R/C Tractor Kumamon: Mascot farmer bear does wheelies

Written by: Japan Trends on November 26, 2014 at 8:26 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

If you like unusual RC toys and if you like yuru-kyaru (Japanese mascots), then these two things are about to come crashing together in amazing style with this R/C Tractor Kumamon from Tamiya.

rc tractor kumamon macot bear tamiya toy

The tractor sees arguably Japan’s most popular mascot, the bear from Kumamoto Prefecture, driving a tractor while he goes about farming his region’s favorite offerings — water melons and tomatoes.

rc tractor kumamon macot bear tamiya toy

Stickers of Kumamon’s fruit crops decorate the chassis. The tractor also has two sizes of wheels so with some skill you can make Kumamon do wheelies. That’s something you don’t see every day.

We’ve seen some novel Japanese RC toys over the years, from cockroaches to cleaning mops and more, but Kumamon on a large tractor is certainly a new advance for the medium.

rc tractor kumamon macot bear tamiya toy

The R/C Tractor Kumamon is available in the full assembled and painted version with the controller on pre-order from JapanTrendShop.

Our previous favorite Kumamon toy had been the Soccer Robot Kumamon.

kumamonsoccer robot player football rc toy mascot bear

As the name suggests, it is a mini robot that can play football using an infrared controller. The robot is surprisingly agile and can move in eight different way.

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Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic design

Written by: William on November 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki digital archive is a fascinating glimpse back into Japan’s cosmetics advertising past.

Drawing on the graphic design and ads featured over the years in Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s consumer magazine founded in 1937, and its previous publications Shiseido Geppo (started in 1924) and Shiseido Graph (1933), the archive is a veritable treasure trove.

Shiseido has just added some new Shiseido Geppo (Shiseido Monthly) images from the December 1930 issue, giving us an excuse to indulge in selections from its previous archives. The changing style of the design obviously reflects the progress of both the social and publishing scene.

Shiseido Geppo, 1924

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, July 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, December 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, June 1935

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s “corporate culture magazine”, still continues today. Its name is derived from the Japanese camellia flower and which of course Shiseido has also created a whole line of Tsubaki hair products.

See more images at the Shiseido Hanatsubaki digital archive.

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Beauty meets cute with the Hello Kitty Narikiri Face Pack

Written by: Japan Trends on November 24, 2014 at 8:07 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

First we had the Kabuki Face Pack, a skincare tool based on genuine Kabuki make-up. This was a hit and was followed by the Animal Face Pack (a charity model based on a real tiger and panda in Ueno Zoo) and Cats Face Pack (based on characters from the musical Cats), and then the Fashion Face Pack (inspired by the fashion of by Kansai Yamamoto).

Now the inevitable has happened.

We have the Hello Kitty Narikiri Face Pack.

hello kitty narikiri face pack beauty mask

This is exactly what it sounds like — a face pack that looks like the Sanrio character. (It’s not made by the same people as the Kabuki, Animal, Cats or Fashion Face Pack, though.)

hello kitty narikiri face pack beauty mask

hello kitty narikiri face pack beauty mask

Japan’s most popular and enduring ambassador of cute is now helping you look better by transforming you (narikiri) into the famous cat. One pack features two face masks, each one a genuine face pack that can improve your skin quality. There are three versions with different ribbon colors (red, pink, purple). The colors also have varying scents: red is rose, pink is cherry blossom, and purple is lavender.

hello kitty narikiri face pack beauty mask

Currently the Hello Kitty Narikiri Face Pack has limited availability at certain stores like the Sanrio souvenir shop at Tokyo Tower. Also look out for them on pre-order from Japan Trend Shop. A second set of Hello Kitty Face Packs is planned for early next year, though, which should have a wider release if these first ones are a hit.

hello kitty narikiri face pack beauty mask

Of course, there is already a host of other Hello Kitty merchandise out there, from vacuum cleaners to toasters, clothes, memory cards, cameras, and more.

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Posters released for live-action film version of Attack on Titan

Written by: William on November 21, 2014 at 10:50 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

The first posters for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) have been released, showing the cast in costume as their respective characters.

