Wearable gadgetry just got more functional, thanks to Lotte, the candy maker who has come up with the Rhymi-Kamu chewing gum bite counter earphones.
The Korean company, also based in Japan, developed the earphones with medical experts as a publicity stunt for its chewing gum but they genuinely work.
Using ear sensors, the Rhythmi-Kamu (“kamu” is Japanese for “bite/chew”) detects movements in the ear canal. These are created when you chew and the more frequent the movements, the more you are chewing.
Okay, so what? Isn’t this just another health device or life log gadget? Well, this is cool not because it measures how much you are chewing. It’s neat because you can then essentially use your “bite” to control things.
By having your Rhythmi-Kamu earphones connected to your phone, an app could potentially monitor your bites to know when you want to change a music track, turn off the audio, and so on. E.g. two quick bites could be the signal to stop the music.
As part of the promotion, Lotte paid to have some idols from HKT48 try the Rhythmi-Kamu earphones out.
The bad news is this great idea isn’t an actual product (yet). But who knows, maybe one day in the future chewing will count for something. For now, Lotte is leaning the earphones to universities and research institutes for use in studies.
Photographer Marco’s first photography book “Spring Pedals by lovely hickey” will be released by Futabasha on November 7th. Featuring mostly portraits previously showcased by Marco on the website JADICT, it features young models such as Nana Komatsu and Mona Matsuoka.
Marco is a “disciple” of Mika Ninagawa, and that photographer’s influence is obvious: female models, lots of flower visuals, soft aesthetic, and so on.
Some might find the emphasis almost exclusively on girls in their late teens slightly unsettling but this kind of photography is popular with a certain market of female consumers.
Marco started working for Ninagawa in 2003 and then kicked off his own career as a photographer in 2008. He mainly works in advertising and fashion catalogs.
While the world is divided into Coca-Cola drinkers and Pepsi drinkers, there would appear to be a market for strawberry milk cola.
Pepsi Pink Cola hits the shelves of Japanese stores from December 9th and over the winter season. It was previously sold in 2011.
You might think it’s hardly the most winterly of drinks but actually strawberries feature in cakes popular at Christmas time in Japan.
In the past, Pepsi’s other “special flavors” for the Japanese market like cucumber, salty watermelon and shiso drinks have certainly generated a lot of publicity for the brand. In the world of Japan’s convenience stores and their hyperactive turnover of FMCG, it takes a lot to stand out. Pepsi achieve this here with both the color and the concept itself.
Pepsi Pink Cola will only be sold in Japan, priced ¥140 plus tax. We’re guessing it’s on the sweet side and tastes like strawberries.
Tokyo International Film Festival is currently running in Roppongi. Japan’s premier film event always draws crowds and plenty of press attention.
So far this year’s biggest headlines have perhaps been generated by comments by director Takeshi Kitano, who has reached the age where he doesn’t care what people think anymore. He criticized the monopoly of the major Japanese film studios which control movie theaters, and how the local media never writes proper reviews. “The Japanese film industry is going to ruins,” he decried. He also admitted his dislike for anime. “I dislike Hayao Miyazaki the most. But I give credit to his works for earning so much money.”
Meanwhile Hideaki Anno, whose work is being showcased in a retrospected at TIFF, lamented the state of the local anime industry. “The Japanese animation industry has hit a dead end — it will be tough to escape unless we can make animation without commercial considerations.”
Hardly the stuff of a buoyant festival that the organizers were no doubt hoping for.
However, there has been even more criticism of the festival itself by industry people and the public alike about the way TIFF is presenting itself. TIFF has never been very sophisticated in its PR but this year might be the most crass.
In large print adverts run in major newspapers it has been pushing the country’s “legacy” for producing cinema maestros. This nationalist tendency might well meet the approval of the current government and no one would surely doubt Japan’s pedigree when it comes to past masterpieces, but this is bullishness verging on the right wing.
The official English translation of the copy is even worse:
Lest we forget; our nation gave birth to some of the world’s most respected directors.
