marinade and pop it in their mouth.

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The neat thing about the Japanese grill is that you can use it virtually anywhere. It weighs a mere ten pounds and can fit under a grown man’s armpit. When I used to live in a Tokyo dorm back in the day, we’d have one on the stairwell in case somebody returned with a half-off special from the butcher’s.

Personally, I think Japanese grilling tastes much better than its American counterpart. What’s the secret?: The charcoal. It’s made of high-quality oak that burns slowly and releases a rustic flavor so good you’ll be smacking your lips for more. Forget Kingsford — whenever I go to Japan I’m sure to bring home a couple dozen charcoal sticks.

I recently found a grill at my local Japanese market in Southern California. It cost me $50. But it was definitely worth it. Now I can cook all my favorites: yakitori, soy sauce-basted corn, Korean BBQ, oysters. Oh, who says grilling can only be done in the summertime?!

Himawari

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September 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

Dog Speak

Dogs are lovable and cuddly. But what are they telling you when they start nudging at your leg? “Let’s go for a walk”? “Throw me a bone”? “Bathe me”??

Fortunately, there’s a cool new product that’ll help you understand everything your favorite canine wants to talk about:

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At $200, it’s no cheapie dog-chew, but according to their website, this machine is scientifically proven to accurately interpret everything on your dog’s mind. Researchers found that depending on the pitch level of their bark, dogs are expressing certain emotions like sadness, joy or frustration.

What you do is strap the machine around your dog’s neck. Once they bark, the machine will interpret it into phrases like, “Pay more attention to me!” or “You’re a mean master!” or “I’m gonna run away now.”

Of course, It’s hard to take what they say seriously. After all what if they end up saying “I’m gonna kill you!” Are you going to throw him in the doghouse for that?

Maybe in the future, this same company will invent a machine that’ll interpret the master’s words so that dog will know that it’s cool not to pee in the house.

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

September 16, 2009 at 10:20 am Leave a comment

No Worries Here!

I have a friend who suffers from anxiety whenever she’s in public places. The thing is, she’s one of those silent sufferers, not wanting to impose on even close friends whenever she’s scared. That’s why she carries around a San-X plushie called Rirakkuma (“relax bear”). It’s a cute teddy-bear sprawled out like he’s taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Take a look:

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Rirakkuma specifically caters to ‘worry worts’ like my friend. More than most countries I know, Japan is a nation of people who suppress their true feelings — and that leads to a lot of stress. So I have a feeling Sanrio knew what it was doing when creating a character who is in perpetual chill-mode. They’ve sold millions of items since its 2003 debut.

My friend has an eye-opening collection of Rirakkuma goods: erasers, toothbrush, waffle-maker, laptop, toilet paper, car seat cover… And of course, there’s her prized plushie, a 2-inch tall guy that attaches to her keychain. Just by caressing Rirakkuma against her cheek, she says she feels all is right in the world. She keeps him in her purse whenever she walks out the door. And on the rare ocassion she misplaces him, she starts freaking out.

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Personally, whenever I’m stressed or feeling down, I’ll sing my favorite songs or go jogging. But everyone has their own way of venting and my friend just so happens to have two-dozen teddy bears to do so. Just don’t ever think of pulling a prank by confiscating her goods. All hell will break loose. Next thing you know, you’ll need your own Rirakkuma to calm your nerves.

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

September 8, 2009 at 10:42 am 1 comment

Have a Kit Kat!

Have a Kit Kat!

If you’re ever in Japan, there’s only one thing I suggest buying: Kit Kat!

Because you’re not getting just any old Kit Kat, but a limited-edition piece of candy. That’s right, in different parts of the country you’ll find flavors you won’t get elsewhere. In the U.S., Kit Kat comes in just one flavor — chocolate — but check out how many Japan has:

plum soda
sour orange
chocolate mango pudding
Ramune
white
sports drink flavor
apple vinegar
espresso coffee
kinako
green tea
soy sauce
mango
cherry blossom
caramel and salt
grilled corn
apple
…and the list goes on.

Flavored Kit Kats began in the year 2000 with strawberry. It was a huge hit, so the following year they launched orange — and the rest is tastebud history. I find the most interesting flavors at the airport gift shop, though sometimes they come out of vending machines along some busy Tokyo streetcorner. I have to admit, some flavors are weird. Like why would you want soy sauce in your chocolate?? Though I’ve tried that one and strangely enough, it’s not bad.

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The psychology of ‘limited edition Kit Kats’ is such a brilliant idea because it compels you to collect them all, regardless of whether you’re actually going to eat them or not. For me, I just want the boxes to add them to my wall collection.

For those who’ve been to Japan, what’s the most interesting flavor you’ve come across? Tell me!!

Himawari

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japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

September 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment


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