Clinique Pop lipstick launched with regram digital campaign, photo booth

Written by: William on April 28, 2015 at 2:58 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

To launch a new lipstick Clinique Pop, New York-based cosmetics brand Clinique has created a digital campaign and pop-up store event at a Roppongi Hills cafe.

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

The #ootd_WITH CLINIQUE iPhone app allows you to regram (repost someone’s photos on Instagram) and save photos or videos from Instagram.

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

The Clinique Pop Happy Lounge event at Roppongi was held over two days on April 18-19th, offering visitors the chance to try Clinique Pop and then make videos and photos with Clinique Pop digital items at a special photo booth.

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

As we know, Japanese consumers love photo booths and these ladies certainly seemed to have a ball.

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

Clinique Pop comes in 15 vibrant colors and as such, Clinique has marketed the product in a fun, “happy” way.

While the #ootd_WITH app has been around for some time, it now features special downloadable content until May 17th, such as special digital stamps made by illustrator Shogo Sekine and Cookieboy in Clinique Pop colors. There are also downloadable wallpapers by Sekine in Clinique Pop themes.

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

The displays in the pop-up also had a nice spring vibe.

clinique pop lipstick pop-up store cafe roppongi hills cafe photo booth

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Highlights from Roppongi Art Night 2015

Written by: William on April 27, 2015 at 12:22 pm | In CULTURE | No Comments

Last weekend Roppongi Art Night 2015 took over the Roppongi area for a night of art and

The events, performances and installations stretched out from sundown on April 25 to sunrise on 26th.

roppongi art night 2015

This year’s theme was “shining, connecting, joining in”.

Here are a few highlights.

roppongi art night 2015

A wall of “light boxes” made at workshops at Suntory Museum of Art.

roppongi art night 2015

The “Lungplant” by Tim van Cromvoirt was a street installation that “depicts a landscape with living, luminous organisms and explores the influence this landscape has on its spectators.”

roppongi art night 2015

The “Comic Foreground Gods Clock” transformed a regular clock tower landmark into a succession of spring deities.

roppongi art night 2015

The Dance Truck featured performances by Tsuyoshi Shirai, MOKK, Yukio Suzuki, JON THE DOG, Kumotaro Mukai, Mirai.Co, AEROBIX, Ippei Shintaku, Yo Nakamura x TOYOFUKU Akifumi, and Wataru Kitao.

roppongi art night 2015

“Emaki/Wave” by Takashi Ishida gave the usual industrial look of a car park a more interesting edge.

roppongi art night 2015

“TME – Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway” by Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani was a projection of footage from the Tarkovsky sci-fi classic Solaris (1972) that features a car trip on the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, plus a parallel second screen with a contemporary “remake” of the ride.

Images via official RAN Twitter

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Halls Delivery Bear Service sends polar bear to “heal” stressed Japanese women

Written by: William on April 24, 2015 at 9:15 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Last year there was a lot of buzz about a strange thing that happened in Shibuya. A Russian-looking woman was apparently leading a live polar bear through the crowds of Center Gai and then across Scramble Crossing. This obviously drew a lot of attention from people in the area, who weren’t sure what was taking place.

The LALASH campaign succeeded in getting lots of global press and online chatter about whether it was a real bear, who was the Russian chick, and what “LALASH” meant.

Of course, it wasn’t real and, also of course, it was a marketing stunt — for Halls (rearrange the letters “LALASH” and you’ll get it).

Now comes the follow-up: Halls Delivery Bear Service.

halls delivery bear service polar white animal campaign

Since Halls’ sweets deliver a cooling menthol sensation and since their icon is a polar bear, it makes sense that they play on the two. And Japanese consumers are suckers for anything cute, as we know.

This “service” offers you the chance to meet a bear, whose cuddly charms will relieve you of your stress. One lucky winner will win the unique experience with the huggable bear.

