Christmas is a strange time. It’s all the kitsch and the shopping minus the religion (or at least, the pretense of the religious).
In fact, Christmas Eve is the bigger event. It’s a day when people queues for hours in the cold for KFC chicken — no one seems to know why — and go on romantic dates in the evening, usually capped off with a liaison at a love hotel. Forget the baby Jesus: Christmas Eve is for couples. And given that Valentine’s Day in February and White Day in March are not exclusively for couples — it is customary to give all your male or female colleagues chocolates too — then Eve is the real time for lovers to show their affection for each other.
But what if you don’t have a special someone to snuggle up to?
There’s an app for that.
Kisu shiyo! (Let’s kiss) is an Android app for the lonely but cunning guys out there. At first glance it looks like a fortune-telling app, which are very popular with Japanese girls. You show it to a girl you like and tell them it will make her wishes come true. All she has to do is blow out the candle in the picture.
The app is actually a ploy so you can then take a photo of the cutie blowing towards the lens, which of course looks not unlike the girl ready for you to plant a smacker on her lips.
You then have yourself a commemorative image with which to spend your Christmas Eve this year. The girl will no doubt be furious when she hears the sound of the phone’s camera, so the app makers advise you not to forget to praise the girl for how cute she is!
OK, politically correct it certainly is not, but it is a novel way to ensure you are not alone this Christmas Eve.
No surprises here — the app was “invented” by 2ch netizens and spotted by Yahoo app developers, who then quickly turned it into a real app.
If you are already familiar with Snapchat, SeeSaw is nothing new. We could very much say that SeeSaw is a Japanese version of this photo messaging app that lets you decide how long your photos can be viewed by the recipient — be it your family member, friend or colleague. From time to time, we all do things on a whim and regret such act a moment later. With the ever-increasing use of social networking service, the pictures and videos that we upload on the web can now be viewed and saved by million others instantly.
SeeSaw, on the other hand, prevents such unwanted spread of personal photos and videos by only letting users see messages for a few seconds. With Japanese digital users typically more cautious about privacy than their western counterparts, plus the wave of Twitter photo scandals this year that literally caused bankruptcies, this app comes out at an apt time indeed.
Just like Snapchat, a sender can set a “self-destruct” time limit for each message. The recipient can then view the message for the set time after which the message will be deleted from both the SeeSaw server and the recipient’s device. (Be careful, though, Snapchat at least has been hacked to overwrite this function!) Unless the recipient takes a screenshot of the message and saves it in their device, it will only remain in their memories as a moment captured and shared among a few.
As we can see in the above images, they seem to be targeting young users who don’t usually get to appreciate the fact that life indeed is a mere chain of brief moments. In a way, SeeSaw might go against the fundamental purpose of moment-capturing devices which we use to “freeze” the moment and preserve it for the rest of our lives.
A company like Mind Wave Inc. knows this too, since they created a character brand named after ichigo-ichie — a proverb which often translated as “Treasure every encounter, as it will never recur”. These characters are printed on various stationery goods which can be purchased in store or online.
The brand is perhaps a reminder to young people that nothing lasts forever, especially the happy moments. To me, it does seem a bit cheesy to feature school life in the app’s advertising, but many of us have learned good and bad, right and wrong first in classrooms — and that nothing good or bad lasts forever.
Just when we thought technology would replace everything, we hear about an event like iPhone Creative Festa and meet people who say — not just yet! Perhaps we all have this inner desire to be different from others, which urges us to seek — or become — the one and only something in the world.
From October 4th to 6th, iPhone Creative Festa 2013 will take place at Yokohama Akarenga to promote both established and emerging artists who like to use iPhone and iPad cases as a blank canvas to exercise their exquisite talent.
The event originally started in August 2010 as a way to exhibit iPhone cases as artwork and to commercialize them by promoting various artists who don’t get a chance to showcase their talent, let alone monetize their work on a regular basis. It has since attracted more than 230,000 visitors, and so far the exhibition has been held in Osaka, Ginza, and Paris.
While it’s not clear who the main organizer is (“iPhone Case Exhibition” is their name on the official site), the event is co-hosted by Yokohama Arts Foundation and co-sponsored by Focal Point Inc., a company that sells computer and mobile device accessories. It is also supported by Joint Works and a nonprofit organization called Creator Raising Association.
Here are some artworks from the past events.
