Back to Contents of Issue: April 2002

by Mark Schreiber

The envelope please. Here are Japan's top 10 hit products of 2001, according to a survey of 1,612 readers of weekly magazine Nikkei Business. No. 1: Sen to Chihiro no Kami Kakushi, an animated film, known as "Spirited Away" in English, with an overall score of 74.6. It was followed, in descending order, by ADSL, services (65.8), digital cameras (57.7), do-it-yourself draft beer servers (57.3), gyudon (beef bowl) meals priced at JPY280 (57.1), vacuum cleaners with reduced exhaust emissions (52.5), DVD players and recorders (51.1), the new Tokyo Disney Sea theme park (47.2), beverages in aluminum cans that are shaped like bottles (46.3) and Starbucks-type coffee shops (44.9).

Situation wanted: Wife. Looking for a lovely Japanese bride? Stick to Tokyo. Not only are there more women in Japan's largest city, but the percentages are in your favor. According to the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, 37.6 percent of Tokyo's gals between the ages of 30 and 34 have yet to tie the knot. Watch out though -- in current parlance, such gals who continue to live at home are referred to as 'parasite singles.'

Counting down, the other prefectures with high percentages of single women in the 30-34 age group (percentages follow in brackets) include Fukuoka (29.9), Kyoto (29.3), Okinawa (29.1) and Osaka (29.1).

You'll have to make an extra effort in Yamagata, Shiga and Fukui prefectures. At 20.3, 19.2 and 17.6 percent, respectively, it's clear that people living in these areas on the Sea of Japan side tend to marry off their daughters comparatively sooner.

Nervous fidgeting. In an opinion survey consisting of direct interviews conducted at the end of last year, the Asahi Shimbun announced that the percentage of Japanese adults who said they believe Japan is a "safe place to live" dropped to 47 percent. Overall a slight majority of males stated the belief that Japan is safe, but more than half of the females queried gave a negative reply. Asahi's analysts said the high percentage of negative responses was related not only to the worsening crime problem here, but to the terrorist attacks on the US the previous September. A full 80 percent said they were either "very" or "somewhat" concerned over declining income and unemployment, and 70 percent expressed skepticism over food safety Ñ no doubt attributable to the ongoing mad cow disease scare.

Underground eats. The Nikkei Marketing Journal published in its January issue the results of its first survey ranking basement food sales among department stores in Japan's two major cities. In Tokyo, Seibu Department Store in Ikebukuro took top honors, with a total of 48.6 points. It was followed by Tobu (also in Ikebukuro) with 46.6, Isetan (Shinjuku, 42.1) and Tokyu in Shibuya, 39.1. Compared with Tokyo's best, the Umeda, Osaka branch of Hanshin Department Store scored a whopping 127.6 points, and Osaka's top four (the other three being Hankyu, Takashimaya and Kintetsu) all outscored Tokyo's leader by a wide margin. Man, those Osakans really know how to eat.

Even higher education. The percentage of Japan's high school graduates who will enter a 4-year university or 2-year junior college reached 48.6 percent, according to data from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Technology. That's up by about 10 percentage points from a decade ago. Unfortunately, last year about 30 percent of Japan's private universities and half of its junior colleges failed to attract a full enrollment, which means they'll admit almost any dope who can pay the tuition. Some parents have begun shopping for bargains.

Hello, I must be going. What kind of messages are those Japanese constantly tapping out on their cellphones? A survey by the Hakuhodo ad agency and e-Life Laboratories asked and found that "thank you" messages topped the list. Second was "I'm running late," and third was "congratulations," with 66.7 percent. The same survey determined that males receive an average of 8.3 messages per day. But for teenage boys, this figure rises to 16.6. For some reason, females did not figure in this part of the survey.

Potpourri. In response to the question "Do you feel grown up now?" 68 percent of males and 83 percent of females who turned 20 over the past year told OMMG magazine they didn't think so. Main reason, cited by 89 percent: lack of economic independence. This was followed by lack of psychological independence (57 percent). And 16 percent just stated, "I don't want to grow up." - The number of blood donors in the age 16-29 bracket has fallen by half over the past 15 years. - The Japanese are importing more analog record albums from abroad these days. (I still call them LPs.) Indeed, they bought 9.32 million of them last year, about 60 percent from the US. - The good news: The ratio of smokers among adult Japanese declined to 32.7 percent in 2001, which is down by 0.2 of a percentage point from the previous year. The bad news: Most of the decline was among males (down by 1.5 percent), leaving slightly over half of Japan's adult males with a butt between their fingers. Among females, the percentage of smokers actually rose by about 1 percent. - The number of caddies at golf courses in Japan declined by 3.4 percent during the 2000 fiscal year. @

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