We have long ago run out of those “standard” Japanese gifts that we can get away with sending out relatives back home. You know the ones, right? Green tea. Chopsticks. Sake cups. And so on. What happens when you run out of ideas?
Well, if you look around, though, there are loads of cool gadgets, designer accessories, toys and household items that will make great and unexpected gifts.
The follow is just a very small sampling of the range of lifestyle and tech products available from the JapanTrendShop.
Learning can be fun and awe-inspiring, as Gakken is well aware. That’s why they created this remarkable Worldeye, a dome screen that offers you a realistic visual experience of the world. Discover science and geography like you never knew you could with this projection globe, featuring high quality images of world altitudes, seismic faults, forestation, bird migration, wind patterns and more.
Be smelly no more with these Deoest Odor Eliminating Deodorant Underwear, which has been designed to kill some 95% of gas and sweat and other foul odors. It might look like an ordinary pair of boxers but the Deoest Odor Eliminating Deodorant Underwear by Inodore has nano-level ceramic and metallic ions that fight and break down stinky particles. A life-saver!
This has been around for a few years now but it still looks great, and super practical too! Product designer Masayuki Kurakata knows how important it is to consider even something so banal as an extension lead, and that’s why he came up with the Plugo by Monos, a donut-shaped three-plug receptacle and extension lead.
This “microfiber hop ball” is one of the funnest in the recent trend for robotic vacuum cleaners in Japan. The Mocoro might sound like a bizarre but sophisticated piece of technology — a colorful “fur” ball that rolls automatically around home cleaning — but actually its beauty lies in its simplicity. All you need to do is clean the furry cover and then let the ball do the rest!
Not for Christmas per se, but you can celebrate New Year in a unique way with this. The Japanese send each other New Year postcards rather than Xmas cars. These are called nengajo and can be rather generic, though a lot of people write or even paint their own. Now you can be really unusual with this Nanoblock 2014 Nengajo Horse New Year Card, that uses the popular micro blocks to build a horse and bird model. (2014 is the Year of the Horse in Japan.)
This is for the gadget-lovers out there. This Hybrid Hard iPhone5 Protective Film is getting great reviews locally. Smashed screen? Scratched display? These will be problems no longer with this Hybrid Hard iPhone5 Protective Film. The Hybrid Hard is easy to apply and keep clean, and is made from Acier, a UV cure type hard coating solvent, combined with a transparent SHORAYAL film. Highly resistant to abrasion and shocks, it also protects against pesky fingerprints.
Another gadget, this time from Thanko, who know a thing or two about unusual gizmos. Keep yourself powered up for work whether it’s winter (or summer) with the USB Cup Warmer, Cooler Holder. Just connect your computer or other device’s USB port to the cup holder and it will maintain a cool or hot temperature perfect for continuing to enjoy your drink no matter how long that presentation takes you to finish. After all, when it’s winter and you’re keeping yourself warm with a hot cup of tea, the last thing you want is it to cool down. And likewise, in the summer, you want a drink that stays chilled.
For lovers (young and old) of kawaii and Japan’s favorite cat character, this Pop Up Pirate Hello Kitty is based on the 1975 Pop-up Pirate toy where you have to place swords in the barrel until the pirate jumps up. This time the buccaneer is super cute, as Kitty-chan always is!
Heck, if this isn’t enough for you, check out all the other Hello Kitty items there are!
As the name tells itself, LowCarbonLife.net provides yet another possible solution for saving the earth. Online they have a variety of furniture on sale, but it’s neither the design nor the build-it-yourself concept that separates the brand from other competitors in the market. It’s JGBOARD, the patented material that makes the difference.
In short, JGBOARD is a 100% recyclable wooden board that is made from used paper. JGBOARD furniture, then, can be disposed of as recyclable waste just like ordinary cardboard boxes (which are collected separately and recycled in Japan).
Does this seemingly eco-friendly material only help us feel less guilty about throwing out or replacing old furniture? Well, according to their description, their product is just as durable as any other wooden furniture, yet is 40% lighter, about 50% cheaper and waterproof. There is no need to use any tools, as paper tubes and double stick tape replace the role of nails to connect each board. Their video tutorials are also great help to build each piece of furniture which, to be quite frank, looks much like just placing a different combination of colored cardboard boxes onto one another.
The low table on the left below is 3,900 yen and the single bed on the right is a mere 14,499 yen.
At first I felt nothing but great respect for whoever came up with the idea of making 100% recyclable furniture. And yet I can’t also help but question one phrase that is written in their product description – use it as disposable furniture and feel at ease. It seems as though JGBOARD furniture is specifically targeted at those who need a set of simple furniture for a short period of time. The demand for such product is surely expected to increase in spring as it is the time of the new school year and fiscal year, with many people moving in and out of their places.
I don’t mean to boast here but the wooden desk that I have at home has been with me for almost twenty years and I never intend to throw it out. It’s one thing to be eco-friendly and move toward a world where everything is recyclable, but I can’t help thinking there should be some other ways, too.
JapanTrendShop.com is celebrating Thanksgiving in the best way possible: With a massive 10% OFF SALE for Black Friday & Cyber Monday.