Applications are being accepted from April 20th to May 18th, 2:59 p.m.

halls delivery bear service polar white animal campaign

halls delivery bear service polar white animal campaign

Halls will dispatch their “animal therapy” to anywhere in Japan for free. As we can see from the marketing, this is being aimed squarely at kids and women in need of some iyashi (healing).

The “delivery service” has been launched to celebrate the release of two new Halls products into Japan’s packed FMCG market.

halls delivery bear service polar white animal campaign

Halls demonstrated what the lucky winner can expect with voice actress Yoshino Nanjo.

The question everyone wants to know the answer to is: Will it be a real polar bear or this fake one?

There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the campaign site saying the polar bear “feels handmade”, which is an ambiguous way of saying it is a guy in a furry suit.

Still, such gripes aside, compared to most Japanese marketing that predominantly resorts to lazy advertising with a pop star or celebrity, this is a cool idea.

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To sleep, perchance to dream: Japanese public napping pillows and other sleeping products

Written by: Japan Trends on April 23, 2015 at 9:05 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

The new arrival in Tokyo will be surprised by the trains. We don’t mean how efficient the transport system or its modest fares. Nor that the trains run more or less always on time. Or even the notorious rush hour crush.

No, we mean the sleeping.

People seem to have an innate ability to doze off wherever they are: riding a train, on a park bench, at their desk… And if it’s the former, they also seem to have an inherent faculty that tells them to wake up in time for their stop.

This penchant for napping recently inspired a great marketing campaign for a real estate service, and also means you get lots of great “sleeping” products like these pillows.

There was a lot of online buzz in late 2013 about the Ostrich Pillow, a portable pillow for public napping. While developed overseas, the designer was partly Japanese.

Here are some great local examples.

The King Eye Mask is a very smart-looking face pillow that covers your eyes but also gives you support behind, so you don’t get a crick in your neck.

king eye mask sleep nap pillow mask

king eye mask sleep nap pillow mask

The Dictionary Desk Pillow, though, is more unusual. It is designed for use at a desk or table, and takes the classic over-worked student trope to the max: it’s a “book” that functions as a pillow. A clever way to fool your boss or teacher!

dictionary desk pillow sleeping book

If books are not your thing, how about a woman’s lap? Yes, the Hizamakura Lap Pillow Mini Skirt is more risque and is clearly playing on certain male fantasies.

hizamakura woman lap pillow japanese

Stepping back within the boundaries of respectability now, the Igloo Dome Pillow is a mini “tent” that gives you privacy and silence for your nap. Although it requires more space than a wearable eye pillow or mask, it is surprisingly versatile.

igloo dome pillow

The My Dome Pal Travel Sleeping Hood is halfway between the Igloo Dome and a more conventional sleeping mask. It looks rather refined and means you don’t have to worry about other passengers looking at you when you are dozing off on the plane or train.

my dome pal sleeping hood

Talking of wearable items, here are two more extreme examples.

The King Jim Wearable Futon Air Mat proved a big hit when it came out. Part emergency gear, part sleepover set for earnest employees, King Jim’s futon is snug and compact when not in use, and means you walk around with your sleeping bag “on”.

king jim wearable futon office blanket air mat

king jim wearable futon office blanket air mat

In a similar vein, the Doppelganger Outdoors Wearable Sleeping Bag is a coat-suit ideal for camping.

doppelganger outdoor wearable sleeping bag

Finally, two more funny ones.

The Bibilab Twintails Pillow is perhaps the most unusual pillow design we’ve seen in a while, though it is incredibly practical since it can be twisted into all sorts of positions and two people can even use it at once.

twintails pillow cushion bibilab pigtails

Lastly, the Hi-Tech Snore Stopper Pillow is an oldie but a classic. The foam pillow is designed for maximum comfort but uses an audio sensor to detect snoring. It then responds with a light vibration that helps reduce snoring. And the external audio jack also allows you to record the offending snores and monitor the pillow’s effectiveness — or collect undeniable proof of the disruptive habit.

anti-snore pillow hi tech

Of course, Japan’s fondness for sleeping doesn’t only inspire products. The service industry is also here to assist you get some shuteye. Take Qusca, a women-only sleeping cafe in Tokyo, or the more dubious Soine-ya, a place for snuggling up with cute girls.

