Japanese bug spray maker shows it cares with packaging option with no pictures of gross roaches

When you stop and think about it, putting pictures of cockroaches on a product for people who hate them is kind of a weird strategy.

So imagine you go to the store to buy some shampoo, and you see a bottle with a picture of a model with filthy, matted hair. Or maybe you see a box of condoms that shows a thoroughly unhappy dad with a screaming baby in his arms.

Those would both seem pretty weird, right? Generally, it’s a lot nicer to show a depiction of the intended effects of goods and services, as opposed to the problem those goods and services are meant to address. So then why is it so common for bug spray packaging to be covered in pictures of the creepy crawly creatures you’re trying to banish from your home?

That oddity has apparently finally occurred to Dainihon Jochugiku, the makers of Kincho, one of Japan’s most popular bug spray brands. In February, the company quietly unveiled new packaging for its Cockroach line of anti-cockroach sprays.

At first glance, it looks like just about any other brand of insecticide, with an illustration on the label of a cockroach being zapped by the explosive azure representation of the product’s effects. But if that’s too gross for you, you’ll be happy to know that the label is now designed to be easily peeled off

leaving you with a simple white canister decorated with only and understated wave pattern and a modestly sized version of the Kincho logo: a rooster that’s unlikely to produce the same sort of grossed out reaction as looking at a picture of a roach.

▼ Yet another member of the Cockroach lineup, also with the easy-remove label and no cockroaches underneath

With the new packaging versions now available in stores, Japanese Twitter users who hate cockroaches, even in illustrated form, were happy to have alternatives to averting their eyes from the label whenever they needed to spray an insectoid intruder.

▼ This woman had been going so far as to use anime character masking tape to cover up the illustrated roaches on the can.

Getting back to the subject of why bug spray packaging has bugs on it in the first place, from a sales standpoint you need something to quickly communicate to shoppers what the product does, and going with just a picture of a cockroach-free home could just as easily have people thinking it’s a cleaning spray, or kaiju repellant. Once shoppers have already made the decision to buy your product, though, you can probably back off on that a little. This is yet another example of successful Japanese companies’ customer-oriented way of thinking, and we applaud Dainihon Jochugiku for giving the squeamish an effective option that won’t require them to blow up their toilets or resort to mystical countermeasures in their battles against cockroaches.

Source: Twitter/@nana10n via Hachima Kiko
Images: YouTube/KINCHO 公式チャンネル

Young Japanese women like alcohol more than any other age group, almost as much as old men【Survey】

But for many, their love affair with booze doesn’t seem to last.

In general, Japan enjoys a stiff drink, whether it’s an ice-cold beer with office mates after work, a fizzy canned chu-hi cocktail at a cherry blossom party, or a cup of sake from a rural, small-batch brewery. So it’s not too surprising that in a survey by Japanese research company Macromill, the majority of respondents said they liked alcohol.

Breaking down the data, collected from a total of 1,000 participants, by age group resulted in some predictable patterns among male respondents. The percentage of men who said they liked alcohol, whether a little or a lot, was comparatively high for men in their 20s, when a lot of guys are still going strong with their college-days drinking habits, There was a dip in alcohol appreciation once men hit 30, but then a sudden resurgence after 60, when presumably the ample free time of retirement and the financial reserves from a full career allow a man to sit and sip his favorite adult beverage at his leisure.

● Percentage of men who said they liked alcohol a little or a lot
Age 20-29: 67.1 percent
Age 30-39: 62.6 percent
Age 40-49: 64.7 percent
Age 50-59: 59.4 percent
Age 60-69: 75.5 percent

However, the distribution of booze fans looked a lot different for women, starting out with the highest concentration, by far, in the youngest women, followed by a sharp drop and an extremely mild decline afterwards.

