We know how you feel, panda.

A lot of us have put on a little weight during the pandemic, and if you’re one such individual, don’t beat yourself up too much over it. With nowhere further to walk than the confines of your home, constant access to all the snacks in your pantry, and the option of wearing loose-fitting sweatpants day in and day out, it’s understandable if you’ve been taking in more calories than you’ve been burning.

We’re only human, after all…but then again, maybe we’ve got some company with Japan’s newest cute animal capsule toy figures.

Called What’s My Weight Today?, the line is a team-up between toymaker Takara Tomy Arts and Tanita, Japan’s most prominent manufacturer of personal scales and health monitors. There’s a total of six self-weighing animals, and on our first try we got the panda, whose confused expression reminds us of one we’ve made before when the number the scale is displaying isn’t one we’re eager to accept.

▼ We call it the “Wait, I didn’t eat that many Pikachu butt macaroons, did I?!?” expression.

▼ The deflated posture as acceptance sinks in is also one we ca relate too.

Since this is a tie-up with Tanita, each animal’s scale is a replica of an actual model made by the company.

In the case of the panda, it’s the BC-315, accurate to two decimal places, and sure enough …continue reading


Only a few days remain for the crane game specialist.

Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood is a mecca for anime and video game fans, with a high concentration of enthusiast oriented shops and venues than anywhere else in the country. But while the otaku flame burns bright in Akihabara, that doesn’t mean every establishment lasts forever, and the lights are about to go out at Adores, a landmark arcade right next to the Akihabara Station building.

▼ The arcade opened in September of 2012.

The first two floors of the bright red Adores Akihabara Building 2 are a game center filled exclusively with crane games/UFO catchers. This being Akihabara, a number of the machines are stocked with plushies, figures, or other merch of popular game and anime characters. Floors 3-10, meanwhile, offer karaoke boxes in a convenient location for belting out a few anison numbers after a shopping trip with fellow fans.

A3! ちびぐるみ 秋組 本日より登場です😉✨
●摂津 万里
●兵頭 十座
●七尾 太一
●伏見 臣
●古市 左京
大人気景品なのでぜひお早めにお迎えくださいね😆✨#エースリー #エーステ

— アドアーズ秋葉原2号店 (@ad_akiba2) June 12, 2021

Adores Akihabara Building 2’s official Twitter account keeps fans informed of new arrivals, such as the chibi Akigumi plushies in the above notice. Their currently pinned, tweet, though, is something less likely to bring a smile to otaku faces, as it reads:

“Thank you very much for your continued patronage. Due to various circumstances, we will be closing on June 30. We wish to offer our deepest gratitude for our customers’ many years of support.”

“Various circumstances” is about as vague as explanations get, but it’s almost certain that the pandemic is a contributing factor. Ordinarily Akihabara draws a huge number of visitors from outside not just Tokyo but from outside Japan as well, and fewer tourists means fewer people …continue reading


So determined to win rare full-sized Hibiki and Yamazaki whiskies we’re willing to spend over US$300 for them.

Just last month, Japan’s popular discount store chain Don Quijote, known commonly as “Donki” in Japan, opened up two never-before seen specialty stores inside Tokyo Station, with one dedicated to sweets called “Okashi Donki” (“Sweets Donki”) and the other dedicated to alcohol, called “Osake Donki“, with “osake” translating to “alcohol” in English.

▼ Osake Donki

When our roving reporter Mr Sato visited the specialty alcohol store shortly after it opened, one thing that left a lasting impression on him was the unusual gacha machines, which cost 3,850 yen (US$31.88) a pop and promised to deliver a mystery whisky product to the user that’s said to be worth more than the price you pay for a go at the machine.

▼ “Whisky Gacha”

This sign shows all the whiskies you have the chance of winning in return for your 3,500-yen investment, and there are only 100 bottles available in every round. At the very bottom, we have the Monkey Shoulder, priced at 3,938 yen, and right at the top we have a Macallan Single Malt (8,778 yen), a Single Malt Yamazaki (10,780 yen), and…drum roll please…a Suntory Hibiki 21 Year Old (priced at a whopping 76,780 yen [US$699.43]), which was named the best blended whisky in the world at the World Whisky Awards 2017.

▼ Prices in red are before tax, prices in black include tax.

When Mr Sato first visited, he wasn’t able to try the machines as they were sadly awaiting stock. However, the memory of the unique Whisky Gacha lived …continue reading


No more getting caught by surprise in the rain!

Japan’s 100-yen stores are like little treasure troves. Unlike dollar stores in other countries, 100-yen stores here have — in addition to all the normal toiletries and junk food you’d expect — a ton of other awesome little surprises.