Some are on sale, so whoever gets it first will take it all, as there is no other copy in stock!
With iPad cases this is obviously more room to experiment, yet these might go against the whole concept of being “mobile” — do you think you can still carry them around?
Visitors can also get hands-on experience in workshops and explore the iPhone photo exhibition held at the same venue.
The video clip below shows a short tour around the exhibition held last year.
iPhone Creative Festa 2013 takes place from October 4th to 6th. Admission is free.
Yahoo! Japan has recently released two new modes for their timer app Tsuukin Timer (Commute Timer), which tells users when their train leaves in the form of a countdown. As you can see from the pictures, users can now choose either a cute cat or cute girl to be displayed as the wallpaper.
To use this app, you simply set up your closest station, train line and direction from home and to work or school, and switch the “to (iki) and from (kaeri)” modes depending on where you’re heading at the moment.
This app would especially come in handy when you want to check the time of your last train. The countdown on the screen might work more effectively as a way to excuse yourself when you are caught up in a drinking party you don’t necessarily want to attend… After all, as the name tells itself, this app is specifically designed for commuters like salarymen always expected to be on time at any given moment.
The app also gives you a list of upcoming trains, so you don’t have to check for the time every five minutes.
As for the two new modes released recently, the cat mode has 80 pictures of cats, some of which are actual pet cats of Yahoo! employees, while the “girl” mode features 80 pictures of “beauties” from all over Japan.
I didn’t have any problem with the cat one — people in Japan are crazy about cats! — but who are these ladies? Well, it turns out that the lady mode is offered in collaboration with an even more unique site called Bijin Tokei and is available for a limited time only, until the middle of October.
Bijin Tokei is a digital clock (tokei) that comes with numerous pictures of “beautiful women” (bijin). “Bijin Tokei makes you fall in one minute of love,” they say, as the pictures change every minute. So far, 360 amateur models have contributed to their database of 1,440 pictures, and they are calling for more people to make their modeling “debut” as a beauty clock on their site.
There is actually a male version (called Binan, which translates as “beautiful/handsome men”) available as well!
Some other versions include gal, Korea, ladies with glasses, ladies in Hawaii, ladies with different hairstyles, kids, brides, beautiful/handsome men in Kyoto and Kagoshima… It’s endless! They also have an English site.
After years of campaigning, Mt Fuji, Japan’s highest peak and an ingenious piece of natural symmetry, was recently finally elevated to that status that perhaps of all people the Japanese seem to be obsessed with — UNESCO World Heritage.
This has led to a flurry of media excitement as well as lots of tie-in merchandise, plus some beard-stroking from pundits about how to preserve what is essentially a sacred mountain but is “climbed” (more like strolled up) by hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.
Well, you could also just put that all aside and get your hands on some Mt Fuji Smart Pants.
Unless you are a micro person you might have some serious trouble fitting into these, but nonetheless your mobile wardrobe is now complete with Bandai’s summer line-up of Gashapon toy capsules, which includes this remarkable — profane? — mini upside-down Mt Fuji.
You clip it onto the top of your smartphone (hence the “smart” in “smart pants”) and then you have Japan’s most famous mountain as a kind of phone bandana-cum-underwear.
There are eight versions, all in the
Mt Fuji — sorry, pants shape, but with colors varying from stripes to dots to even rather menacing pink “spikes”.
The series — actually Bandai’s second like this — go on sale at Gashapon capsule vending machines in late July.
And the award for July’s cutest use of augmented reality mobile interaction goes to Dentsu, for this Asoberu T-Shirt (“Playable T-Shirt”).
It works with a dedicated phone app to allow you to have fun with the wearer and the worn. For example, with your smartphone you can make characters and motifs “pop” out of the t-shirt and then play with them on your screen. Alternatively shoot arrows at hearts or turn a girl into a funky deck-spinning DJ.
You can make people “fight” with anime-style power beams — and unscrupulous guys will no doubt soon find ways to embarrass girls wearing the t-shirt.
The video nicely illustrates the things you can do.
The models are Yumemi Nemu and Mirin Furukawa.
It is being sold exclusively via BEAMS in an initial series inspired by the anime Gindama and others. There are five tees at the moment, priced ¥4,200. The app, available for Android and iOS systems, is free.
While the technology itself isn’t new, we find the kawaii presentation irresistible.
We’ve got a soft spot when it comes to matters of the heart, especially when it’s as cute as this.