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Toilet paper promotes awareness of Japan’s semi-legal “danger drugs”

Written by: William on April 22, 2015 at 8:54 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

One of the big social issues last year was the rising usage of semi-legal drugs (dappo), what the police call “dangerous drugs” (kikken duraggu). Due to legal loopholes users did not face arrest for taking these herbs, which are smoked to produce hallucinations, agitation, ecstasy and dulled senses, though there are other potential risks.

In the first nine months of 2014, 74 people died due to the use of such drugs and there were several traffic incidents involving people high on the herbs. 400,000 people are estimated to have used them.

The Pharmaceutical Affairs Law has now been revised to prohibit buying, possessing or using compounds on the list of “danger drugs”. The production, sale or import for medical purposes remains legal, though. In late summer and early autumn 2014, police raided dozens of head shops around the country, but many have continued operating.

dappo kikken drug danger unsafe japan herb semi-legal toilet paper police promotion

The police are on a big drive to discourage people from using these stimulants. In July last year they announced a new name. Previously known as “law-evading” (dappo) drugs, the new label chosen from public submissions was “unsafe” or “danger” drugs.

And now the police have got some help from an unusual source. A paper company in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, has produced the “Say ‘No!’ to Danger Drugs” toilet paper. Costing ¥120 (around $1) per roll, the toilet paper tells you about the health risks through six sets of illustrated messages printed on the paper. It was designed in partnership with an anti-drug non-profit organisation.

kikken drug danger unsafe japan herb semi-legal toilet paper police promotion

The manufacturer behind the “Say ‘No!’ to Danger Drugs” toilet paper has previously developed other socially aware rolls, including unique toilet paper with messages about bank transfer fraud and drink driving.

kikken drug danger unsafe japan herb semi-legal toilet paper police promotion

It hopes to sell 100,000 rolls, in addition to being stocked in police or medical facility lavatories.

Japanese toilet paper is not as dull as it sounds. Anime and manga fans can even get One Piece or HappinessCharge PreCure! toilet paper sets.

one piece toilet paper roll anime

A horror story was also once printed on toilet paper and a place in Mie Prefecture even created its own “ninja toilet paper” to promote tourism. In the past we have seen tape measure toilet paper and a local Odawara toilet paper was even printed with messages to encourage people to vote.

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Koakuma Ageha magazine celebrates relaunch with Omotesando Hills pop-up shop

Written by: William on April 21, 2015 at 9:01 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

When “hostess bible” Koakuma Ageha closed down last year, it seemed like the end of an era for Japanese fashion magazines.

But then it relaunched under new management and the status quo was preserved: gyaru culture is still, it seems, alive and well.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

To celebrate the relaunch of the magazine, a Koakuma Ageha pop-up store has opened on Omotesando from April 18th to April 29th.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

It will sell books by popular age-hime (Little Devil Princesses). Find it on the ground floor of Omotesando Hills. The opening day on April 18th saw hostesses attend and give signed copies of the new magazine to visitors.

This is a typical marketing event for such a title: these kinds of magazines were popular because the models were dokusha “reader” models — i.e. not aloof supermodels but ordinary folk selected as role models — and who the readers could relate to, communicate with and meet. This is similar to how idol groups like AKB48 are promoted as being populated with “ordinary” girls who you can meet.

koakuma ageha model gyaru hostess

Image via @

koakuma ageha model gyaru hostess

Image via @aiuchicocoa

The new bimonthly magazine is hoping to sell 80-100,000 copies. Pictured are some of the models.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

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Unusual Japanese curries: Zombies, fruits, Hello Kitty, beetroot, and more!