● Percentage of women who said they liked alcohol a little or a lot
Age 20-29: 71.1 percent
Age 30-39: 52.6 percent
Age 40-49: 55.3 percent
Age 50-59: 51.5 percent
Age 60-69: 49.1 percent

So why did women in their 20s show such a stronger liking of alcohol? Macromill didn’t offer any theories of its own, but one explanation could be that drinking can be pretty easy on the wallet for young Japanese women. When going out for a gokon (group blind date), it’s customary for the men to cover more than half of the cost of the food and drink, and sometimes they pick up the tab entirely. Likewise, while going Dutch isn’t unheard of for dating couples in Japan, the boyfriend is often expected to pay for fancier or more expensive outings, like dinner and drinks at a fancy restaurant or bar.

But if these women are developing a taste for alcohol that they don’t have to entirely pay for in their 20s, shouldn’t that appreciation of alcohol continue to be fairly strong into their 30s? Not necessarily, because many Japanese women get married and become mothers in their 30s. Even after starting a family, Japanese men almost universally continue working outside the home, which often requires, or at least affords opportunities for, drinking with colleagues after leaving the office but before heading home. Japanese women, on the other hand, often leave the workforce after having children, and take on the vast majority of child-rearing and housework responsibilities (something that’s also often true for working mothers as well).

So while her husband is knocking back cold ones with his boss, a Japanese mother is likely to be cooking dinner for their kids, and by the time she’s done cleaning up he dishes and kitchen afterwards, it’s getting close to time for her to go to bed so that she can get up in the morning to make breakfast. With that sort of schedule, finding time to sneak in a beer can become a challenge, and by the time the kids are grown-up and moved out, it could simply be that a lot of Japanese women who enjoyed drinking in their youth have simply become accustomed to coffee, tea, and other soft drinks instead.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Suits Woman via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso

10 ways being an anime otaku was different 30 years ago

Japanese fans sound off on things that used to be a normal part of the otaku life, but aren’t anymore.

With its casts of youthful characters, fresh-faced attitude, and unabashed love of new trends, it’s easy to think of anime as a constantly modern medium. But the history of Japanese animation stretches back decades, and like any part of culture, fan culture also changes with time.

Japanese Internet portal Goo Ranking recently polled 500 men and women between the ages of 20 and 39 about aspects of the otaku lifestyle that were indicative of being an otaku during the Showa era of Japanese history. While that period technically ran from 1926 to 1989, otakuism wasn’t really a social phenomenon until the 1980s, so you can think of this list as a look back on anime fandom in the ‘80s and very early ‘90s.

10. There weren’t nearly as many cosplayers as there are now (38 responses)

Cosplay is now so big that there’s even a professional talent agency that specialize in it, but back in the day, it was really a minor side attraction. Before the rise of the Internet, not only were you pretty much on your own as far as tips for putting together your outfit (unless you were a classically trained tailor/seamstress), without social media and blogs there was no easy way to share the visual results of your work with anyone other than the limited audience that showed up to the same event you wore your costume to.

9. You watched your favorite anime recorded on cassette, over and over, until the tape itself wore out (39 responses)

Yep. Not only was anime something that fans primarily enjoyed on physical media, if you recorded something on VHS off of TV broadcast, that physical media featured several moving parts. It was a sad day when you started being able to hear the creaks and squeaks when you played your favorite cassette, and a sadder one still when the tape warped or snapped.

8. You had to rush home, because anime was shown in prime time (40 responses)

TV anime used to be shown during prime time, so if you didn’t want to miss the new episode of your favorite show, you had to give it priority over any other social engagements after work. Otaku now have the opposite problem: trying to stay up late enough to catch anime in the late-night blocks where it airs now (though they digital recording and on-demand streaming means they can bypass that inconvenience too).

7. Idol singers didn’t make it publicly known that they were otaku (43 responses)

This is a bit of a multi-layered response. While the idol and anime industries have a very cozy relation these days, that wasn’t always the case, as their marketing and talent pools used to be largely separate. The otaku culture boom has coincided with the second golden age of idol singers, though, and now there’s plenty of crossover with a number of idols loudly proclaiming how much they love anime (how much of that is playing up to their target market is another topic, though).

