2011年12月23日金曜日

Town-Jack!



“Town-jack” is one of the exciting ad promotions. I like it.

Town-jack is a way of promotion that focuses on one area where targeted people supposed to fragrant and an advertiser put in a large amount of ads such as posters, billboards, digital signage. It’s really exciting to see walls, pillars and concourses being covered by the same series of posers here and there.

Town-jack promotion is effective in terms of drawing people’s attention and making people talk about it as the first step of word-of-mouth-marketing.

I like to be at the site to watch people so that I know how they react to the promotion. It’s a kind of simple research. What kind of people look at the posters? How many people stop at the posters? And what kind of conversation do they carry before them? It’s quite fun.

In here, the promotion seems to mix into one with the scenery of town and people. I hope it touches people’s mind in a good way.



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2011年12月17日土曜日

Can you write down cursive?



As we know, IT devices totally have changed our writing style but I didn’t know it did to this extent. I’m surprised to know that many young people both in the US and Japan don’t know how to write cursive!

However, I have to confess that I didn’t quite remember how to write down cursive of D, G, H because I have never written them for many years. Well, I might not be qualified to say something about younger generations.

The other day, when I was reorganizing my drawer, I found some old writing implements that I almost had forgotten about owning. They were a fountain pen, a mechanical pencil and a ballpoint pen. They looked a bit rusty but still useable.

I brought them to Kinpendo to have them repaired and adjusted. Kinpendo is a kind of specialty store that specializes in high quality writing implements and it has a lot of good customers such as authors and journalists.

The master said that my pens were very rare items nowadays and it would be nice for me to keep using them. I might come up with some good phrases with these pens like great authors.

Now they are on my desk but I still haven’t had any chance to use them.




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2011年12月8日木曜日

Men who became a god in Chichibu Night Festival

I went to Chichibu to see the Chichibu night festival last week.

The festival is considered to be one of Japan’s three greatest float festivals and it has about 250,000 visitors every year.

Six floats decorated with wood carving, embroidered tapestry and lanterns are being pulled around the town by local residents from morning till late at night.

The excitement reaches its peak at night when floats climb up the Dango-zaka, a very steep slope, one after another. In addition to this, the fireworks display enhances the atmosphere.

It was so beautiful that it made you forget the cold weather in December.

What interested me most in this festival was the men who are standing on the front part of the floats, continuously shouting “hoo-ryai.” They are inclining over to the drawers, stretching out their hands widely or shaking their lanterns from side to side as if they were saying “come on!” or agitating people to excite.

“They are called Hayashi-te, or hurrayer.” An old man from a neighborhood explained to me. “And you know, they are considered to be gods as long as they are on the float.”

Wow, that sounds very interesting.

According to what this old man told me, “Hayashi-te”s need to have a purification ceremony before the festival. They take off their clothes and bathe in cold water to purify them. And once they step upon the float, they are respected as gods during this 2-days festival.

“Hayashi-te”s are selected strictly according to their behavior and contribution to their community. For local people, it’s a hero of the festival and a very honorable once-in-a-life-time role.

Here in Chichibu, gods seems to summon people to this festival very much.




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2011年11月26日土曜日

Actresses as a job


I was at a photo shooting session as one of the staffers last week for a commercial for my client’s next spring and summer campaign. The model of this commercial is a famous actress and she was beautiful as usual.

I always think that being actresses and models are tough jobs because they are always required to be fit and beautiful. Moreover, they have to work for long hours from early in the morning till late at night but their physical and skin conditions should still be good. Conversely, only the tough and beautiful is cut out for the jobs.

I know a woman who used to be a promising model. She was a tad sensitive and her face sometimes kept breaking out especially when she had to go through hard work. As a result, she left the industry before long.

We are likely to be deceived into the image of actress. Even though an actress has an evanescent beauty, she must be super strong inside more than we imagine.

They are women who are gifted with both toughness and beauty.




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2011年11月21日月曜日

Q-pot.’s wonderland




There is a small house decorated with all kind of cookies, ice cream and chocolate shaped objects behind the Aoyama street in Tokyo. Its so hard to resist that a friend of mine and I went into it. This three storied house is the Q-pot. flag shop.

Even people who dont know Q-pot. might know a chocolate like mobile handset that docomo released. Tadaaki Wakamatsu, the designer of this jewelry brand turns every sweet motif into stylish wearable things.

