Trends -- CScout Japan

By Rebecca Milner - CScout Japan

Do-it-at-home purikuraDo-it-at-home purikura
Taking purikura (print clubs, or photo booths) is usually a shared activity, but it may become more introverted with the advent of a new device. Furyu, a major purikura manufacturer, is marketing a booth designed with solo shooting in mind. Or more specifically, fine tuning that oh-so-important Mixi profile photo. One of the background options even mimics a profile page, with areas for users to include personal information, connecting online social networking with the old off-line world.

Banana toysBanana toys
Pass off the morning banana diet as a fad if you like (it’s huge), but marketers are taking it very seriously. While grocery stores haven’t been able to keep up with the demand for bananas, a number of new products are swiftly hitting the shelves to replace them. Suntory and Coca Cola Japan have supplement drinks “Gyutto” and “Morning Banana” respectively, with bananas both inside and featured prominently on the packaging.

The Endless Banana from Epoch, however, goes the extra mile by taking on another current mania, the one for “infinite toys” started by the Mugen Puchi Puchi bubble wrap popping simulator. With the Endless Banana you can relive the moment of unpeeling a banana over and over again, accompanied by sound effects recorded by voice actress Saki Fujita.

World’s smallest portable karaoke machineWorld’s smallest portable karaoke machine
Considering that karaoke is traditionally a social pastime, it is noteworthy that it has begun to be marketed as a lone activity. Toy maker Takara Tomy has come out with Hi-Kara, a miniature portable monitor and headphone set. The device can also be hooked up to your computer, enabling the download of new hit songs.

Interactive digital signage has at last moved from the world of industry expos to the streets of Tokyo—or Bandai’s new ‘Tama Depa’ concept store in Harajuku to be exact. Dedicated to those digital pets, this all-things-Tamagotchi “department store” features a street-side digital signboard that captures the moving images of passersby and transports them onto the screen.

With a fun twist of course: Animated donuts are placed in the virtual hands of those appearing on the screen. The novelty factor offers an extra marketing element as excited participants snap mobile phone pictures of themselves, later uploading the images to their mobile blogs. Tama Depa opened two months ahead of the November 22 launch of the new color Tamagotchi line.