6. On the back cover of dojinshi, you’d see the real name of the person who drew it and their actual address (44 responses)

This kind of sensitive personal information used to be slapped on the back of dojinshi, independently produced comics often featuring copyrighted characters from existing series engaged in myriad sexual acts. So why was this the case? Because…

4 (tie), You’d purchase dojinshi by postal money order (46 responses)

If you’re selling dojinshi now, and you’re not doing it in-person at an event like Comiket, you can handle the transaction digitally. Before the rise of online banking and e-commerce, though, the easiest way for an individual creator to process those economic transfers was by postal money order.

4 (tie). When you told people you liked anime, they’d give you a strange look (46 responses)

Granted, even today if you mention to someone that you can tell the difference between each and every Gundam model, or launch into a detailed dissertation as to why Sailor Jupiter is vastly superior to Sailor Moon during lunch with your coworkers, you’re probably going to raise a few eyebrows. But anime has never been a more prevalent part of mainstream entertainment in Japan than it is today, and even people who don’t watch any animation at all often enjoy anime franchises indirectly through the numerous live-action movie and TV drama adaptations of hit series.

3. People didn’t call themselves “otaku” (47 responses)

“Otaku” often gets translated into English as “geek” or “nerd,” and much like those words, it’s undergone a major change in tone over the last 10 to 20 years. Originally, otaku was a pure pejorative, and so not something that people usually called themselves, especially when speaking to people outside the fandom (animation studio Gainax’s 1991 anime Otaku no Video notwithstanding). Nowadays, though, passionate anime fans will casually refer to themselves as otaku the same way as someone in the U.S. who’s really knowledgeable about computers might good-naturally call himself a “tech geek.”

2. It wasn’t “BL,” it was “yaoi,” and they weren’t “fujoshi,” they were “dojin onna” (52 responses)

Stories of male homosexual love in anime and manga are now collectively called “boys’ love,” abbreviated to “BL,” whereas their core fanbase are “fujoshi,” literally “rotten girls.” But in the past, the more common terms were “yaoi” and “dojin onna” (while “yaoi” still gets used overseas, it’s pretty much been supplanted entirely by “BL” in Japan).

So why the change? As mentioned above, independently produced manga are called dojinshi, and before boys’ love was something that professional anime studios would produce, the genre was primarily present in dojinshi, and dojin onna (dojinshi women) meant a woman who enjoyed reading dojinshi featuring male-and-male couplings.

As for yaoi, the word’s roots lie in an abbreviation of Yamete oshiri ga itai, literally “Stop, my butt hurts.” As boys’ love has grown in narrative complexity beyond simply “One dude does another dude from behind,” it’s only natural that a less explicit term gains favor as well

1. If you liked anime, people assumed you were gloomy (68 responses)

This is sort of a surprise to find at the top of the list, since in the ‘80s hot-blooded anime heroes were the order of the day. Conversely, modern anime seems to be always ready to place a character who’s introverted, emotionally conflicted, or otherwise psychologically “weak,” by traditional masculine standards, front and center.

So odds are the respondents who chose this didn’t do so as a reflection of anime’s themes, but of anime’s fans themselves. 30 years ago, even in Japan it wasn’t easy for fans to find one another. If no one in your met-in-person social group was into anime, let alone the same specific series you liked, your experience with a show pretty much began and ended with watching it alone.

With the rise of the Internet and social media, though, finding someone else to discuss whatever series you’re following only takes a few keystrokes, clicks, or taps. Not that all online fan interaction has a positive effect, but it’s definitely done more good than bad in helping otaku become part of a vibrant community.

That in turn has caused a ripple effect where even the places otaku like to go have become more energetic. It wasn’t that long ago that Akihabara was a drab part of Tokyo where otaku shuffled into shops to buy whatever merch they wanted, then shuffled back out and went home to consume their media in solitude. Now, though? It’s one of the most energetic places in the city, and otaku gathering places are showing up in other neighborhoods and towns as well, which is why anime-themed dining is now a legitimate part of the Japanese restaurant scene.

