Scary enough to make you uncomfortable, but small enough to put in your pocket!
Today I learned a new word — coulrophobia. Coulrophobia is a fear of clowns, and while I don’t personally suffer from it, I have a good friend from the U.S. who absolutely does. She visibly cringes every time she even just sees a picture of a clown, and coming across one in real life? Forget it. Sweaty palms, nausea and a whole load of nope.
Coulrophobia is pretty common in some countries, but here in Japan, people tend to be pretty chill when it comes to clowns. Even when it comes to what is perhaps the most notoriously terrifying clown, Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT. So petrifying is Pennywise that some people claim him to be the source of their coulrophobia, but Japan has ways to make even the most creepy of clowns adorable.
But however adorable Pennywise merchandise may have been in the past, this gacha-toy-capsule Pennywise sticks to the depiction that was first shown in the 2017 remake movie. The time for cute Pennywise is over; this may be the most terrifying gacha capsule toy Japan has ever created. In fact, these capsule toys are so scary that there’s even a “not suitable for under 15s” label on it, just in case you thought gacha capsule toys were just for kids.
▼ We’re even getting chills from the picture.
▼ The IT Pennywise Collection (300 yen/US$2.89 each, four types to collect)
Our non-caulrophobic Japanese-language writer Saya Togashi managed to get her hands on three of the four …continue reading
Celebrate the romantic holiday with some lovely Starbucks goods.
No sooner has the year begun than we’re already off and running with a new and exciting limited-edition drinkware range from Starbucks Japan. This time, it’s a gorgeous collection to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so if you love your Starbucks goods adorned with hearts and pretty pink hues, now’s the time to start shopping for your favourites!
Let’s take a look at what’s on offer below.
Handy Stainless Bottle Pink (4,400 yen [US$42.49])
This sturdy stainless steel bottle will keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold, with rows of hearts in artfully gradated colours and an eye-catching gold heart thrown into the mix.
Stainless ToGo Cup Tumbler Heart (3,600 yen)
Show your love for the green mermaid with this cute multi-heart tumbler, which comes with a sliding mouthpiece on the lid to stop you from spilling your precious Starbucks.
Stainless Bottle Marble Heart (3,800 yen)
Marble-patterned hearts are a highlight of the new range, and they look particularly cute on the slim body of this shiny travel bottle, which is designed to hold Grande-sized drinks.
Stainless Tumbler Embossed Heart (3,800 yen)
This hot pink tumbler amps up the colour and dials down the design with more subtle embossed hearts. The textured heart pattern makes holding and using this one a delight.
Silicon Lid Stainless Cup Charm Lollipop (3,100yen)
A cup that pops with colour and heart-shaped lollipops is topped off with a silicone lid and a cute acrylic charm to put a smile on …continue reading
An anime dog, rabbit, and fox walk into a conbini.
VTubers have been taking over YouTube. Combining the power of streaming and cute anime girls, they’re a near unstoppable force, and standing at the top of them all is the organization Hololive.
There are dozens and dozens of VTubers under the Hololive umbrella, each with their own personalities and unique designs. They stream video games, music, and more in Japanese and English too.
Among all of them though, three of the most popular are Inugami Korone (a dog who wants your fingers), Usada Pekora (a rabbit with an insane laugh), and Shirakami Fubuki (the friend-zoning fox).
▼ Korone’s English playthrough of Super Mario Bros is a good starting point to check
But for fans who have already fallen down the Hololive hole long ago, now there are official clear files of those three VTubers available at FamilyMart stories in Japan.
▼ The official image for the campaign…
▼ …and what they look like inside the store.
The clear files are on sale until January 25, or until supplies run out, across all FamilyMart locations in Japan. It’s a collaboration with the chocolate company Ghana, and in order to get a clear file, you have to purchase three Ghana products. For every three products you buy, you get to pick one clear file.
So of course that meant we had to buy 12 products to get all four!
▼ This mountain …continue reading
Even as Japanese people become taller and larger on average than their ancestors, the retail scene here is very slow to catch up to the changing demographics of its consumers. The most common women’s shoe size in the United States is somewhere between an 8.5 and a 9 but in Japan, these are considered so abnormally large that most stores don’t even carry them.
