Back to Contents of Issue: July 2001

Innies and outies among the oldies. A survey conducted by Tostem asked Japanese what sort of "old-fashioned" items they were still in the habit of utilizing. The ones still in wide use (all named by two-thirds or more of the respondents), were, in descending order, uchiwa (non-folding fans), serving trays, playing cards, furoshiki (large cloths used to carry things), matches, candles, cotton work gloves, brooms, grinding mortars, and hand drills. On the other hand, a much smaller number said they no longer made use of (again in descending order) kamidana (shinto altars), Japanese style toilets, woven straw sunshades, fly screens, byobu (ornamental screens), horikotatsu (sunken heated tables), mosquito nets, hibachi (charcoal braziers), shichirin (charcoal-burning stoves), and flypaper.

Only skin deep. When DaCapo magazine questioned Japanese women on the subject of cosmetic surgery, only 8.7 percent of respondents expressed absolutely no interest. Just under half, 48.6 percent, said they were interested, and 17.1 percent said they were even ready to go under the knife. What were the problems they felt required attention? The main ones cited included removal of birthmarks, spots, or freckles, 27.8 percent; cosmetic dentistry, 18.3 percent; removal of moles, 13.9 percent; removal of wrinkles, 12.1 percent; and rhinoplasty to raise the bridge of their nose, 10.9 percent.

The big defrost. During 1999, little change was observed in the ranks of the most popular frozen foods consumed here. First place, with 164,408 tons, was croquettes. This was followed by udon, rice pilaf, cutlet, hamburger patties, confections, and egg products, all unchanged from 1998. Meatballs climbed from 9th to 8th place, and seafood items rose from 10th place to 9th. The big loser was bread and bread dough, which fell to 11th place from 8th.

For sale by owner: one beetle ranch. When a survey by footwear maker Otsuka asked 3,000 people what their new year's resolution was for 2001, 10.3 percent of the males said they planned to exercise; 12.3 percent said they would attempt to lose weight. Of the more unique write-in replies were: to raise rhinoceros beetles (male, 28); to cut her hair for the first time in 10 years (female, 29); and to get her husband to help out with the household chores (female, 45).

Let's not get married. Marriage service OMMG polled adult males and females on what they didn't want from a marriage. The responses most frequently given by males were (figures in parentheses are percent of overall responses): to be adopted by the bride's family as a son (50.8); to be refused sex (46.6); not to have children (45.0); to be forced to give up hobbies (41.5); to have restrictions put on their circle of friendships (36.3); and to live with her parents (36.0). Note: 34.3 and 33.1 percent, respectively, cited being forced to give up drinking and smoking. Among females, the biggest no-nos were to have restrictions on their circle of friendships (61.7); to live with his parents (59.8); not to have children (51.3); to be forced to give up interests (50.9); and to be forced to engage in recreation together with husband (29.7). And oh, yes: 18.0 and 8.5 percent cited being forced to give up drinking and smoking, respectively.

Fly, fly again. Administrators of New Tokyo International Airport surveyed Japanese passengers on how they rated 25 major world airports. In terms of overall quality of facilities, Singapore's Changyi rated tops with 7.11 out of a maximum 10 points. Next was Lester B. Pearson (Toronto) with 6.75, followed by Tokyo's Narita, O'Hare (Chicago), Frankfurt, McCarren (Las Vegas), Pudong (Shanghai), Zurich, Kimpo (Seoul's former airport), and Hong Kong. Attention, please: In terms of access, Narita was named the worst out of 25.

Down for the count. In 1998, the most recent year for which figures are available, Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, Kana-gawa, and Saitama ranked as the five highest in annual average income among Japan's 47 prefectures. Only Tokyo exceeded the 4 million yen mark (4.23 million). Humble Okinawa had the lowest average income of all 47 prefectures at 2.18 million yen, slightly less than half of Tokyo's. The national average, 3.10 million yen, fell that year by 2.9 percent. Wasn't there any good news out there? Well, Okinawa was the only prefecture in Japan that showed a net increase -- all of seven-tenths of one percent.

Spending in order to save. Did you buy, or plan to buy, a new appliance prior to April 1? That's the date from which, according to the new Appliance Recycling Law, Japanese consumers are obliged to pay for disposal of their unwanted air conditioners, TV sets, refrigerators, and washing machines, at fees ranging from ¥2,400 to ¥4,600. When Nikkei Business polled 511 readers in an Internet survey, 88.9 percent said avoidance of those charges still wasn't enough to encourage them to buy a replacement model. Another 7.7 percent said they were thinking of getting a new one anyway and went ahead with the purchase early to take advantage of the savings. The remaining 3.3 percent confessed they couldn't resist a bargain, and tossed out whatever they had to get a new one. And what, if anything, did they think would be the main results of the new law? An overwhelming 83 percent said an increase in illegal dumping was most likely.

Potpourri: In a survey by Sogyou Venture People's Forum, 36 percent of young Japanese expressed interest in starting their own business. South Korea was the highest with 71 percent, followed by the US with 64. *Japanese women said they are more likely to purchase undergarments on a Saturday. *More underwear: Men's apparel manufacturer Gunze queried 300 businessmen in Tokyo and Osaka on what color of drawers they were wearing. (You sure you really want to know this?) White was the color of choice of 49.3 percent, followed by blue (16.7 percent) and gray (9.3).

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