Regardless of your taste in manga or anime, the posters are pretty awesome just in terms of graphic design.

It also gives fans of the Hajime Isayama series a chance to see how the cast of the upcoming big screen version measure up to the characters as depicted in their previous animated or comic-book incarnations. Oh, and the weaponry and hardware also get a very strong emphasis.

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

The all-star cast includes Hiroki Hasegawa, Haruma Miura, model Kiko Mizuhara, idols Nanami Sakuraba and Ayame Misaki, Jun Kunimura, and Satomi Ishihara.

Kotaku did a nice comparison of the anime, manga and film versions of each main character.

Attack on Titan has become a commerical phenomenon in recent years and this majoro film adaptation is the icing on the cake. Filming on location at Gunkanjima, it will be released in Japan in summer 2015.

If you can’t wait, you can always stage your own mini Attack on Titan battle scenes on your desk with the Tsumikore EVO! Attack on Titan Mania.

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Nanoblock transforms into customizable mini Shinkansen electric train model set

Written by: Japan Trends on November 20, 2014 at 8:46 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Nanoblock, Japan’s homegrown answer to Lego, never stops evolving.

Just when you thought the micro building blocks had been used to transform every famous monument or building around the world, along comes a completely new direction for the Kawada series to explore.

Electric trains!

Nanoblock has now started making railway sets and of course, you can customize the railways and scenery around the tracks with other Nanoblocks.

nanoblock model train bullet shinkansen electric toy railway set hayabusa nanogauge

The Nanoblock nanoGauge Shinkansen Series E5 Hayabusa Electric Train is the first in this new nanoGauge series for Kawada and we shouldn’t be surprised that the makers opted for Japan’s most famous train to start things off.

nanoblock model train bullet shinkansen electric toy railway set hayabusa nanogauge

nanoblock model train bullet shinkansen electric toy railway set hayabusa nanogauge

Now you can build your own bullet train and tracks with the set, and then watch it zip around the loop.

It goes without saying that the best thing here is how you can also build up a Nanoblock city around the tracks. After all, landscaping is so important when it comes to railway modeling cultre. You could add all kinds of incongruous fantasy elements — like Tokyo Tower, Himeji Castle, a WW2 battleship, or something completely original.

nanoblock model train bullet shinkansen electric toy railway set hayabusa nanogauge

Here is a video of someone making the Nanoblock bullet train model set.

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ALMA Music Box telescope captures radio waves from a dying star, turns them into music

Written by: William on November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

What would a melody from a dying star sound like?

ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a state-of-the-art radio telescope developed and operated by 20 countries and territories across Asia, Europa and America.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Connecting 66 parabola antennas deployed in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, ALMA works as a giant radio telescope with a diameter comparable to the size of the JR Yamanote Line. It detects faint radio waves emanated by distant celestial objects to study the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. Obtaining a clue to the origin of life is another goal of ALMA.

In 2011, ALMA observed radio waves from a dying star R Sculptoris. Made in collaboration with the Tokyo and New York-based agency PARTY, the resulting ALMA Music Box utilized this data, translating the 70 different radio images onto 70 musical discs, one for each frequency. In other words, the music for this music box is supplied by a red giant star 1,5000 light years away, a melody from a soon-to-be supernova.

As the makers told Wired:

As the disc spins around the player, little teeth pluck the holes and emit a twinkling sound. It sounds sweet, like a lullaby coming from the mobile above a baby’s crib. But there’s a sadness to it, too, perhaps because we know the star is in the process of dying out forever. As Masashi Kawamura, co-founder of PARTY, puts it: “It’s made to sound like a requiem for the star in a way.”

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

ALMA Music Box is a new kind of visualization project to try to find a way to make the uses of the ALMA telecope more accessible to non-astrophysicists. It is now on display at 21 21 Design Sight’s “The Fab Mind” exhibition until February 1st.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Impenetrable science projects in Japan often come up with very sophisticated ways to “advertise” their achievements to the public. NIMS (National Institute for Material Science), for example, has made a great series of videos called “The Power of Materials”.

