Archive for January, 2010

A Sock for All Occasions

Japanese socks are a gift from fashion heaven. Not only are they puppy-dog cute, scientists have figured out ways to make socks highly-functional — absorbing sweat, softening skin and keeping you from slipping on your butt. It’s amazing!:

Anti-slip Socks

The bumps on these socks aren’t just for decoration. They’re there to keep you from crashing and burning as you race your brother across mom’s waxy kitchen floor. They’re anti-slip socks, which in Japan are important since so many houses have hardwood flooring and steep wooden staircases. Made from polyurethane material, these pedi-loafers will always keep you standing.

Anti-bloating Socks

Sexy calves! That’s the promise this product makes. Here in the U.S. it doesn’t seem as much of a concern, but in Japan most girls are aware that high-heels and cold weather will bloat your legs beyond the point of recognition. These sleek black socks use the circulation-stimulating germanium (the mineral, not a flower) to help slim them back to shape.

Ankle-warming Socks

Only one pair to keep you warm? Throw on another! Made of 100% silk, this hot number can be pulled up to your knees or scrunched to your ankles. Either way, you’re looking cute there.

Heel-softening Socks

For those who suffer from ashy skin, here’s the sock for you. Dual-layer technology keeps your feet nice and toasty while preventing unnecessary abrasion. They’re a little thicker than the rest, but softer feet I’ll risk the shame. Sock it to me! \(^o^)/

Himawari

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January 26, 2010 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

Lucky Charms for the New Year

Around New Years I like decorating my apartment with auspicious little trinkets. It’s silly superstition, but I still like believing.

Right now, I have a tiger gazing at me. I made him from origami. It’s the year of the Tiger, and although it’s not my particular zodiac sign, I want the luck of this ferocious creature on my side:

Across Japan, most households decorate their New Years mantel with a heap of kagami mochi:

It’s a mound of chewy rice cakes topped with a winter tangerine. Japanese lore dictates that mochi represents a purified body and soul, and the succession of mochi represents the family-generations that come and go; so it’s about starting anew, but respecting the old. Though just like people, mochi gets moldy after a while, so watch out!

Another fun thing to have around is o-mamori:

You can get it at the local shrine to help ward off evil, whether it be a car accident, illness or bad grades at school. I keep mine in my wallet, and even though you’re technically supposed to throw it away by the end of the year, mine still keeps evil at bay.

Here’s to a new year of JOY and SUCCESS! HAPPY 2010!! \(^o^)/

Himawari

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January 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

Lucky Bags for the New Year!

Americans have Black Friday. Japanese people have ’Lucky Bag’ day, a time when you can pay $100 to get $500 worth of merchandise!

It starts on New Years Day. Store clerks line up dozens of bags on tabletops for shoppers to snatch. Some cost $10. Others cost $100. Each bag is sealed shut, so the big question is, “What’s in the bag?”

‘Fukubukuro’ (lucky bags) are a great way for stores to get rid of their year-end stock. Of course, the implication is that you might not want what’s in the bag. In which case, eBay it!

On flickr.com, you can see what people ended up getting:

This one is from one of my favorite dessert shops, Mister Donut.

And this is from a home-accessories store called D&Motels Store.

Lucky bags are such a hit that lots of stores now offer online reservations, and even that goes quickly! Some waitlists start as early as November. Personally, I question the allure of getting something you may not need, but obviously there’s a huge appeal. It’s like a Christmas gift, wrapped all pretty but whose contents are completely unknown. The anticipation is 80% of the fun.

American stores could learn a thing or two from Japan, so that when Black Friday comes around we’ll have more to look forward to! \(^0^)/

Himawari

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January 12, 2010 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Japan’s Top Products of 2009

Cheap and eco-friendly. That’s how I’d describe most of Japan’s ‘hit products’ for 2009.

Japanese advertising agency Dentsu surveys consumers every year and this is what was abuzz this year:

1. Hybrid vehicles
2. Flu masks
3. Low-priced domestic fashions
4. Vehicles eligible for tax reductions and eco-vehicle purchasing subsidies
5. Eco-point energy-saving home appliances
6. ETC (electronic toll collection) system
7. Digital broadcasting-equipped widescreen flat-panel TVs
8. Electric vehicles
9. Private brand products
10. B-grade products

Of course, buying a new car was heavy on people’s minds in 2009. Back in June, the Japanese government started a ‘cash for clunkers’ program where consumers could receive $2,800 if they turn an old car (at least 13-years old) in for a new one. And if they chose an electric, hybrid or natural-gas car then they wouldn’t have to pay for weight and purchase taxes – a $1,000 savings!

And we all know why flu masks were big this year. When I visited Japan in May, I ended up buying a dozen of them because I was sick and everyone assumed I carried deadly diseases by default of being American. Luckily, there’s some really cool ‘ninja’ masks out there.

‘ETC card’ was the buzzword of the summer when people hit the road for their family vacation. Japanese highways are riddled with toll roads, so when they started issuing the ‘all-you-can-drive for $10’ pass, people made a mad rush for them. Makes me glad California roads are free.

And when we’re trying to cut costs, there’s always private-brand products, aka, store brands (i.e., Archer Farms at Target, O Organics at Safeway chains). They’re reasonable in price and quality, but they’re hardly advertized so few people know about them. Yet, this year, they were flying off the shelves.

Looking back, it’s been another year to keep your wallet locked in a safety deposit box. Next year, I want to see cooler things on the list like ‘robot butler’ and ‘invisible jet.’ Come on, Japan! \(^_^)/

Himawari

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January 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment


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