Just in case you don't expect to experience any romance on your own this Valentine's Day in Japan, you can always drop by Tully's for a taste of this seasonal indulgence: Tully's Romance Strawberry Mocha.
Valentine's Day is just a little more than a week away.
In Japan, the holiday has traditionally been a one-way street, where only women give chocolate or homemade sweets to men (who are expected to return the favor in a Japan-created holiday known as "White Day" that falls on March 14).
However, according to one research study I read recently, something like 20% of Japanese men plan to give presents to women on Valentine's Day this year, and now a couple of Japan's major confectioners have included in their lineups new products targeting male purchasers.
The product shown above is a clever example from Morinaga. Splashed with a blue ribbon that roughly translated says "This year, give in reverse," the package makes a playful appeal to men with English language product copy that's printed backwards.
Perhaps wanting to avoid the blues—what with Japanese consumer spending at the lowest levels in years, and with rival H&M just having opened down the street—the Gap's Harajuku flagship has really ratcheted up its holiday decorations this season. The duo walls of the facade have been blinking impressively with giant snowflakes and holiday greetings, and the grand steps are home to a Christmas tree—I believe—for the first time. Click for a larger view.
Two weeks before Halloween, some department stores in Japan had already installed their Christmas displays. LaForet Harajuku, perhaps Japan's top trend-leading retailer, broke out the Christmas lights a couple of days ago. With consumer confidence at rock bottom, some Japanese merchants are going all out to spur end-of-year sales
For the longest time, if you wanted Halloween-themed candies, you had to go to specialty shops like Sony Plaza and Tokyu Hands, which carried imports from the U.S. But mass market retailers and national brands have started to get in on the action.
Examples of how major Japanese retailers in the Shibuya district of Tokyo have decorated their exteriors for the 2007 Christmas season. From top to bottom, moving left to right: Shibuya Parco, Tokyu Department Store (Toyoko branch), Tokyu Department Store (main store), Shibuya 109 fashion building. Click the image for an enlarged view.
The Oshiri Kajiri Mushi ("Bottom Biting Bug") earned his fame through Minna no Uta ("Everybody's Song"), a children's program aired on Japan's public broadcasting network, NHK. You can get a sense for his goofiness—and why he's such a hit with kids—by watching the above video.
But it turns out kids aren't the BBB's only fans. Mono Comme Ca, a Japanese apparel brand that mainly appeals to those in their teens and twenties, has licensed his image for several products that are apparently selling well.
But why not get as much mileage out of the butt munching critter as possible? After all, it is Christmas season—the biggest retail opportunity of the year. . .
Introducing the Mono Comme Ca Christmas window, complete with Christmas tree and village, and starring the Bottom Biting Bug as messenger of Yuletide cheer. The shop is located right across the street from the Meiji Shrine exit of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.