Underwater Knee-High Girls: Now swimming onto your iPhone

Written by: William on October 23, 2014 at 8:07 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

manabu koga underwater girls knee high socks swimming diving photography japanese iphone 5 cover casae

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.

manabu koga underwater girls knee high socks swimming diving photography japanese iphone 5 cover casae

manabu koga underwater girls knee high socks swimming diving photography japanese iphone 5 cover casae

manabu koga underwater girls knee high socks swimming diving photography japanese iphone 5 cover casae

manabu koga underwater girls knee high socks swimming diving photography japanese iphone 5 cover casae

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.

manabu koga underwater girls knee high socks swimming diving photography japanese iphone 5 cover casae

Here’s a make-of video showing one of the models taking a self-portrait.

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Ultra Seven x Black Ice Eyewear for superhero stylish retro glasses

Written by: William on October 21, 2014 at 8:52 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

What in some countries would be merely retro or even geeky, in Japan can be mainstream and inventive.

The Ultraman franchise continues to innovate and expand despite its age. As promotion for the Blu-Ray release of Ultra Seven in November, Tsuburaya Productions has got together with a manufacturer from Sabae in Fukui Prefecture, said to be home to Japan’s eyeglass frame manufacturing industry.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

The Ultra Seven x Black Ice is a series of eight eyeglasses products designed in the trademark Ultra Seven colors that use highly durable Carbotitan hybrid materials to create the eyewear worthy of a superhero.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

The special limited edition spectacles will set you back over ¥50,000 (nearly $500) and won’t be yours until next April (you can pre-order them from December). Clearly these are for the serious collector!

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

This latest development follows previous Ultra Seven hashed beef food products, an Ultraman luxury guitar, and even an appearance by Mother of Ultra in a series of Kyushu shopping mall TV ads. And if that’s not enough, head on down for a drink at the Ultraman Monster Bar in Kawasaki.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

This time we see Japan’s love of stylish retro combining with its very lively eyewear market — an industry which has seen the launch of its own fashion magazine of late, plus collaborations with the likes of Monster Hunter and Rilakkuma, and hi-tech advances such as JINS Meme glasses that tell you when you’re tired and the Fun’iki Ambient Glasses, which link with your smart device.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

In Japan retro sci-fi TV shows are not just for geeks, they can be forward-thinking fashion accessories too.

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100 yen shop toy guns and musical instruments customized to look amazingly realistic

Written by: William on October 20, 2014 at 6:23 pm | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Japan’s 100 yen shops are treasure troves. Enter these Aladdin’s Caves and you can find almost anything you need for your kitchen or home, plus all kinds of surprising items you didn’t even know existed, let alone could be purchased for a dollar.

Despite the price (these days actually ¥108 due to sales tax hike), the quality is usually pretty good (in proportion), though you’d best not buy batteries and so on if you want them to last more than a couple of weeks.

And some creative people have proved that with some skill, you can make even a cheap 100-yen-shop toy look amazing.

Take Twitter user @m_kondo3, a photographer specializing in cosplay and survival games (a growing fashion and cosplay trend in Japan).

He took some plastic toys from a 100 yen store and painted them so they look incredibly real. When he shared them online, he got a massive response — nearly 10,000 retweets at the time of writing.

Take a look. This is a plastic toy gun.

100 yen store shop gun ray toy customize paint amazingly realistic

And now here’s the “real” thing.

100 yen store shop gun ray toy customize paint amazingly realistic

Likewise a plastic trumpet…

100 yen store shop trumpet instrument musical toy customize paint amazingly realistic

…becomes a genuine-looking musical instrument.

100 yen store shop trumpet instrument musical toy customize paint amazingly realistic

Okay, ultimately this is just the visuals. A bit of paint doesn’t mean you can start zapping alien invaders with your ray gun or blowing out great tunes, but it does prove that creativity and skill can do wonders with any materials.

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Phonetikana by johnson banks: A katakana font for foreigners

Written by: William on October 17, 2014 at 8:00 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

UK design studio johnson banks has come up with this brilliant take on Japanese katakana that combines the phonetical reading of the character in the font.

They call it Phonetikana.

The font came out in 2009 but for some reason Japanese and other blogs have just discovered it. It’s a nice idea for making Tokyo signage more accessible to foreign visitors at the 2020 Olympics.

Multiple trips to Japan and constant frustration at being unable to read the language has sparked off an unusual typographic project at johnson banks. Earlier in the year we started seeing if we could combine the English language and Japanese script in some way.

One of the three typographic styles that is used in Japan is essentially phonetic, and is called Katakana. We’ve been attempting to find ways to incorporate phonetic sounds with the Katakana letterforms.

