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The fashionable face mask

The fashionable face mask


The face mask is a common site living in Japan through both the winter months and through hayfever season. Your initial reaction may be to run when you see someone wearing the mask in case they might pass on to you whatever illness they are hiding behind the mask, or maybe its just a flashback to a bad dentist or doctors trip.

Once you start to realize that most of the mask-wearers may actually be the healthy ones and the guy coughing in the corner without the mask is more likely to give you the flu, you get chance to study the different types of masks. I thought I had seen a lot of them, but it was only when I picked up the latest copy of DIME that I realized just how many types there were.

DIME Magazine, March 3, 2009 Issue

DIME Magazine, March 3, 2009 Issue


DIME Review of masks
DIME have done a quick review of the 27 different types of masks available for sale in Japan. They have split them up into 3 basic categories.

  1. Masks focused on ones image
  2. Masks focused on functionality
  3. Professional masks

The following is a snapshot of the article from DIME giving an overview. For more detail (in Japanese) you can take a look at DIME 05, 2009 3 3 edition.

The fashionable masks
In the first category, the comment is

even when wearing a mask one wants to look fashionable.

Well, nice try, but the mask on the face as a fashion statement might be a tough sell. Still, lets have a look at why they are considered fashionable. As the mask designs have developed, the manufacturers focusing on the fashionable category have worked on given more of a 3D or raised mask shape to the mask. This makes it look less like someone has strapped a packet of tissues across your nose with elastic bands.

Also in the fashionable category are the masks that don’t smear your makeup and allow you to wash off your makeup easily from the mask if it gets dirty. As well there are masks which are said to be kinder to delicate skin and masks that allow you to leave them on for longer periods of time without causing crease lines on your face.

Review by DIME magazine on face masks, Japan

Review by DIME magazine on face masks, Japan

Focus on Functionality Masks
As well as helping to protect you from the spread of flu, colds and hayfever, these masks also take into account features such as protecting you from dryness of air, fresh aromatic oils and menthol sheets in the masks to entice you to buy them. When I was looking at the people wearing masks at Shibuya station I really had not thought about which one might be wearing the menthol mask and which one had the “keep my skin from getting dry” mask on!

Some of the masks come with refills for the aromatic oils and menthol strips. Others in this category specifically point out that they combat influenza virus etc, whilst some focus on areas such as, making sure your glasses don’t steam up when you wear the mask. With the stakes high everyone has to find their niche.

Professional Focus Masks
This category should definitely not be worn on the train. They start to resemble something you might see in a movie where the body count is climbing. The mouth/nose area tends to have a plastic breathing filter and definitely does not look friendly. Compared to this category, the fashionable masks look very trendy.

Functional and Professional Masks

Functional and Professional Masks

Designer Masks, Original for you
One make of masks did look more fashionable than the rest. It was billed as a “Mask with decoration”. It allows you to put on a design seal and rhinestone to make the mask an original for you. The main purpose of the mask appears to be protection from hayfever. The Japanese name for this mask is “DecoriMask”.

Also in this picture, on the left, you can see the product called Nose Mask Pit sold by Bio International. This is a filter inserted into the nose. The copy says

When you get used to the strange sensation you feel in the beginning, you really don’t mind it so much.

I don’t think this one is for me!

DecoriMask and Nose Mask

DecoriMask and Nose Mask

Next time you are out, check out the masks at the station and see if you can figure out who is wearing what.

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img_0865-1I bought a pack of Yuzu Potato chips the other day to try something different. Yuzu is found in Japan although originally came from China. The taste is very similar to a mandarin and may even be a derivative of that fruit.

There are many varieties of potato chips to choose from in Japan and the Yuzu variety may not last long in the convenience store where new products tend to change out very quickly.

Convenience Stores becoming Market Research Stores
Convenience stores appear to be becoming a market research store rather than their original purpose of serving the basic foods conveniently. Every time I visit my local convenience store I see new products only to go back in the following week to see them gone.

Japanese Snack Reviews Blog
Back to the Yuzu story, the end result was the Yuzu potato chips were good. I was going to write more about this topic but found a great article at Japanese Snack Reviews which I thought summed up the whole experience.

If you like Yuzu, these chips are for you, although the convenience store may have already filled their spot with the next new product.

I also bought some Chocolate coated Sunflower seeds which I had not seen in Japan before. I don’t know a lot about these but they did taste good.

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Advert for Rilakkuma store opening at Tokyo Station For all those fans of Rilakkuma you will be pleased to hear they are opening a store at Tokyo Station on the 20th of February. Here is a snapshot of the web advertisement for the store from the San-x website. You can get full details here at the San-x Rilakkuma site.

