Archive for September, 2005

Sep
14

Happy 20th anniversary Mario!

Posted by on Wednesday, 14 September, 2005

yeah, I know I’m one day late, but gimme a break…..

Super Mario is celebrating its 20th anniversary. (Thanks to Mari for reminding me through her blog.) Yes, the first version of Super Mario Brothers was released on September 13, 1985! Amazing how fast time goes by! I still remember playing the original game on my famicom (NES for you Americans) and how incredibly fun it was! I had never seen anything like it at the time (did PacLand come out before or after Super Mario, though? After I think….)

Anyway, to commemorate the 20th anniversary, Nintendo has released the Game Boy Micro which is a really really small version of the Game Boy Advanced. Actually, looking at the specs of the different models, the Micro seems a bit improved over previous version, in spite of its size!

They also released a special version of the Game Boy Micro which looks like the old Famicom-controllers! Neat! (Tons of other special editions listed here)

Gameboy Micro NES edition

Sep
12

Women, Family and work in the Japanese Economy

Posted by on Monday, 12 September, 2005

EIJS (European Insitute of Japanese Studies) is giving a new seminar on September 13 titled “Women, Family and Work in the Japanese Economy.” This seminar is, for some unknown reason, not posted on their website, nor is it on the Swedish Embassy webpage. That is unfortunate, because the theme of the seminar sounds very interesting, and with a lack of advertising it will not get as much attention as it should.

In light of recent discussions in media and on the web, e.g the TIME article entitled The Wasted Asset, this seminar is very timely. (I first found that article via Neomarxisme where there is a lively discussion on the topic as well.

Details on the EIJS seminar:

Date: September 13, 2005
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (drinks and snacks served from 6:15 PM)
Place: Conference Square M+ Room “Success” 1st floor, Mitsubishi Building 2-5-2, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Three-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station, South Exit
Fee: 2000 Yen (Free for students)

For details, contact Ms. Miki Futugawa at (03) 5220-4567 or e-mail eijsjap (AT) attglobal.net

Sep
11

Numa Numa fever reaches Japan

Posted by on Sunday, 11 September, 2005

Well it seems Numa Numa fever has reached Japan and exploded completely here. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost a bit of its roots – not many seem to know the “original” Numa Numa Dance (see link above) as made popular by Gary Brolsma.

Here in Japan the main theme seems to be dancing cats drinking sake….? What’s that all about? And they pronunce the “numa numa” as “noma noma” which sounds like “drink drink”. I dunno, t

Here’s a whole page dedicated to the Numa Numa craze in Japan – it’s bookmarked all vital sites and flash animations produced over here. The page is in Japanese, but if you scroll down you get videos and flash animations.

Sep
11

Marketing tricks in Japan

Posted by on Sunday, 11 September, 2005

Today I’ll tell you about the two most promintent (in my opinion) marketing tricks you see in the Japanase retail business today. The thing is, at first glance, these two techniques seem to be vastly different and I have always thought to myself that they were contradictionary. However, I guess with some deeper analyzing, you can see how they fit into Japanese society, and the mind of the Japanese consumer.

Anyway, here we go. The first one you ALWAYS see everywhere is the RANKING LIST. This must be the most used marketing trick in Japan, and it seems to work so well because everyone uses it, for almost anything. So you watch TV and you see “TOP TEN DIET SUPPLEMENTS” or you step into a supermarket and you can see on the shelves, “TOP FIVE IMPORTED CANDY” or “TOP TEN SNACKS FOR KIDS” etc etc ad nauseum.

I think the theory behind this is fairly obvious. Japan is a society where almost everyone goes with the flow. At least as far as I can judge from my position as an outsider. The key to success for a product in Japan is that people already buy lots of it. Yes, it’s kind of a Catch 22, you can’t get big in Japan unless you are already big in Japan! So, the Top Ten Lists in their various disguises, communicates to the consumer : “Buy this, because everyone else is buying it!” And since everyone else is buying it, it must be good, right? Personally, I think most of the Ranking lists are bogus. They are constructed from supplier’s marketing money – the company who spends most will get their product ranked at the top.

There is even a shop here in Japan that specializes only in these kinds of sales. It’s called “Ranking Queen” and sells everything from CDs to cosmetics, to candy, to water etc. Thing is, they have a selection of 3-5 different producs of every type only, and they are displayed as Top 3 (or 5) “Bottled Water” or “Skincare product” or “Japanese CD Single” Simply a genious marketing ploy!

The second marketing trick, which seems to be at odds against the first one, is the “Limited Edition”. You often see “For a limited time only” products in Japan. For example, during the summer, we have seen the following different soft drinks (andmany of them are already gone off the market) Fanta Apricot, Fanta Yuzu, Fanta Kiwi, Sprite X, Pepsi X, Pepsi Black, Kirin Lemon Black, Kirin Lemon White. And don’t get me started on the different time-limited snackbars and chips-flavors, it’s ridiculous!

So how come a society who is so unwilling to adapt new things, and always waits for the group to move in harmony, will desire to pick up these limited editions? I don’t have an answer to this. I know that Japanese are quick to jump on new trends and fads, but tend to tire fast, either because not enough people join in or that, in fact, the fad was stupid. So, when there is a new version of a product, Japanese love to get it because it’s unique and special – however there is one thing that is worth to note. All these unique and special limited products are all produced by big companies – so the Japanese consumer “safely” can buy it knowing that a popular company stands by it. I don’t think a limited edition by an unknown producer would do nearly as well as something launched by, say, The Coca Cola Company.

So in my opinion, within certain safe boundaries, Japanese are willing to take risks and jump onto new trends and try new products – and the more limited and special, the better – however, the safest bet to gain the consumer’s trust is still to be big and popular already….

Sep
09

Pocky!

Posted by on Friday, 9 September, 2005

I know this makes my blog feel like some teenager’s friggin LiveJournal (sorry Ophey) but I really really felt the need to post this meaningless piece of info: (as usual, link shamelessly stolen from Sushi Zume

You Are Strawberry Pocky
Strawberry Pocky
Your attitude: fresh and sweet
Comforting, yet quirky … quietly hyper
You always see both sides to everything