I personally wear a U.S. 9 in shoes, and I have female Japanese friends who are the same size or larger. Unfortunately, many of them are just as lost about where to shop for shoes as we foreigners are. But after a lot of asking around, searching online and combing the streets, I was able to come up with the following places that carry larger-sized women’s shoes. You may not find every single style in your size, but at least these retailers will give you options that you may not have realized you had.
The Usual Suspects
There are a handful of shoe stores that my friends and I have been frequenting for years on our quest to find stylish shoes that fit.
Diana Shoes is a nationwide chain that even has an online shopping site in English, with international shipping options. Diana’s Ginza flagship and its branch located near the bottom of Takeshita Dori in Harajuku both have sections dedicated to larger sizes, specifically 25 to 27 centimeters. If you’re looking for fashionable heels or cute flats, Diana is a good place to check out, and some of the simpler styles can also be purchased online by clicking here.
Get ready to raise a glass to, and of, the return of this Suntory star.
Just like when Japan proved it can build great cars, so too did it prove it can distill great spirits. Demand for Japanese whiskies has been skyrocketing in recent years, so much so that some of the most popular varieties completely sell out.
“Can’t they just make more?” you might be asking, but it’s not that simple. Whisky has to be aged, sometimes for a decade or more, so it’s not just a matter of expanding your production facility and hiring more workers. A spike in popularity can completely deplete a distiller’s stock for years to come, which is what happened in the spring of 2018, when Suntory announced it would be running out of its Hakushu 12 Year in June of that year.
It’s doubly sad when a beloved whisky goes off the market, since it leaves aficionados with one less option with which to drown their sorrows. But today Hakushu fans have reason to celebrate, as Suntory has just issued a statement that Hakushu 12 Year will be going on sale once again, and soon.
▼ We missed you so much.
However, even though whisky is a drink best enjoyed by slowly sipping, you’ll want to act fast if you’re hoping to pick up a bottle. As mentioned above, whisky production takes a long time, and the new stock of Hakushu 12 Year, distilled on Mt. Kaikomagatake in the southern Japan alps, also started production in an era before anyone knew just how high demand for it would become. In other words, it’s not a massive batch, and while Suntory has not said exactly how many bottles will be available, it is saying that …continue reading
Bandai’s Premium Gashapon wants to go beyond pocket-change impulse buys.
The core concept of Japan’s capsule toys, that people will spend money without knowing exactly what they’re buying, doesn’t seem like something that should work. Fans will tell you, though, that there’s a special excitement that comes from that element of chance, plus a special elation if you’re lucky enough to get exactly the toy you wanted out of the many possible drops.
Then there’s the fact that capsule toys are a pretty affordable roll of the proverbial dice, generally costing just 300 or 400 yen (US$2.90 or US$3.85), so even if you don’t get the exact model you were hoping for, your wallet hasn’t taken that big of a hit. However, Bandai is set to challenge the notion that affordability is a key part of the recipe for capsule toy fun this month by introducing its new Premium Gashapon machines.
Ordinary capsule toy machines are set up to take 100-yen coins, but the new Premium Gashapon units are designed to accept 500-yen coins too. What’s more, they can take up to four 500-yen and five 100-yen coins in a single transaction, allowing for capsule toy prices up to 2,500 yen (US$24).
No matter how many coins and what denominations you put in, though, you still turn a crank once you’ve paid, and retrieve your toy from a plastic orb that drops out of the machine.
There’re a few things besides the price that also contribute to the “premium” experience. For …continue reading
Complete with a cushion and a heat pack, this set is great for the office, at home, or for outdoor events!
Laugh all you want, but cold bottoms are a real thing. If your butt is cold, then the lower half of your body is probably chilly, too, and for those who are always struggling with cold legs, the problem can’t be solved by putting on a pair of pants, no matter how warm. That’s why we had to try out the Oshiri 41 Degrees butt-warming cushion by On Style, for cold butts everywhere (and because our previous attempt to warm our lower bodies wasn’t a very good idea).
Oshiri 41 Degrees is a portable, non-electric heat pack, similar to the kairo chemical heat packs that you can keep in your pocket, which you can put into a little cushion on your chair. You can get both the cushion and a disposable pocket warmer as a set at most drug stores and online shops for 850 yen (US$8.18), although we were frankly a little bit disappointed to find only one pocket warmer included in the package when we paid nearly 1,000 yen for it.
