As we head into the spring, get ready for hay fever.
Pollen allergy is big in Japan, caused by the large numbers of cedar trees planted in the postwar period. The corollary is that these trees release vast amounts of pollen in the air, causing sinus catastrophes for much of the population.
During this season there is a sudden spike in face masks as people don protection as a way to keep the pollen from entering their nostrils. There are also anti-pollen glasses to stop the pollen irritating the eyes.
A more extreme way to shield yourself from hay fever is the USB Pollen Blocker suit by Thanko!
As a way to show that you can still look pretty even when your face is all covered up against the pollen, Yahoo Japan has created the Hay Fever Countermeasure Beautiful Girls and Boys website.
The name basically says it all. It features pretty members of both genders, one per day, demonstrating how to look nice while masked up.
You get to check out their profiles and can watch a short video where each hay fever sufferer shares tips on how to combat the ailment. There is also a pollen map, plus other online resources for how to deal with the annual phenomenon.
The platform is clearly inspired by the now iconic Bijin Tokei, the “beautiful girl clock” that produced a thousand imitations. In it, pretty random girls would hold a sign with the time. Every minute it would change to a different face. The numerous spin-offs (and unofficial rip-offs) included male versions, regional versions, porn star versions, and more!
Of course, in Japan the white face mask can be as much a fashion accessory as a hygiene item.
No surprises that there are character versions, such as Doraemon. For a while, the “black surgical mask” became a trendy alternative design, though our all time favorite has got to be the chimpanzee face mask by Mint Design.
Japan’s first architecture model museum is opening this summer.
It is set to open as a museum in August, though will begin operating from April. Applications for architecture scale model exhibits are now open.
As well as serving as a de facto classroom for students of Japanese architecture hungry for case studies, the museum will also function as a sort of showroom for architects, since it can act as a sales agent for the models.
The “depot” offers five types of service: storage of models; exhibition to the general public through permanent and temporary exhibitions; sales to art museums and collectors; collecting and archiving, so models can be loaned to other museums and exhibitions; and education, being a venue for talks, lectures and workshops.
The tentatively named Kenchiku Soko (Architecture Warehouse) will be housed in the ground floor of Terada Warehouse in the Shinagawa area. The closest station is Tennozu Isle.
Facilities include 120 shelves measuring 3.8 meters tall and 1.5 meters wide.
Almost a year after we blogged that iconic gyaru and hostess subculture magazine Koakuma Ageha was closing down comes some unexpected good news: Ageha is returning.
Last year was a gloomy one for fashion magazines, with gyaru magazine egg also shuttering. The recent news that established art magazine Bijutsu Techo’s managing company is in financial trouble is a further sign that the industry is in trouble.
So the announcement that Ageha, which once sold between 300-400,000 copies a month, is coming back to life is a rare glimmer of hope — or merely a bold move by the publisher.
In late 2014 the Koakuma Ageha Memorial Book was published, collecting together the eight years of the magazine.
Readers and fans gave it an enthusiastic response, enough to merit reviving the magazine itself, it seems.
And so now comes the announcement that in April there will be a new issue of the magazine, now published by Dunnery Deluxe. The resurrected Ageha will be on sale at bookstores around Japan priced ¥680.
Of course, there’s an adage in the music industry that the best way to sell records is to kill off your artist. In the same way, Koakuma Ageha’s “death” generated a lot of publicity for a title no longer in vogue. The question now is whether it can ride this new wave of interest to establish another monthly readership like it had years ago.
We all love candy and who will not admit to getting cravings for something sweet during long study or work sessions?
Sometimes in our agony we might be tempted to nibble the pen we are holding and imagine it is a lollipop.
Well, with this pen, you have something approaching that desk fantasy.
Chupa Chups has got together with Japanese stationery brand Zebra Pens to create the Sarasa Clip Chupa Chups Aroma Gel Pen.
This pen is features actual fragrances in Chupa Chups flavors in the gel pen ink!
All right, so the pens are not actually edible. Don’t try eating them, please.
If you want a snack, get a real Chupa Chups to suck on.
But how cool is this? Candy aroma pens! So you can feed your candy addiction through the smell of the pen as you write. Talk about a way to encourage students to pen those homework assignments!
The gel pens also have feature the classic Chupa Chups logo (designed by Salvador Dali), so any pop culture design fan will love them too.
