UNIQLO spin-off GU recently held a kabe-don event at its Ginza branch as a promo for a holiday season sale.
Does the idea of having a hot guy leaning up against you inside a clothes store, slapping his hand against the wall to trap you in his intimate embrace, inspire you to purchase some fast fashion?
Well, on December 5th GU had a pair of attractive Japanese guys offering just this “service” at its Ginza store.
All you had to do was head to the GU outlet in Ginza, pick one of the special holiday season items in the promo, and then ask the men if the clothes suited you. One of the hotties would then tell you how good you looked while doing a kabe-don on you.
Judging by the pictures and official video, the women were apparently pleased to have guys leaning in on them, perhaps because ordinarily they would have to drag their unenthused partners around on a clothes shopping spree. The idea of a guy taking the time to go around with them in a store — and even compliment and try to get romantic between the aisles — is seemingly a fantasy for some female consumers.
Kabe-don has been one of the trends of the year, with the Morinaga “Kabe-don” Cafe in Harajuku creating headlines for its sheer audacity (it used an artificial waiter), as well pictures of apparent kabe-don poses spreading on social media.
Kabe-don refers to a certain position where a man places his hand against a wall, keeping his female partner there so he can lean in for a smooch. The kabe part means “wall” while don is the sound of the hand hitting the surface.
At the GU event some lucky girls got both guys doing a double kabe-don on them. And this wasn’t a sexist event either, since male customers were also treated to the same experience.
And while there are certainly some strange-looking (but still theoretically functioning) beauty gadgets out there, it doesn’t mean the major Japanese manufacturers aren’t creating products for the industry.
Take Panasonic, one of the biggest producers of cosmetic tools and electronics. Its line of steamers and other skincare gadgets are very successful, and it has established itself as a leader in the field through marketing such as the series of “beauty tutorials” that play on the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo.
The Panasonic Beauty Premium Booster Mask EH-XM10 is a new addition to its catalog. We were interested in this product because it combines both the skin steamer and beauty mask genres.
While there is an unmistakeable Darth Vader vibe to the publicity images, this is a hi-tech solution designed based on data collected from some 5,000 female research subjects.
You soak the mask’s water plate in water and then warm it on the stand, before setting it on your face for 10 minutes. You can also combine the gadget with regular cosme items, such as face pack sheets, which can be placed over the Booster Mask.
The Panasonic Beauty Premium Booster Mask EH-XM10 is available on pre-order from JapanTrendShop now.
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 | 1 Comment
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.
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.
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.
Japan has its fair share of wacky but fascinating beauty gadgets. There are also lots of inventive cosme items too. For example, we’ve already had the Cats Face Pack, the Kabuki Face Pack, and the Animal Face Pack.
All these face packs were created by Isshin do Honpo and designed based on genuine characters.
Now comes the Fashion Face Pack by Kansai Yamamoto, which features two face packs recreating actual make-up used by the eponymous veteran designer in a London fashion show.
These were in turn inspired by Kabuki kumadori make-up, so this is very much a mixture of avant-garde art from both the past and present.
Isshin do Honpo calls the series the “Japanese Face” brand.
JAPANESE FACE is a cosmetic face pack brand that introduces uniquely Japanese faces to the world.
With illustrated sheet masks and carefully selected moisturizing lotions, consumers have fun wearing the masks and then enjoy the benefits of beautiful skin afterwards.
It is a new kind of Japanese souvenir that introduces the great Japanese culture to people around the world and here in Japan, as well.
The Fashion Face Pack by Kansai Yamamoto is available worldwide from JapanTrendShop. It officially goes on sale in select stores in Japan on September 21st, which is actually the same day that Japan’s first ever fashion show was held at Mitsukoshi in 1927.
We can’t wait to see what Japanese Face is next! Tengu, perhaps?
Your Party (Minna no To) member Ayaka Shiomura (35) was jeered yesterday in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly as she tried to introduce a motion for better government measures supporting infertile women or women who need assistance when pregnant or raising children.