It’s super easy to use; all you have to do is put the warmer inside the pocket of the cushion, put it on your chair, and sit. Like many pocket warmers, it naturally becomes warm when exposed to the air, so when you sit on it, it spreads its warmth through the cushion to gently comfort your buttocks.
According to the instructions, though the cushion that comes in the pack looks pretty ordinary, it’s actually specially designed to preserve heat well. In fact, together with the pocket warmer, it can stay as warm …continue reading
If you want it, this arcade’s probably got it.
Crane games – Japan loves them, needs them, and sometimes breaks them. And on January 7, 2021, the Sega Shinjuku Kabukicho arcade in donwtown Tokyo officially received a certificate saying they broke the Guinness World Record for having the most crane games, also lovingly referred to as UFO catchers in Japan, in a single establishment.
The Sega Shinjuku Kabukicho arcade originally opened in July of 2017, and at the time it had both crane games and video games. But in late December 2020 it reopened as a crane games-only specialty arcade (hence the world record).
▼ The outside of the arcade
Prior to the reopening, the world record was held by another arcade in Tokyo, Taito Station Fuchu Kururu Branch, where they have a whopping 454 crane games!
▼ It goes on and on and on and on…
So how many crane games does the Kabukicho arcade have, you ask? 477, to be exact. That includes snack crane games, mini crane games, giant plushie crane games, anime figurine crane games, household good crane games, and more.
▼ Here’s a photo of the ceremony, which was livestreamed for the public.
Despite this achievement, however, we can’t say that Japanese netizens were as stoked. Here’s what some of them said:
Will COVID-19 dampen Japan’s most flamboyant celebration?
The second Monday of every year is known as Coming of Age Day in Japan, which honors the citizens who have reached the age of 20 during the previous fiscal year. This day usually involves the young adults gathering at a local venue for an official ceremony.
▼ Typical Coming of Age Day revelers
It’s exactly the kind of event that people have been trying to avoid holding for the past year, so organizers are looking for safer alternatives which will still give these people their once-in-a-lifetime event. Reducing scale, postponement, and online ceremonies have been declared by various municipalities.
In the case of Japan’s most ostentatious Coming of Age Day ceremony, held in Kitakyushu city, they have decided to divide the ceremony into two separate gatherings to keep numbers down. One will be held in the morning and one in the afternoon.
▼ Kitakyushu Coming of Age Day revelers
However, that still amounts to a lot of people in the same place at the same time, so a lot of new adults may decide to stay home on that day. To find out more, our Kitakyushu Coming of Age Day expert Masanuki Sunakoma visited the flashy kimono specialists at Miyabi.
Miyabi is well-known in the area for providing total support in selecting and putting on many of the elaborate outfits seen in past years. Not only that, they are also well-skilled in putting people in more conservative kimonos and gowns as well.
▼ Masanuki got the full Miyabi treatment himself three years ago
<img src="https://soranews24.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/01/img_7299.jpg?w=640" alt="" width="640" height="853" srcset="https://soranews24.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/01/img_7299.jpg 640w, https://soranews24.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/01/img_7299.jpg?resize=113,150 …continue reading
We wanna wana!
You could argue that Japan’s capsule toy machines are for suckers. Sure, the front of the machine is plastered with splashy photos of the toys inside, but since the drop is random, you won’t know for sure which one you’re getting until after you’ve paid.
So unless you like every single possibility, there’s a chance you’ll end up with something you didn’t want, making the gachapon machine kind of a trap. But what if instead of being a trap itself, the machine was filled with traps instead?
That’s the situation posed by capsule toy maker Tama-Kyu’s new Wana line, wana being the Japanese word for “trap.” Though there are five models, their construction is all the same, so really the only gamble is which color you’ll get.
▼ In addition to shiny gold, silver, and bronze, Wana also comes in fashionable pink or stealthy black, which seems like it would be the most effective in catching unsuspecting prey.
They don’t just look the part, either, as the traps are functional. Once you set them, putting weight on the center pressure plate will trigger the jaws, which swing up and clamp shut.
Being made of plastic means there’s no bloody aftermath to clean up, and at a compact 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) in size, you probably won’t be able to catch large game or human intruders with them. On the other hand, Tama-Kyu points out that they’re great for terrorizing your capsule toy figures, …continue reading