All posts by The Purple Imo

Another Explosive Summer of Japanese Hanabi

Japanese FireworksFireworks have always been a source of mystery and nostalgia for many people. Perhaps its because we are generally introduced to these noisy and colourful displays when we are young and at a most impressionable age, after all being allowed to stay up late and go outside in the dark with the adults is pretty exciting stuff for a 4 year old. For me fireworks started with a few sparklers and the dads lofting up some bottle rockets. I then progressed to the larger, but still modest, shows held by the PTA at my local primary school.

In Japan fireworks, or “Hanabi”, are in a different league and are taken very seriously. Continue reading

New Highs In Japan’s Tissue Paper Culture

supertissue.jpgEarlier this week Nepia, one of the nations largest manufacturer and distributor of domestic paper products released a very limited number of what may be the most expensive tissue paper in the world. Nepia very shrewdly made their new product available only through their internet shop at mid night on Friday, by the time the Saturday morning talk shows had picked up on the campaign it was all but over and all 3000 sets had sold out.

Japan has long been know as a place where tissue paper comes cheap, so cheap in fact that there exists an entire industry of handing out of free tissue paper Continue reading

Crab Brain Misconceptions

phpcpwfuapm.jpgCrab eating is taken seriously here in Japan, crabs are a delicacy and nothing is wasted not even the brain. Winter is well upon us and now is the best time of year to tuck into the tasty crustacean. Restaurants throughout the country are serving them up in all manor of fashion, and hordes of tourists are descending upon seaside towns especially in Hokkaido to fill up on a whole variety of the crawlers. A top of the line crab can cost anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 yen! If you’ve been ever sat down to a good crab meal, you may have come across a dish called Kani Miso. Continue reading

‘Man Scent’ Chewing Gum

phpihzknppm.jpgEarlier in Summer you may have missed the a new chewing gum phenomenon, “Otoko Kaoru” (Literally: ‘Man Scent’).

What’s unusual about this gum is that it causes a rose fragrance to be emitted from the chewer’s body for about one to two hours after its chewed. The Rose Menthol flavoured gum, contained a fragrant component geraniol, which is found in roses. According to Kanebo’s food research laboratory, the component is easily emitted from the body’s sweat glands, in much the same way as Continue reading

Chopstick Economics and the “My Hashi” Boom

img01.pngThe humble waribashi – disposable wooden, or literally ‘split-apart’ chopsticks. Japan consumes a massive 25 billion sets of them every year – about 200 pairs per person. Earlier this year, in a move that was cheered by environmentalists, China’s latest 5 year plan slapped a 5 percent tax on their chopstick exports over concerns of deforestation. The tax along with the rising costs of raw wood and transportation because of higher oil prices have contributed to big price rises. A pair of waribashi that used to cost a little over 1 yen 4 months ago are now 1.5-1.7 yen. As some 97% of the throwaway chopsticks in Japan come from China, restaurants and convenience stores alike have been scrambling to find viable alternatives. Continue reading

The Biker’s Life, A Biker’s Mansion!

thumb05.jpgFor those that can’t get enough of a supercharged 2 wheeled machine riding between their legs then the next best thing must be sleeping with it! In the country where land is scarce and parking spaces cost big bucks, people naturally tend towards buying bikes. Japan consistently has one of the highest per capita sale of motorbikes in the world. Its no coincidence then that the motorbike big three; Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki are all from Japan. There’s a real passion for bikes here, and now there’s a new avenue for people who love there bikes to express it, the Riders Mansion. Continue reading

Japanese TV and YouTube

First Japanese TVIn any look at Japanese culture a reoccurring theme is Japanese TV. Call it corny, crazy or just bizzare but which ever way you cut it, its interesting and can be a damn fine way to spend some quality veg out time. The very concept of a celebrity is taken to a new dimension in Japan, where people are famous for simply being umm … famous! In the west celebrities have a day job for which they become famous… ie actor, singer, comedian, young people in Japan however seem to skip the means and grow up aspiring to become simply “a celebrity”.

Japanese TV is very entertaining, one of my long time favourites has been Fuji TV’s ‘Fountain of Trivia‘ (トリビアの泉)a great show, since copied for the US market, where the hosts present to the panel a series of sometimes quite amazing trivial facts. The key is in the presentation of Continue reading

What’s Hot in Japanese Toilets?

“Your Mission: Extinguish a fire!”, says the sticker above the urinal. It is the latest in an arsenal of stealth weapons gaining popularity in Japan amongst toilet cleaner circles. Japanese Toilet Mission - Put out the fire! These Toilet Target Marker Stickers, play on a known male psychology by changing colour with the heat, as they are doused in urine. They are showing up in urinals around the country as their makers claim they keep toilets 76% cleaner. Continue reading

Japan’s New Finance Minister

kojiomi.jpgMr. Koji Omi, the new Finance Minister of Japan in the Abe government, judging first from the fact that he’s not a graduate of the University of Tokyo, that has heretofore supplied Japan with the bureaucrats that begat the deflation of the late ’90s and early ’00s, we might have a good thing. From his first few comments too, he seems to be on the right track… and this despite the fact that he has been a lifelong civil servant, having left university and having gone directly into the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, where he spent a goodly portion of his early career, and then when he went into the Diet back in ’83, where he’s held a seat ever since. Continue reading

Who is the New Prime Minister of Japan?

Shinzo AbeMr. Shinzo Abe turns out to be a surprisingly interesting guy a very brief review of his history turns up that Mr. Abe is from a very long line of very successful and very well connected Japanese politicians. His grandfather, on his mother’s side, was Mr. Nobusuke Kishi, who served during the Second World War in the Emperor’s Cabinet, was imprisoned for (but never found guilty of) war crimes. The elder Mr. Kishi then became an important post-War political figure, and rose to the Prime Minister’s post in 1957. Mr. Kishi was, by all accounts, the quintessential Japanese post-war Prime Minister: a finder/builder of consensus; a non-maker of new policies. However, its understood that Mr. Kishi’s imprisonment left a very real impression upon his grandson. Prime Minister Abe’s father was Shintaro Abe, one of the most successful of Japanese political figures during the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. Continue reading