The Ozaki O!coat Lover+ is a pair of iPhone5 covers for a couple to share — when you put the two cases together, the profiles seem to be kissing. The concept is “two hearts beat as one”, though presumably if you are close enough to be able to put your phones together like this, you don’t shouldn’t need to use them to communicate.
It’s a rather neat idea for an anniversary or wedding present, or even a very early Valentine’s Day gift.
The face designs stay the same, along with the cute locking lips, but there are three different color variations to choose from: Forever (black and white), Sweetheart (brown and pink), Romantic (black and gray).
The rubber-coated “anti-slip” case is also meant to be extra durable and protective, just like true love!
The promotion video is hilariously schmaltzy.
There is also a rather charming — or it is creepy? — “interracial” aesthetic going on in the covers, but we’ll leave that up to your imagination to work out.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How would you describe yourself?
I can’t remember how many times people asked me these questions. Whether it was during job interviews or random talks with people I met for the first time, I always tried to answer as honestly as I could. Yet one question comes to mind: Was my description ever accurate?
We all try to manipulate others when we know there is an obvious return for us as a result of acting expected roles in life, which some people might call an act of lying.
It just seems to me that some people are naturally better at hiding truth than others. If you think you are talented in this field, the party game “Jinroh” — better known in English as “Werewolf” or “Are you a werewolf?” — might be the perfect entertainment for you.
There’s a very easy way to play the classic game now with your phone. “Werewolf — Nightmare in Prison is an iPhone app game where players are divided into two teams, Citizens and Werewolves, and you try to eliminate the members of the other team solely on the basis of what they say and how the majority of players vote.
Each player is assigned a random role at the beginning which they cannot disclose to others. While the Citizen team has to find Werewolves (usually “disguised” as Citizens) and execute them by majority vote, the Werewolves pretend that they are Citizens themselves. Are you following this?
The game takes place in two phases per turn, the day and the night. The daylight phase is when you get to choose who to eliminate from the game. The night phase, on the other hand, is when the Werewolves get to attack a Citizen and eliminate him or her from the game. If the Citizen team succeeds in voting out all Werewolves, they win. The Werewolf team wins when the number of Citizens has been reduced to equal the number of Werewolves remaining in the game.
In addition to these two roles, there are a number of special characters that play a crucial role in the game. A Knight, for example, can protect a Citizen when attacked by a Werewolf, and a Fortune Teller can see if a player is a Citizen or a Werewolf during the night phase. Still with me?
You can play with up to twenty players, though you only need one iPhone.
The original “Werewolf” game (also called Mafia) was Russian and has been around for decades. In Japan, there was another recently twist on the format recently when it was adapted into the “Jinroh” TV show which to me, seems to enhance its psychologically thrilling aspect to the fullest, thanks to some sound effects and how the game literally throws the players out when they are eliminated.
The next episode is scheduled to air on Fuji Television at the end of June.
You can get a piece of Tokyo greenery literally in your pocket with the Shibaful iPhone Case, a world-first design which uses electrostatic flocking and is based on lawn from Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo.
The name translates as “full of lawn”. This is what the makers Ag Ltd. have to say:
Regarding the technology, the case is made using electrostatic flocking. When the five different colored fiber particles are dropped from above, they form this kind of texture. There are all kinds of iPhone cases, but we think this is the first with a grassy texture. Also, it feels different when you stroke it and when you grip it. The green color is really fresh, and easy on the eyes, too. Another part of the concept is that you’ll sometimes want to turn your iPhone over, and rest your eyes by looking at the green.
The studio we work from, called co-lab Shibuya Atelier, is a shared office. We have shared access to 3D printers, laser cutters, and digital machines, so we can turn PC data into tangible objects. Here, we can try all kinds of ideas quickly and cheaply, taking those ideas closer to commercial production. In Japan, there are lots of small businesses with all sorts of technologies. We’ve produced this iPhone case to express our goal of creating new, exciting things, by combining small businesses’ technology with our ideas and prototyping abilities.
Here’s an interview with the designer.
So it doesn’t use actual grass from Yoyogi Park but is modelled on samples of the lawn, giving you the delicate texture of actual greenery, which feels a hell of a lot better than plastic cases.
Initially limited to just 100 prototypes, it has now been released on general sale worldwide.
The makers next plan to produce others with lawn from Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York.