The Japanese summer is very hot — hot and humid. The up side of this is you get great festivals and fireworks, and also yukata, outdoor music events, and trips to the beach.
But trying to go about your normal life in the muggy, oppressive heat can be horrible, especially if you are one of the millions of poor souls who have to schlep to work on the rush hour trains. The air-conditioning may be on full blast but there is just too much heat, too much sweat and too many people.
There is another side to this season and that is you get lots of unusual summer products and gadgets. We’ve already covered some of the best “cooling” beverage trends in Japan, plus last year ran a basic guide for staying cool in the dog days.
How about trying some of these more unique ways to keep your temperature down?
This special parasol keeps off the sun’s brutal rays but also gives you a “visor” so you can still watch the sports match or other outdoor event.
The name says it all. You haven’t lived till you’ve tried this. While the taste may not to be everyone’s liking, there’s no contesting the originality of the concept and the ingenuity of the drink as a way to beat the summer heat.
THere is a whole series of these Kuchofuku “air-conditioned” clothes, from shirts to pants, helmets, jackets and even bee-keeper suits! Also check out the Deoest range of “odor-eliminating” clothes that are made with special materials to kill bad smells.
Similar to the 3 Way Cool Arm Cover, this mask will keep off ultra-violet rays and ensure you don’t lose that pale complexion. Given that in the west women mostly want to get a healthy-looking tan, this may seem strange but the appeal of these kinds of products in Japan is that female beauty is often associated with fair skin. Women want to do sports and be out and about during the summer, but don’t want to sacrifice their beauty.
Our final selection is here to prove that tie-up merchandise really does come in all shapes and forms. This desk fan is for aficionados of the popular video game franchise, though you might not want to let your boss see you
playing with it using it at work.
Bandai’s Tamagotchi is one of those series that just continues to survive — and not only survive, but keep on innovating and coming up with new tricks.
Tamagotchi probably needs no introduction to any reader of a blog called “Japan Trends”. The digital pet was a phenomenon in the 1990′s, its egg shape as funky as its concept, and as addictive as pressing the three buttons. It first hit stores in late 1996 and has since sold over 78 million units.
Needless to say, the world of toys is a fickle one and subsequent Tamagotchi have been no match for the sales of the original, which was a global smash. The sea change led to maker Bandai over-stretching itself and posting large losses for 1998.
Bandai then went back to the drawing board and came up with enhanced Tamagotchi with more sophisticated functionality: new models to meet the changing times. Tamagotchi Plus had infrared communication functions (infrared was once a standard in many Japanese flip phones) and then Tamagotchi iD could interact with cellphones. The series underwent a further revival in 2011 with the release of a 15th anniversary model of the Tamagotchi iD L and this went on to shift around 500,000 units in 2011.
So, not quite the sensation it once was but still going strong. Not bad for a nation with a declining birthrate, and so less and less young consumers every year.
The latest Tamagotchi is the Tamagotchi 4U, which ups the tech by adding NFC but still looks as cute as ever. This allows the handheld pet to interact with “Touch Spots” that are located around Japan, plus with other Tamagotchis and devices. You can download new characters, clothes, items, and “collaborate” digitally.
For example, go past a vending machine and pick up a “drink” for your Tamagotchi, or a “dress” at a clothes store.
The city is now your Tamagotchi playground! There are also various covers and straps to accessorize and coordinate the style of your Tamagotchi device.
Get your hands on the Tamagotchi 4U in September.
Green House Beach Ball Inflatable Waterproof LED Solar Lantern floats, lights up, collapses flat as a pancake!Written by: Japan Trends on July 18, 2014 at 9:13 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments
Heading to the beach this summer? Of course, you’ll need a beach ball.
But does your beach ball light up?
No. This one does, though. The Green House Beach Ball Inflatable Waterproof LED Solar Lantern is just as awesome as it sounds.
It floats. It lights up. It charges itself by sunlight. It collapses flat!
Just blow it up and then turn it on. You can hang it up, leave it on the ground, let it float in the bath or in a pool… Just as long as you don’t fully submerge it, you shouldn’t have to worry about leakage or damage, so it’s great for having in the garden during night parties (on the grass, by the pond) since the odd splash from a drink will be fine and even morning dew on the lawn won’t affect it.