Put it all together, and even if not non-otaku don’t share their enthusiasm for anime, they know that plenty of other people do, and that being an otaku means having a common interest with a very big group of people, and probably more than a few good friends within that community.

Source: Goo Ranking via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Plan to turn real-world shrine from Studio Ghibli anime into a parking lot upsets fans, residents

Shinto shrine was featured in recently deceased anime director Isao Takahata’s Pom Poko.

Last week, the anime world suffered the sad loss of Isao Takahata, one of the medium’s most respected directors and a founding member of Studio Ghibli, who passed away on April 5 at the age of 82. Though Takahata is best known for his 1988 postwar tragedy Grave of the Fireflies, his 1994 Pom Poko (also known as Heisei Era Tanuki War Pom Poko) has its own tale of sadness to weave as it follows a pack of tanuki (raccoon dogs) who, like their folklore counterparts, can speak and have magical powers.

In the film, the tanukis’ woodland home in the Tokyo suburbs is being increasingly encroached upon by human residential development, mirroring real-life expansion of the city during the period when the anime was released. Pom Poko is filled with fantastical and farcical comedy (such as tanuki swinging their famously large testicles as weapons), but also presents the conflict as a genuine life-or-death situation, with casualties on both the human and tanuki sides dryly included as a matter-of-fact consequence of the conflict.

▼ Trailer for Pom Poko

Once again opting for realism over sentimentalism, as the movie goes on the tanuki have to resign themselves to the fact that their animal concerns and coercive capabilities aren’t enough to deter the construction, and their land is redeveloped. Now, in a parallel to that, a Shinto shrine featured in Pom Poko might be being torn down in order to make room for a parking lot.

Kincho Shrine (pictured at the top of this article) is located in the town of Komatsushima, Tokushima Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku, far away from Tokyo. However, the shrine has long had a connection to tanuki. The shrine was originally constructed in 1956 using money from a donation from a film company executive who’d made a successful movie based on local tanuki folklore, and it also serves as the setting for a scene in Pom Poko, where it’s depicted as the home of a group of wise tanuki elders.

▼ Tanuki statues (and their massive balls) welcome visitors to the shrine.

While the shrine is private property, it sits on municipal land, which is part of a park. Last summer, it was announced that sections of the park would be redeveloped, with tsunami preparedness the initial impetus for the project. Part of the proposed plan, though, calls for Kincho Shrine to be demolished, and a parking lot to be put in its place.

▼ An aerial view of the area

That proposal has sparked a backlash, though, among local residents who want to preserve the shrine, who have received shouts of support online from anime fans. In March, an online petition was started to keep the shrine even after the park’s renovation, garnering roughly 2,000 signatures so far.

Luckily, the city itself is showing a willingness to be flexible on the issue, At the very least, planners say they want to leave behind a tanuki statue, and they’ve reminded everyone that while the initial proposal is to replace the shrine with a parking lot, that’s by no means finalized, and planners are still debating the exact details of the redevelopment. “The shrine itself is private property,” a member of the city’s development bureau reminded those who were upset, “and so it can’t be torn by unilateral decision.” So hopefully Kincho Shrine’s future will be less bittersweet than the ending of Pom Poko.

Source: Livedoor News/J Cast via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Reggaeman
Insert images: Wikipedia/Reggaeman, Wikipedia/タコノマクラ

Japan Sumo Association bans girls from prohibiting in practice event as controversy continues

Stance that the sanctity of the sumo ring is tarnished by female presence extends all the way down to elementary school-age kids.

It’s been less than 10 days since a controversy erupted as women were asked to leave the ring at a sumo exhibition in Kyoto where the attending male mayor had collapsed. Now the Japan Sumo Association is once again under a critical spotlight as it asserts that the ring’s sacred purity will be contaminated by the presence of even grade school-age females.