Everything is discounted!
The Cyber Monday sale lasts until December 4th!
Here are some recommendations, taken from JapanTrendShop’s latest offerings!
The original pinhole Gakken Planetarium has sold 500,000 since its first release in 2005. Now Gakken and its science and engineering built-it-yourself kits series Otona no Kagaku has come up with the Realstar Planetarium. As before, supervised by master planetarium designer Takayuki Ohira, this enhanced version now shows projects the Milky Way and the heavens even more clearly than before.
Attention all entertainment buffs! The latest must-have accessory has arrived! The Goron Tablet Cushion is the modern and stylish answer to a techie’s quest for comfort. This intuitive and ergonomic device is easy to use. Just attach your electronic device, and then adjust the arm to the desired angle. You can comfortably use your tablet while sitting on the couch, relaxing on your side, and even while lying on your back. The wide range of options allows you to experience gaming, and entertainment viewing on a whole new level!
The original Shibaful product has proved a major hit for being both cool and stylish, and eco too! You don’t get better than that. Now the makers have expanded the range and this includes a version for larger devices, hence the Shibaful iPad Case, giving you the texture of actual Yoyogi Park grass as a cover.
The Sara-ri Nudy Armpit Stickers Set come in a series of 20 easy-to-use stickers. Just place them on your armpit as a guard against perspiration. Never be embarrassed by wet armpits again at work or out and about, these transparent stickers are also subtle enough to avoid detection to curious eyes, so your beauty secret is safe.
Keep yourself powered up for work whether it’s winter or summer with the USB Cup Warmer, Cooler Holder by Thanko. Just connect your computer or other device’s USB port to the cup holder and it will maintain a cool or hot temperature perfect for continuing to enjoy your drink no matter how long that presentation takes you to finish. After all, when it’s winter and you’re keeping yourself warm with a hot cup of tea, the last thing you want is it to cool down. And likewise, in the summer, you want a drink that stays chilled.
…Just a small sampling!
But don’t just take our word for it. Head over to JapanTrendShop.com and check everything out for yourself.
Doppelganger might just be the most interesting outdoor wear brand in Japan.
First they rocked our world with the Doppelganger Outdoors Wearable Sleeping Bag, an all-in-one jacket coat outer wear that becomes a sealable cocoon that also looks rather trendy as well.
Now they have also released the Doppelganger Humanoid Fleece, which frankly is a little more startling to look at. But if you aren’t put off by the “faceless” nature of this sleeping bag that you can walk around in, you will certainly appreciate its warmth.
It sold out of its initial batch on its very first day, so Doppelganger had to quickly crank up its production line to cope with demand.
You can unzip the bottom and keep it on while visiting the toilet (always an unpleasant task on cold winter nights, especially in the outdoors!), while we just love the four pop colors it comes in, even if it does kinda remind us of a rejected character from a Kick Ass 3 script.
Doppelganger make a nice antidote to the Yama Gaaru (“mountain girl”) and other fashionable outdoors/hiking trend that has been big for the last few years, where girls take themselves off to Gaienmae and Aoyama to buy ridiculously expensive gear for day trips to Tochigi.
Doppelganger’s approach is more fun and bold, both in terms of color and design, and functionality.
Cement is one of those much-aligned materials. We rail against concrete buildings, slabs, roads and the like, but take an architect like Tadao Ando and he will show you what can be done with concrete when there’s a good design by it.
And here’s one.
Nobuhiro Sato is a craftsmen from that center of the art of monozukuri, Kyoto. He is a designer who likes to use procured materials such as plastic bags. Sato first worked with cement to make incense burners, molded into the shape of mini houses. Since then he’s gone on to try out coasters and other small domestic objects, taking what is usually relegated to the exterior and bringing it inside the home.
There’s something about cement that looks soft and cute when it’s reduced down to a household scale. What is usually masonry, propping up walls or roads, is somehow compelling when we can hold it in our hands as, in this case, a tack for pinning up photos.
The Cement Push Pins are a set of six tacks that will bring in a sense of construction and stone to your office or home.
Sato actually uses ice cube trays to make his pins by hand each time. It’s time-consuming to get them perfectly vertical and he had to experiment till he understood the curing process.
Now he makes two types of his sets of six; smooth or pebbles.
It used to be that Gashapon capsule toys were ostensibly just for kids who wanted to collect and play with small toy items and character figures from their favorite anime, games and comic book series. Of course, there was always another group of geeky adult collectors, too, who had a little bit more freedom to use as much as money they wanted to spend on Gashapon, in pursuit of finding the rarest character. But now Gashapon are for everyone, even office workers.
Gashapon are sold in small plastic capsules that you buy from special “crank” vending machines, usually to be found in rows around certain kinds of stores, especially electronics stores. The world of Gashapon, as with many other toy products, has certainly evolved from having its sales rely in large part on already popular entities in the market to finding and promoting its own original toys.
Two series from Kitan Club, Dogeza Straps and Fuchiko on Cups have gained popularity among office workers for obvious reasons. While Dogeza Straps show the resilient spirit of salarymen posing in the ultimate physical position for begging called dogeza (pay close attention to his face too!), Fuchiko is dressed up in the typical office uniform worn by many female workers, especially those who work as receptionists and secretaries at giant corporations.
