JINS Paint: Create customized eyewear via your smartphone

Written by: William on March 2, 2015 at 8:30 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Customize your glasses with your smartphone, thanks to JINS Paint.

The promo is being run by the glasses brand JINS (aka J!NS) and uses an app available for iOS and Android.

jins paint customizable personalizable eyewear glasses japan

You can choose from a range of paints and stamps to decorate your frames, as well as upload photos and write messages on them. While the app includes all the tools you need, you can also use Photoshop or Illustrator to make your own illustrations.

Your finished design is sent to JINS so your glasses can be prepared as personalized and individually tailored eyewear.

jins paint customizable personalizable eyewear glasses japan

jins paint customizable personalizable eyewear glasses japan

Postage is free to everywhere in Japan and any eyewear, no matter how extravagant your design, is a flat ¥7,900 plus tax (around $66).

A “creator’s gallery” is promised soon with example designs online.

jins paint customizable personalizable eyewear glasses japan

JINS is a very innovative brand. In the past it has created the JINS MEME glasses to communicate with you, as well as Japan’s first eyewear vending machine.

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New documentary examines changing face of Shimokitazawa, 2003-2014

Written by: William on February 27, 2015 at 8:56 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Shimokita: 2003 to 2014 is a new documentary charting the changes in the landscape of one of Tokyo’s best-loved areas.

Located just west of Shinjuku and Shibuya, Shimokitazawa (aka Shimokita) is the site of a major redevelopment plan, which is protested by residents.

shimokitazawa documentary 2003 2014 station redevelopment plans

Long a charming chaos of two overlapping train lines and multiple railway crossings, the controversial redevelopment of the station into an underground complex meant we had to say goodbye to some of the most atmosphere arcades and shops and restaurants around the Odakyu railway line. Needless to say, this land won’t be turned over to public use when there’s a buck to be made.

shimokitazawa documentary 2003 2014 station redevelopment plans

shimokitazawa documentary 2003 2014 station redevelopment plans

There have been other redevelopments, such as the large commercial building erected behind the station, full of the generic chains that can be found anywhere in Japan.

It is all connected to a wider, long-dormant local government redevelopment project that, its detractors say, will turn Shimokita into a calm suburban district like nearby Kyodo. Nice for land prices and real estate agents, but not for counterculture. Route 54 will be extended and Shimokita’s trademark narrow alleyways face “rezoning”.

Shimokitazawa is the center of Japan’s fringe theatre scene and is also home to many music venues. Like Ura-Harajuku or Koenji, the neighborhood is a warren of independent shops, restaurants and bars. That being said, there is plenty of chic outlets for the discerning shopper and cool hang-outs for the fussy hipster. Nonetheless, there is a tangible buzz on the streets which you cannot find in major developed centers like Shinjuku or Shibuya.

shimokitazawa documentary 2003 2014 station redevelopment plans

shimokitazawa documentary 2003 2014 station redevelopment plans

shimokitazawa documentary 2003 2014 station redevelopment plans

The 95-minute documentary follows the progress of the redevelopment plans and other contributions to the Shimokita cultural scene.

Shimokita: 2003 to 2014 is screening at Tollywood (a venue in Shimokita, natch) until March 13th.

Take a long look at Shimokita, since it won’t be the same in the near future.

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KFC Ebisu rewards customers with smashed phone screens with free Krushers smoothie

Written by: William on February 26, 2015 at 8:54 am | In LIFESTYLE | 5 Comments

Head into a KFC in Japan on March 1st and if you’re clumsy enough, you can get a free drink.

The Ebisu branch of KFC is running a special campaign rewarding those poor souls among us who have dropped their mobile devices and cracked the screens.

kfc ebisu krusher-smashed phone screen free drink

If you haven’t had the misfortune to have cracked your screen, don’t worry. KFC Ebisu is loaning out hammers on March 1st for anyone who wants to join the lucky people claiming a freebie.

Yes, they will actually give you a hammer so you can smash your own phone screen.

Needless to say, you have to take responsibility for whatever carnage you cause to your device.

kfc ebisu krusher-smashed phone screen free drink

kfc ebisu krusher-smashed phone screen free drink

The perk of having a cracked screen isn’t that amazing.

You only get a free Krushers smoothie, though KFC is probably the only restaurant in Japan that actively lets customers make use of their damaged hardware. And this is also not a bad way to promote a drink that likely doesn’t sell much during the colder months.

kfc ebisu krusher-smashed phone screen free drink

So butterfingers, head down to the Colonel Sanders eatery in Ebisu on March 1st with your cracked phone in tow.

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Stay at the Godzilla Room inside Hotel Gracery, opening April in Kabukicho, Shinjuku

Written by: William on February 25, 2015 at 9:02 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

The new Hotel Gracery opens in Kabukicho in the heart of Shinjuku on April 24th, part of the changing landscape of a district more known for sleaze than sightseeing.