Japan Trend Shop is offering the full set of all ten pens, each with a different ink color and candy smell: black (chocolate vanilla), red orange (orange), magenta (grape), pink (peach), blue (coke), red (cherry), yellow (pudding), light blue (vanilla), orange (mango), and green (green apple).
It was surely just the next logical step: Funassyi the anime is here.
A series of animated shorts will premiere on March 30th on Nippon TV’s Sukkiri starring the yellow pear mascot.
Funassyi no funafunafuna hiyori (Funassyi’s Aimless Days) will be broadcast every weekday and feature Funassyi, as well as Guressyi (voiced by Lynn) and Nashigami-sama (voiced by Naoki Tatsuta). Funassyi will be voiced by, well, Funassyi.
The rise, rise and rise of Funassyi is the most incredible story of Japan’s regional mascots (yuru-kyara), not least because the pear character is such an oddity but because it is not the official mascot of Funabashi. It was created by people power alone and its subsequent popularity laughs in the face of the bureaucrats of the city in Chiba who wanted a tamer mascot.
The hyperactive Funassyi even recently made a lively appearance at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (imagine trying to be the interpreter for that press conference!), where it lent its support to Japan’s pacifist Constitution.
So far the Funassyi Industry includes manga, games, music releases, food, toys, clothes, and so much more. Now anime has been added to that long list, what can be next? Politics?!
Every year there are some pretty outlandish concept cars, mostly designed to generate headlines and buzz.
But forget robots and bizarre shapes. Nissan have gone for a more practical, family-oriented approach. The Ultimate Smart BBQ Vehicle, showcased recently at the Japan Campign Car Show at Makuhari Messe Convention Center, Chiba, has been developed with the Japan BBQ Association.
It promises “everything you need for a barbecue in an effectless waste-efficient electric-powered unit”.
It includes a 1,500W grill, shower, karaoke machine, mist shower to cool you down… and even a drone to document the whole experience.
Camping in Japan in the summer can be a recipe for disaster because of the high density of mosquitos. Not so with the BBQ Car: it has a “mosquito barrier system”, which repells mosquitos with ultrasonic waves and insect repellent aromas!
You can even take snaps of your family excursion with the “flying selfie camera”.
Finally, a smartphone-linked display system means the car window can become a screen.
We love the straight-faced narration that sounds more like a bad audition for a movie trailer (“Quick Electric Grill!”) than a light-hearted concept car video.
The Ultimate Smart BBQ Vehicle is adapted from the e-NV200 and is all-electric, as we’d expect from the car maker that is leading the world EV development.
The BBQ Vehicle is concerned about the environment not only in terms of its power source. It wants to make sure you don’t leave any garbage behind when you go home, so it includes a disposer.
The BBQ Vehicle is not available as a car yet, though there is a funding page for it over at Green Funding Lab if you fancy investing in the future of automotive transport for family outings.
This article by Tiffany first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.
It’s past midnight, and you just missed the last train. A hotel is out of the question, much too pricey, but you definitely want more privacy than a tiny cubicle in a manga cafe. What’s a cheapo to do?
That’s where the capsule hotel comes in. First built by Kisho Kurakawa in Osaka in 1979, a capsule hotel consists of pod-like rooms—if you can call them rooms, as they’re more like compartments—stacked together, providing the bare minimum in terms of space and amenities. Inside, there’s just enough room for a person to crawl inside, lie down, and sit up (but if you’re too tall, even this might be impossible). Basic amenities include a light, an air conditioner, and alarm clock, but some capsule hotels may also provide a TV, power outlet, and/or radio. There are no locks, only a shutter for you to get some quiet and privacy—which isn’t always guaranteed, as you may have the misfortune of sharing the hotel with rowdy guests.
While capsule hotels used to primarily have salarymen as their clientele, tourists have also come to appreciate capsule hotels for their cheaper rates compared to most regular hotels, as well as the novelty of staying in something thought to be unique and futuristic. Capsule hotels are no longer just places to spontaneously spend the night in, but also accommodations that people purposely intend to stay in. But before you start booking one, here are some things you might not know about capsule hotels:
1. They’re not necessarily cheaper than a hotel or hostel.
The average rate per night at a capsule hotel ranges from ¥2,000-6,000. While ¥2,000 is definitely cheap, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel that charges that cheaply for a night, there are some budget hotels and hostels that can offer you a room for about ¥3,000-6,000 a night. Here’s an example for comparison: some branches of the popular budget hotel chain, Toyoko Inn, have a midnight-time service, which means that checking in past midnight can get you a room for ¥4,500, about as much as a room in some capsule hotels. Some hostels even have private rooms that cost about as much, or are cheaper than, capsule hotel rooms. If you’re looking for a comfortable stay that’s on a budget but not dirt-cheap, and aren’t after the capsule hotel experience, you might be better off in a cheap hotel or hostel.
