Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Wanted: Japan’s next fun fad

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I’ve always seen Japan as a nation of trend lovers. From Tamagotchi digital pets and “print club” photo stickers to the morning banana diet and Billy’s Boot Camp, people here seem ready to jump all over the latest fad.

But 2009 wasn’t much of a year for fun and games in the world’s second-biggest economy, according to ad agency Dentsu’s latest Hit Product Recognition survey.

With the exception of flu masks, the Top 10 in this year’s survey was dominated by low-priced retail merchandise and eco-friendly products as consumers pinched pennies and took advantage of government stimulus subsidies.

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Hybrid vehicles topped the rankings while other low-emission vehicles eligible for tax breaks and subsidies placed fourth.

Suiting up against the flu

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It looks like typical, off-the-rack business attire but a Japanese menswear firm has invented a suit for the executive who doesn’t have time to come down with the flu.

Haruyama Trading says its $590 suit can protect wearers from the H1N1 virus, as it is coated with titanium dioxide, a chemical commonly used in toothpaste and cosmetics that is said to kill the virus upon contact.

Who is that masked man/woman?

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FLU/JAPANAs the confirmed number of Japanese infected with the H1N1 flu virus rises, the growing question among many is: Where can we buy face masks?

Disposable masks have become an essential accessory in the worst-affected areas of western Japan, while a growing number of Tokyo commuters are wearing them. The government has recommended use by those who suspect infection, but some businesses are ordering employees to wear them, especially if they have face-to-face client interaction.

Japan markets Obama in masks, books and tourism

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As Washington readies for the inauguration of Barack Obama, one Japanese firm is finding out how well his face sells — literally.

Obama mask factory near Tokyo

A mask factory near Tokyo is churning out Obama masks that are fast becoming the firm’s top-selling face, while others are also cashing in on the popularity of the new U.S. president.

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