Archive for February, 2010

Cute Beans

Are they beans? Are they dogs?

They’re a hybrid of both… and they’re 100% wacky! They’re Mameshiba (mame = bean; shiba = dog breed), colorful little characters too cute to throw into a bowl of chili. Japan’s premier advertising company, Dentsu, is the brain behind them, promoting these adorable rugrats through animated TV spots across the country. We all know that cuteness is the ruler of Japan, so it’s not surprising to hear that Mameshiba made over $30 million in licensed goods back in 2008.

And now, Dentsu hopes to make Mameshiba big in the U.S. Luckily for us, they have an English-translated website where you can watch an assortment of their cute-but-strange video clips. This one is my favorite:

Even in the U.S., there’s a steady fan-base for oddball character goods like Afro-ken, Domo Kun and of course, Ugly Dolls! And personality goes a long way in charming their way into cute girls’ bedrooms. ‘Edamame’ is full of curiosity and travels the world in his furry, green pod. ‘Soy Bean’ is a worrywart who likes giving unsolicited advice. ‘Jelly Beans’ are a band of brothers from the USA. They don’t speak Japanese very well. Oddball characters, indeed.

You can buy Mameshiba goods online for anywhere between $5 and $30. Or you can just oggle them on You Tube. That’s what I plan to do. Dog-beans… Who woulda thought?!

Himawari

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February 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

Sky-High Shopping

Japan Airlines recently filed for bankruptcy protection to save itself from a whopping $8 billion debt. It’s my favorite carrier to Tokyo, so I’m sad they’ll be scaling back service.

In the realm of commercial goods, JAL has done well in extending its efforts beyond in-flight peanuts. At major airports in Japan, you’ll find JAL-operated Blue Sky shops that sell a hot bowl of ramen alongside cool gizmos and souvenirs.

And online at JAL shop, you’ll find even more cool stuff. Here are some of my favorites:

Don’t underestimate a girl’s need for handy pouch This one can be used as an amenities case, a lunch bag, and a “heading to the powder room to freshen up” tote. Believe me, I’m drooling just looking at this picture. With its baby blue stripes and blue trim, it’s too cute. ($48)

It’s Sky Time! JAL serves this complimentary citrus beverage on domestic flights. Sweetened with yuzu fruit – the love child of a lime and an orange – you’ll want to take a bottle home after your first gulp. Luckily, JAL sells it online and every now and then you’ll see it at a Japanese market, too. ($30 / 24-bottle case)

Japan is crazy about their hi-tech toilet seats, not just because they heat your loins on a wintry morn, but because they come with a bidet. The same brand name toilet, TOTO, produces a portable version of the ‘washlet,’ so now you can go anywhere and feel springtime fresh! ($125)

I’m probably not the only one shocked by JAL’s sudden announcement. It’ll be a sad day for most people in Japan should JAL actually disappear. Why? Because it’s a much classier airline than anything you will find in the U.S. Friendly service, great amenities – it’s what makes their brand so strong.
Hang in there, JAL!

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

February 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

Toilet Manners

I got this link from a friend today, a $19 gadget that emits white noise in the restroom. She knows I’m paranoid about carrying out private things in public places, so this battery-operated gizmo helps lessen the embarrassment.

Most female visitors to Japan have come across the original ‘oto-hime’ (literally, ‘sound princess’). It’s fixed into the stalls of most upstanding Japanese restrooms, and at the push of a button it plays the sound of a flushing toilet. The portable version of this gadget is called ‘eco-otome,’ stressing the fact that using this thing can save gallons of water women will otherwise flush down as white noise.

I can’t understand why the ‘oto-hime’ is such a hit in Japan, yet hasn’t found a home here in the U.S. Then again, women here aren’t nearly as self-conscious about what they do behind closed stalls. In Japan on the other hand, once you hear the woman next door drowning out her bodily sounds (#1, 2 and/or 3, for the record), you’re compelled to do the same. Etiquette is contagious!

It’d be neat to start the trend over here. Maybe this Christmas, I’ll buy every female friend one of these gadgets and urge them to use it. Next thing you know, women across the country will be using it. Save a flush, save the world! \(^o^)/

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

February 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm 1 comment

I *Heart* Chocolate

It’s that time of year when Japanese women contemplate what to get for the men in their life. So what do they give? CHOCOLATE!

Valentine’s Day is yet another occasion to sell, sell, sell. Jumping on V-Day fever, chocolate shops get inventive with their creations. Think animal-shaped cakes, multi-colored ganache cubes, and creamy morsels sprinkled with matcha green tea powder. Even if you’re not a fan of cacao, your taste buds will force you to take a bite

For those extra-special men, most women forgo store-bought treats and work their magic in the kitchen, melting chocolate chips over a double-pot boiler and cooling it in a heart-shaped frame. I saw a flyer on Don Quijote’s site that offers deals on hand-mixers, fondue sets, chocolate fountains and food scales. Just looking at it made me want to get in on the action and whip up a bowl of velvety ganache. Though I’d probably eat it myself instead of giving it away. ^^

A box of homemade chocolates is far more precious than store chocolates because it takes time and effort to make. “Kokoro wo komete” (‘from the heart’) is the phrase often used. A while back, I was playing this one dating sim for Nintendo DS, Tokimeki Memorial, where I could either buy the boy I liked a box of chocolates or make it. If I made it myself, I was nearly guaranteed he’d ask me out. Haha! My stylus pen got a good workout stirring that virtual bowl of chocolate! \(^o^)/

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

February 2, 2010 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment


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