Sunday, December 2, 2012

News from the Land of the Rising Sun

Just as the very rich, to paraphrase Fitzgerald, are different from the rest of us, so is Japan.

Let's look, for example, at the ways some Japanese cope with insecurity about their appearance.  As attractive as the Japanese are, many of them seem to dislike their looks.  So they turn, naturally, to technology, since  Japan is, of course, the global home of technology used oddly (Tamagotchi, anyone?).  And when technology is applied to insecurity, you get things like this.

This is the Hana Twin Nose.  No, I don't know why it's called that, although I suppose sisters (or just good friends) could each buy one and, over time, produce twin noses.  Its manufacturers call it  "a much cheaper alternative to plastic surgery and it doesn't hurt either!"  And it's obviously convenient, attractive, and comfortable to wear.  This appears to be the version designed for mouth-breathers.

And then we have . . .

The Meijikara Anti-Wrinkle Glasses.  Imagine combating the pernicious effects of aging with these cheery yellow specs.  What could be easier?  And, just in case you're skeptical, the company that makes them hits that nail square on the head, saying, "It might seem like another wacky Japanese invention but in fact the Mejikara has been a sleeper hit here."

I actually find it reassuring that insecurity is so universal.  When I was growing up, I thought I had the market cornered.  Everyone else seemed so comfortable.   But look at these products.  Presumably, each was the subject of a business plan, and the most essential component of a business plan is identifying and quantifying the customer base.  If money actually talks, what it's saying here is that there are lots of us who are unhappy about the way we look!

But here's an entirely new level, at least as far as I'm concerned.  They're Japanese (of course) and young (because who else's self-esteem is so disastrous?) and maybe a little geeky--members, in short of the otaku subculture, obsessed with manga and video games.  For them, the easiest way to--well, ask for a date, for example--seems to be to do it while their faces are completely covered with a manga mask.  Here are two photos of a dating club that people attend wearing masks of their favorite characters in order to have the nerve to ask each other out.

And once they've made their choices, filled in the forms or whatever those pieces of paper are, off they go for an unforgettable night on the town.

Next-to-last, we've got something for people whose problems are more deep-seated than mere lack of confidence, issues rooted deep in the past, or perhaps in prior incarnations, all the way into L. Ron Hubbard territory.

This is a Shinjuku coffee house called Tokyo Hypnosis Cafe "Colors" where, in addition to a cup of joe, you can order up a mesmeric treatment for, according to the menu,

Basic Hypnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¥1,000
Diet Suggestion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¥2,000
Traumas Erasure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¥5,000
Stop Smoking Suggestion . . . . . . . . . . .¥2,000
Former Life Regression. . . . . . . . . . . . .¥15,000

If this were an American chain operation and you planned to rattle up more than one former life, you'd probably have to sit in a booth and order something for each of them.

And last of all, here's something (other than former life regression) I could actually use.  More to the point, it's something my wife, who reclines for hours watching movies with her laptop balanced on her chest, could use.  Imagine: a whole day, flat on your back, online, using this simple, if somewhat precarious-looking, stand.
By the way, 100% of these photos came from my new favorite site on Japan,  But don't log on if you haven't got browsing time, and be careful drinking fluids over your keyboard because odds are pretty good you're going to laugh.  And the site is inspiring, too; the Japanese are so endlessly ingenious and so practical, in ways that occasionally amaze me.

Tim -- Sunday


  1. Japan is probably THE country in the world that feels the most alien to me, which is strange, since many Japanese people seem to be trying to emulate Americans. ("Through a glass, darkly," perhaps...) Other countries are actually more DIFFERENT from American culture, so maybe it's the juxtaposition of 'alien' and 'familiar' that makes Japan seem so strange.

    But, at least, now we know why you've been struggling so much on the new Poke... you've GOT to STOP surfing the web man! Just because you can no longer use pencil sharpening as a way to stall writing, that doesn't mean you should substitute a different pacifier!

  2. "This is the Hana Twin Nose. No, I don't know why it's called that,"

    Hana means E.g. nose, flower and endpoint. I would prefer an all Japanese name. Perhaps adding the English words sells better.

    To Everett. Same feeling here but in reverse. Their language seems so familiar and they are like long lost relatives and easy to understand.


  3. All these quirky inventions and robotics...they keep my son from wanting to live again in the boring Midwest...

  4. The whimsy of all those gadgets, the creativity is fun! The masks especially--like kabuki make-up. Just think about meeting someone wearing one like that -- doesn't it give all you writers ideas about a sinister story? Boy meets girl wearing a mask, but never allows her to see his face. . . .

  5. Another comment. Your web site is like a Christmas gift, but year-round. When I want to be amused, enlightened, surprised, inspired, I click over to "Murder is everywhere." The Japanese web-site is a gift as well. Thank you!

  6. Thank you, loverofwords -- this group works hard on these posts, and they deserve that kind of praise. You're right, the Otaku masked meetings has GOT to be the premise of a mystery that someone is writing. And so glad you like Japantrends.

    Harvee, have you been to Japan? It might as well be Oz. I really love it.

    Hi, Anon. I didn't know that hana meant nose or any of those other things, but it was really "twin" I was wondering about. I'm sure the original copy was all in Japanese, but the people who run the website were kind enough to translate.

    Jeff, Ginsu are used for what they used to call "bobbing" a nose. Much more painful than the Hana Twon Nose. Also, arguably more permanent.

    Ahh, Everett. I wish it were that easy, but you've got the cause and effect the wrong way around. I'm online BECAUSE I'm having trouble writing.