Mmmm. Yummy. These new "cheese sandwich" style Ritz Crackers were recently introduced by Yamazaki-Nabisco especially for the Japanese market. The one on the left features Camembert cheese sprinkled with black pepper. The one on the right combines Chedder and Gorgonzola cheeses. Each pack contains nine sandwiches (388 calories). At my local convenience store they were priced at 158 yen (about $1.63).
About six months ago, Polaroid came out with a portable printer that uses Zink (Zero Ink) thermal printing technology, which combines a thermal print head and special paper that contains heat activated crystalline dyes. Think old-school Polaroid-style insta-printing, but updated for the 21st century. Except the camera and printer are separate.
The obvious next step? Why, putting the printing technology inside a digital camera, so people can enjoy printing anywhere, and the ability to store the image digitally for later transfer to your computer.
The surprise is that Japanese toy company, Takara Tomy, rather than Polaroid, is the one releasing this kind of camera first. It comes out tomorrow.
The new Xiao TIP-521, is a fixed-focus, 5 megapixel camera with 16 a 2.48 inch LCD display and a built-in printer that outputs 3x2 inch photos at 313 dpi (maximum digital image size is 2560 x 1920 pixels). Each picture takes about 45 seconds to print.
The camera weighs 294 grams, comes in three colors and costs about 35,000 yen.
I'm not sure if Recaldent brand gum is available outside Japan. A quick search of the Net shows that the ingredient Recaldent is being used in toothpastes and gums elsewhere, but Japan may be the only place where ingredient and brand name are one in the same, at least as far as gums go.
Japan is no stranger to functional gums, and in this case, the functions are two-fold. Regular Recaldent claims to strengthen and protect tooth enamel, and has been available in Japan for a few years. But the most recently released variant, a citrus-berry flavored variant being marketed under the sub-branded name "Smart Time," is also supposed to satiate your hunger.
Dunno how that little bit of liquid in each tablet is supposed to quell your growling stomach, but I'm sure plenty of young Japanese women are giving it a try.
I was paging through a trendy Japanese magazine the other day when I came across this ad. Before even noticing the name of the brand, the first word out of my mouth was cool. With packaging like this available, it's no wonder that a lot of fashion-conscious Japanese youth continue to smoke. Packages like these are fashion accessories.
The box was developed specifically for distribution through Japan's Circle K Sunkus convenience store chain. Click for a larger view.
About two years ago Audi Japan opened its first showroom in a spectacular glass structure, known as the Audi Forum (left), located just 2 minute's walk from Meiji Jingumae subway station in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. The Forum is not only pleasing to look at, it caused a bit of a stir, since auto dealers in Japan are not usually found in such beautiful buildings (click for enlarged view).
While all of Audi's showrooms are not quite so enticing, last week they opened another attractive location in the Toyosu area of Tokyo, which adjoins Tokyo Bay (below). It's hardly comparable to the Forum, but believe me, it's a lot better than the typical dealership in this town.
In Tokyo, every new tasteful building is welcome indeed; for a long time Japan lagged behind other countries in terms of delivering exciting, tasteful, modern and practical architecture for both commercial and residential uses. Thankfully, the latest generation of builders "gets it," and slowly but surely Japan's architectural landscape is improving. Tokyo has been blessed with some pretty spectacular buildings in the past few years (I'll show you a new addition to the Aoyama area next week), and it's been great to see local hotels revamping and modernizing like crazy too.
Last month, McDonald's Japan closed its Omotesando shop without warning and a few weeks later, just as suddenly, this QUARTER POUNDER shop appeared. It's basically the old store, but they've removed most of the fixtures, furniture and wall coverings, closed the dining areas and painted the place black and red. And they've cut the menu down to just a few items. You can order Coke or Coke light, french fries, and either a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, or a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (which, if I recall from my training in English and math, more accurately should have been called a Half Pounder with Cheese, but I digress).
If you look closely, you'll see that nowhere on the signage or inside the shop do you see the "Golden Arches." That's because McDonald's never announced to the general public that the store—and the Quarter Pounder—are affiliated with the company (the last time McDonald's sold the Quarter Pounder in Japan was the late 1970's, so essentially it's brand new for most people). McDonald's Japan is keeping the QP's origins a mystery, perhaps hoping to create some kind of drama to generate pre-buzz before the sandwich is released through regular shops. Obliquely, they're running a consumer promotion in which Quarter Pounder shop customers receive a quiz card asking "which famous hamburger company is affiliated with the Quarter Pounder?" Those that bother to mail in correct answers have the chance to win something in a prize drawing.
Why on earth are they going this route? After all, McDonald's has quite a bit of accumulated positive brand equity in Japan, and they can certainly afford to do a national roll out using a real ad campaign. So why open just two specialty locations in Tokyo (there is one additional shop in nearby Shibuya, located, oddly, in a poorly traveled back alley) instead of opting for the time honored approach? The product has already tested successfully in regional Japanese markets.