Interesting alternative to traditional bug sprays here.
Kiribai is a Japanese company that specializes in high-function products like pocket warmers, pressure activated ice packets and bug repellants.
The Mushi Guard Clip is a convenient way to keep pests away. According to the package, you just clip it on your cap or a pocket and bugs will stay at least one meter away. It works for a month and costs around 600 yen retail.
A couple of years ago, Sega Toys introduced Homestar, a relatively inexpensive gadget that turns the ceiling of your home into an impressive planetarium. Definitely cool, but perhaps a bit over the top to anyone but geeks and serious star gazers.
Now the company is trying to boost sales amongst regular folk, and especially to women.
The nightly bath is a well-established ritual in Japan, not least because it helps stressed out people unwind after a long day. Plus, Japan is in the midst of a spa boom, so why not create a water-tight model to sell as a relaxation enhancer?
Say hello to Homestar Spa, the "21st century bath planetarium" that floats in your tub. According to Sega's website, the new model goes on sale on September 4th and will cost about 7,000 yen, which is 3,000 less than the original.
Why the price drop?
While the original faithfully duplicates the heavens, the bath model is aimed at casual users and lacks advanced features like the ability to adjust focus.
This year July 24* marks doyo no hi, a day on which Japanese traditionally eat unagi, a.k.a eel, to combat natsubate, or the lethargy that many suffer when Japan's daily temperatures run 30-35 C (low to mid 90's F), and the humidity bears down at over 90%. Despite the unsavory image that eel congers, ahem, conjures for those who've never had it, it's fantastically tasty—and loaded with vitamins too. Naturally that means that plenty of eel is consumed in Japan on the other 364 days of the year, as well.
Anyway, since Japanese marketers are wont to neglect any tactical opportunity, I wasn't much surprised last week when JT released a new soda that apparently contains eel extract and the five vitamins found in abundance in unagi (A, B1, B2, D and E).
Pictured above, Unagi Nobori, is being shilled as a "nutritional supplement carbonated beverage." The cartoon character represents one of the cooks you'd commonly see at a traditional eel barbecue restaurant. The fan he's holding is used to keep the charcoal hot; if you look closely you can see that it's imprinted with an illustration of an eel. Very loosely translated, the copy to his left reads "Don't get beat by the heat. Boost your energy with effervescence."
By the way "unagi nobori" means something like "sudden spike" in Japanese (as in, say, "stock prices saw a sudden spike yesterday"). Presumably this implies that the drink will give you a sharp spike of energy. . .
* In some years, doyo no hi occurs twice. 2008 is one such year; the second occurrence is August 5.
The Japanese market is so inundated with functional drinks that it had to happen eventually. Finally, Coca-Cola Japan has introduced a vitamin-fortified Coke drink. Coca-Cola plus vitamin was launched earlier this month and is now making its way into shops around Japan. Known as Diet Coke Plus or Coca Cola Light Plus in European markets, Coca-Cola plus vitamin is a Diet Coke* variant that apparently provides you with 81% of your daily requirement of vitamin C—with no calories. Check out the Japanese website here.
In recent years, Japanese consumers have grown increasingly interested in nutrition and body weight, thanks in part to the attention the media has given to Japan's increasing incidence of metabolic syndrome, and the recent measures the Japanese government has instituted to help combat the problem.
In the marketplace, not only have we seen the broad introduction of diet beers, malt liquors and canned cocktails, soft drink companies have also gotten into the game with various teas and functional drinks that either prevent the absorption of fats or claim to help people to lose weight.
Now the chocolate manufacturers are about to get on board the anti-metabolic syndrome bus too.
If you keep your eyes peeled in Japan this summer you're going to see several new products that contain the ingredient known as citrulline.
An amino acid first extracted from watermelon by a Japanese researcher in 1930, citrulline is said to reduce the buildup of ammonia in the bloodstream, dilate blood vessels, and promote production of nitric oxide, which amongst other things is supposed to help prevent muscle fatigue. So it's no surprise that Asahi is promoting its new Citrulline Water using sports-related advertising, and Lotte has launched Citrulline Gum to coincide with its support of the Beijing Summer Olympics.
In the U.S., citrulline supplements have apparently been marketed previously to promote circulation and prevent hardening of the arteries, but Japan's health ministry did not approve the ingredient for use in food until August of last year.
Other Japanese companies like Shiseido have also jumped on the citrulline bandwagon so it's probably only a matter of time before a dozen more citrulline products hit Japanese store shelves.