This being a Japanese hotel, they decided to create a special themed room to celebrate the opening. And they chose Godzilla!

godzilla hotel gracery shinjuku kabukicho themed room tokyo

Up on the thirtieth floor, the Godzilla Room will cost you just under ¥40,000 (over $300) for a weeknight, while at weekends and holidays the rate jumps to nearly ¥50,000 (over $400). It features a chamber decked out in items from the Godzilla films, including a large model of the iconic kaiju. Even the restroom is decorated in Godzillas. Best of all, though, is Godzilla’s hand bursting through the wall to grab you while you sleep. Definitely guaranteed to help you get a good night’s sleep.

If you are lucky enough to secure a reservation, you can stay at the Godzilla Room between May 6th and June 30th.

godzilla hotel gracery shinjuku kabukicho themed room tokyo

For a different experience, you can go for one of the two ninth floor Godzilla View Rooms, offering you a vista of Japan’s most famous beast at your window. Staying at one of these will cost you a mere ¥15,000 ($125) per night — pretty much the cost of a regular central Shinjuku hotel room.

godzilla hotel gracery shinjuku kabukicho themed room tokyo

The choice of Godzilla is not merely due to the newly revived popularity of the monster movie series, which has come thanks to a Hollywood film last year and another home-grown live-action reboot scheduled for the future.

godzilla hotel gracery shinjuku kabukicho themed room tokyo

The hotel building also includes a Toho movie theater complex and Toho is, of course, the film studio responsible for the Godzilla franchise. On top of the cinema there is going to be a huge Godzilla head, which, Kotaku says, “will peek out of the Toho Cinema’s roof, looking over the Shinjuku streets below.”

godzilla hotel gracery shinjuku kabukicho themed room tokyo

If you fancy a romantic spot for the evening in Kabukicho, head to the observation deck on the roof to see Godzilla up close.

godzilla hotel gracery shinjuku kabukicho themed room tokyo

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100,000 Slimes Battle in Shinjuku: Gamers pop bubble wrap in Shinjuku Station to celebrate Dragon Quest Heroes launch

Written by: William on February 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 5 Comments

Head to Shinjuku Station to try popping 100,000 Slime bubbles.

No, it’s not what it sounds. Slime is the mascot character in the PlayStation game Dragon Quest and this is a promotional stunt by Sony and Square Enix to advertise the release of Dragon Quest Heroes on February 26th.

slime bubble wrap shinjuku poster wall station battle dragon quest heroes promotional campaign

For one week only, Shinjuku train commuters can have fun popping Slime-decorated air bubbles along the wall of a promenade in the subway station. Gamers will notice the music playing in the station passageway is also taken from the first nine Dragon Quest games. “Defeat” all the bubbles and there will be online wallpaper giveaways.

The “100,000 Slimes Battle in Shinjuku” bubble wrap poster covers a long wall in the Marunouchi Line Tokyo Metro section of Tokyo’s busiest station. To get there, head to Exit A9 at Shinjuku Station’s East Exit, near the Alta underground entrance.

slime bubble wrap shinjuku poster wall station battle dragon quest heroes promotional campaign

Check out the official website to see how many Slimes have been popped so far. Imagine having the fun job of having to do the counting!

The installation will be there from February 23rd until March 1st, from 10:00-21:00. Will all the Slimes be “defeated”? Given the popularity of the game in Japan, we suspect yes.

slime bubble wrap shinjuku poster wall station battle dragon quest heroes promotional campaign

Plus, Sony have been clever here since this promo appeals to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a Dragon Quest fan. Who doesn’t love popping bubble wrap?! In fact, in Japan this is so addictive they even once made an “infinite bubble wrap” toy!

The space on the long concourse between the main East and West Exits of Shinjuku Station is also frequently the location for large wall advertising stunts, including free manga samples. Another similar passageway in Omotesando Station was used to give out free cosmetic samples.

However, these stunts haven’t been without controversy. A big poster of Arashi boy band attracted such crowds of fanatical fans that it prevented ordinary passengers from using the Shinjuku concourse.

Will Slime’s bubble wrap generate the same level of frenzy?

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Bandai takes us back to the future with the DeLorean iPhone 6 Case

Written by: Japan Trends on February 23, 2015 at 11:02 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 1 Comment

Bandai has created a second installment in its Crazy Case series of phone covers.

The Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case takes your right back to 1989 and the coolest thing every boy in the world had ever seen — hoverboards!

back to the future part 2 poster

Now, remember the flying car in The Back to the Future: Part II? Yes. Surprised not to see them in use today? Well, no. But the film was actually set in 2015, perhaps indicating some seriously wishful thinking on the filmmakers’ parts.

So while we can take a trip in a flying car right now, you can get the next best thing… for your phone.

Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case bandai crazy phone cover

Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case bandai crazy phone cover

The Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case is shaped just like the famous 1980′s time-travel machine and with all kinds of details designed to trigger nostalgic memories of seeing the flying DeLorean on the big screen.

Flaps, fold-up wheels… This is more like a puzzle than a case. And the really cool thing are the LED lights that glow blue whenever you get a call. Which should definitely get your attention, and that of your neighbor.

Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case bandai crazy phone cover

Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case bandai crazy phone cover

Back to the Future: Part II DeLorean iPhone 6 Case bandai crazy phone cover

Despite the added the bulk of this “crazy case”, the camera can still be used. The bonnet slides over so the lens is free to snap away at whatever Marty McFly wants to photograph.