Here is the full syllabary.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Here is Uniqlo.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Michael.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

And some of the Phonetikana are also pictographic. Here is “big apple”.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Here is “cheese”.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Superhero” borrows a motif from a certain American comic book character.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

This is “dokidoki”, an onomatopoeia for expressing excitement, here cleverly rendered inside a heart.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Sheep and cow sounds.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Big in Japan” is literally inside the Japanese flag.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Niko niko” — meaning laughter.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Kurukuru” — meaning spinning around and around.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

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Denso Corp’s X-mobility is mini electric mobility vehicle with in-wheel motor system controlled by smartphone

Written by: William on October 15, 2014 at 8:54 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

At Ceatec Japan 2014 last week Denso Corp showcased a prototype mobility device for transporting babies and light luggage that can be controlled by your smartphone or tablet.

The X-mobility can have three or four spherical wheels, each with its own motor, battery, decelerator, controller, sensor and Bluetooth module.

denso x-mobility electric vehicle carry luggage in-wheel motor smartphone tablet app control

It could be used to carry babies (presumably it would have to be made a bit taller) and also small luggage at futuristic airports and train stations, or even at malls to transport customers’ shopping to their cars. It can hold up 20kg, 44 lbs.

The X-mobility uses a smartphone or tablet app called X-mobi to steer the vehicle. The wheels exchange data by infrared light and their batteries last around three hours on a single charge.

See the X-mobility in action here, being controlled by a tablet.

No plans have been announced for commercialization yet but we think there will be lots of applications for such a nifty small mobility device.

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The Japan Trends guide to the most unique Japanese Halloween costumes

Written by: Japan Trends on October 14, 2014 at 10:43 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Halloween is about to be upon us again.

Japan is the land of cosplay so for the locals, dressing up needn’t be restricted to just October 31st. That said, these days there are lots of Halloween parties, zombie events and other such seasonal happenings.

But rather than resorting to the usual suspects at Don Quijote, how can you really stand out this Halloween?

To help you choose, JapanTrendShop is having a Halloween sale right now — offering 10% off any purchase. Just use the code “zombiejapan” to claim your discount.

We then started browsing the JapanTrendShop digital shelves and found heaps of products which, while not released originally as Halloween costumes, nonetheless can be utilized for that purpose if you are so inclined.

The beauty gadgets are of course, meant to help improve your skin and so on. But some of them are unusual-looking, to say the least, so something like the Facewaver Exercise Mask will really give you a special look on Halloween (and perhaps also fight against the effects of aging).

facewaver face stretcher mask wacky japanese beauty product

If you want to transform your lower half, the last few years have seen a fun “tattoo tights” street fashion trend in Japan. The cutest we’ve seen so far are these Cat Tights.

cat tights neko leggings tattoo japan fashion

Continuing the animal theme, there are also Bear Tights and Rabbit Tights.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of deliberately humorous (and slightly cheeky) clothing items out there, such as this Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirt. In the similar vein, there’s also the Shiridashi Butt Reveal Underwear, whose name we think says it all.

mousou mapping bra t-shirt bust reveal fake clothes

And this is before you even start looking at fundoshi loincloths for girls, yaeba snaggletooth fake teeth, or even “never-nude” JeanPants underwear (though they might be a bit cold at this time of year).

jean pants underwear japanese never nude cosplay costume

For those searching for that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu look or something for their head, try the Pop Candy Harajuku Fashion Cosplay Wig on for size.

pop candy japanese wig harajuku fashion cosplay street style

Our prizes for best Japanese Halloween costume ideas, though, go to these two.

The Kuroko Kabuki Black Stagehand Costume replicates the look of the “invisible” people who change the scenery in Kabuki. The uninitiated might also mistake you for a ninja!

kuroko kurogo kabuki stagehead japanese theater ninja costume cosplay

Finally, the Kabutte Kirimi-chan Costume is a heavy-looking blow-up headpiece inspired by a new Sanrio salmon fillet character.

kabutte kirimi-chan sanrio salmon fillet character head piece

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Japanese fundoshi loincloths back in fashion… for girls

Written by: William on October 10, 2014 at 11:34 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Everything comes back into fashion. And that includes Japanese loincloths. Fundoshi are usually only seen on the bodies (and buttocks) of men taking part in Japanese festivals or on sumo wrestlers (technically called mawashi).

But how about girls? Yes, fundoshi for women is a thing.

Actually, for the past few years people have been talking about this. Even venerable Japanese subculture guru Danny Choo blogged about it back in 2009.

fundoshi loincloth japan women girls trend

Wacoal were pretty pioneering in this with their Nana Fun fundoshi for women product back in 2008 (sadly no longer on sale).

It led to the start of a trend and a revival in fortune for fundoshi. The Japan Fundoshi Association was even set up a little while later to promote the loincloth. And if you thought that February 14th was Valentine’s Day, you are very much mistaken. It is (also) Fundoshi Day… since 2013 at any rate.