2. They’re more than just pods stacked together.
Don’t worry; capsule hotels are not that sterile and impersonal. The capsule hotel I stayed in had a bath and sauna, vending machines, a manga library, some arcade games, massage services, a communal space for watching TV, and even a restaurant. Not all capsule hotels have that many facilities and amenities, but you can rest assured that capsule hotels provide more than the rooms. The least that they provide are bathing facilities, lockers (usually one locker area for shoes, and another one for other belongings), and a lounge. While capsule hotels don’t exactly exude the social vibe that hostels are known for, who knows—you might be able to make some friends at a capsule hotel lounge! Also, note that baths tend to be communal (but still gender-segregated, of course), and that those with tattoos are usually not allowed into the baths and saunas.
3. Many capsule hotels are only for men.
This is said to be for women’s safety, but nowadays, capsule hotels are offering the more sensible solution of catering to women but keeping the floors or areas segregated by gender. Guests usually need a special key to access the sleeping quarters.
4. You have to check out for each day of your stay.
Capsule hotels aren’t really meant for long-term stay. That doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in a capsule hotel for, say, a week, but you’ll have to check out then check in again every day. Check-out time is usually at 10:00 am, but you can extend for a small fee, usually ¥300-500 per hour.
Recommended Capsule Hotels in Tokyo
All the capsule hotels listed here are open to both men and women.
1. Nine Hours Narita Airport
Welcome to Japan! Are you stuck waiting for a connecting flight? Did you arrive past midnight? If so, this capsule hotel in Terminal 2 of Narita Airport is a godsend. The hotel has lockers, showers, and a lounge. Toiletries are also provided. Overnight prices start at ¥3,900, but vary depending on the season. Currently, a standard plan costs ¥4,900 a night on weekdays, and ¥5,900 on Fridays and weekends, although the price drops to ¥4,400 or ¥5,400 if you stay for more than a night. Checking out each day doesn’t seem necessary here. A plan with a breakfast coupon is also available for ¥5,440 on weekdays and ¥6,440 on Fridays and weekends. Hourly rates are also available for those who just want a short rest: it’s ¥1,500 for the first hour and ¥500 for each succeeding hour.
Address: 1-1 Furugome, Narita-City, Chiba 282-0004
Check-in: 12:00 pm-5:00 am | Check-out: 10:00 am
2. First Cabin Haneda
Photo by Meredith P used under CC
Not to be beaten by Narita, Haneda Airport also has a capsule hotel of its own, inside Terminal 1. As the name implies, this is fancier than your average capsule hotel. In fact, their rooms are called “cabins” rather than “capsules,” and they, indeed, have much more space and actual beds, making their rooms look more like mini-hotel rooms than capsule pods. Size aside, the only other reminder that you’re not in a regular hotel is the lack of a lockable door. An overnight stay here costs ¥6,000 a night (¥6,300 on Fridays and Saturdays) for a first-class cabin, while it’s ¥5,000 (¥5,300 on Fridays and Saturdays) for a smaller cabin. The only difference between first and business class is size—the former has more space for your luggage. Short-term stays are also available for ¥800-1,000 an hour for business and first class, respectively. Toiletries and earplugs are provided.
Address: 1F Haneda Airport Terminal 1 | 3-3-2 Haneda Airport, Ota-ku, Tokyo
Check-in: 7:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am
3. Green Plaza Shinjuku / Le Luck Spa
This capsule hotel complex goes above and beyond the bare minimum, what with its saunas, outdoor bath, hot springs, massages, napping room (for those looking to unwind after a bath), lounge, and restaurant. The complex’s facilities are segregated by gender, with a standard room costing ¥4,500 a night for men and ¥5,200 a night at Le Luck Spa for women. For that price, men get a TV, alarm, and radio, while women get all that plus Wi-Fi and power outlets. For men, an upgraded room is ¥5,300-5,400, the latter price consisting of everything previously mentioned plus a LAN cable. Early-morning stay plans and spa-and-sauna-only plans are also available. Le Luck Spa promises a full range of amenities for women, so this is a place to visit for some pampering.