Kitan Club has released several different versions of Fuchiko, but this is their first series. There is a distinctly moe flavor to Fuchiko, wouldn’t you say?
Bandai’s smartpants might be the last thing you’d want for your phone, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have another one or two sets of underwear in the closet, right?
This past summer, they released a Mt. Fuji version, which nicely coincided with Japan’s tallest peak being awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
From Bandai, there is one more we just can’t overlook. It’s a key chain that lets you openly pick the nose in public. The series title might be too obvious but is well marketed: Hojirerun-desu – or “You can pick this nose.”
Just remember. The point of these capsule toys is not to ask about the point. It’s not only the product that you purchase with 200 yen — but the thrill that comes from the act of turning the crank of the vending machine, knowing that inside the capsule might just be that extra special toy in the series you have spent months looking for… or just another copy of the same figure you already have in your bulging collection.
Can’t get enough of your favorite (ex-)AKB48 starlet? Now you can a take a flight “inside” her vessel.
Okay, enough with the puerile references, though AKB48 is hardly a stranger to dubious not-so-subtle sexual overtones.
Local LCC Peach Aviation launched its first Narita route yesterday with flights now taking passengers from Osaka to Tokyo for less than ¥4,000 one-way. To celebrate, they got former AKB princess Mariko Shinoda to help them promote the service and even specially decorated a whole aircraft in her likeness!
The Airbus A320-200 — aka the “Mariko jet” — looked about as glitzy and cutesy as you can get, while Mariko no doubt made a lot of fantasies come true by dressing up as a cabin attendant for the occasion.
According to the official press release, for what it’s worth, Mariko apparently designed the uniform and plane herself!
She then saw off the first passengers from the terminal gate with a radiant smile and a high-five for everyone, before boarding and flying on the plane (her plane?) herself.
We can only imagine what it must feel like to have an entire airplane painted in your own Big-Brother-Is-Watching-You-like size portrait.
Now a whopping 27 years old — positively ancient by idol standards — Shinoda’s popularity amongst AKB48 fans appears to show no signs of flagging, despite her age forcing her to make that venture out into the post-AKB desert. Apparently the sky’s the limit! Or is it rather that her career is up in the air? After, Peach is no ANA or JAL.
One of our favorite Japanese enterprises, Maywa Denki, has made a typically originally and hilarious group music video to celebrate twenty years since it was founded.
Maywa Denki is part music band, part art unit, inspired by the medium-sized production companies that have been the backbone of Japan’s manufacturing and technology growth. They create unique products, run special kids’ workshops, perform concerts and more.
Its hits include the Otamatone sound toy, a remake of the classic Theremin, and many other “nonsense” machines and musical products.
And not only are these designers talented folk, they certainly don’t take themselves seriously at all, as we think you can tell from the video!
Produced by Novumichi [sic] Tosa (he’s the guy on the bottom row), past employees include the sound designer Yuri Suzuki, another one of our favorite Japanese talents. The founder styled the unit from the name of his father’s old manufacturing firm, though Maywa Denki itself was originally signed to Sony Music Entertainment and is now managed by entertainment giant Yoshimoto Kogyo.
Even better news than this video? There is going to be a twentieth anniversary concert at Akasaka Blitz on December 13th!
If you are already familiar with Snapchat, SeeSaw is nothing new. We could very much say that SeeSaw is a Japanese version of this photo messaging app that lets you decide how long your photos can be viewed by the recipient — be it your family member, friend or colleague. From time to time, we all do things on a whim and regret such act a moment later. With the ever-increasing use of social networking service, the pictures and videos that we upload on the web can now be viewed and saved by million others instantly.
SeeSaw, on the other hand, prevents such unwanted spread of personal photos and videos by only letting users see messages for a few seconds. With Japanese digital users typically more cautious about privacy than their western counterparts, plus the wave of Twitter photo scandals this year that literally caused bankruptcies, this app comes out at an apt time indeed.
Just like Snapchat, a sender can set a “self-destruct” time limit for each message. The recipient can then view the message for the set time after which the message will be deleted from both the SeeSaw server and the recipient’s device. (Be careful, though, Snapchat at least has been hacked to overwrite this function!) Unless the recipient takes a screenshot of the message and saves it in their device, it will only remain in their memories as a moment captured and shared among a few.
As we can see in the above images, they seem to be targeting young users who don’t usually get to appreciate the fact that life indeed is a mere chain of brief moments. In a way, SeeSaw might go against the fundamental purpose of moment-capturing devices which we use to “freeze” the moment and preserve it for the rest of our lives.
A company like Mind Wave Inc. knows this too, since they created a character brand named after ichigo-ichie — a proverb which often translated as “Treasure every encounter, as it will never recur”. These characters are printed on various stationery goods which can be purchased in store or online.
The brand is perhaps a reminder to young people that nothing lasts forever, especially the happy moments. To me, it does seem a bit cheesy to feature school life in the app’s advertising, but many of us have learned good and bad, right and wrong first in classrooms — and that nothing good or bad lasts forever.