Back to Contents of Issue: April 2003

Hot mail-order products, the most popular key words in search engines, and living your life over again.

Battle of the broadbands. The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications reported that 5,645,700 people connected to the Internet via digital subscriber lines (primarily the ADSL variety) during 2002 -- a 3.7-fold increase from a year earlier. As of the end of November 2002, other user figures included 170,000 connecting via fiber to the home, known as FTTH, and 1.9 million via cable TV.

The hit parade. According to Infoseek, the most popular key words entered in the Internet search engine between November 2001 and October 2002 were "World Cup." These were followed in descending order by words related to typhoon information, Hikaru Utada (a female pop singer), Universal Studios Japan, stock market quotations, UFJ Bank, McDonald's Japan, traffic condition updates, Uniqlo (a popular chain of casual wear shops) and Muneo Suzuki. The last is the name of a politician from Hokkaido who was arrested and forced to resign from the Diet on corruption charges.

Shop from home. At the start of the New Year, the Asahi Shimbun's Tsuhan Seikatsu magazine produced a special edition listing the nation's top 100 mail order items. The top products listed (with country of origin for products made outside Japan) were as follows: medical pillows (Italy), DeLongi heaters (Italy), pressure-type rice cookers, Boneco room humidifiers (Switzerland), Norio Yamazaki sewing machines, Shape Up shoes, fluffy cotton bed sheets, Seagull IV water filters (US), rechargeable type vacuum cleaners (brand not given) and Macromax 35mm zoom cameras.

Doing it all over again. A survey by Jean D. Aiwai of 300 housewives asked them to name the things in life they would want to do differently if given the chance -- like choosing their hubby. The first item, however, was not a new spouse, but education or training, which was cited by 37 percent. This was followed by certification or licensing (32%), financial planning (27), body weight (24), type of work (15.7), location of home (15), and finally, selecting husbands (13.7). Next up were type of dwelling (12) and having children (7.7). Did a few wish they had been born men? Not that many, apparently. Only 7.3 percent expressed their desire to be a member of the opposite sex.

The future of shopping. How will you buy your veggies in 2005? The Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living asked 420 adults in the greater Tokyo area. At present, all of them said they just go to the store and carry them home. But in three years' time, 13.7 percent of the subjects ventured that they would be shopping for groceries via the Internet. When it came to banking in 2005, 44.6 percent said they expect to be able to use either their mobile phones or a PC to make transactions. Another 12.4 percent said they thought regular phones would suffice for that purpose. Shopping for home appliances? While 96.6 percent currently do it the old-fashioned way, 29.8 percent said they expected to use either a PC or a cellphone. For hotel, rail and plane reservations, the figure using Net communications is expected to rise from 19.5 percent in 2002 to a whopping 90 percent by 2005.

Slicing up the pie. In 2002, Sony, Fujitsu and NEC continued to dominate domestic desktop computer sales during the end of October through the mid-December year-end sales rush. And because Fujitsu's share was up sharply -- mostly at Sony's expense -- the figures were amazingly similar. The breakdown, according to Computer News Co., with 2001 shares shown in parentheses: Sony, 24.73 percent (31.72%); Fujitsu 23.57 percent (17.29); and NEC 23.42 percent (24.80). Other contenders, left to divide just 28.8 percent of the market, included Sotec, Apple and Hitachi.

OL lives after five. What do "office ladies" really do after work? Keiko and Manabu, a magazine that appeals to people seeking adult education for self improvement, and the OL Research Institute, teamed up to ask 115 office ladies around Japan what they do "after five." Note: The activities were counted even if only performed once per week. Here are the responses in descending order (multiple replies tabulated): watch TV or videos (93.0%); soak in the bath or just relax (90.4); send emails (87.7); do cleaning and laundry (70.2); shop or browse (62.3); read (62.3); prepare and eat food (61.4); eat out (57.0); talk on the telephone (50.9); meet friends (46.5); go drinking (44.7); go on dates with boyfriend (37.7); attend night school classes (28.9); and exercise (20.2).

Can't get no satisfaction. A survey by women's apparel manufacturer Wacoal compared female body proportions around the world, and the results were revealing indeed. Among five major cities, the tallest females in the 20-40 age group were found in Paris, where they averaged 164.8 cm. This was followed by New York, with an average height of 163.5 cm, then Shanghai (163.3 cm), Seoul (162.3) and finally Tokyo (158.6). For weight, the Big Apple lived up to its name, with females in the 20-40 age group averaging 68.2 kg. New York was followed by Paris (57.2 kg.), Seoul (54.6), Shanghai (53.4) and Tokyo (51.7). New York also led in bust and hip sizes, averaging 94.0 cm and 98.8 cm, respectively, beating out the other cities by a considerable margin. (Tokyo again placed smallest among the five in both of these categories.) Now comes the clincher: Are they content with their physiques? Oui, said 57.0 percent of the ladies of Paris, edging out the 49.0 percent of Shanghai's willowy xiaojie. Only 41.2 percent of New York's gals and 20.8 percent of Seoul's sisters were happy with their proportions. And Tokyo? Call it modesty, perhaps, but only 9.5 percent of the Yamato nadeshiko expressed satisfaction with the hand nature has dealt them. Overall, Japanese ladies were pretty hard on themselves: The rates of contentment were 24.8 percent for their busts; 7.7 percent for their tummies; 10.4 percent for their waists; 11.3 percent for their hips; 28.9 percent for their legs; 25.7 percent for the size of their faces; and 18.0 percent for posture. @

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