As part of its regional spring exhibition tour (which included the above-mentioned event in Kyoto), a sumo exhibition was held in Shizuoka Prefecture on April 8. This was the sixth iteration of the annual event, and as part of the festivities, elementary school-age children from local youth sumo clubs are allowed to step into the ring (called the “dohyo” in Japanese) for a training session with top-tier professional sumo wrestlers. For the last three years, the kid contingent has included girls as well as boys (there are no records indicating whether or not girls participated in the event in 2013 and 2014).

▼ A photo from a previous iteration of the event

This year, five girls, two from Shizuoka City and three from the town of Yaizu (also in Shizuoka Prefecture) were to part of the training session, dubbed “Chibikko Sumo” (“Little Tykes Sumo”). However, a few days prior to the event, the local organizers received a phone call from retired sumo wrestler Daisuke Araiso (who competed under the ring name Tamaasuka). Araiso now serves as the national Japan Sumo Association’s director for Shizuoka Prefecture, and he called to tell the local organizers that the Japan Sumo Association did not want girls to participate in the Chibikko Sumo portion of the Shizuoka event.

Oh, and the exact date Araiso placed the call? April 4, the very same day of the incident in Kyoto, though it’s not known whether Araiso was aware of the mayor’s collapse at the time of the call.

So in the end, all 20 of the kids who took part in the Chibikko Sumo program were boys.

The prohibition against women entering the dohyo has its roots in ancient Shinto beliefs, and to this day sumo retains strong ties to religious ceremony. However, even to many Japanese people, this is a case of clinging too tightly to traditions, as evidenced by online reactions including:

“Utterly idiotic.”
“This is just cruel.”
“With the timing, it’s hard to see this as anything but rubbing it in women’s faces.”
“The Japan Sumo Association is worthless.”
“This isn’t going to do the sport any favors in the image department.”

If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s the fact that despite the Japan Sumo Association’s hard-line stance, not everyone involved in the sport feels like women need to be kept out of the ring, especially in the case of little girls. As evidenced by the inclusion of girls in the Shizuoka event the last three years, there are coaches willing to train girls in sumo, and organizations who want them to have a chance to compete. “I wanted the girls to be able to enter the dohyo, at least for a regional tour event,” lamented the coach of the Yaizu sumo club, and hopefully they’ll get the chance someday, even without the Japan Sumo Association’s blessing.

Sources: Tokyo Shimbun, Twitter/@taketake1w via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@taketake1w
Top image ©SoraNews24

Where’s the very best seat to sit in on Japan’s Shinkansen? Our expert has an answer

Frequent bullet train passenger Meg says this seat is the travel bull’s-eye.

The Shinkansen is by far the most convenient way to get around Japan. Far faster than traveling by car or ordinary trains, the bullet train is often as fast, point-to-point, as flying, since Shinkansen stations are usually found in city centers and don’t require a lengthy check-in before boarding.

However, even if you’ve already made the decision to travel by Shinkansen, you’ve got one more choice to make: which seat to sit in. But which one is the best?

https://instagram.com/megmi381/?utm_source=ig_embed&action=profilevisit

To find out, we asked our Japanese-language correspondent Meg. When Meg’s schedule isn’t packed with Starbucks taste-testing, she spends a lot of time zipping back and forth between Tokyo and Japan’s Tokai and Hokuriku regions, averaging about two Shinkansen round trips a month.

So in Meg’s expert opinion, where’s the best place to sit on the Shinkansen?

“The aisle seat in the very front row of the carriage.”

As for why, Meg counts five reasons.

1. Mobility

The most obvious advantage is that, just like on an airplane, being in the aisle seat makes it easy to get up whenever you feel like it, whether you want to stretch your legs, throw away your empty ekiben bento boxed lunch container, or go to the bathroom. Sitting right next to the aisle saves you the trouble of saying “Sumimasen” and asking other passengers to get up so you can get out, or passing the agility challenge of crawling over someone who’s asleep.

Plus, with the short amount of time Japanese trains spend stopped at the platform when they arrive at the station, being in the aisle seat makes getting off the train less stressful once you reach your destination.