Address: 1-29-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: Shinjuku Station
Phone: 03-3207-5411 (men), 03-3207-4921 (women)
Check-in: 3:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am
4. Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel
Photo by Dom Pates
Also close to Shinjuku Station’s east exit is this hotel, which has a 24-hour bath and sauna, and a business-and-relaxation lounge with Wi-Fi and PCs. The hotel also has a restaurant and coin laundries. A room costs ¥3,500 on average, but this hotel regularly has discounted plans. For 2015, the first 10 women to book a room for any given day can do so for only ¥2,000 a night, and male job-hunters who can present a valid Japanese school ID can book a room for ¥2,100-2,800 a night. Otherwise, it’s ¥2,500-3,800 a night for women, and ¥2,600-3,600 a night for men. All rooms come with Wi-Fi and power outlets.
Address: Touyo Building 3/F, 1-2-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: Shinjuku Station
Check-in: 4:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am
5. Hotel Asakusa & Capsule
Hotel Asakusa & Capsule’s rates are pretty cheap, at ¥2,200 a night. Students can get a capsule for ¥1,700 a night. A bathhouse, coin laundries, PCs,vending machines, and microwaves are just some of their shared amenities. If you’d rather get a room, their rooms are also quite inexpensive at ¥4,400 a night, or ¥3,300 for students. Remember to present a student ID for proof!
Address: 4-14-9 Kotobuki, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: Asakusa Station
Check-in: 4:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am
6. Capsule Value Kanda
Located near Akihabara, Capsule Value Kanda is owned by the same people behind Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel. Its price range is similar, and you can also expect the same quality of rooms and facilities. A standard room costs ¥2,900-3,400 a night, but they also have discounts and promos. Those under 30 can get a room for ¥2,400-2,900 a night, as long as proof of age can be shown. The first 7 guests to book on any given day can get a room for only ¥2,100. Moreover, those who book online can get ¥100 off their reservation. Like their sister hotel in Shinjuku, all rooms have Wi-Fi and power outlets.
Address: 1-4-5 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: Kanda Station
Check-in: 10:00 am | Check-out: 10:00 am
Read more and see maps at Tokyo Cheapo
On April 4th, Mori no Tosho Shitsu (Mori’s Library) in Shibuya will be transformed into a club for a silent disco event.
Remember Mori no Tosho Shitsu? It was the crowdfunded “book and beer” library opened by a book worm in Shibuya last year. Not only can you go there for a drink and a bite to eat, if you become a member you can borrow the books, just like a library.
While there are plenty of public libraries in Tokyo (there’s even one right in the same building as the Cosmo Planetarium), places like Mori no Tosho Shitsu attract interest because their book curation is special. You don’t go there just to see any books; you go there to see THE books the owner has selected. This is similar to the appeal of places like B&B in Shimokitazawa, Village Vanguard, and Shibuya Publishing Booksellers.
Silent discos are nothing new, not even in Japan.
But this is a silent disco inside a “library” in the heart of noisy Shibuya. How cool is that?
Audiences to the silent disco event will get to enjoy the music through wireless headphones, in the unique bibliographical surroundings of Mori no Tosho Shitsu.
If you like your drink too, you’ll be pleased to know the event is being supplied by Tokyo Craft Beer Mania. Craft beer will be available from ¥500 a glass.
Music is by DE DE MOUSE and others.
It’s also being billed as a club event, since it starts at 11pm and carries on until 5am.
Tickets cost ¥3,500.
We loved the Forestarium Lamp, so we were super excited to hear about another plant-related product from the same brand.
Created by Pianta x Stanza, the Torch Plant Light Botanical Candle is a brilliant ornamental (and horticultural) lamp. In contrast to the larger Forestarium, the Torch Plant Light is cute and small, though just as clever.
The plant sits in the glass vase, its “candle wick” dangling in the water. Underneath a gentle LED light glows, creating an enchanting effect in the evening.
Clearly inspired by the Japanese tradition of bonsai and making small things beautiful, the Torch Plant Light will make a great addition to a home setting, office, or cafe space.
There are four versions in two varying lamp vase sizes: Dwarf Umbrella Tree (medium), Ficus (medium), Dracaena (small), or Fern (small). The plants are real, though, so you will need to tend to them and take care of their needs. Yes, this is very much a lamp for gardeners.