Thursday, November 19, 2015

Star Wars Kirin drinks in Japan

The Star Wars boom continues in Japan. To be honest, the marketing wave hasn't been too bombastic (yet). Instead of seeing overwhelming waves of products at a single store, they seem to be spread around a bit - a few baked goods here, a few sweets here, some toys there.

Star Wars licensing and food & drink products have gone hand in glove since the beginning. Recently in Japan, Kirin has launched a series of drinks. Here are pics of some I recently spotted in Tokyo.

This is a type of carbonated soda, I think. The Star Wars villains have red-themed packaging labeled Red Force, while the heroes make up the Blue Force.
 More after the jump:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Star Wars x Ginza Cozy Corner Japanese Cookies, Cakes, and more!

In anticipation of the new film, the Star Wars marketing machine in Japan is now in full effect. Recently, a chain of dessert shops called Ginza Cozy Corner has released a slew of licensed Star Wars tie in desserts.
They have two types of desserts: freshly made and packaged. First, here's a look at the cakes, puddings, and other goodies in the refrigerated display cases.
This is a lot of 9 Star Wars themed cakes.

 More after the jump:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kawasaki European Festival 2015

Every year in Kawasaki, a European Festival is held. There are antique dealers, food stalls, and even performance artists moving about.
The festival is held in a shopping plaza called La Cittadella, and though I wouldn't call the event mind blowing, it's a fun away to spend an afternoon. Here are some pics I took:
 There were a few dozen dealers on hand, mostly selling European antiques.

The toyage at the event was mostly along these lines.
 More after the jump:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ultraman X Family Mart UltraHalloween Party Promotion

Two things that are well-loved in Japan are Ultraman and Halloween. And convenience stores. Three - there are THREE things well-loved in know the bit.
Anyway for a 10-day stretch, when you buy a couple of goodies at a Family Mart, you get a free Ultraman or kaiju sheet that you can punch out to make your own swingin' Ultra display!
It's pretty simple, Buy two of these snacks...
...and get yourself a spooky Baltan + Pigmon set..

...or less spooky but still pretty cool Ultraman X + Ultraman set. The cut outs are perforated so they're easy to punch out and display.

The UltraHalloween Party ends on October 31. The big guy himself is at Family Mart to greet you! (And they have free Wifi, which is Ultracool too.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Treasure Chest Antique Shop - Seoul, Korea

One of the best things that can happen to you in a new place is you can get lost. Or at least you can make your way through side streets and alleyways, following your wits and sense of direction instead of a dot on a screen. After all, when you get off the beaten path, you never know what you will find!
Recently in Seoul, I had such an experience while searching for the Hwanghok-dong flea market. I was walking down a riverside street that was lined with shops selling pipes and sink fittings, when I saw an unusual mural on the side of a building. Then I spotted a dark stairwell that could have been the portal to a furry love den for all I knew (which would have led to an entirely different blog post).
I took a closer look and noticed it was the entrance to an antique store. It was dimly lit, and I'm no fan of steep stairs, but I took a shot and headed down. And then - WOW!  I found myself inside the cavernous Treasure Chest. It was like going into the Tardis and losing your sense of space and time. Hands down, this unlikely space at the bottom of a dark stairwell is the best western antique shop I've seen in Asia.
Admittedly, outside of vintage toys and collectibles, I'm not much of an antiquer. It's a hobby that calls for a different skill set and knowledge base. But though I may not collect old phones, helmets, and cameras, I can definitely appreciate them. The Treasure Chest was an exciting shop, so I took some shots to share.
 More after the jump:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hwanghak-dong Flea Market (Seoul, Korea) - Full-Contact Shopping

The Hwanghak-dong flea market, held most days in downtown Seoul, is a visceral, all-in experience. Frequented almost entirely by locals, it's one of those experiences that puts you right in the slipstream of a healthy, fully pumping cultural artery. It can get messy, but it's a whole lot of fun.
You can find all sorts of things at the market, which occupies a multi-block area just behind Dongmyo station. There are clothes, appliances, books, DVDs, toys, old military uniforms, dishes, and on and on. Whether or not you find something you need, it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.
But be prepared to be elbowed or nudged aside, especially if you're competing for a fresh load of clothes that's been dumped. The place can look like a feeding frenzy!

Here are a bunch of photos I shot on a fine fall afternoon:

 More after the jump:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ultraman Goods Exhibit at Super Festival 69

Exhibit of various Ultraman goods at Super Festival 69, including toys, books, drawings, helmets, and more!
Banso pop up book

Plastic models

I wonder what the story behind these helmets is.
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Super Festival 69 スーパーフェスティバル 69

Welcome to Kaiju Korner's Super Festival 69 report. There were a large number of toy makers on hand with their latest sofubi, keshi gomu, and resin figures. Here are the images I shot, in alphabetical order.