The opposition politician was abused by older male members apparently from the ruling LDP during a June 18 assembly session.
“You are the one who must get married as soon as possible,” one assembly member shouted, which was clearly audible to the TV cameras filming the session. Another joined in: “Can’t you even bear a child?”
Shiomura continued making her statement, though she paused and then sort of laughed in disbelief. She became more emotional, though, as she finished off her speech shortly afterwards. Later she was seen wiping tears from her eyes when she has sat back down. It was the first time that Shiomura, a politician representing Setagaya in west Tokyo, has asked questions to the assembly.
You can hear the jeers from around 08:48 on this video (sorry, no subtitles).
Leading national politicians from both the LDP and opposition parties denounced the comments and interruptions as “monstrous sexism”.
Shun Otokita, another young member of Your Party, has led the accusations, saying that Tokyo Governor Masuzoe, a known chauvinist, was reported to be smiling during the jeering, which came from the LDP benches. The exact offenders have yet to be identified.
Japan has a very poor female workforce participation ratio, since women receive little support during childrearing. This makes it hard both to afford children in the first place and also pay for day care if women wish to return to work. Right now, most women effectively cannot resume their career if they choose to have children since it doesn’t make financial sense, all of which does nothing to stop Japan’s birth rate from sliding.
Women returning to the workforce would help to assuage the fiscal crisis that will emerge as the large Baby Boomer generation retires and ages.
The Tokyo assembly has 127 members, but currently only 25 are women. In the national Diet, women fill only 78 of the 722 seats in the two chambers.
Your Party is a small liberal opposition party originally formed by Yoshimi Watanabe after he left the LDP. Though still a fringe party, it has made relatively quick gains, though it has suffered setbacks recently from both an internal split that reduced its numbers, and a scandal involving now ex-leader Watanabe and party finances.
Before her recent entry into city politics, Shiomura had been a model and broadcaster. As a young and attractive women in a world of old and unattractive men, she is an easy target for sexist abuse and we sadly suspect this will not be the last time we hear of such incidents.
Update: The Tokyo Assembly has been flooded with hundreds of angry emails and telephone calls, Shiomura’s tweet about the incident was re-tweet tens of thousands of times, it received nationwide and international coverage… but the LDP has closed ranks and is refusing to identify the hecklers. Remember, this is the city that is going to host the 2020 Olympics!
Update (June 24): LDP Assembly member Akihiro Suzuki, despite denying it before, has now admitted he was one of the jeerers and will leave the LDP.
Shiseido SK-II Pitera-rium Dock beauty counselor bus tours Japan telling women the future of their skinWritten by: William on June 5, 2014 at 11:56 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments
Have you spotted this red bus?
Shiseido is currently running a big SK-II Bihada Pitera-rium Dock campaign where women can see their “future skin” in 20 minute counceling sessions. A special pop-up store bus is now touring Japan for women to go and get predictions of their skin at special Pitera-rium events. It launched in January at Roppongi’s Midtown, and there are also similar services being offered at Shiseido branches and counters at department stores nationwide.
It starts with a photograph being taken of your cheek using a large red round machine called a “Magic Ring”. This is then analyzed as a map of five elements, the results of which are printed out into a carte for women to take home and study.
The campaign is fronted by Shiseido regular actress Haruka Ayase and is a campaign for its SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Here is Haruka demonstrating how to use the “Magic Ring” measuring device.
Here is the bus around Tokyo.
It’s actually an old American school bus that has been re-decorated red for the campaign.
This is what the inside of the bus looks like.
Japanese department store beauty counters and cosmetic brand flagship stores have long offered free beauty counseling services with use of sophisticated skin analysis devices. The idea is that the brands are not just flogging make-up to you; they are looking after your beauty and offering customized cosmetic experiences. This SK-II campaign is using the special “Magic Ring” device developed for Shiseido, which they claim is the most sophisticated in the world.