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.
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.
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.
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.
Morinaga opens pop-up “Kabe-don Cafe” in Harajuku with doll-waiter for seducing women against a wallWritten by: William on October 9, 2014 at 10:25 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
Food maker Morinaga is opening a pop-up cafe that has a special “kabe-don doll” artificial waiter to seduce female patrons.
To celebrate the release of its Cafe Marriage caramel and chocolate pudding dessert on October 7th and the Cafe Marriage Mont Blanc aux marrons and almond pudding on October 14th, Morinaga has decided to create an interactive experience for lonely women who want to get the sensation of being placed against a wall and kissed.
It is opening a pop-up “Melt! Kabe-don Cafe” in Harajuku’s SoLaDo from October 11th for six days, every weekend for the rest of the month. If you go there and try the new Cafe Marriage (that’s marriage in the French sense of the word, meaning a blend), you can then experience kabe-don with a special waiter/doll/mannequin contraption.
We expect most women in other countries would find this creepy but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. And besides, there are plenty of odd cafes for men to perv over girls in Japan. Why shouldn’t the women get their fantasies realized once in a while?
Kabe-don is a word meaning when a man places his hand against a wall, trapping (in a good way!) his female partner there so he can lean in for a smooch. Okay, when we write it like that it sounds rather scary but you can imagine the pose, right? Of course, it is only a “fantasy” if the guy is a hunk.
Here the look of the “waiter” puppet (does
he it qualify as a “hunk”) is clearly a rift on the butler cosplay cafes that already exist for women who like to be served by a handsome man dressed to the nines like a servant.
Don’t believe us? Watch this promo video.
The kabe-don doll itself (or is it more like a puppet? The word in Japanese is the same, ningyou) is a bit reminiscent of a sex doll, which as we know has more mainstream acceptance in Japan and even appears in promos for major recording artists. Don’t get us wrong — we’re not suggesting that Morinaga’s cafe offers any extras on the menu that involve getting more personal with the artificial waiter! Either way, Morinaga’s “waiter” is definitely in an uncanny valley all of its own.
Try the sweets and kabe-don doll experience at SoLaDo Harajuku on October 11th, October 12th, October 18th, October 19th, October 25th and October 26th.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
It seems that everyone has a robot these days, even SoftBank.
At CEATEC 2014, Japan’s biggest tech event, Toshiba has unveiled its contribution to the Japanese robot canon — an android that can talk and sign.
Image via The Verge
Aiko Chihira is an example of what Toshiba hopes will be a new line in humanoid communication robots that can “man” receptions and also help with nursing people, a chronic problem as Japan’s population ages.
Aiko Chihira has silicone skin — uncannily like Orient Industry sex dolls, then! — and was jointed developed by aLab Inc., Osaka University, Shibaura Institute of Technology and Shonan Institute of Technology.
Aiko Chihira is equipped with 43 servomotors that move her arms and hands. While it is common to see androids and robots that can interact and converse, one that has also mastered sign language is unusual.
Toshiba anticipates having enhanced Aiko Chihira’s technology so much by 2020 that it will be able to serve as an actual guide for foreign visitors to the Tokyo Olympic Games! Would that make you feel more welcome to the Olympics or rather put off?
CEATEC kicked off yesterday in Chiba’s Makuhari Messe and this year features a host of 4K televisions, fuel-cell and hydrogen technology, as well as a Sharp-developed color infrared car camera.
Image via The Verge
Toshiba also showed off its answer to the Google Glasses at the expo, Toshiba Glass, though we’re not sure why it has opted for the peculiarly singular noun. Is there only one lens?
Oh, and there was an obligatory ping-pong robot from Omron. If Aiko Chihira is going to take care of visitors, will this table tennis bot be a future Olympic athlete, then?
Image via The Verge
Probably not, since Omron has designed the tech so it doesn’t try to beat the opponent, just sustain a rally of a 100 strokes. Phew. Saying that, the sheer size of the robot still makes it pretty intimating to play against!
Japanese women are known for being on the slender side but beauty of course comes in all shapes and sizes. As such, we have seen a shift towards a greater mainstream acceptance of larger ladies in the Japanese fashion world, which is typified by women with spider-thin arms and legs and chopping board-thin bodies.
A pioneer in this was La Farfa, the first fashion magazine in Japan for women who can be described as pocchari — an informal Japanese word that can be translated as “chubby”, though its nuance is not at all negative (quite the opposite, the word often has a cute connotation).
The launch of La Farfa was followed by Japan’s first pocchari fashion show, featuring only women of a certain size range.
And now we have Yumetenbo + plumprimo, a new Android and iPhone app on the Yumetenbo (“Dream Platform”) system that showcases the apparel brand plumprimo, which as its name suggests, is exclusively for plus-size women.