People are likely to show off how much gold, platinum and precious stones their jewelry has but most Q-pot.s’materials are PVC, brass, starling silver. In terms of materials, Q-pot.’s items seem to be less valuable but its real value is just how they are sweet, fun, unique and make people feel happy. I think that it’s the core of Tokyo style.

Macaron charms, cocky necklaces, hamburger rings. They look quite tasty as if they were real food. Besides, Wakamatsu created a good brand atmosphere by developing a variety of gift boxes, wrapping paper, uniforms and shops. It’s a kind of amusement park in jewelry.

It’s worth visiting.


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2011年11月12日土曜日

Ghost mental arithmetic or ゴースト暗算


Are you good at math? If so, can you do this by mental arithmetic?

62×7=

I was surprised to see that some kids answered this very quickly in a study room at a juku, cram school in Tokyo. An instructor of this juku is Kuniaki Iwanami, a medical school student at Tokyo University. Kuniaki invented his original “ghost anzan” method that enables you to get the answer fast and now he has set up an education company. It was reported by NHK.

Kuniaki emphasizes that with his method you can also do 2-digits ×2-digits multiplication until 99×99 by mental arithmetic.

Speaking of 2-digit multiplication, it is widely known that many kids in India memorized the multiplication table all the way to 19 × 19 as part of math education at school. The reason why India has become such an IT expert country is supposed to be their high arithmetic ability trained from their childhood.

I think that a basic ability of calculating is one of backgrounds to raise resources like IT engineers. I’m convinced this when I worked at a juku as a part-time instructor. There were a lot of kids who said they didn’t like math, and if we leave the situation as it is, it would surely cause a crisis in the advancing technology nation.” Kuniaki added.

Kuniaki provides us with two courses to master “ghost mental arithmetic” for both kids and senior. I hope it’s not too late to activate my brains.




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2011年10月31日月曜日

Live lightly!




I have a dream that one day I will go out without taking anything with me. I have been dreaming about this simple thing for a long time but it seems still far away to realize it. On the contrary, my bags are getting heavier and heavier. It not only annoys me but also makes my shoulders stiff.

What I always have in my bag is a notebook, a pen case, a wallet, a mobile phone, iPod, a pill case, a name cards holder, a scheduler, keys, cosmetics, a small bottle of gargle, a hair brush, a bottle of water and such. (Many women commonly carry these items.)

In addition, I have some A4 size business document files in my eco bag. (So do many working women.) Plus, I squeeze an English textbook, a workbook and an electric dictionary into my eco bag so that I can take them out and study any time I want. That way I can make the most of my time.

As a result, I ended up schlepping around my 3.5kg of stuff among my office, home and my clients.
I feel as if I were a snail!

When I made a trip with a friend of mine I was very surprised to find that her belongings were just one third of mine. What she needs for a week trip is as the same as my one day trip.

I want to learn how to travel light and live lightly as well.

The photo above is from “Material World: A global Family Portrait.” It’s a project that takes pictures of people with everything they own. Less things is beautiful!



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2011年10月21日金曜日

AKB48 vs Akihabara back stage pass




The other day, I happened to meet a member of AKB48, a popular Japanese girls unit that Yasushi Akimoto, a big time planner, produced. I didn’t have any interest in the unit until then because I thought it only catered to young anime and game geeks who are hanging around in Akihabara.


However, the following day, I knew that Tsunku, another successful music producer announced that he would rollout his new project Akihabara back stage pass in coming November. Besides, the concept of the project is quite similar to AKB48.


Now that two major produces just about to battle with each other in this Akihabara based entertaining business, I started feeling very curious about it.


As far as I know, the differences between them are like this.


AKB 48

concept: Idols you can go to see everyday

home: AKB48 theatre

style: You’ll have opportunities to meet idols in person, shake hands, and get to vote in the poll for making your go-for-idol stand in the center position on the stage if you buy their CDs.


Akihabara Back stage pass

concept: you are the producer

home: a café with a stage

style: It’s you that may discover promising talents among girls who are working in a café and help them to grow as top idols.


Comparing with Yasushi Akimoto’s project, Tsunku’s one seems to have a narrower and deeper contact point with wanna-be idol girls. And it looks like a idol training simulation game. Once amateur producers hooked on girls, I think they might spend a lot of money.


By the way, I found an interesting article on how Tsunku referred to J-pop industry some month ago. it says: we need to have some competitor units with AKB48 to catch up with K-pop.


He has envisioned being even with K-pop and more. I hope that two producers’ synergy effect would boost the J-pop and widen its market world widely.