The store is locate in Ichiban-gai (First Avenue) of the Station underground mall on level B1. Here is the link for the official site of 東京駅一番街(First Avenue at Tokyo Station). The site appears to be in Japanese only.

C-Scout have a Rilakkuma article about purikura for office ladies here if you are interested and another article about Rilakkuma themed hotel rooms!

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In order to raise cash for the local Shibuya area, the Shibuya Council ward have decided to sell the naming rights to 14 public toilet locations in Shibuya. Normally naming rights are associated with sports stadiums or buildings and according to the local Shibuya official in an interview they said “we looked around but could not find any other examples of this”.

Perfect location for Japan Tobacco to sponsor. Everyone already has the product out advertising it for them.

Perfect location for Japan Tobacco to sponsor. Everyone already has the product out advertising it for them.

5 year lease contract

The Council is looking to set a lease period of 5 years for the naming rights and expect to commence the operation from April this year, 2009. The company that bids and wins the rights to individual locations will have the right to display their company name and product names or billboard type advertising at the locations. They will also be able to use land in another 7 locations for billboards.

Whilst money is a consideration in awarding the rights, the Shibuya Council will also review the bidders plan for keeping the facilities clean and tidy. Many of the facilities are old and so the Council hope they might get improvements made also through this campaign.

Sources: Asahi Newspaper (Japanese edition), yahoo.co.jp, Shibuya Keizai Shinbun, Shibuya Council documentation.

Number 3 on the official list of Shibuya toilets in need of sponsorship

Number 3 on the official list of Shibuya toilets in need of sponsorship

Application Details
The bids were able to be submitted from last month, January 30th and will close this month on the 13th February. If you are interested in bidding you can contact the Park department of Shibuya Council on 03-3463-2876.

Here is a link to the application form for the toilet naming rights:
http://www.city.shibuya.tokyo.jp/news/oshirase/koshu.html
http://www.city.shibuya.tokyo.jp/news/oshirase/pdf/koshu.pdf – Has list of 14 locations on it.

Possible International Marketing Appeal – Novelty Marketing
Many of the toilet locations are in very well known places and have a large population of people who congregate around them either waiting for others or just finding somewhere to smoke.

The locations will be valuable in advertising products to local consumers.

Also, the idea of a company or organisation sponsoring a toilet sounds quite newsworthy and it may actually attract an international and diverse audience to the company’s products and services.

Official List
Here is the official list of toilets available for sponsorship:
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Japan Tobacco, JapanSoc.org ?
Whilst JT, Japan Tobacco, is obviously a prime candidate for sponsoring locations it may be interesting if a foreign firm was to make a bid to sponsor a toilet. On a totally unrelated topic, JapanSoc.org have recently formed an organisation to help develop and promote the blogs of those who are writing about Japan. One of the aims is to increase the amount of media exposure given to blogs on Japan and Japan related articles. All those interested are welcome to join for free. No experience needed, plenty of assistance and support available.

Not wanting to get the wrong type of exposure, being around the toilets, but it may be worthwhile for JapanSoc.org to consider putting in a bid for one of the toilets in Shibuya. It would certainly get some international attention. Maybe the toilet could go hi-tech and have a digital tv screen hooked up to the internet showing the blogs of JapanSoc.org members.

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Shibuya Yokocho toilets – Ahead of their time

I took a picture a while ago of a rather strange toilet which is close to Shibuya station. This is actually not a public toilet, but a private toilet for patrons of Shibuya Yokocho Nonbei. They could be seen as the forerunner to advertising in combination with the toilet. At night the neon light appears above the toilet to direct people to the restaurants. Very convenient!

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img_0261-11If your wallet is anything like mine then you probabaly have a lot of members cards to various places. It would be nice if all of these points could be accomodated on one card with an IC chip.

Leaving that aside, LABI, Yamada Denki’s large scale electronic stores have a new idea based on the old theme of member point cards. They have installed machines at their store so that when you visit the store you can swipe your card and get an automatic 10 points credited to your account. If you buy something you get further points depending on how much you spend, AND then before you leave the store you can swipe your card again for another 10 points. They also have a slot machine style game playing when you swipe your card for the chance to win more points.

10 free points might not be much, but if you live close by and can visit everyday you could rack up 3,650 points in a year. If everyone started doing that I am sure LABI would have trouble honoring the points earned.

It is nice to see a promotion that doesn’t require you to spend money first. Whoever said “there is no such thing as a free lunch” obviously hadn’t visited LABI.

Yamada Denki point machines in LABI store

Yamada Denki point machines in LABI store

Here is a link to a map on how to get to Shibuya LABI
http://gmap.jp/shop-14335.html

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