The “lest we forget” is horribly formal and also sounds like an intonement at a memorial service. It is the kind of phrase you hear uttered after terrible events. And the “our nation” is, needless to say, hardly welcoming to the many foreign visitors to the festival.
It has been harshly criticized by director Tetsuaki Matsue.
Our question is also this: Who has forgotten? Just as no one has forgotten about the great directors of France, America, Germany et al, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu have not been blotted out of the public’s mind, as far as we know. Does TIFF need to remind us, especially like this?
Better alternatives have been suggested:
Some of the world’s most respected directors were born here.
However, no matter how you adjust the copy, the rightist nuance reminds.
It is also perhaps no surprise that AKB48 producer and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe favorite Yasushi Akimoto was invited to produce the film festival this year. The rather inexplicable appointment by the government has resulted (directly or otherwise) in a nasty taint of politics over the event.
The festival was sponsored by Toyota until 2012 and it was in past festivals that the copy really rankled with us personally. That year the theme was all about ecology and the environment, including even a “green carpet”. This from an international event based in that eco paradise Roppongi, flying in guests and staff from all over the world. And sponsored by the biggest car manufacturer on the planet. “Action! for Earth” [sic] the slogan said. Yes, quite.
OK Go “I Won’t Let You Down” music video: Drones, Honda UNI-CUBs, Perfume, umbrellas, Japanese girlsWritten by: William on October 28, 2014 at 8:23 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
American band OK Go have released a music video for their song “I Won’t Let You Down”, from the album “Hungry Ghosts”.
Filmed using a “multi-copter camera” and directed by Morihiro Harano, the choreography for the video has been clearly sped up in the editing process but it still has the usual OK Go fun vibe and charm.
OK Go are famous for their inventive music videos that feature challenging set-ups and long takes. “I Won’t Let You Down” is no exception, including some bravado moments such as an aerial shot and the band “dancing” the whole time while riding self-balancing unicycles. And holding umbrellas.
The “Japanese” elements are pretty inconsequential. Some anonymous Japanese girls appear, twirl their umbrellas and legs in synchronized group movements, and occasionally chant “Ichi, ni, san…” (Look out for the three members of Perfume, who pop up for a few seconds at the start.)
The setting would also appear to be Japan, though certainly not Tokyo, given the expansive surroudings.
The machines the band members ride are Honda UNI-CUBs, a robotic scooter kind of like a very small Segway that can balance itself. The customized drone camera that filmed the whole enterprise was also apparently contributed by Honda.
There is a worrying precedent when overseas music artists come and make a “Japan-inspired” song or music video. The biggest criminal of recent times has been Avril Lavigne and her wacky “Hello Kitty” music video. We might be tempted to say the OK Go have almost opted for that cliche of Japanese or Asian people prancing around in mass games-style crowd choreography, but on the whole they pull it off with the emphasis leaning much more on fun tribute than cultural appropriation.
First suspected Ebola case in Japan: Man arriving at Haneda Airport from west Africa tested for virusWritten by: William on October 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments
The Japanese media is reporting Japan’s first suspected case of Ebola.
A man arriving at Haneda Airport on the evening of October 27th after spending time in Liberia was showing symptoms of a fever. He was taken to the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Shinjuku. The man is said to be in his forties.
Test are being done and the government has said they cannot confirm that he has had contact with an Ebola patient.
The unnamed man is a 45-year-old journalist, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and police. He had been resident in Liberia from August until October 18th, after which he came to Japan via Belgium and the UK.
He has a very high fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) and tests are being done to see if he has been infected by a tropical diseases, including the Ebola virus.
The results of initial tests will arrive in the early hours of October 28th.
There has been scrutiny about Japan’s ability to cope with the arrival of Ebola in the country and screening has been introduced at airports where disembarking international passengers are asked if they had visited countries in west Africa.
Update (October 28th)
Good news: The tests came back negative for the Ebola virus. The patient is being held for further days in hospital as a precaution. It has also now been reported that the journalist is not Japanese but a Canadian citizen.