We’ve seen 100-yen store sushi makers, smartphone fans, and even straight-up wine before, and while those were certainly fun, they might not have been the most practical.

But recently our resident 100-yen-store aficionado Go Hatori found something at popular 100-yen store Daiso that we’re probably going to always have with us from now on: a super-compact raincoat.

▼ Or as it’s called in the store: a “portable compact rain poncho.”

▼ Just how compact is it, you might ask?

▼ It’s smaller than a smartphone.

▼ Thinner than a packet of tissues.

▼ Way less girthy than a package of Calorie Mate, a popular snack.

▼ It can slide right into your jean pocket.

▼ It’s so small, you can even hide it inside your palm!

▼ Now you see it, now you don’t.

But in all seriousness, the reason we’re so excited about its small size is because having such a compact raincoat is actually super convenient.

There have …continue reading


Decades-old shops kept in families for generations could be shuttered as a result.

The Tokyo neighborhood of Asakusa is a major attraction for both tourists and locals, thanks to the iconic Sensoji Temple and its striking Kaminari Gates, but it’s also known to be a place full of delicious Japanese food, unique hotels, and traditional Japanese-style souvenirs.

Sadly, businesses in the area are in danger of closing, and not just because of the pandemic. Though a huge drop in tourists has resulted in the shops around Sensoji suffering from a huge drop in sales, there’s now a bigger threat on the horizon for shop owners on one Asakusa shopping street: the local government.

Asakusa has many shopping streets, the most famous of which is the street behind the famous Kaminari gates that leads up to the temple, Nakamise-doori, which is filled to the brim with souvenir shops and food stalls. But though shop owners on Nakamise-doori were shocked when the temple raised their rent by 16-fold in 2017, their livelihoods are not the ones in danger by the ward’s government. Rather, those who might be forced into eviction are those along the street that lines the grounds of Sensoji Temple and its neighboring Denboin Temple, Denboin-doori.

▼ Denboin-doori (“Denboin Street”) is written as “Dempoin Street” in Google Maps.

The shops that line Denboin-doori are the epitome of Edo-era Japanese style buildings, and many have operated for decades in the same family. They sell traditional Japanese trinkets and products like fans, hair combs and pins, and clothing, many of which are handmade. They’re a great place for international tourists to find that perfect souvenir or gift for a …continue reading


Over 400 years ago, a temple in Kyoto suddenly became the site of a battle that would change Japanese history forever.

They say that idle hands are the devil’s playthings, so no sooner had we finished building our convincing model of a dingy Japanese squat toilet did we start looking for our next arts and crafts project. And sure enough, we found one, and so we set out to recreate the most famous samurai betrayal in Japanese history, the Honnoji Incident.

The Honnoji Incident, naturally, was an incident that took place at Kyoto’s Honnoji Temple, in 1582. With the feudal Sengoku period winding down and warlord Oda Nobunaga painfully close to unifying Japan and ending centuries of civil war, he took lodging at the temple. He had only a small a group of retainers with him, as Kyoto was deep within the territory controlled by the Oda clan and Nobunaga was sending his generals to the far corners of the country to mop up the few remaining pockets of resistance.

However, on the morning of June 21 (or June 2 by the old Japanese lunar calendar), one of Nobunaga’s top generals, Akechi Mitsuhide, ordered his troops to attack Honnoji, catching Nobunaga unaware and forcing him into a desperate fight for his life.

Japanese Papercraft maker Facet’s Sengoku Battle Honnoji Incident kit includes the parts and pieces for the building itself as well as the forces of the Oda loyalists and Akechi rebels. The sheets aren’t laser-cut, so you’ll need a craft knife to remove the individual pieces, but with the kit’s very modest price of just 1,320 yen (US$12.75), it’s a …continue reading


Forget capturing Mewtwo, it’s time to snatch some beetles!

Last year we saw the release of a realistic Poké Ball replica that anyone could buy, but it had two problems: one, it was kind of expensive. Two, and far more importantly, you couldn’t actually capture any Pokémon with it.

But now the Japanese toy company TAKARATOMY is set to release a Master Ball replica that will help both of those issues.

Not only is it quite affordable, but it’s designed to actually capture bugs!

Priced at 1,650 yen (US$15), the Master Ball bug cage is a fun, inexpensive way to feel like a real Pokémon trainer, whether capturing cicadas or other Pokémon equivalents in our world.

Bug-catching and bug-pets are kind of a big deal in Japan, and were even part of what inspired Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon, to come up with the video game series in the first place, from his childhood of catching bugs outside and wanting to share that experience.