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2011年10月15日土曜日

Float festival in Sawara




It’s that time of year again.

For some of you, it might be Halloween but for me, it’s a local autumn festival in my hometown. Instead of putting on a spooky and sinister costume, I wore a “hanten” attire for the festival in Sawara.


Sawara is calledKoedo,” or little Edo and there still remain some old houses and warehouses that were built about 200 years ago. There is Edo like atmosphere in the air and you can easily feel it by walking along the Ono River that runs in the middle of the city.


This year’s festival was very special for local residents. The 311’s earthquake gave a lot of damages on a row of historical old houses along the river and the tiles of their roofs came off. People were wondering if they should have pulled off the festival in this situation.


However, I knew all along that they would hold the festival no matter what may happen because the festival means a lot to them and they can’t live without it.


The local festival is an uplifting event that has been rooted in people’s mind. We’ve realized that its power becomes evident especially in bad times.



For more information about Sawara, May Lee’s website “sushiwong” is very helpful.

http://www.sushiwong.com/Sawara.htm

Slide show of old buildings in Sawara, from May Lee’s website

http://www.sushiwong.com/sawaraslides.htm




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2011年10月1日土曜日

Explore Taro Okamoto’s explosive world




“Art comes from an explosion!” 芸術は爆発だ!

Taro Okamoto, a Japanese artist, is known for this famous phrase of his and a unique looking sculpture “Tower of the sun” for the Expo’70 in Osaka. Even if you don’t go for art, you may probably know at least one of both.


In his late days, he often appeared on TV variety shows and commercial films and said that phrase a lot like his slogan. It made him very popular but on the other hand, he ended up being recognized as an eccentric artist. I feel a bit sorry that his popularity hid away some of his great achievements, especially his writings and criticism.


Recently, I read a book about him and found some of his interesting remarks. He insisted; “Art should not be skillfully-made, beautiful and comfortable.”

芸術はうまくあってはいけない、きれいであってはならない、心地よくあってはならない。In another word, art should not be orchestrated.


What he meant to say in his phases is to avoid following already-existing value and your production should be made with your instinct.


It reminds me of another words of a Japanese theatre director. He said;

“You can only go so far after you’ve mastered acting.” うまいの先にそんなに広い世界はありません。


Taro’s words give us great warning and encouragement at the same time.

Photos: ©Taro Okamoto memorial museum

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2011年9月23日金曜日

Bangkok would be the next fashion leader in Asia?




If you think of working overseas, or your company is trying to develop a new market in Asia, I think that Bangkok is a good option, at least, as far as the fashion industry is concerned.


UNIQLO, a Japanese casual wear manufacturer has launched its flag shop in Bangkok this September, following their store opening in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s UNIQLO’s largest store in Southeast Asia. UNIQLO said that Bangkok has a lot of potential in fashion business both domestically and internationally.


Now, the population of the city is nearly 10,000,000 and an inflow of people from the countryside is still on the rise. Besides, the city has a lot of foreign tourist who enjoy shopping there. You’ll definitely find that a big market has been forming in Bangkok.


That’s just not all. What’s more attractive for Japanese people is that many Thai people are fond of the Japanese culture including fashion. There are some Japanese fashion magazines sold in Thailand and many young girls know well about Japanese fashion label names. However, unfortunately they don’t have any opportunity to buy some of them because those clothing are not available in Thailand.


It’s a great loss of business chances. I think you should go for the prospective market right away! Don’t blow it.


photos: Thai fashion 2011SS, from all about



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2011年9月17日土曜日

Lao Kimono exhibition in Kyoto




I went to Kyoto to see the Lao Kimono project exhibition.

It was held by a Japanese governmental organization to promote Lao hand weaved silk textiles and other handicraft items exporting to Japan.


Laos is well known for its delicate and elaborate handicraft and it is one of Laos’ leading industries. However, it still doesn’t seem to be strong enough in terms of targeting overseas markets, especially Japan. The exhibition aimed to find out if there is any possibility of Lao handicraft to be accepted in Japan.


The companies that joined the project had been improving their products to satisfy the fastidious market demands. For example, when it comes to textiles for Kimono, they gave them more tension to make fabric stronger because Japanese people always sit on their knees and Kimono fabric is required to have some toughness.

It’s obvious that Lao people did very well. They are not only beautiful but also have something exotic that comes from both Lao and Japanese traditional background.


I seldom wear Kimono, it’s a shame though. If I can get such nice textiles with a low price, I may feel like putting it on quite often.