“Princess Jellyfish” exhibition at Shibuya Parco Museum: Male visitors must “cross-dress” in female clothesWritten by: William on October 27, 2014 at 8:47 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
A new exhibition event in Shibuya will turn all male visitors into crossdressers.
All right, let’s qualify that.
The exhibition, held in December and January at Shibuya Parco Museum, is a promo for the upcoming live-action film adaptation of the manga “Princess Jellyfish”.
The original, called “Kuragehime” in Japanese, is all about the goings-on at an apartment building populated only by female otaku, such as a girl obsessed with kimono and another with Chinese history. The tenants of the apartment in the threatened “Amamizukan” building are all girls. No boys are allowed, though the main character Tsukimi Kurashita (her mania is for jellyfish, hence the title) eventually allows a cross-dressing politician’s son into her life and of course, we can probably all guess how things turn out between them.
The exhibition will feature props, costumes and more from the world of the film and manga.
As men are “banned” from the apartment building in the story, likewise the exhibition is ostensibly only open to female visitors. Should men turn up, they will be forced to wear “female items” if they want to enter the exhibition. At the time of writing we aren’t sure exactly what these are, though we doubt a mainstream space like Parco Museum would actually force young guys in Shibuya to wear skirts. If you want to see that kind of thing, head over to Shinjuku or Akihabara for the otoko no ko cross-dressing cosplay subculture trend.
Following an anime series in 2010, the live-action film version of Akiko Higashimura’s comic is set for release on December 27th and stars Rena Nounen (of “Amachan” fame) in the gauche lead role.
Parco Museum (Shibuya Parco Part 1, 3F)
December 19th to January 12th
Roppongi has its fair share of bright lights and other-worldly experiences, though this is certainly something new.
Finnair is sponsoring a stimulated aurora experience event at Tokyo Midtown on November 7th and November 8th.
Finnair Aurora will showcase various Scandinavian tourist destinations for discerning Roppongi visitors but best of all is the “aurora booth” attraction, which will provide a virtual aurora experience for those who can’t make it to the other side of the planet to see the real thing.
There will also be a booth where you can superimpose yourself over the aurora to create a special commemorative image of your “trip”.
For the linguists out there, there will be customized badges which can be printed using a “Finn Generator” that converts your name into Finnish.
And after all that traveling around the Arctic Circle, no doubt you will be parched. Not to worry, aurora-themed drinks and Glühwein will be one hand, as well as other Scandinavian snacks.
Japanese people really love the aurora and sightseeing trips to the various parts of the world where you can see the light spectacle are very popular. Flights depart for Finnish cities offering vistas of the autumn aurora from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, setting you down in 9.5 hours. (For the unlucky ones without the vacation budget, there are aurora home planetarium devices instead.)
Finnair Aurora is open 13:00-17:00 on November 7th and 11:00-21:00 on November 8th at Tokyo Midtown’s Canopy Square.
The “Underwater Knee-High Girls” series of aquatic slinky ladies by photographer Manabu Koga has already produced two photography books and a current photography exhibition. Now they can be swimming seductively on your iPhone too.
The “Suichu Ni-so” features models swimming underwater in a variety of poses and with all manner of unusual props (umbrellas, mecha-esque bodysuits, toy guns), but always wearing knee-high socks.
Given how easy it is to make phone cases and covers these days, we guess it was inevitable that the next merchandise in the series would be coming to our handsets.
Manabu Koga has reproduced his series of images as iPhone 5 covers. All 190 of the models and outfits featured in the new photography book are available as iPhone 5 covers, though if you want overseas shipping you’d be better off asking JapanTrendShop to track down a case for you.
The “Underwater Knee-High Girls” photography exhibition also runs at PATER’S Shop and Gallery in Harajuku from October 24th to November 5th, with exhibits including images not featured in the final photography book.
Here’s a make-of video showing one of the models taking a self-portrait.