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Snoopy and Woodstock at Tower Records Cafe in Shibuya and Tower Dining Ebisu

Written by: William on November 18, 2014 at 11:29 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Another day, another themed cafe in Tokyo.

The Tower Records Shibuya second-floor cafe has been transformed from November 17th into the Snoopy Tower Records Cafe. Open until December 31st, the cafe will be serving special Snoopy dishes, selling merchandise, and even has created Snoopy background music. There is a second themed space at Tower Records Dining, the retailer’s eatery in Ebisu, this time with Woodstock the star, running in parallel with the Shibuya cafe’s Snoopy event.

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

Peanuts is popular in Japan, like so many other franchises with cute characters. Earlier this year we saw a Snoopy Chaya macha green tea cafe open in Kyushu.

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

The menu varies between the Tower Records Cafe and Woodstock Rock’n'Roll Party (what they are calling the event at the Ebisu Tower Records Dining), though both offer snacks and full meals with all sorts of Peanuts and Snoopy flourishes, everything from cakes, cookies, drinks, chicken wraps. The interiors and exteriors of the two spaces are also decked out in Peanuts themes.

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

tower records shibuya snoopy woodstock ebisu cafe tokyo peanuts

[Images via Fashionsnap.com]

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Trend no more? Pioneering Harajuku tattoo tights store Avantgarde closes, street fashion moves on

Written by: William on November 18, 2014 at 7:38 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

It has been one of the biggest trends of recent years and then just like that, it has faded away.

So-called “tattoo tights” exploded into the popular and digital consciousness in 2011, even garnering overseas attention. The streets of areas like Harajuku and Shibuya were filled with the pins of young girls wearing fake body art-style leggings. The sheer variety of the “tattoo” designs was impressive: from Hello Kitty aplenty to cats, rabbits, onions, and more.

avantgarde-tattoo tights street fashion japan harajuku leggings

Avantgarde is the main brand behind the street fashion trend and as such opened a tattoo tights store in Harajuku in October 2011. It seems the legs of the fashionista have moved on, since Avantgarde will be closing the brand’s basement-level boutique on November 24th in the face of declining demand for their stockings.

Tattoo tights were a victim of their own success, with numerous replica and cheap imitations flooding the market. Yes, fake-fake tattoo tights!

avantgarde-tattoo tights street fashion japan harajuku leggings
[Image source]

Launched in 2009 by Kazuhiro Watanabe, MAM Avantgarde was constantly thinking up new bold designs as well as wide-ranging collaborations, including Hello Kitty and Disney. In 2012 Tokyo Fashion.com called Avantgarde Harajuku “the most influential legwear boutique in the Tokyo street fashion scene today”. Sadly, it was not enough to ride the notoriously capricious waves of street fashion for long.

Avantgarde has not announced any new plans for other stores but will continue to sell online. There are still lots of tattoo tights around so perhaps we shouldn’t write off the trend quite yet.

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Design your own Attack on Titan character with Titan Montage app

Written by: William on November 17, 2014 at 8:54 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

It’s sold 40 million comic books and counting. The live-action film adaptation is coming to a big screen near you soon. And now you can design your own Attack on Titan character and have it eat people. The “Titan Montage” app lets you mutate a face to create an original titan, and then places it into scenes from the anime so you can see your monster run amok trying to devour victims.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

The app has been launched as a promo for an Attack on Titan exhibition about to kick off in Ueno in Tokyo. You can go to the special website and design a portrait in the distinctive Attack on Titan style, customizing all the parts of the face from the teeth to the hair, eyebrows, nose, mouth and facial structure.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

Your titan character is then inserted into the world of the manga. Your creation is first placed into an Attack on Titan pose against a randomly selected background image from the comic and anime series. Needless to say the titan is not looking to make friends with the smaller humans. There is also an option to have the site generate an anime scene with your titan racing around the landscape looking for people to gobble up.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

This is then dispatched into the digital nether of Facebook and Twitter, populating Japanese social media with caricature crowd-sourced titans!

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