2. Much more comfortable than the window seat

Speedy as the Shinkansen may be, the long-distance nature of its service means that you’re probably going to be on the train for a few hours, spent hurtling down a track with few curves that runs through rural areas with few tall buildings. Sitting next to the window for all that time often results in getting baked by the sun and arriving at your destination with sweat stains and/or a sunburn.

Being in the aisle seat puts a buffer between you and those harsh sunbeams. Of course, that also puts you farther away from the view of the outside, but actually the best place to scope out the scenery is actually from the sections between the carriages. There you can stand at a much larger window than the one find next to the window seat, and since you’re sitting in the aisle seat, you can easily get up and move there when you spot Mt. Fuji or some other beautiful sight outside.

3. Legroom

While most Shinkansen seats are reasonably roomy, you’ll get the maximum legroom in the very front row, since you’ll never have to worry about a person in front of you reclining their seat.

4. An extra-large table

While the other seats on the Shinkansen have a tray that folds out of the seatback of the row in front of them (like on an airplane), the very front row instead has a table that’s mounted to the wall. This table is bigger than the other trays, with plenty of space to fit a laptop, pork cutlet sandwich, and a bottle of hojicha roasted green tea, so that you can stay full and hydrated as you take care of a work project or research sightseeing spots at wherever the next stop on your travel itinerary is.

5. An empty seat next to you

Unlike the other items on this list, this one isn’t a guarantee. However, in Meg’s experience, if the carriage’s rows have three seats, the middle seat in the front row is frequently empty. So by snagging the aisle seat in the front row, oftentimes you’re getting an extra half-seat’s worth of elbow/knee room.

Really, Meg says there’s only one downside to taking the front aisle seat, which is that the front row is the only one that doesn’t have in-train magazines, since those are stuffed into the nets on the backs of the chairs.

But hey, if you need some reading material to pass the time, as long as you’ve got a smartphone or PC with you, we’ve got a suggestion.

Photos ©SoraNews24

Believe it or not, this isn’t a map of Japan (though it sort of is)

Twitter user makes mind-blowing discovery playing around with puzzle pieces of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Japan is primarily made up of four islands. The largest, Honshu, is where most of the country’s largest cities, like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kyoto, are located. Head up north, and you’ll come to Hokkaido, while out west you’ll find Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands, as well as Kyushu, off the southwest tip of Honshu.

So when you first see this photo shared by Japanese Twitter user @40mP, which is of pieces of a puzzle recreating the map of Japan, you might think it’s the easiest puzzle ever, since each island is only one piece.

But look a little more carefully, and you you’ll notice that the coastlines are a little unusual in @40mP’s photo. That’s because the puzzle pieces don’t actually represent Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, but a mere four prefectures out of the 46 that the four islands actually contain.

Serving as Honshu is a rotated Niigata Prefecture, while Gunma Prefecture subs for Hokkaido.

▼ Niigata (left) and Gunma (right), marked in red

And filling in for Shikoku and Kyushu are Kanagawa and Oita Prefectures.

▼ Kanagawa (left) and Oita (right)

▼ A side-by-side comparison of the actual map of Japan and @40mP’s four-prefecture version.

@40mP’s clever repurposing of the puzzle pieces blew the minds of Japanese Twitter users, who rapidly retweeted it tens of thousands of times. A common question, though, is why he didn’t include Okinawa, which is far enough away from Japan’s main islands that it usually appears as an inset on maps of the nation (it’s in the lower right corner of the map in the tweet directly above). So to appease those critics, @40mP revised his puzzle map, this time using Tokyo as a substitute.

▼ Tokyo

Of course, geography buffs will no doubt point out that Hokkaido and Okinawa are single prefectures themselves, and so @40mP could have just used their pieces as-is. That would have thrown off the scale relative to his single-prefecture substitutes for Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, though, and besides, once you start thinking outside the box, it can be hard to get your brain to go back in.

Source: Twitter/@40mP via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@40mP
Insert images: Frameillust (edited by SoraNews24), Wikipedia/Lincun (1, 2, 3, 4), Wikipedia/TUBS