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SALON &: New Meguro area designer hair salon, coffee stand and gallery space

Written by: William on February 20, 2015 at 10:57 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Could this be the most stylish new hair salon in Tokyo? Or the most hirsute coffee shop? Or both?

SALON & is opening this March in Yutenji, a neighborhood in Meguro ward, Tokyo, as a cafe-cross-hair salon concept space.

salon & and yutenji meguro tokyo hair salon coffee stand cafe gallery space

Produced by hair artist KITA3 and graphic designer and concept advisor Tetsuya Chiba, SALON & will offer hair cutting services and more. Much more. A coffee stand will serve original coffee blends, cafe lattes and espressos, while a gallery space will sell crafts and other exhibits. Books are also available to browse while you wait your turn in the salon.

salon & and yutenji meguro tokyo hair salon coffee stand cafe gallery space

What SALON & is doing is actually just the next logical step. Hair salons in Japan often look more like cafes from the outside. Many a time we have had to stop ourselves before entering what we thought was a charming coffee shop, only at the last moment to spot scissors snipping away at female customers’ hair. It’s not helped by the fact that hair salons often put signs outside with their prices — and invariably title the boards “menu”. No drinks are listed, just various cuts and treatments.

salon & and yutenji meguro tokyo hair salon coffee stand cafe gallery space

Our only concern with SALON & is what happens to the hair? Is there a danger of getting a stray strand in your coffee? Judging from the pre-released images there seems to be a sensible (but stylish!) window partition between the coffee stand and the hair salon space.

salon & and yutenji meguro tokyo hair salon coffee stand cafe gallery space

SALON & opens March 3rd. Find it at 2-8-10 Yutenji, Meguro-ku, Tokyo.

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Sankt Gallen Sakura beer offers alcoholic tastes of cherry blossom season

Written by: William on February 19, 2015 at 10:26 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

The cherry blossom season always brings a gazillion sakura-themed products and campaigns. It’s easy to get tired of this, and yet every year still manages to bring a surprise.

We’ve already heard about the upcoming Starbucks new cherry blossom-themed store designs and special menu items. Now comes something a little stronger — Sakura Beer by Sankt Gallen.

sankt gallen sakura cherry blossom beer sakuramochi bloom

Sankt Gallen Sakura beer goes on sale from February 24th. Could there be a more appropriate product for the cherry blossom? After all, the unspoken rule about the custom of cherry blossom is that it’s actually just an excuse to get horrendously drunk. Ambulances stand by at the major parks since there’s inevitably a few people who need to be taken away after passing out.

sankt gallen sakura cherry blossom beer sakuramochi bloom

sankt gallen sakura cherry blossom beer sakuramochi bloom

The Sankt Gallen Sakura beer is 5% alcohol — low for craft beer — and is made with cherry blossom and cherry blossom petals from Ina in Nagano, selected as one of the best places for seeing the annual bloom. The beer is meant to have the flavor of sakuramochi, the sweet pink rice cake covered with the leaf of a cherry blossom. Yes, this may not appeal to conventional beer fans!

Sankt Gallen is a Kanagawa Prefecture craft beer brewery that specializes in sweeter beers popular with female drinkers. For this new product it has used yaezakura, the “double” cherry blossom strain of sakura.

sankt gallen sakura cherry blossom beer sakuramochi bloom

sankt gallen sakura cherry blossom beer sakuramochi bloom

Sankt Gallen Sakura beer is priced ¥450 (under $4) per bottle, though like most craft beers in Japan you won’t be able to find it in your usual supermarket or convenience store.

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KISS Face Pack: Wear glam rocker makeup face mask every day, and improve your skin

Written by: Japan Trends on February 18, 2015 at 8:39 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Flamboyant rock band KISS continue to conquer Japan. The makeup-loving rockers have for years been a staple of both summer music festivals and mainstream advertising campaigns.

And now they have joined the likes of Kabuki actors and animals from Ueno Zoo.

The KISS Face Pack comes from the same makers of the brilliant Kabuki mask (now there are TWO of those).

kiss face pack beauty mask japan

kiss face pack beauty mask japan

Isshin Do Honpo Inc has created the KISS Face Pack, a genuine mask meant to be worn by men or women to improve skin. It comes in two different two-packs based on the makeup of the glam metal band’s performers: Starchild (Paul Stanley) and Spaceman (Tommy Thayer), or Demon (Gene Simmons) and Cat (Eric Singer).

kiss face pack beauty mask japan

kiss face pack beauty mask japan

Despite their penchant for tongue-licking guitar solos and rumors of Satan worship, KISS is seen as harmless fun in the land of the rising sun.

KISS also collaborated with Momoiro Clover Z (who also love costumes and contentious makeup) earlier this year for perhaps the strangest musical release of 2015 so far: “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saite Mina”.

The face pack series so far includes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, the musical Cats, classic Hollywood horror movie characters, Kansai Yamamoto fashion, and even a spin-off Hello Kitty version from different makers.

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