 200+ images after the jump:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kamen Rider Arcade Video Game Cards

In recent years, one of the hottest trends in arcade gaming has been card-based games. They've got machines for historic battle strategy games, anime/idol fashion games, and all sorts of other things. The other day at a bookshop I came across some beautiful Kamen Rider cards. At first I thought they were just trading cards, but today I stumbled on the game they go with.
Here's the Bandai arcade game I spotted in Kawasaki. There are three slots in the center where you place your cards.

Sample cards

It's a large set. Here are some of the heroes. I love the way KR and other Japanese series continue to include characters from previous series even decades after their shows end. It creates a cool sense of continuity, and you can see how the designs have changed over the years.
 More after the jump:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Japanese Ephemera from the 1950s-60s

In post-war Japan, along with the rebuilding of the country's economy and infrastructure, there was a steady growth in domestic consumption (which now makes up nearly 60% of GDP). Kids' culture rode this wave, with toys, magazines, and all sorts of other things being produced.

During the beginning of this growth phase, in the 1950-60s, discretionary spending was still modest in most households. Staples of kids' culture were weekly magazines (and their marvelous furoku), cheap toys from candy shops, menkos (small round or rectangular cards), and so on. This was before the boom in vinyl toys, and one of the main materials used for kids' goods was good old-fashioned paper.

These days, one sometimes comes across beautiful old ephemera with striking colors and subject matter. Some of it has survived half a century in marvelous condition. Here are some pieces I've come across.

Baseball Autograph Books/Scoring Cards

These little books have ballplayers on the cover. On the top, the Japanese says "sign books," so I guess they're for collecting autographs. On the inside, there are some blank pages (maybe for players' signatures), pages with baseball action images, and charts for keeping score. I like them for the cool illustrations and colors.
The backs have score cards and a place where you can write your name.
 More after the jump:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Japan is super expensive, right? Actually...

Shibuya station

For a long time, the consensus has been that Japan is an expensive place. That was easy to go along with back in 1990, when Japanese investors had the money to buy overseas properties like the Pebble Beach golf course. Tales spread about 10,000 yen watermelons (which do exist) and many people assumed that even a brief stay in Japan would break the bank. There may have been some truth to that 30 years ago. But how costly is the country these days?

Well, it's a mixed bag. You still have goods and services that are as expensive as they were during the bubble years. But there's a growing basket of things that are becoming cheaper, either because of decades of deflation or due to low-cost competition. Let's break it down.

(More after the jump:)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vintage Discoveries #4: Kamen RIder keshi gomu gachapon daishi

Sometimes when I come across a cool vintage piece, I like to highlight it in a Vintage Discovery post. Been a while since I've done one. This week's VD (no, we're not talking about Veteran's Day - sheesh) is a gachapon daishi. I've written about daishi in the past - they're the display cards placed in a gachpon machine letting you know what's inside.

Most of the daishi you see are flat cards with photos or illustrations. But some have actual samples affixed to them. You can find them from time to time, but the subject matter isn't always the most interesting (rubber frogs, little gadgets - that sort of thing). So to find a daishi with samples from an interesting property is the bellissima trifecta.

This gachapon machine - from the late 70s or early 80s, had two sizes of Kamen Rider keshi gomu figures. There was a mix of heroes, including Amazon, V3, and X, as well as some villains.

Some closeups:
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Experiencing Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks. It's located in Kansai, one of my favorite parts of Japan. With cities like Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, there's a lot to see and do there, in a fairly compact area. Himeji station is an easy 40 minute train ride from Kobe.

Mind you, in recent years I haven't been much of a postcard seeking sightseer. I'd rather walk through streets and supermarkets than museums or monuments. But I was in Himeji, and, with the castle in eyeshot of the train station, I figured it would be worth a visit.

I titled this post "Experiencing Himeji Castle" since seeing the storied place feels more like something you're pushed through than a place you visit to soak in. From start to finish, you line up, go up a hill, and go through the empty castle in a line of people that twists, winds, and goes up and down stairs. This is inevitable with a property that is on so many visitors' itineraries, but the experience is a far cry from the open, self-directed experience you'll have visiting other historical places, such as Windsor Castle in England.

Here's a bit of a photolog that will give you a sense of the experience:
The outer gate is about 10 minutes from the castle. You start by going over a moat.
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Star Wars x Lotte in Japan: The Boom Awakens!

Every so often in Japan, when a show, movie, character, or something else becomes super popular, they call it a "boom." Some examples are Batman in the late 60s (thanks to the TV show), "super cars" in the 70s-80s. and Superman in the late 70s (thanks to the movie). Companies are extremely good at stoking fervor for the boom with marketing blitzes and product tie ins.

A few months ago in Japan, you could feel that the machine was revving up to start delivering anything and everything Star Wars to the nations' eyeballs. Giant posters appeared in Shibuya station, and there was even a Star Wars newspaper that appeared in convenience stores.

And now, with Episode 7 just a few months away, the product flow has begun, starting with branded snacks by Lotte.
Star Wars Episodes 4, 5, and 6 Bikkuriman snack + sticker.
More after the jump:
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