And now that summer is coming, it’s prime insect-hunting season. Whether you catch the bug in a net first then put it in the ball, set the ball as a trap on the ground, or throw the whole thing straight at the buzzing beast with all your pent-up Poké-energy, the choice is yours.

▼ The ball pops open by pressing the button on the front…

▼ …and it has a clear window on top for bug viewing.
It even comes with a strap for easy carrying.

…continue reading


No more wet backs and soggy backpacks with this umbrella!

Philosopher and poet Vanilla Ice once said, “if there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it”, but his solutions seemed to be related to DJs revolving hooks. While that certainly may help in some situations, rainy season in Japan is just around the corner, and Vanilla Ice’s fresh rhymes will do very little to help keep us dry.

But while Vanilla Ice isn’t very forthcoming with solutions, Japanese gadget company Thanko have always got our backs when it comes to genius inventions we never knew we needed. Tired of doing the washing up? Check out Thanko’s plate scrubbing robot. No hands free for smart phone gaming on a packed train? Thanko have that covered too. Want to experience zero gravity from the comfort of your own home? Thanks, Thanko!

And now, as the rainy season in Japan is fast approaching, Thanko have turned their attention to another problem we never knew we needed solving — finding the perfect umbrella.

This isn’t Thanko’s first foray into the world of umbrella inventions — they’ve already brought out a hands-free umbrella hat and a versatile umbrella that turns into a chair. This time, though, they’re focusing on a problem many people face at this time of year; not only keeping their bodies dry, but their backpacks, too.

▼ On the left, a normal umbrella, a drenched backpack and a (probably) unhappy man. On the right, Thanko’s ‘Backpack Guard Umbrella,’ a bone dry backpack, and an (assumedly) happy guy.

The ‘Backpack Guard Umbrella‘ is a dome shaped umbrella designed specifically to keep your backpack and its contents dry on a rainy day. The diameter of the umbrella is …continue reading


This short survey report from MMD Labo looked at the Spring 2021 mobile service provider situation.

The full survey is much more detailed, so if you want a deep dive, please visit their site and purchase the full survey results.

Note that ahamo is docomo’s cheap plan, povo au’s, and LINEMO SoftBank’s, each costing just under 3,000 yen all-in for 20gb data and 5 minutes free per phone call.

In Q2 I’m not surprised that Rakuten is the most-investigated, as they have been flooding the airwaves with exceptionally irritating adverts offering completely free service for the first gigabyte of data port month.

Research results

Q1: What is your service provider for your main smartphone? (Sample size=3,708, those changing plans in March, April 2021)

ahamo 22.9%
Rakuten UN-LIMIT VI 18.7%
povo 12.6%
docomo 11.5%
Y!mobile 7.7%
au 6.8%
SoftBank 5.6%
UQ mobile 4.4%
MVNO 4.9%

Q2: Which service provider did you most investigate changing to? (Sample size=3,349, those who choose to change providers)

Rakuten UN-LIMIT VI 26.5%
Y!mobile 14.3%
ahamo 13.1%
UQ mobile 12.5%
povo 6.7%
au 6.1%
docomo 4.1%
SoftBank 3.2%
MVNO 8.6%


Between the 20th and 22nd of April 2021 40,000 members of the MMD Labo monitor group aged between 18 and 69 years old completed a private internet-based questionnaire.

The post How has the Japanese mobile carrier market changed? first appeared on 世論 What Japan Thinks.

…continue reading


Famous discount chainstore dedicates one store to sweets and one to drinks, with popular products for tourists.

If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know that the best place to do your souvenir shopping is at Don Quijote. This chain of discount stores, located all over Japan, are filled with thousands of products spread out across numerous floors, giving you everything from gum-flavoured chips through to bust-enhancing inserts lauded by cosplayers.

Given the chain’s popularity with tourists, Don Quijote has now set up shop inside one of the country’s busiest traveller thoroughfares: the Yaesu underground shopping area at Tokyo Station. And given that time to shop is short when you’re on the go, Don Quijote, or Donki as it’s commonly known, is making things easy by cutting out all the extras and giving travellers what they want the most — sweets and liquor.

This is a whole new retail format for the chain, so we stopped by the new location shortly after the grand opening on 21 May to take a look at what was on offer. First, we ducked into the “Okashi Donki” or “Sweets Donki”, which grabbed our attention with its bright orange signage.

As soon as we entered, we were met with a display for Ichiran Ramen goods, which obviously aren’t classified as “sweets”, but are hugely popular with tourists all the same.

Further inside, we came across another display, this time for food made with insects! That’s when we realised this store really does use the “sweets” moniker loosely, employing it as catchall term for sweets, snacks, and food in general.

<img src="" alt="" …continue reading