Gizmodo featured the Luci Hands On last year, a cheap inflatable LED lantern, but we prefer the design on this Green House one. It’s a beach ball!
A full hour of sunny weather gives the Beach Ball Solar Lantern enough juice to go for 5.5 hours (on low setting), and on a full charge (around 20 hours) it can stay bright for up to 17 hours.
While not quite as cool as the Balloon Lamp, we reckon this will be much appreciated by folk with big gardens or people who like to go camping. There are two slightly different color versions (clear or white).
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.
It’s that time of year again. What to get the kids that will keep them occupied for at least an hour? And that savvy nephew who seems never to be surprised by anything? Then there’s the parent who is impossible to buy for — or the loved one you want to give something super special.
Well, you can be sure to find plenty here in Tokyo.
This is our gift guide to a very small selection of goodies available locally, brought to your worldwide courtesy of the JapanTrendShop.
Things for the home and kitchen are always a safe purchase for a whole range of people. But why settle on something boring? Especially when there are cups as funky as the Treasure Mug, which looks like it is half “buried” in the sand of your table!
Cooking is at the center of any decent Christmas celebration and here’s something to liven up the results that come flowing from the kitchen — and healthy ones as well! The Cucumber Molds can be used to help you manipulate vegetables to grow into fantastic shapes — hearts and stars!
Not just eating. Christmas is certainly a time for drinking as well, so why not add that certain something to your beverage with the Ice Ball Mold, which in seconds crafts immaculate ice spheres. Not only do these spheres look amazing, they also melt slowly, keeping your drink cooler for longer.
However, if something more celestial is more up your alley, then sit back and gaze at the stars with this Homestar Pro 2nd Edition Home Planetarium, which beams 60,000 stars and constellations, plus the earth and moon right onto your home ceiling.
This one’s definitely for the tech fans. Great for peer-to-peer transfers, the Toshiba FlashAir SDHC Memory Card is officially the world’s first with embedded wireless LAN functionality. It has a 8GB memory capacity and Speed Class 6, and will provide a simple and quick way to share photos with friends, or transfer them to cloud storage services and social networks.
We previously blogged a few weeks ago about this Kyosho Space Ball. Don’t be fooled by the low-fi appearance; actually it works a treat. It’s essentially a flying gyroscope, though one that can bounce off surfaces and walls (particularly useful for that kid, young and old, who tends to break new toys straightaway).
Did anyone see the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel? Then you will love recreating the bouts from the film with the Omnibot Battroborg Battle Robot. These fighting robot can be moved by you with the nunchuku-style wireless motion-activated controllers. This means they literally respond to how well you box, so you get to experience all the skill and agility of the sport — without the blood.
If you want something for younger members of the family but particularly something for the engineering and creative types, then Gakken’s Otona no Kagaku “adult science” series will offer plenty of challenges and rewards. This Home Planetarium is one example, a nifty homemade planetarium, not quite as impressive as the Sega Toys’ Homestar Pro Second Edition, naturally, but perhaps better for being made with your own hands!
Recently celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, Tamagotchi digital pet was THE hit toy of the Nineties. Another generation, another fad. Yet the Tamagotchi is still going strong thanks to Bandai, who keep updating it for the current consumer. This includes this new Tamagotchi iD L with all new Tamatomo characters and functions, available exclusively in Japan.
At Christmas and New Year we also tend to over-indulge.
If you’re worried about how you look and want to work at it in a small way, there are some solutions for you.
At a risk of giving fodder to the “wacky Japan” enthusiasts, there are some admittedly unusual beauty gadgets on the market in Japan. Of course, these are not mainstream items but nor are they just bizarre for the sake of bizarre. They are effective to a certain extent and should be approached as genuine health tools, albeit ones that look a little different!
Take the Hana Tsun, for instance, which helps shape that snout of yours into the straighter profile you’ve always wanted.
Or there’s the Face Slimmer, an “exercise mouthpiece” which does similar tricks to your whole face.
If karaoke is more your thing, then be sure to take a look at the Beauty Voice Trainer.
And finally, if the kids get too excited with all the fun and presents at Christmas, help them get off to some well-deserved rest with this sleep therapy Hug and Dream Minnie Mouse Robot. It “breathes” with the timing of a parent’s gentle, rhythmic pats on a troubled infant’s back, easing the child’s own breathing and calming them down.
