Finnair lets Tokyoites be surrounded by virtual aurora experience in Roppongi

Written by: William on October 24, 2014 at 9:00 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

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.

finnair aurora midtown roppongi virtual experience event

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.

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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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Funassyi has a kid brother: Chiba pear mascot gets a sibling called Funagoro

Written by: William on October 15, 2014 at 6:33 pm | In CULTURE | No Comments

Yes, Japan’s most famous unofficial mascot, that lovable jumping yellow pear Funassyi now has a kid brother.

If you believed Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture already had enough mascots with just one, others thought otherwise. The unstoppable industry that is Funnassyi has been joined by a sibling, Funagoro.

funnassyi funagoro brother pear mascot chiba funabashi caterpillar tail

funnassyi funagoro brother pear mascot chiba funabashi caterpillar tail

funnassyi funagoro brother pear mascot chiba funabashi caterpillar tail

Funagoro is half-pear, half-caterpillar. While he is a similar color to Funassyi, if a bit smaller, there is one major difference: he has a tail. And he can squirt pear juice out of it.

funnassyi funagoro brother pear mascot chiba funabashi caterpillar tail

It’s not the first time that Funassyi’s family members have been mentioned but this is the first public appearance. Apparently the pear mascot has a whopping 274 brothers and sisters. Funagoro is the 56th brother, just in case you are counting.

What next for Funagoro? It depends on whether the world can cope with two Funassyis.

funnassyi funagoro brother pear mascot chiba funabashi caterpillar tail

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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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2.5D Masks: Cute, maybe creepy anime masks invade the Internet

Written by: William on October 13, 2014 at 7:59 am | In CULTURE | 1 Comment

Okay, we don’t know if this qualifies as a “trend”. It may only be one inventive person. But it got us thinking nonetheless: Is this cute or creepy?

The realm of Japanese kawaii has certainly spawned some manifestations that are hard to categorize or understand. And there is already a word for when the “cute” ventures into the grotesque — kimo-kawaii.

But “2.5D masks” — two and a half dimensional paper masks — might need an adjective all of their own.

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

The series of anime face masks have sprung up recently on Japanese social media, originating from a tumblr account that documents the creators adventures around Japan wearing the anime character face decorations.

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

The designer also includes details on how they are made — in funky animated gifs, natch — and downloadable files for those who want to make their own masks. Just don’t choose the mask model that’s called “Lolita”. (The other three choices are “Timidity”, “Cheerful” and “Grace”.)

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

The 2.5D Mask tumblr account began in September and showcases the female creator and her masks as she goes to various locations around Japan (typically incongruous ones). The anonymous designer’s Twitter account goes back further, though, at least to July, so this project has been developing over the summer.

Time will tell if this kicks off beyond a minor subculture into a real meme. People are encouraged to download, print and make their own 2.5D masks, and then share them online using the hashtag #2_5dmask. Could this start a revolution?

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

Japan has always had a thing for papercraft and 2.5D Mask says making the mask only requires a regular household printer and some basic tools. It also taps into the love for dressing up (cosplay) and is like a paper kigurumi costume, only because it’s just a mask, it kind of looks a bit spooky. It’s like the girl’s body has been taken over by an anime invader.

Perfect for Halloween?

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