Written by: Japan Trends on April 20, 2015 at 10:19 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

When we think of Japanese food we think of sushi, noodles and miso soup. But actually there’s plenty of curry in the country’s diet too, especially so-called curry rice, which is basically white rice on a plate with some roux. It’s a staple of the businessman’s lunch.

And every staple gets reinvented after a while, so there are plenty of unusual curry rice dishes out there, from oyster to deer, apple and even fermented beans.

Local regions and tourist spots often create curries using famous produce from the area as a way of drumming up buzz. And curries can even be a form of tie-in merchandise for franchises.

Here are is a selection of some of the most unusual Japanese curries.

Curry of the Biohazard Resident Evil Zombie Roux

The Curry of the Biohazard Resident Evil Zombie Roux is a green herb curry officially endorsed by Capcom, who make the Biohazard/Resident Evil game series. “Have the Biohazard Green Herb Curry and survive,” says the box. It’s less chilling than it sounds. Apparently eating this curry will save you from the zombies, rather than turn you into one.

green herb curry biohazard resident evil zombie capcom

green herb curry biohazard resident evil zombie capcom

Tottori Yamanote Story Hana Kifujin Pink Curry

The Tottori Yamanote Story Hana Kifujin Pink Curry is a garish as it sounds and uses local Tottori Prefecture beetroot. The mock-European theme of Hana Kifujin comes from one of the tourist spots in Tottori, a 1907 French Renaissance-style manor called Jinpukaku. Not just a kitsch idea, the beetroot ingredients help fight anemia and constipation.

pink curry tottori yamanote story beetroot japan

pink curry tottori yamanote story beetroot japan

Regional Fruits Curries

This set of regional fruit curries includes four unique flavors made with produce from prefectures around the country: melon, Japanese cherry (sakuranbo), strawberry, and pear. The fruits come from local growers in Yamagata, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures.

regional japan curry fruits melon cherry strawberry pear

regional japan curry fruits melon cherry strawberry pear

Dragon Quest Slime Curry

The most visually striking of the curries on our short list, the Dragon Quest Slime Curry is a weird blue roux inspired by the popular video game series character. Add rice and pickles to create the Slime face effect.

dragon quest slime curry

dragon quest slime curry

Hello Kitty Mazekomi Curry Pilaf

No list is complete without at least one entry from Hello Kitty. The Hello Kitty Mazekomi Curry Pilaf is not a roux like the others but a bag of curry pilaf flavoring for adding Hello Kitty-tastic tastes to rice.

hello kitty kamaboko mazekomi curry pilaf rice meal

So, are you feeling hungry now?

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Kirin enters craft beer market with Spring Valley Brewery in Daikanyama

Written by: William on April 17, 2015 at 12:39 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Kirin has cemented its entry into the craft beer market with the opening on April 17th of Spring Valley Brewery, a brewpub in Daikanyama. Another SVB brewpub has opened in Yokohama.

The name derives from William Copeland’s brewery, which was a pioneer of beer production in Japan and became the genesis of Kirin’s own brewery in the early twentieth century.

kirin spring valley brewery daikanyama tokyo craft beer brewpub

In July 2014, Kirin announced that Spring Valley Brewery would be a wholly new subsidiary, offering microbrews served at the two brewpubs sites.

The chic 200-seat Daikanyama space opens at a new development in the neighborhood called Log Road, located along where the tracks of the now underground Toyoko Line used to run.

kirin spring valley brewery daikanyama tokyo craft beer brewpub

There are six brews on tap: 496, Jazzberry, on the cloud, Copeland, Daydream, and Afterdark.

kirin spring valley brewery daikanyama tokyo craft beer brewpub

kirin spring valley brewery daikanyama tokyo craft beer brewpub

kirin spring valley brewery daikanyama tokyo craft beer brewpub

While the Daikanyama brewpub has opted for a wooden look, the Yokohama space is brick, in keeping with the spirit of the city famous for its foreign architectural styles.

kirin spring valley brewery daikanyama tokyo craft beer brewpub yokohama

Kirin has already experimented with craft beer-esque brews, including its Kirin Stout, so this isn’t such a giant leap for the 100-year-old company.