Looking for some good Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping ideas this weekend? Forget your local store for a moment and feast your eyes on some of the goodies Tokyo has to offer.
Japan Trend Shop is having a 10% off sale over the holiday and here are some of their recommended gift ideas.
You might remember our blog post from a few weeks ago about this Kyosho Space Ball. It looks a bit low-fi but actually it works a treat. This flying gyroscope can bounce off surfaces and walls, so you won’t look sheepish breaking your new toy straightaway by bad piloting.
Next up, grooming. Whether you are a participant in the hairy Movember shenanigans or not, we all need to take our grooming seriously, and that includes the men.
Enter the Men’s Eyebrow Shaving Guide, a handy frame that you can place over your eyebrows and make sure you get the perfect shape when trimming pesky hairs.
Or if you’re more into reckless fun — especially with friends — then you will absolutely love the Omnibot Battroborg Battle Robot, a fighting robot that you move with nunchuku-style wireless motion-activated controllers. The tiny robots literally respond to how well you box so it becomes a battle of skill, not just steel.
For something stylish around the house, you can’t go wrong with this Balloon Lamp, so simple but elegant you wonder why no one thought of it ages ago. The floating high-intensity LED lights glow for over 100-hours. Absolutely great for parties!
Also a very nice way to entertain guests and family members is with the Homestar Extra Planetarium, which projects 120,000 stars onto your ceiling. A sophisticated domestic lifestyle accessory, it was made in collaboration with famed planetarium-maker Takayuki Ohira.
And this time of year we send a lot of cards and notes to each other. Why not spice up things up with the Coharu Label and Tape Printer? This is a unique printing kit where you can customize your own messages, labels and tape for adding to presents and so on.
The Tamagotchi digital pet recently celebrated its fifteenth anniversary and the global hit is still going strong, with Bandai releasing this new Tamagotchi iD L with all new Tamatomo characters and functions, available exclusively in Japan.
We couldn’t resist also mentioning the surprise hit of last year (and this year as well!), the Beauty Lift High Nose, the most original way we’ve seen to replicate the effects of plastic surgery for a much lighter budget.
Finally, after all the partying, it’s time for some shut eye. And what better way to make sure the kids get their full dose of snooze? With this sleep therapy Hug and Dream Minnie Mouse Robot, which works like a parent’s gentle, rhythmic pats on a troubled infant’s back, easing the child’s breathing and calming them down.
And the best thing about this time of year? It’s the last point before Christmas when it’s still feasibly permissible to buy YOURSELF presents!
Working hard or hardly working. That is the question.
Some people go to great lengths to construct homemade solutions to working or using your computer in a comfortable position (i.e. lying in bed). Anything still to be able to look at the screen without that monumental chore of raising your head a little.
It seems there is enough of a need for this to merit it being a fully mass-manufactured product, as opposed to practical computer geeks strapping computers to shelves with shoddy bits of leftover materials.
Yes, lazy people just got their dream laptop accessory!
Thanko, to be fair, known more for their more unusual gadgets rather than sophisticated hi-tech, stepped in to produce this Lying Down Laptop Stand, a sort of frame or table that can be flipped to hold your computer on either side.
In other words, you can use it like a regular stand or you can lie underneath it and look up to see the screen and type on the keyboard (this is an unscientific judgement but we reckon any real length of typing will soon start to hurt your hands — likely this is best just for browsing online or watching videos on the screen).
Okay, so now we have the solution to late-night emailing… Just don’t fall asleep.
There is already such a pantheon of RC driving and flying toys out there, you wonder where else there is to go for makers.
Well, Kyosho have come up with this globe-like Space Ball, a football-like flying sphere that is surprisingly sophisticated.
The gyroscope might look a big simple — or rather, empty — but the materials have been designed for durability so it can bounce off walls and floors whenever you mis-pilot your vessel, or when you fly so much you run out of power!
We also like the little extras, like its LED light to help guide you between furniture, or the “aroma” function so you can let off a fragrance as you zip around the room.
It seems that we are only a short step away from the cool interrogation drone that was in the original Star Wars film, or even the light saber “seeker” practice spheres that buzzed around the Millennium Falcon shooting lasers at Luke Skywalker.
Back in October last year, there was also spherical flying machine developed by Japan’s flying defence as a spy gadget no doubt to help combat pesky Chinese fishermen trying to invade the Senkaku Islands.