Traditionally in Japan people clean their ears using a bamboo ear pick (mimikaki). This is actually said to be much safer and more hygienic than the typical cotton bud swab people use in other countries, which can even give you a perforated eardrum if you are not careful. Instead an ear pick scrapes up rather than pushes down and is much better suited to the drier type of ear wax common to Asians.
The mimikaki is especially the case if you have someone else do it for you and, it has to be said, this is a bit of a fantasy for some Japanese men, who like the idea of placing their head in a woman’s lap and having her gently take care of his ear. Wives traditionally performed this task along with hostesses. There are even mimikaki ear-cleaning parlors that function as places for men to get their ears cleaned while also soothing their soul. As the woman attends to their ear canal, they relax and tell her their woes.
And then there is Coden.
Coden may not be as glamorous or famous as some of Japan’s other manufacturers but it actually has a leading reputation all over the world for its industrial tools such as endoscopes. The snake-like cameras allow you to see right inside machinery and down pipes so you can perform important repairs and maintenance.
Coden also make some endoscopes and camera devices for ordinary consumers such as this Ear Scope Windows. As the name suggests, it is compatible with Windows software and is a fiber optic curette tool that means you can literally see what is going on deep down in your ear canal right on your computer screen.
Well, that may sound a bit morbid but being able to see inside your ear is not only a matter of curiosity. It could be very useful if you are suffering from pain and need to investigate safely, plus it also makes an ear-cleaning session much safer since you can attach an ear pick directly to the camera.
Another day, another intriguing Hatsune Miku collaboration.
From expensive opera productions to every piece of merchandise an otaku can get his hands on, Hatsune Miku is not just a virtual idol, she’s a veritable industry in her own right.
Now her paymasters have got together with Gakken, the company behind the Otona no Kagaku (“adult science”) series of magazines that always come with some sort of model or build-it-yourself kit.
The latest issue of Otona no Kagaku is bound to sell out fast because it features a Pocket Miku Singing Keyboard. The nifty DSX-39 digital pocket keyboard is preloaded with samples of Hatsune Miku’s unique vocals. Just use the touch stylus to play five sounds in the signature eVocaloid style.
You can vary the octave and do other tricks. Here you can see someone trying it out.
If you’re a fan of Hatsune Miku, you can order your own Pocket Miku Singing Keyboard via JapanTrendShop.
These are guaranteed to be a hit at any bachelor party!
The Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirt are a series of tees with a difference. Their fronts are decorated with the object of every man’s daydreams (mousou) — breasts! Specifically, a “cut-away” picture revealing a tantalizing (and by Japanese standards, not so realistic) bust in a range of bra colors.
Along with the Shiridashi Butt Reveal Underwear, the Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirts are sure to be a great addition to any party, especially if worn by someone who clearly doesn’t have the assets on display.
The makers are independent studio ekoD Works, who obviously have a thing for cheeky merchandise. Other examples of their creations include the Chu-Lip Pot, a vase or teapot shaped like a kissing mouth, or the Hanaga Tap Nose Outlet, whose name is pretty self-explanatory!
We also think the t-shirts are unofficially inspired by “Mosatsu”, a series of cult photo books and a spin-off app where you can “rip” off part of the clothes of Gravure idol models. (And before people get too offended, there are ones for the ladies too, depicting men with “torn” clothes revealing hunky bodies.)
Get the Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirt via JapanTrendShop.
While Japan’s beauty and skincare product designers have produced no shortage of original and sometimes alarming-looking face masks, this might just be the most intriguing we’ve encountered in a while.
The Kabuki Face Pack comes as a set of two colorful masks that, like any standard face pack, work to rejuvenate your skin. However, here’s the difference: They also cast you as Kabuki actors!
Yes, as any glance at the visual design of the masks will reveal, the face packs come in red and blue inspired by the genuine makeup that Kabuki stage performers when playing two roles in the classics “Funabenkei” and “Shibaraku”.
Isshin Do Honpo Inc produced the Kabuki Face Packs with the cooperation of Ichikawa Somegoro, a real and respected Kabuki actor, and the design matches actual makeup used on the stage. After all, why should skincare be dull?
Meanwhile, if you’re suffering from hay fever at the moment, slip on a Doraemon face mask or these Hello Kitty Anti-Pollen Glasses. Whenever there’s an ailment or allergy, trust Japan to come up with a fun way to deal with it.
When Sharp first released its Cocorobo, the world was pretty impressed. Here was a low-cost robotic vacuum cleaner that could respond to its owner’s commands and be controlled by Android and iPhone devices, not to mention go about cleaning your home on its own accord. While it certainly isn’t a RC mop by any means, it is perhaps the most futuristic way to clean your home that we’ve encountered on a mass level.
Following strong sales, Sharp came up with a new version, the Mini Cocorobo for people with more compact residences (very common in space-strapped Japan). So what to do next? What are target consumers are there?
Of course, otaku!
Sharp has develoepd the “Premium Cocorobo”, which is decorated with a cute moe girl character and features a imouto younger sister-like voice. What more could you want? Okay, so this isn’t going to be everyone’s tastes, but we still find it pretty cool that Sharp is doing this.
The voice is by Ibuki Kido and the illustration by mangaka Kinusa Shimotsuki. And unlike a real anime girl character (or real girlfriend), this one won’t get all tsundere on you and refuse to do the housework!