Yumetenbo runs a fashion e-commerce service for women. The new partnership with plumprimo will allow users to search for plus-size plumprimo items on Yumetenbo + and buy them through the Yumetenbo platform. While there are a lot of niches in Japanese fashion and, as we said, you might be forgiven for presuming Japan didn’t have much demand for plus-size digital fashion tools like this, the makers are hoping for 10,000 downloads of the free app in a year.
Here are some examples of plumprimo’s range.
Citizen Chasing Horizons: Watch-maker flies across Arctic Circle time zones to steal time from the sunWritten by: William on October 7, 2014 at 8:51 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments
There are advertising stunts, and then there are advertising stunts.
Japanese watch brand Citizen teamed up the Tokyo and Amsterdam branches of Wieden & Kennedy to challenge landscape photographer Simon Roberts to chase the sun.
In late February, Roberts turned Icarus and flew across the Earth’s time zones in an airplane to photograph sunsets and “discover how long it is humanly possible to live in the same hour”.
The Chasing Horizons project took the organizers back to the basics of navigation: paper maps, understanding the movement of the sun and the rotation of the Earth, and having a trustworthy time-keeping device. They had no previous flight route to fall back on; what they were doing had never been done before and was a risky venture in terms of allowing for the logistics. Precise minute-by-minute scheduling for the flight was a must. The second refueling stop was at an airport in the Arctic Circle so cold that filming there would have broken the camera.
The project is a promo for the Citizen watch Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100, which the team make ample use of to keep track of which time zone they are in. As the watch’s marketing proclaims: “wherever you are on earth, [it] adjusts to your current time zone in just 3 seconds”.
This is the result, a “race against time” where they “steal one night from the planet” and demonstrate the capabilities of the watch.
The mission lasted for over 24 hours and the two pilots had to take turns to sleep. As the plane moved across into a new time zone, the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100 adjusted one hour back. It was then that Simon Roberts snapped his shots of the sunset. The resulting collage shows a series of sunsets across the time zones — shot at the exact same hour and minute, all in one day.
feast by Gomi Hayakawa: Video game-themed fashion show for lingerie brand for women with modest chestsWritten by: William on October 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments
Less is more, as they say, and beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. These two truism perhaps best sum up one savvy project by a talented fashion design student who has found success already at a young age.
Let’s be frank, most Japanese woman are not well-equipped in the chest area. The slang for this in Japanese is hinnyuu — literally “poor breasts”. But Gomi Hayakawa doesn’t agree. The 19-year-old has taken the concept of being flat-chested and replaced the first Kanji character (for “poor”) with one that has the same sound but means “quality”.
The result was feast, her line of bras and lingerie for women with modest chests.
And now to fund her first fashion show on November 30th at Shibuya’s Garret Udagawa, she has taken to crowdfunding service Campfire. She aimed to raise ¥250,000 (around $2,300) by the end of October.
Let’s keep in mind that Hayakawa is still only a first-year student at Tama Art University. She clearly knows how to market her ideas, not to mention having brilliant design ideas in the first place.
feast sold out of its entire 450-item run in the first day when it was launched earlier in the year. It received a lot of attention online and from some mainstream media outlets, and also found some free publicity from cosplay models like Luchino Fujisaki. She has since launched a second line of feast items (A cup or smaller!), with colors inspired by sweets.
The fashion show Hayakawa is planning will feature DJ and VJ performances, new feast lingerie, and other “interactive” elements. She said she doesn’t just want to present designs to people — she wants “to design people”. The fashion show “RPG” will be themed around the concept of a role-playing video game and in this vein Hayakawa has even created a video game as a taster, plus this promo video.
On her Campfire project Hayakawa offers donation packages starting at a mere ¥500 ($5). At the time of writing she has already achieved almost double her funding from over 60 funders, proving yet again that she has really tapped into a formidable niche here.
Feast or famine? I think we have the answer.
Tokyo is a city that is a paradise to photographers; it opens up just so many opportunities for images — the technology, lights, crowds, fashion, subcultures, architecture, businessmen, seasons, festivals… We would venture that Japan has been responsible for more Flickr accounts that any other “source materials” but of course, we may be wrong there.
And so with such competition out there competing for eyeball space, it takes a project with something special to stand out. And while there are legions of talented photographers — local or expat — resident in the city, perhaps Matthew Pillsbury succeeded because he’s an outsider — he’d only come to Tokyo once before he started creating the images for his new show, aptly titled “Tokyo”, showing at Benrubi Gallery in New York until October 25th.
“The growing use of technology in our lives has simultaneously allowed for instantaneous global communication, but it also can isolate us by favoring virtual contact as opposed to real-world interaction,” he told Slate.
While making his epic long-exposure shots of various locations throughout the city he ran into classic Japanese bureaucracy, which made getting permission to shoot in some places difficult. Shoots at some locations, such as a sumo tournament, ultimately did not work out because the management would not allow him in. We would have loved to see a long-exposure sumo bout!
Phillsbury usually works in color but we can certainly see why he broke his own rule for this series.
How many of the places in the photographs do you recognize?