Retailers have sprung up to cope with the demand. Ai Fun is an online store that specializes in “stylish” fundoshi for women. Odakyu Department Store in Shinjuku has a shop called Desk My Style with around 60 kinds of fundoshi on sale for men and women. Apparently they are popular with women in their thirties. There is even growing interest in the trend in other parts of Japan. A specialist fundoshi select store, Teraya, opened in Nagasaki City last November.

fundoshi loincloth japan women girls trend

As part of this, we recently saw the release of a “mook” for fundoshi. Mooks are a popular element of the Japanese magazine publishing world, semi-regular magazines or spin-off booklets which often include merchandise. In this case, the Fundoshi Panties Loincloth Underwear Mook includes a pair of fundoshi. While officially unisex, the cover and magazine make it clear that this loincloth is being marketed squarely at the girls.

fundoshi loincloth japan women girls trend

But fundoshi are not just being promoted for girls (and men) because they are novel or traditional. There are health benefits, such as improved blood circulation. Most importantly, fundoshi loincloths are being suggested as excellent nighttime wear for women to help them sleep.

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Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset, a wearable truth-or-liar gadget by Takara Tomy

Written by: Japan Trends on October 9, 2014 at 9:36 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 2 Comments

Winter is coming, as a certain HBO series constantly reminds us. But in Japan as we can stuck into the chill of the winter, there is a bright spark part of the way through — New Year. Not only does this mean plenty of family time and traditional food, it also means lots of end-of-year parties with coworkers.

These are known as bounenkai in Japan — “forget-the-year gatherings” — and invariably involve lots of drinking and more often than not, games. And while office workers letting their hair down at such late December parties are probably not the official main target for this product, we reckon they will get some of the highest levels of satisfaction from it.

Forget the polygraph. Takara Tomy has now come up with a great gizmo for having some fun at work parties. It’s a wearable lie detector toy!

kokoro scanner lie detector headset takara tomy

The Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset will be released later this month and we are sure it will prove a big hit at parties with colleagues, students and family members.

What better a way to liven up a gathering than by testing if someone is lying or telling the truth?

How does it work? Well, the genius lies in how simple it is. No complicated wires or graphs. Just slip the headset on and answer whatever questions you are asked.

Assuming you are not a consummate actor able to control your body to perfection, the Kokoro Scanner measures fluctuations in your pulse. The logic here is that if you are telling the truth, your pulse will remain steady. If you are lying, you will be nervous and your heartbeat will increase.

The light on the top of the headset will flash green if you are telling the truth. If you get a yellow it means the headset is suspicious of your answer but not certain. If there’s a red light, then you’ve been branded a liar!

Okay, we’ve no idea if this works for real but there’s only one way to find out.

Get the Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset from JapanTrendShop.

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The Snap Up by en route, a crowdsourced fashion show on the streets of Tokyo

Written by: William on October 8, 2014 at 10:36 pm | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Last month United Arrows’ en route brand ran a special “crowdsourced fashion show” on the streets of Omotesando and Harajuku.

In the words of Contagious.com, The Snap Up campaign saw “fashion brand encourage the public to act like the paparazzi in Tokyo”.

We’re a little late to the party with this story but because it’s pretty cool, we reckon it still merits a write-up one month after the fact.

En Route sent models for three hours wearing its 2014 autumn-winter line out into the streets during the Vogue Fashion Night Out, the annual bonanza which sees lots brands and stores in Omotesando running special evening events.

en route the snap up crowdsourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

Members of the public were invited to hunt for the wandering models, take their pictures, and then upload them via the dedicated The Snap Up iPhone app. These were then judged in realtime and uploaded to the campaign website. The selected images netted the photographer a small cash prize of ¥1,000 (under $10).

en route the snap up crowdsourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

And apparently there was a mysterious “Cashier Man” also walking the streets. If they stumbled across him, you could swipe your phone on his arm and claim money on the spot. Nice! According to Contagious.com,1,000 people took 27,000 photos.

en route the snap up crowdsourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

Here’s a trailer giving you a taster of the campaign.

Although the photos themselves no longer seem to be available, on The Snap Up website you can even watch a four-hour-plus “live” video of the event.

En route is aimed at men and women in their thirties, centering around fashion and sports under the concept of “Wearable Tokyo”. It opened its first store in Ginza in September, shortly after it ran The Snap Up campaign.

en route the snap up crowd sourced fashion show tokyo streets vogue fashion night out 2014 campaign united arrows

In Japan privacy has more respect than other places and TV shows will typically blur out the faces of random people who happen to walk into shot during filming. There has also been a lot of brouhaha recently about fans snapping photos of celebrities without explicit permission from the person being lensed.

And so for a brand to encourage profligate photography and indiscriminate social media sharing is quite a bold marketing move, locally at least.

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