However, the major Japanese beer makers have been committing commercial suicide for too long. As young people drifted away from beer, their tactic was to create countless numbers of happoushu and daisan beers — fake beers, essentially — that got around the tax on beer and so could be marketed as cheap ersatz beer. As Japan continued to linger in recession, this worked to keep their annual sales afloat, especially as they were constantly devising new products to make mini spikes of interest. Beer became just another FMCG, as expendable and forgettable as any other snack in the convenience store.

Quality went out the window. Finally we seem to be emerging from this quagmire.

The initial response was “cool beer”, quite literally. Kirin and other major breweries started to market beer as a great drink for the summer through temporary drinking spaces in Tokyo. This was a big success and got younger consumers excited about drinking beer again, even if it was at “sub-zero” temperatures.

Concurrently we then started to see many types of “beer toys” from Takara Tomy and others, designed to help you create the experience of drinking freshly poured foamy cold beer at home or on picnic. The zenith of this was surely when Takara Tomy stepped in to make a product of the Frozen Beer Slushie Maker, which had previously only been available at Kirin’s special summer beer gardens.

kirin ichiban frozen beer slushie maker

And now we have come full circle: Kirin is a microbrewery again.

The Japanese craft beer scene itself has been around since the 1990’s. What’s really changed things in the past few years has been the explosion of craft beer bars, brewpubs and craft beer festivals all over the country, especially in the Tokyo area.

Yona Yona’s ales are now stocked in regular convenience stores and have their own plush restaurant in Akasaka. Even Shibuya got its own craft beer recently.

While sometimes the craft beers have wandered into the gimmicky, breweries like Coedo and Hitachino Nest have seen their beers acclaimed overseas.

Foreign breweries have noticed. Scottish craft beer maker BrewDog saw enough growth in Asia that it opened its a dedicated bar in Roppongi.

There’s an interesting parallel to this: Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Budweiser tried to muscle in on the craft beer market in America by appearing at fairs and events with its regular lagers, and has started buying up craft breweries. In response to the growing popularity of craft beer, it even resorted to mocking the culture with a snarky Super Bowl ad that prompted a backlash. Kirin, be warned.

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Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo hires Aiko Chihira, an android guide

Written by: William on April 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 1 Comment

Meet Aiko Chihira. She speaks Japanese and wears a kimono. She greets customers and conveys information.

But Aiko’s not Japanese. She’s not even human.

She’s an android made by Toshiba and now she works at Mitsukoshi, the high-end department store in Nihonbashi.

toshiba mitsukoshi aiko chihira android humanoid robot department store tokyo japan reception staff

Unfortunately she can’t converse or respond to questions, unlike the more interactive Nao humanoid robot, currently serving Mitsubishi UFJ bank customers, or Pepper, the friendly droid greeting visitors to Softbank stores.

But she blinks, bows, moves her (sorry, its) mouth and lips. She is programmed with human-like facial expressions and can offer a looped vocal guidance to department store customers.

For example, if you want to hear about the layout or an event, this robot will tell you.

She can even communicate in sign language, so at least the uncanny valley is barrier free for the deaf.

toshiba mitsukoshi aiko chihira android humanoid robot department store tokyo japan reception staff

Toshiba describes her as the “quiet type” who is “happy to help people”. Something tells us there might be some male fantasies at play here…

Find Aiko on the ground floor of Mitsukoshi. Sadly, she’s not a permanent addition. She will only be “working” at the store on April 20th and April 21st. She is a promotional feature as part of a longer Toshiba event at the seventh floor Hajimarino Cafe from April 22nd to May 5th.

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