I think that the project will bring benefits both Lao suppliers who want to widen the market and Japanese Kimono industry people who are facing a serious problem of shrinking the market.




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2011年9月5日月曜日

ぶーしゃかLOOPで、[b ]と[u:]と[sh] の練習



「英語ブログ」ということで始めた日記ですが、今日は禁を破って日本語です。


さて。 ここ数日、twitterTLを賑わせている岡村靖幸の「ぶーしゃかLOOP」、私も早速見てみました! 第一印象は


うわっ、なんだこれ? 


初めて「ラーメンズ」を観た時のような、計算された面白さ。

初めて「草間弥生」を観た時のような、狂気走った危うさ。

もうすっかりハマってしまいました。

WEBデザイナーの中村勇吾さんが制作を手がけたそうですが、

演出、いいですね。

私の脳内では、いまもあのフレーズがエンドレスで回っています。


「ぶーしゃからかぶー」


これ、英語の発音練習に利用できるかもしれません。

[b ][u:][sh]の練習にいかがでしょうか?ww


[b ]は唇を突き出し、しっかり空気を破裂させ、

[u:]は喉の奥から音を出すようにする。

[sh]もしっかり唇をすぼませる。

 

Sounds better?

それでは

次回のエントリーは、「たぶん、たぶん、たぶん」英語で。




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2011年9月1日木曜日

Fall Semester’s Resolutions


I think there is no such word as “Fall Semester’s Resolutions” but I really feel like deciding to do something and wanting to declare it.

Why so? The reason is that I’ve just realized that there is only 4 months left this year. Time flies!

Looking back what I have done by now, I definitely feel bad because I haven’t achieved any goals I set for myself.

In the first few months, I was an eager beaver and everything seemed to go smoothly up until the day when we had a horrendous earthquake. In other words, the disaster gave me a big impact even though I live in Tokyo. It required me some time to get myself back on a truck.

Now that I have regained a lot of energy, I’ve started doing something new, as well as what I planned initially. Writing in my English blog is one of them.

There are only 4 more months left but I can look at it another way, I still have 4 more months to spare before this year closes. I’ll try to catch up with my plans for this year.

“I’m off to a good re-start.” Let’s keep it that way!



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2011年8月26日金曜日

Salt field in Laos



Laos is surrounded by some countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and China. It means that Laos is a landlocked country and there are no seas around it. However, they produce salt. The fact arises my curiosity a lot.


“Where does the salt come from?” I asked a friend of mine.

“Here!” He pointed at the ground.


Was Laos once in an ocean? I don’t know its prehistoric background well but I immediately headed for the village called Ban Bo, which is located an hour drive from Vientiane to see a salt field.


The process of making salt is very simple. They draw up subterranean water from a layer that has collected salt water. Next, they pour it on a big iron plate and boil it until only salt is left after water being vaporized. It’s not complicated but it’s amazing that people do it by manually through the whole process.


When I visited the site, some women were scooping salt from iron plates and put it in bamboo baskets in order to dry it. I bought some hot salt that has just been made.


Lao salt tastes mild and a tad sweet compared to Japanese salt.

It would be good for both using as food and using in a both. If you put it in your bath, you can enjoy thalassotherapy at home.






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2011年8月11日木曜日

A privileged experience at Sinouk coffee resort in Laos




Laos used to be a French colony and you can find its influence everywhere, not to mention in their food, too. It may come as a surprise but French baguette sandwich is one of typical Lao breakfast item. Coffee was also introduced to Laos during the French colonial days.

When I visited Laos last week, I dropped by Pakse, the second largest city and stayed at Sinouk coffee resort, which is located 80km from Pakse.

Sinouk coffee resort is an agritourism destination. It has a comfortable guesthouse, a beautiful garden with a small river and waterfalls as well as plantation. You will have a unique experience with fresh coffee there.

During our stay, we were the only guests because it was the rainy season. Fortunately and unexpectedly, we had privilege to occupy the guesthouse as if it was our private house. We enjoyed a late breakfast in the garden and walked around the coffee farm in the afternoon.

At night, we always sat down and opened a Las textbook in the dining room because some staff members offered us a special Lao lesson. It was very fun but torturing at the same time because my Lao teacher, Nyon, was very strict with me and never allowed me to step forward unless I mastered what I was being taught.

It was not a coffee harvest season in there but my great harvest was that I leaned to distinguish the two sounds “nun” and “nung” that are very hard for Japanese. Cop chai lai lai, Nyon!