Before you get too excited, though, the current Premium Cocorobo is just a trial. They are testing the new features of the vacuum cleaner by recruiting people to sample it in their homes for a month. We imagine competition will be fierce for places.
Fingers crossed Sharp will make this into a full commercial product to add to the Cocorobo robotic cleaners already on the market.
Scuba divers ordinarily use hand signals to communicate underwater but thanks to Casio Yamagata’s Logosease, now they can talk to each other almost as if they are walking on dry ground. All you need to do is face towards your fellow diver(s).
The Logosease modulates your voice into ultrasonic waves. You just tap once to start transmitting. Then you speak into the bone conduction microphone and tap to finish your transmission through the water. Your fellow diver then receives the ultrasonic waves and their Logosease unit will demodulate them via the speaker into an audible voice.
Typically if divers want to talk to each other they have to wear special face masks which are heavy and expensive. The Logosease, though, is affordable and easy to wear, and does not cover the whole face. Simply attach the device to your diving mask and you will be able to talk through the air regulator in your mouth.
The Logosease has a range from 50 to 100 meters (164-328 feet) and can function as far as 40 meters (131 feet) underwater. Of course, voice quality is not going to be as good as when speaking regularly on land but Casio still hails this as a world-first for an instrument of its kind.
It has also been approved recently as a distinctive specialty by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and promises to be an indispensable item for scuba divers around the world.
It’s hard to believe that Sanrio’s most successful creation and Japan’s most famous cat is 40 years old!
It’s true, Hello Kitty turns 40 this year and to celebrate Sanrio is teaming with Bandai to offer a special Chogokin model version of the feline character.
This isn’t just a random collaboration. Popy’s Chogokin models are also 40 this year and while the two series typically attract different kinds of fans, there’s nothing like an innovative pairing like this to inspire a new generation of fans.
Behold the Chogokin Hello Kitty Robot.
Kitty is of course actually meant to be British, which the official video for the toy references at the start. The toy she drops in the pond is from Mazinger Z, the manga and anime which featured the fictitious material chogokin (“super alloy”) and was the genesis for the series of die-cast metal robot and character toys.
The idea is that Kitty updated into a Chogokin Hello Kitty Robot by a fairy as a reward for being honest. The new Kitty can swim underwater (“Dive Mode”), fly in the sky (“Flight Mode”) and even do battle with black cats (“Fight Mode”) with a powerful “Robot Punch”.
While she isn’t an actual robot — sorry, you have to make her move yourself — the attention to detail is impressive, not least all the functions (the aforementioned “Robot Punch” and changing eyes), plus there’s even a mini Kitty who sits inside the head as the “pilot” — just twist Kitty’s ribbon to open up the capsule!
The Chogokin Hello Kitty Robot Model will be released in late June.
Projection mapping has really taken off in Japan.
Recently we have seen Tokyo Station being transformed in a video spectacle, as well as the Yokohama Odyssey event at a historical dockyard, and even Kyary Pamyu Pamyu turn Tokyo Tower into an interactive digital theme park.
Now you can have projection mapping on Tokyo landmarks in your hand with the Hako Vision by Bandai. It uses a special app on your handheld device to conjure up a video spectacle courtesy of Ryotaro Muramatsu (Naked Inc.).
There are two versions: Tokyo Hikari Vision (at Tokyo Station) and Karakuri (at the Tokyo National Museum). Tokyo Hikari Vision is a fairytale spectacle, while Karakuri is a lively trip through time, filled with historical motifs.
But you don’t need all the wizardry and technical know-how of real projection mapping to operate this light show. All you need to do is read the code on the box and then set your device on top, turning the box into a mini theatre on your hand.
But it’s not all just contemporary digital technology. Actually Bandai is making a nice rift here on something quite old. Shokugan are kinds of “small world” toys where you would get a box with a toy and candy in it. These are still popular today and you can find a corner of a supermarket with sets of toys and sweets. Bandai sees the Hako Vision in this vein and as such has included a piece of candy with the box.
And for the anime fans, there are also these two Mobile Suit Gundam versions, available in either RX-78-2 Gundam or MS-06S ZAKU II models, currently set for release in the spring.
The Koppu no Fuchiko (“Fuchiko on the edge of the cup”) by Kitan Club and Katsuki Tanaka was first released in 2012 as a Gashapon capsule toy. In a nutshell, it’s a series of cute figurines of an Office Lady (OL) in various poses.
Doesn’t sound like much to make a fuss about, right? Well, if you think that then you are obviously not a Japanese consumer!
It proved a bit huge hit for Kitan Club, who quickly followed up with other capsule toy series in 2013. And then came the merchandise. Now there are notepads, cups, t-shirts, bags, socks… Fuchiko is everywhere!
Who is buying Fuchiko’s goodies? We thought geeky guys at first but then we came across female consumers in their thirties who were avidly purchasing all the kawaii Fuchiko stuff they could lay their hands on.
Japan has a bit of an obsession with “small” stuff, especially girls.
There is plenty of chibi (“runt”) in manga and anime, and typically means the kind of SD drawings of girls popular in various forms of otaku culture. It has even spawned its own sub-genre of “shrinking girl” erotic manga (ero manga) called Koonago (*NSFW*).
Traditionally one of the archetypes of beauty was the hattoushin bijin, the girl with a head one-eighth the size of her head. This is still used as a compliment for certain fashion models with doll-like proportions.